Forming a program's structure

Having identified key content and concepts, the challenge is to integrate these ideas into one cohesive curriculum. Sometimes content threads focus on key knowledge areas but do not reflect all of the relevant skills or values identified in the visioning stage. There might be intentional overlap among key threads in the program as well as key outliers to help students develop both breadth and depth of the discipline. The challenge is to translate these progression maps, program outcomes, and the contextual factors of the institution (e.g., length of the semester, program resources, etc.) into the required program structure.

Creating a curriculum map is a critical step at this phase. It captures how the program will address the intended learning outcomes, students’ path through the program, and the program structure, which might include courses, project or thesis work, and other key educational experiences (e.g., co-op, service-learning, etc.). Consider this sample undergraduate curriculum map [xlsx].

The map shows both the core courses and other key learning experiences (i.e., co-op work terms and a service-learning requirement) and how they contribute to students’ progress toward fulfilling the intended learning outcomes. The inclusion of elective courses and milestones would enhance the map.

This map represents a program that is in the process of re-developing its curriculum. The map shows new outcomes and tracks how those outcomes are addressed in the current program. As a result, there are times when an outcome (e.g., Program Outcome 8) is introduced after it has been reinforced in several courses. It might require content be re-organized or it could be the result of a broad outcome that addresses several different elements of the program. 

<< Integrating Graduate Attributes into a program                 Approvals and timelines >>