Curriculum mapping

Curriculum mapping is an invaluable tool to gain a snap shot of the program. Mapping can help you identify the flow of the outcomes through the program and detect gaps and redundancies in the program. More complex maps also identify the relevant teaching methods and assessments used to measure students' progress. The maps can be created at facilitated department retreats or data might be gathered from faculty members with the map generated by a curriculum committee.

When mapping the program, it is important to identify not only the core courses but to also include key educational experiences. These might include experiential opportunities, such as service-learning or co-operative education, or research requirements, including all phases of a dissertation. Although you might not list all electives, if there are breadth requirements or a suite of options (e.g., students must complete two technical electives from the following list), these requirements should be presented in the map, although you can choose whether to map the associated courses.

At the development phase, there are a variety of ways to map the curriculum. If you are modifying an existing program, you might want to map the program in its current format (core courses, elective courses, milestones, key learning experience) to the new program outcomes. This map provides foundational information about the current program and can help the curriculum committee identify areas for development in the program to achieve the new program outcomes. This format captures at what level the element contributes to the fulfillment of the outcome.

For undergraduate maps, we often map three levels: introduction; reinforcement; and completion. For graduate programs we suggest showing whether the degree requirement has a major or minor relationship to the outcome. The sample map below shows a snapshot of a program’s map in which courses were mapped to the UDLEs. As you can see in the map, there is not always a linear progression from introduction to completion. For this program, the map helped identify that completion was not met for all outcomes.

Another option at the development phase is to create a less detailed program map, focusing on components, rather than courses, and their relationship to the outcomes. Rather than identifying the level to which the element contributes to the outcome, we simply identify whether it makes a major or minor contribution toward fulfilling the outcome. This style is particularly useful for new programs at their early development stages. A more detailed map can be created as the program takes shape.

The final option in mapping the curriculum is to use a visual model rather than a curriculum map. Consider the following example from the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS).

This visual representation of their curriculum provides an overview of the MPACS program, its components, and expresses the core values of the program. Thank you to Lowell Ewert, director of peace and conflict studies, for sharing this example.