Types of curriculum maps
The purpose of the curriculum map is to ensure students have the appropriate preparation, learning experiences, course sequencing, etc., that students are most likely to achieve the program’s learning outcomes. If your academic program requires courses from outside of your unit, then you have obviously selected those courses because they provide crucial concepts and skills needed by your students. You will need to identify how those courses are leading toward fulfillment of learning outcomes in your curriculum map.
Below are some frameworks for matrixes that might be helpful to you in visually identifying the links between (a) intended outcomes and (b) courses or other curricular experiences. Along the top of the matrix, list all the courses, experiences, and other requirements/options (internships, service learning, theses, etc.) for your program. Along the side, list your program’s outcomes. Then indicate which of the outcomes are addressed in each of the requirements/options by filling in the “cells” where the learning outcome row and course “column” coincide. How you fill in the “cells” of the matrix defines the type of curriculum map that it is. A “Basic Map” usually simply identifies an “x” for the course wherein the outcome is taught. Maps can identify the level of learning of the outcome in the course (introduced, reinforced, etc.), and even the course outcomes or assignments that address the outcome in the course.
– adapted from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst “Program-Based Review & Assessment Tools & Techniques for Program Improvement,” (April 2017).
Examples of different maps are below:
The Basic Map/Matrix: Required for curriculum proposals
Typically, the first map/matrix a group creates is more basic—visually demonstrating broad strokes about the curriculum. These maps assist in identifying gaps and unintentional redundancies in covering Degree Program Student Learning Outcomes.
As in the example basic map/matrix from Forestry, the curriculum map/matrix includes:
- All Degree Program Student Learning Outcomes of the degree program; and
- All courses required in the degree program, even those courses that are required, recommended, or an elective outside of the academic unit of the program.
The “Level of Learning” Map/Matrix
The “Level of Learning” Map/Matrix assists programs in agreeing upon desired levels of learning within and across courses. Faculty members agree upon definitions of learning for the program, such as “I = Introduced; R – Reinforced; RA – Reinforced through application; M – Mastery within the context of our curriculum. This approach assists faculty in scaffolding learning across the curriculum.
The Course-to-Program Outcome Alignment Map/Matrix
The Social Work Program developed this map/matrix to determine how well their course outcomes were aligned with their program outcomes. This information provides the opportunity to understand how outcomes are “scaffolded,” or developed consecutively, throughout the degree program.
In addition, when assessment data/information is reviewed, the data can be connected directly back to course outcomes and course design. The program faculty can then pinpoint the courses to improve learning outcomes and course design within the curriculum.