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The Many Legends of the Curriculum Map: How to Leverage Curriculum Mapping to Meet Your Institution’s Needs

 

As illustrated in a previous blog post, a curriculum map illustrates where within a curriculum student learning outcomes are taught and can be assessed. This process ensures that alignment exists between the expected learning outcomes and what is taught in a curriculum, allows you to identify gaps, and provides opportunities for improvement. In addition, curriculum maps provide a visual representation of where students will demonstrate or master skills and competencies and can be a powerful tool for engaging faculty and communities in meaningful discussions around the assessment of student learning.

Curriculum maps can also be used for other assessment purposes, which I will discuss later.

Using technology can help simplify the curriculum mapping process and highlight gaps and misalignments more clearly. In this post, I’ll share some tips and tricks for how you can customize a curriculum map in the Accountability Management System (AMS) by Taskstream to meet your program or institution’s needs.

A curriculum map is comprised of three parts:

  1. The set of outcomes, goals, or standards to which you are demonstrating alignment (this is the x-axis along the top)
  2. The courses, activities, assessments or actions that make up the curriculum for that program or course (this is the y-axis on the left)
  3. The legend which identifies the levels at which the program or course offerings address a particular outcome (you can reference the legend at the bottom of the map)

 

Three Parts of a Curriculum Map

In this example, you can see where the outcomes are being Introduced, practiced, and reinforced in the courses listed on the left.

Customize the Legend to Tell Your Story

Every Curriculum Map created in Taskstream comes with a default legend as a starting point. It includes 3 levels (Introduced, Practiced, Reinforced) in 3 shades of pink.

Curriculum Map Legend

 

Many institutions take advantage of the legend we already have in the system, but you can also make it your own both in terms of terminology and color scheme.

 

 

Customize Your Curriculum Map Legend

Within the software, you have a large range of colors to choose from. I often suggest to clients that they use their school colors.

In addition, you can add levels to your legend to better fit your needs. Some institutions utilize this feature to combine intensity levels and in turn, derive more meaning from their curriculum maps.

In the example below, the school uses the combinations Introduced/Mastered and Reinforced/Mastered to show that not only is that outcome introduced or reinforced by that course, but that students come out having a mastery level of that particular disposition or skill.

 

Curriculum Map

 

You can even design specific legends for specific programs. For instance, engineering or nursing degree programs may need a different legend, or set of terms, then English ones.

Align Course Content to Outcomes

Individual programs can also link to syllabi or individual course assessments in the curriculum map. This adds depth to the curriculum map as faculty and staff engage in assessing how that course fits in to the goals of that program for students. It also allows you to connect not only the course or section, but also the specific assignment and course content aligned to the learning outcomes.  As a result, faculty can review and manage exactly where the assessment will take place and will ultimately help with data collection and assessment planning.

 

Program Curriculum Map

 

Leverage Curriculum Maps for Non-Academic & Other Institutional Needs

Curriculum Maps also speak to the student experience and outcomes of the services institutions provide outside of the classroom.  Curriculum Maps can also be used by co-curricular/non-academic programs to show which activities they have that meet their outcomes.  In the example below, the Library has mapped their activities to their standards.

 

Library Curriculum Map

 

This can be a useful roadmap to help non-academic departments or offices navigate the assessment process. They can see what their goals are for students and how they help support them as part of the institution.

Some institutions also use it to track progress of their strategic planning goals by listing years on the grid and using the legend to show the level of completion of the goal for that year.

 

Strategic Goals Timeline

Institutional use of curriculum maps allow faculty, administrators and other stakeholders to see the bigger picture of assessment activity and the alignment of assessment efforts across campus, in order to identify gaps and help with planning.

Overall, customizing curriculum maps can be a fun way to make the assessment process more colorful and more engaging for your faculty and staff. It can be used for any set of program outcomes, institutional goals, or accreditation standards for which you need a visual supplement.