Curriculum Mapping

A curriculum map is used to plan and demonstrate the alignment of the curriculum and co-curriculum to the student learning outcomes (SLOs). Student learning outcomes should drive planning of learning opportunities that engage students in achieving the student learning outcomes. A good curriculum map includes student learning outcomes being introduced to students early on in the program. The outcomes are reinforced through use, practice and increasing complexity later in the sequence of courses and activities. Students should show increasing levels of integration and mastery as they progress through the program. Assessment is used throughout the process to guide instruction, provide feedback to students on their performance, improve the curriculum and co-curriculum, and improve programs.

Benefits of Curriculum Mapping

  • Helps faculty see relationships between course and program learning outcomes.
  • Helps identify if the curriculum is sequenced appropriately to allow students to acquire, practice and master the student learning outcomes.
  • Encourages communication between faculty (full-time, part-time, new faculty).
  • Increases the likelihood that students will achieve the student learning outcomes.
  • When evaluating assessment results, the curriculum map may help guide curriculum improvements.

Steps to create a Curriculum Map

  1. Identify where student learning outcomes are introduced, reinforced/practiced and mastered.
    • Review syllabi to see where the outcomes are being addressed.
    • Ask faculty and staff the following questions.
      • Which outcomes do you address?
      • What are you doing to address the outcomes?
  2. Identify where student learning outcomes are assessed - assessment may occur in the same course that the SLO is introduced, reinforced or mastered.
  3. If an assessment takes place outside of courses, add a column to curriculum map to document the assessment. For example, a survey sent via email to graduating seniors.
  4. Each student learning outcome should have at least one assessment at the mastered level.

Level-of-Learning Definitions

Introductory level: Students are introduced to knowledge and skills and are able to remember and understand what they have learned.

Reinforcement level: Students practice through activities that help them learn how to apply their learning or skills.

Mastery level: Students are able to integrate the knowledge and skills in order to synthesize, evaluate, and create new ideas or products. Many program student learning outcomes may be assessed through the same project or measure.

Assessed: To gather evidence of student learning.

A sample curriculum map is shown below.

University of West Florida Sample Curriculum Map

Best Practices in Curriculum Mapping

1. Make sure that the curriculum includes the opportunity for all student learning outcomes to be introduced, reinforced, mastered and assessed.
2. Guideline for the number of courses mapped at each level for a given student learning outcome:

  • Introductory – 1 to 4 courses
  • Reinforced – 1-5 courses
  • Mastered – 1-2 courses

3. When determining the level for each course, consider where the outcome is most likely introduced, reinforced or mastered.
4. Required courses do not need to address all student learning outcomes, but should address at least one.
5. Curriculum maps should be communicated, discussed, analyzed and used by faculty to help improve student learning.
6. Students can be reminded of where they were introduced to student learning outcomes to help them make connections with new learning and experiences in later courses.

Works consulted

Cindy Decker Raynak and Crystal Ramsay, PhD. "Testing What You’Re Teaching Without Teaching To The Test". Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning. N.p., 2016. Web. 8 Aug. 2016.

"Curriculum Mapping & Design - Vice Provost". N.p., 2016. Web. 8 Aug. 2016.

Indiana University South Bend, “Purpose of Curriculum Mapping”

Indiana University Southeast, “Curriculum Mapping”

Loyola Marymount University, "Curriculum & Outcome Maps" 

Mundhenk, Bob. Making a difference in student learning: Assessment as core strategy. Assessment Workshop, October 2014

Suskie, Linda. 2009 Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

University of Connecticut, “Assessment Primer: Curriculum Mapping” 

University of Hawai’i Manoa, “Curriculum Mapping / Curriculum Matrix”

University of West Florida, “Curriculum Maps Guidelines”