Creating Curriculum Maps

 

Students cannot be held responsible for program learning outcomes (PLOs) without a curriculum that is designed to develop incresing levels of sophistication in each PLO.  In order to demonstrate in what course, and at what level, students are expected to achieve PLOs  - a curriculum map is required.  Curricular maps tell a story about the major, they visually demonstrate how a student will successfully move through the major.
 
A curricular map is a matrix.  On the left-most column of the table, all required courses are listed (along with any relevant milestones).  Along the top of the matrix, all PLOs are listed.  
For each course or milestone, the extent in which each PLO is covered is indicated. Most often, a three-point scale is used. 
For example:
  • Introduced (I): for any course or milestone where a student is first introduced to the knowledge or first begins developing the skill described in the PLO
  • Practiced (P): for any course or milestone where a student has the opportunity to better develop the skill or knowledge described in the PLO
  • Demonstrated (D): for any course or milestone where a student has the opportunity to demonstrate a high level of achievement of the skill or knowledge described in the PLO
In creating a curricular map it is best to have input from as many faculty as possible in the major in order to give a meaningful and accurate portrayal of the curriculum.  The visual story of the major as demonstrated by the curriculum map can help faculty identify gaps in the curriculum or questions that further assessment can investigate. Below are some prompts to encourage these discussions:
  • Are there any PLOs that are not sufficiently covered by our course requirements or milestones?
  • Do we rely too much on electives to cover certain PLOs, and is this working well for our program or are students missing certain learning opportunities depending on the electives they choose to take?
  • How much does the coverage of a PLO depend on the instructor who teaches it?
  • How well do our courses map onto our PLOs, and does this lead us to want to change any of our courses or PLOs?
All departments are required to submit a curriculum map every three years.