In order to determine whether or not courses in a program ensure learners are achieving PLOs, faculty members often undertake curriculum mapping. Curriculum maps can reveal not only which PLOs are being achieved, but also whether important PLO topics are being introduced, reinforced or developed, and assessed in a scaffolded way or a sequence that makes sense for student learning.
Different institutions create different kinds of curriculum maps, but they have similarities. Most curriculum maps consist of a table on which PLOs are listed on one axis and program courses on the other, sometimes with required courses outside of the program as well. Faculty members then go through each course systematically to see if any PLO is introduced, reinforced or developed, or assessed in that course. A sample curriculum map template and other curriculum mapping resources may be found on the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching website.
A more general example of a curriculum map template for a two-year diploma program is included below:
Alternatively, curriculum maps might use different terminology, such as R = Reinforced, E = Emphasized (or Evaluated), M = Mastered, or C = Competence, depending on the program and its needs. Some programs include required courses outside of their programs, as well as experiential courses such as labs, fieldwork, clinical placements, service learning, internships, and co-op placements as well when mapping their curriculum. Maps can be as general or as specific as is helpful for the program.
Programs sometimes also create curriculum maps to determine whether external accreditation body requirements are being met. Instead of including PLOs on one of the axes, they may include the accreditation body’s required outcomes.
In any case, a completed curriculum map can reveal much about a program’s strengths and gaps and course sequencing, which can lead to curriculum improvement.
For more on curriculum mapping, check out:
Ives, C. (n.d.). 9.5 Curriculum Mapping. Educational Developers Thinking Allowed. https://edta.info.yorku.ca/curriculum-mapping/
National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. (2018, March). Mapping learning: A toolkit. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA). https://www.learningoutcomesassessment.org/ourwork/curriculum-mapping/