How to Leverage Curriculum Mapping to Meet Your Institution’s Needs

March 16, 2022 Watermark Insights

What is Curriculum Mapping?

A curriculum or course alignment 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 mapping provides 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 will be discussed later in this post.

Technology can simplify the curriculum mapping process and highlight gaps and misalignments more clearly. In this post, we’ll share tips and tricks for building and using a curriculum map in Planning & Self-Study to meet your program or institution’s needs.

Curriculum Map Parts

Within Planning & Self-Study, there are many dynamic and useful ways to build out your curriculum map. But it’s important to note that while the curriculum maps are dynamic in nature, they are typically comprised of four main parts:

  1. The set of outcomes you are seeking to meet with this program (this is the y-axis along the left side)
  2. The courses aligned to the curriculum for that program or course (this is the x-axis across the top)
  3. Tags to indicate the nature of an alignment - whether a given course introduces, reinforces, or enables a student to master a particular outcome
  4. Alignments to the specific measures used to assess the outcome in the given course




In these examples, you can see where the outcomes are being introduced, reinforced, and mastered in the courses listed on the left, as well as where there is an associated assessment activity to measure outcome achievement

Using the Key to Tell Your Data’s Story

Every curriculum map created in Planning & Self-Study comes with a default key as a starting point. It includes three levels — introduced, reinforced, and mastered.



These birds-eye view keys tell your data’s story. They illustrate the nature of your course and outcome alignment. With a tidy summary view of how your courses introduce, reinforce and support mastery of an outcome and the progression of skill and knowledge development that represents, you can more easily identify potential gaps, and sniff out sequences that could be refined or potentially optimized. You can also quickly confirm that you have strong measurement coverage for your outcomes across courses and identify gaps to investigate and fill.

Align Course Content to Outcomes

Individual programs can also link course assessments in the curriculum map. This adds depth to the curriculum map as faculty and staff engage in assessing how that course fits into the goals of that program for students. It allows you to associate assessment measures with course outcome alignment. As a result, faculty can review and manage exactly where the assessment will take place and the extent to which the efforts in the course result in achievement of the given outcome, which will ultimately help with data collection and assessment planning.



The Bottom Line

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 to identify gaps and help with planning.

Overall, creating a curriculum mapping process that involves producing curriculum maps can be a useful – and satisfying – way to make the assessment process 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.

Discover how Watermark’s assessment and accreditation software solutions can streamline your curriculum mapping and assessment process by requesting a demo today.

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