Course maps are useful visual tools when designing or redesigning your course. Paralleling the backward design process, a course map is essentially a representation of how you intend to approach and assess each of the student learning outcomes you identified for your course. Useful for all courses, they can be particularly useful for courses that serve multiple functions. For example, at Mason there are courses that meet specific requirements (e.g., General Education and Writing Intensive (WI) courses) and courses that meet specific designations (e.g., Research and Scholarship Intensive (RS) and Green Leaf courses that focus on learning about sustainability issues), beyond the outcomes related to specific course content or issues.
To build your course map, create a table or chart that lists each of the student learning outcomes for your course. For each of your student learning outcomes, list what assignments or activities have been designed to address that particular outcome. When completed, your course map provides an interesting analysis. For example, sometimes the results of the mapping process indicate that a particular student learning outcome is not being addressed, or not being addressed adequately. When examining your results you will want to ensure not only that all of your desired student learning outcomes are being addressed, but also that your priorities for student learning are reflected in your map. That is, for a student learning outcome that is particularly important to you or your program, do you have sufficient assignments and classroom activities that focus on that outcome? The key point is that a thorough review of your completed course map can help you to make adjustments to your course that increase the likelihood of achieving your desired results.