Similar to course maps, curriculum maps are very helpful tools for visualizing how well a curriculum is meeting a set of predetermined student learning outcomes. For example, academic programs are often asked to identify a set of student learning outcomes for a particular major or field of study. The curriculum map is an ideal tool for helping programs understand and assess how well they are achieving their goals.
To build a curriculum map, create a table or chart that lists each of the student learning outcomes that have been identified by your program of study in columns across the top and list each of the required courses in the major in rows along the left-hand side. Then, for each required course, put a mark in the appropriate column if it addresses a particular student learning outcome. Clearly, this is a process that demands participation from faculty across the academic unit, by contributing their syllabi and assignments for review and ensuring that their course is adequately represented in the curricular map. When completed, the curricular map is quite illuminating. Academic units sometimes discover that key areas of student learning are under-emphasized, while less important areas of student learning may be over-emphasized. Alternatively, some units discover areas of disconnect between their lower-level and upper-level courses and use their map analysis to work toward greater curricular cohesion. Not surprisingly, what is particularly valuable is not the curricular map in and of itself, but the conversations and discussions that faculty collectively have about their curriculum as a function of engaging in this process.