Curriculum Mapping

Curriculum mapping is curriculum awareness and a visual representation of the structure of curriculum:

Mapping is an ability of looking at programs in a holistic way – at a level beyond individual courses – and making sure that program [and discipline] curriculum provides appropriate conditions for student achievement of intended program [and discipline] learning outcomes. (Palomba & Banta, 1999)

Palomba, C. A., & Banta, T. W. (1999). Assessment essentials: Planning, implementing, and improving assessment in higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Why map curriculum?

  • Alignment (within a program, between general education and institutional goals, etc.)
  • Identifying where and how particular outcomes are expected, explicitly taught for, and assessed
  • Backwards design the curriculum
  • Understand the nature and role of course pre-requisites
  • Mapping is a way of seeing organizational change


Uses of Curriculum Maps

  • Provide an overview of the structure of the curriculum and the contribution of individual courses to the goals of the program
  • Identify program strengths- student learning outcomes that are thoroughly addressed
  • Help departments identify gaps (learning outcomes that are addressed by only a few courses)
  • Suggest whether students take courses in an optimal sequence

Questions Curriculum Mapping can Answer

-              In the key courses, are all outcomes addressed, in a logical order?

-              Do all the key courses address at least one outcome?

-              Do multiple offerings of the same course address the same outcomes, at the same levels?

-              Do some outcomes get more coverage than others?

-              Are all outcomes first introduced and then reinforced?

-              Are students expected to show high levels of learning too early?

-              Do students get practice on all the outcomes before being addressed, e.g., in the capstone?

-              Do all students, regardless of which electives they choose, experience a coherent progression and coverage of all outcomes?

-              What do your electives, individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of your student learning outcomes?

Jankowski, N. (2014) Mapping learning outcomes: What you map is what you see [Powerpoint Slides]. Retrieved from

Program/Discipline Curriculum Mapping

The map charts program courses, syllabi, classroom activities, and assessment as they relate to intended program/discipline learning outcomes. 

Example of Basic Curriculum Map 1


Course Curriculum Mapping

Individual courses can also be mapped aligning activities and assessments as they relate to the intended course learning outcome.

Example of Basic Curriculum Map 2

Mapping Learning Outcomes

The Process:

  • Focused on curriculum and learning outcomes
  • Two-dimensional matrix representing courses on one axis and outcomes on the other
  • Faculty identify which courses address where learning outcomes are introduced, reinforced and assessed.


Waubonsee Curriculum Map example