Curricular Mapping

The curriculum map is an essential second step in program assessment. Once learning outcomes have been designed and finalized, the curriculum map presents the program with an opportunity to align instruction with learning outcomes. Additionally, the curriculum map is a useful tool for visualizing the curriculum. Via this method programs can better understand what is being taught and how well the curriculum matches stated learning goals.

Benefits of the Curriculum Map

Source: University of Hawaii Mānoa Assessment and Curriculum Support Center

  • Creates program transparency by communicating how learning expectations match curriculum design. 
  • Improves communication among faculty in the program (as well as communication with students, staff, and faculty colleagues outside the program).
  • Enhances program coherence by clarifying what is being taught in the curriculum and how those learning experiences scaffold student learning.
  • Encourages reflective practice when faculty periodically review and revise the map.

To build the curriculum map, use the template attached below to list program learning goals and the courses recommended or required in the curriculum. Also include any other curricular or co-curricular experiences or activities that may fall outside the definition of a “course,” but which still provide students with learning experiences linked to learning outcomes. Next, identify the level at which each course delivers the learning outcomes. At PLU, we follow a simple three step scaffold for student learning:

  • Introduce (I): The essential concepts addressed by a program learning outcome are introduced to students. Formative assessment will be the priority at this stage, both within the course and at the end of the course as students move on to additional challenges. 
  • Practice (P): Students are expected to have some foundational knowledge to build upon and apply to gain deeper understanding of the concepts or strategies that underwrite the learning outcome. Again, formative assessment is the priority. 
  • Demonstrate (D): Students demonstrate, through forms of summative assessment, their mastery of disciplinary concepts and strategies as they are described in the program learning outcomes. At PLU, this happens often at the capstone level through papers and projects.

Please note that not every course in the curriculum will need to deliver every learning outcome. Match learning outcomes to the courses and instructors where they make the most sense. 

If a course does not line up with any learning outcomes, evaluate whether it needs to remain in the curriculum. Similarly, if a learning outcome appears only once or twice in a curriculum, evaluate whether or not it is a program priority. 

A finished curriculum map will look something like the following:

Course 101III
Course 115III
Course 200PPP
Course 220PP
Course 301PP
Course 315PPP
Course 499DDDD

The documents listed below offer tools for conceptualizing and creating effective curriculum maps. We recommend publishing the curriculum map to faculty and students to create coherence and transparency in the program. Additionally, we recommend revisiting and revising the map every few years to account for lessons learned from assessment data and other changes that impact curriculum design (e.g., staffing, enrollment, and mission).

The below quick links will redirect you to other PLU or external websites. Right click to open links in a new tab or use the browser back arrow to return to the Assessment Resources website.

Questions or comments?
Please contact the Office of the Provost (253)535-7126 or