A long-running problem at my institution – I don’t think we’re alone, I think most universities are in this boat – has been the absence of any support or processes around curriculum mapping.
I’ve written briefly about this before, but now I have to produce a report with some background and recommendations.
The following is an attempt to ask questions and see if anyone can provide some additional insights. The following is based on the little bit of searching I’ve done so far.
Some of the questions I have:
- Is curriculum mapping a good idea?
- Has anyone been able to do it with a large group of university academics in a way that is embedded into the group i.e. it’s long-term and sustainable? How?
- What’s the good literature in this area?
- What tools are people using?
- Is anyone going bottom up rather than top-down?
I like this definition of curriculum
a sophisticated blend of educational strategies, course content, learning outcomes, educational experiences, assessment, the educational environment and the individual students’ learning style, personal timetable and programme of work (Harden 2001).
For curriculum mapping this definition works for me so far (same source)
Curriculum mapping is a spatial representation of the different components of the curriculum so that the whole picture and the relationships and connections between their parts are easily seen. (Harden 2001)
The literature is full of reasons about why this is a good thing, for me the representation of the curriculum – as a whole or various perspectives – provides a tool to enable analysis, disussion and reflection by the full spectrum of management, teachers, support staff, students and others.
Who’s done what?
Some – much? – of what’s been done in higher education seems to originate from the generic skills push/literature/practice. One example is a paper by Sumsion and Goodfellow (2004). The stuff in the AUQA good practice database appear to be directly related to graduate attributes – mapping and integrating/mapping.
The other major source in higher education appears to be the medical and health disciplines (e.g. Harden, 2001; Holycross, 2006). Holycross (2006) report on using Excel for their maps. As mentioned in the previous post the University of Virginia School of Nursing appeared to be doing some work in this area, but I can’t find much beyond the above.
Harden, R. M. (2001). “AMEE Guide No. 21: Curriculum mapping: a tool for transparent and authentic teaching and learning.” Medical Teacher 23(2): 123-137.
Holycross, J. (2006). “Curriculum Mapping – An essential tool for curriculum development.” The Journal of Physician Assistant Education 17(4): 61-64.
Sumsion, J. and J. Goodfellow (2004). “Identifying generic skills through curriculum mapping: a critical evaluation.” Higher Education Research & Development 23(3): 329-346.