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Student Learning, Outcomes Assessment & Accreditation

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Curriculum Map Development

The curriculum map presents a matrix of the program student learning outcomes intersecting with the designed curriculum, which is often presented as the student would experience the curriculum. The map matrix visually links program outcome(s) to the curriculum by indicating the different developmental levels the student will experience the outcome, which depends on the emphasis of that outcome in the course (via course design).  If a course or program requirement is linked to an outcome in a substantive way, the map notes the level to which achievement of the outcome is expected:

  • Introduce:  (I) The course or program requirement introduces a concept relevant to the program outcome; learning activities focus on basic knowledge and skills that support the learning outcome. Often, several courses in a curriculum will introduce an outcome and provide practice and scaffolding to begin to lay a foundation of achievement. Similarly, some courses may be designed to introduce only one outcome.
  • Reinforce:  (R) The course or requirement strengthens, supports and reinforces the development of the knowledge and skills necessary for optimal achievement of the program outcome in further along the curriculum. Foundational knowledge of the outcome was previously introduced through other course work in the curriculum.
  • Emphasize: (E) The course or requirement emphasizes opportunities for the student to integrate all the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for mastery of the outcome at the end of the program. Instructional and learning activities in the course focus on demonstrating achievement of the outcome in multiple contexts and at multiple levels of complexity. The outcome had been previously introduced and reinforced through various activities and opportunities in other courses in the curriculum.

It is important to note that while all courses have course- and at least one program-level outcome, not all courses should be used for program-level assessment. Courses in which there are key or signature assignments that allow faculty to assess achievement of an outcome across a representative sample of students in the program should be the courses noted with I-R-E on the map. This indicated the critical points where and how program outcomes are addressed within the curriculum.

This mechanism promotes continuous program improvement by helping faculty:

  1. identify where outcomes are covered in a curriculum,
  2. identify potential gaps in the curriculum (where a course is not addressing any outcome, or an outcome is not developed by any courses within the curriculum),
  3. identify whether the outcomes need modification,
  4. identify best opportunities for assessment, and/or
  5. to start a discussion of potential changes necessary within the curriculum.

An example of a curriculum map for a typical undergraduate program is provided below:

Please click here for a blank template to create your own curriculum map.

Models of curriculum maps from two graduate programs at URI:

  1. Couples and Family Therapy
  2. English: Writing & Rhetoric

Please click here for a brief handout which further explains curriculum mapping.


Much of this information was adapted from additional resources, which are listed below:


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