A Tool for Curriculum Integration and Assessment: Curriculum Maps
To help Faculty make better curricular decisions, philosophical, programmatic, and pragmatic, Deans need to help Faculty understand the curriculum as a whole. Rather than seeing a theological curriculum as a series of topical courses, the mission of the seminary is best served when Faculty understand the academic curriculum as an integrated, goal-oriented, outcomes-focused, “program of study.”
One helpful tool for communicating the curriculum as a “program of study” is the curriculum map. A curriculum map is a tool for assessing scope and coverage of elements in the explicit curriculum. A curriculum map can depict coverage of cognates, themes, methodology, topics, or other components that are considered important enough to be explicit parts of the student’s learning experience. Maps can reveal strengths and emphases in the scope of the curriculum, and, can depict points and degrees of integration. These maps can also reveal gaps in coverage in the scope of the curriculum.
Here are examples of three kinds of curriculum maps: (1) degree program goals, (2) thematic concepts, and (3) methodology. The maps plot where, and to what extent, individual courses address explicit facets of study across the curriculum.
The degree goals program map: depicts the relative strengths where the degree program goals are addressed throughout the curriculum. This map helps identify the extent of coverage, integration, and gaps. This sample program goals curriculum map from Central Generic Theological Seminary (a fictitious school) shows (1) the three major curriculum goals (right hand column) with supportive derivative goals, (2) a listing of the implicit courses in the three theological cognate areas that make up the course of study, and (3) a graphic plotting of the degree of relative correlation emphasis of each goal within individual courses. Seen as a whole, the map depicts (1) the coverage of the degree program goals across the curriculum, (2) potential "gaps" in the course of study, and (3) points of integration across the curriculum. Click to Download (1) Mapping Goals sample curriculum goals maps.
The thematic concepts map: identifies themes, topics, and concepts related to the program of study. This sample curriculum map plots to what extent selected concepts are addressed in courses and across the curriculum. The map identifies forty six concepts in this school's M.Div. curriculum and plots their coverage across the course of study by a scale of relative strength (primary, secondary, moderate, minimal, incidental and "not addressed"). The graphic representation provides an interpretation of thematic coverage across the curriculum. Faculty can see topics that are well-covered, and those that are being neglected. Click to Download (2) Mapping Topics a sample curriculum thematic map.
THEMES MAP DOCUMENT
The methodology map: identifies the common learning methodologies used throughout the curriculum. Balance in the use of learning modalities enriches the learning experience and accommodates cognitive styles, cognitive domains, skills, multiple intelligences, and individuated instruction. This sample methods map from Central Generic Theological Seminary identifies thirteen common graduate-level appropriate methods and their use as primary, secondary, and tertiary modes in singular courses. The map as a whole serves to depict the range of application of the methods, potential overuse of methods, as well as potential gaps in using a variety of methods and modes of learning. This type of map can encourage Faculty to understand the experiences of students across the curriculum and help them dialog about using more creative and varied teaching methods. Click to Download (3) Mapping Methods a sample curriculum methods map.
Maps as Educational Tools Involving Faculty in the creation of a curriculum map helps instructors understand the curriculum as a whole, and to see where and how individual courses “fit” in the course of study. To implement this faculty development activity, create a blank curriculum map (program goals, methods, topics or concepts, etc.) and distribute to the faculty with instructions like:
“ Study each map to familiarize yourself with the instrument. On each map use the code to plot the degree to which your course addresses the elements being assessed. Be as accurate as you can. Remember that not every course will be able to, or is expected to, address every element on any map. The curriculum map is intended to help analyze and asses the curriculum as a whole.
“You may want to review your course syllabi to determine how overt each map element is identified (program goals, themes, and methodologies). If you plot something on the map because you “know in your head” that it fits, but you don’t see it identified in the syllabus, consider updating the syllabus so that it communicates, and aligns, overtly the curricular elements you plot.
“Once you have completed plotting your courses on the map pass it along to another professor in your discipline area. Consider working together with one or more colleague as you identity and plot the components on each map. Once all professors in your area complete the map please return it to the Dean.”
Once you compile the input from faculty members, publish and review the maps as a Faculty. Offer prompts for discussion such as:
- How well do the courses in our curriculum provide “coverage” of the various facets of the program of study?
- How effectively do our courses, taken together, interpret and address the curriculum goals?
- What areas and foci do we cover most in our curriculum?
- Are there “gaps” in our coverage of important curriculum goals, facets, or methods?