Curriculum Mapping: A CARLI-sponsored IACRL Preconference

Marriott Chicago O’Hare, Thursday, March 17, 2016

For their 2016 Annual Project, the CARLI Instruction Committee decided to provide an outline and accompanying materials for the Learning Outcomes webinar and the Curriculum Mapping IACRL PreConference workshop. The information that follows was compiled by the Committee to provide information for instruction librarians who were unable to attend the events, or for those who would like to refer to the ideas shared during the events about implementing and assessing the Framework.

This outline is intended to assist librarians review the information presented during the in-person IACRL PreConference.

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Presented by Anne Zald, Head, Northwestern University Libraries.

What is curriculum mapping?

Definitions of curriculum mapping range from focusing on it as a map or diagram, to a process, to a method of visualizing.

  • Charles defines curriculum mapping as a diagram, which shows how disparate pieces of information relate to each other: “…a diagrammatic representation of the curriculum displaying the different elements of the curriculum and the interrelationships between these different elements.” (Charles, L.H. 2015. Using an informational literacy curriculum map as a means of communication and accountability for stakeholders in higher education. Journal of Information Literacy, 9(1):47-61.
  • Buchanan defines curriculum mapping as an action: “… a process for evaluating the various components of a curriculum for cohesiveness, proper sequencing, and goal achievement.” (Buchanan, H., Webb, K.K., Houk, A.H., & Tingelstad, C. 2015. Curriculum mapping in academic libraries. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 21: 94-111. DOI: 10.1080/13614533.2014.1001413)
  • Booth & Matthews define curriculum mapping from a user-centered view of learning: “Curriculum mapping is a method of visualizing insight into the steps, requirements, and communities a learner negotiates as they engage with a particular learning experience or degree path.” (Booth, C. & Matthews, B. 2012. Understanding the learner experience: threshold concepts & curriculum mapping. Invited paper presented at the California Academic & Research Libraries Conference, April 7, 2012, San Diego, California.)

Why do curriculum mapping?

Before creating a curriculum map, it is important that those involved understand the purposes of the map. Curriculum mapping is not an end itself.

  • One purpose for curriculum mapping is to map library instruction to larger institutional or departmental learning outcomes.
    • This allows for strategic alignment of information literacy learning with discipline-specific and general education curricula. Integrating information literacy into the curriculum allows students to receive cumulative, scaffolded experiences, rather than simply an isolated one-shot class. The curriculum map can be used in talking with faculty to explain the need for a developmental approach to information literacy learning. It can also serve as the framework for assessing the library instructional program, which in turn demonstrates the value of library instruction to the institution.
  • Another purpose of curriculum mapping is to focus on the student experience.
    • Looking at the pathways to degree completion might show areas outside of classes (e.g. thesis or capstone), where information literacy is needed. Additionally, it integrates curricular and co-curricular learning, as much of what students learn happens outside the classroom. Even within classes, curriculum mapping reveals patterns, such as where there are gaps in student learning, versus where there are redundancies. These patterns can show both where library interventions currently are, and also where they should be in the future.
  • A third purpose of curriculum mapping is to create a curriculum content analysis.
    • A syllabus study can provide a snapshot view of exams, types of assignments, how assignments are communicated to students, methods used for analysis, etc. This analysis can also provide information for collection development, in that it can allow librarians to identify strategic priorities for collections that may have otherwise not been obvious.

How to create a curriculum map

  1. Determine the type of map
    There is no set format for a curriculum map. One method is a concept map or spider style, which depicts a holistic view of the student experience. By charting disparate pieces of information, it can show commonalities and differences between different departments. Others take a more organic approach, thinking of curriculum mapping as a conversation. Most of the worksheets provided at this workshop were in the matrix style, such as mapping classes to outcomes. For more information and examples, please see Zald’s LibGuide.

    Materials needed (at a minimum - additional, local information sources may be useful)

    • National standards, disciplinary standards, framework
    • Accreditation standards
    • Institutional learning outcomes
    • Assessment office reports/tools
    • Program documentation
    • Course sequences
    • Large enrollment
    • “Gateway” courses
    • Learning outcomes
    • Courses
    • Syllabus
    • Outcomes
    • Assignments
    • Assessments
  2. Map out the process
    An example was provided for creating five matrix maps, each of which builds on the previous maps. For blank worksheets (as described below), see Zald’s LibGuide.
    1. Mapping outcomes
      • Where: See Worksheet 1: Outcome Mapping
      • What: Map library outcomes to institutional, and institutional to professional/national outcomes.
      • How: First, gather pertinent documentation. Also consider at what level of sophistication the library is meeting each outcome (e.g. Introduce/Reinforce/Enhance). This progression can also be shown within the map. This map is looking at the picture with a wide-angle lens.
    2. Course View
      • Where: See Worksheet 2: Course View
      • What: At a more granular level, look at a specific course. Map the learning outcomes for the library instruction to the university’s learning outcomes.
      • How: For each learning outcome, list informal and formal assessments for library instruction, as well as the teaching strategy used.
    3. Current Program
      • Where: See Worksheet 3: Current Program
      • What: Look across multiple courses to show where there are gaps, duplication, lack of increasing sophistication over courses, quantity of “touches”, and any lack of strategy. Maps current program
      • How: Using the first two maps, this map includes multiple courses, and aims to look across them for what method of library instruction is used (e.g. Tutorial, Libguide, Classroom, Partnership with program coordinator), which learning outcome is covered, and to what level of sophistication (Introduce/Reinforce/Enhance).
    4. Strategic Courses
      • Where: See Worksheet 4: Strategic Courses
      • What: Show which courses are strategic to reach
      • How: In deciding whether a course is strategic, consider the following:
        • What courses are prerequisites?
        • What courses do all students in a degree program have to take?
        • What courses would be excluded from mapping (e.g. independent study, etc.)?
        • Are there special student characteristics to keep in mind (e.g. large number of transfers, international students, a high need for remediation)?
    5. Proposed Program
      • Where: Worksheet 5
      • What: Maps a proposed program. Shell is identical to current program map of worksheet 3
      • How: Having seen where the gaps/redundancies lie and decided on which courses are strategic, this map can be created.
  3. Planning
    • Consider who needs to be involved at which steps.
    • Decide the scope of the curriculum map (e.g. particular division, specific department, general education courses, etc.)

Example: Incorporating the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education

Using the University of Minnesota as an example, Zald defined a few sample outcomes for students when they have completed a bachelor’s degree.

For example, at the time of receiving a bachelor’s degree, students:

  1. Can identify, define, and solve problems
  2. Can locate and critically evaluate information
  3. Have mastered a body of knowledge and a mode of inquiry

These outcomes can be defined based on an institution’s baccalaureate or other institutional student learning goals. The next step would be to map these institutional goals to the information literacy definitions, standards, and frames (or knowledge practices and/or dispositions) provided by ACRL.

Incorporating the Framework
Mapping student learning goals to the Framework proved somewhat challenging, but not impossible. The Framework supports the teaching of the concepts that comprise information literacy, and for that reason, many of the knowledge practices and dispositions within frames could be applied to each student outcome.

For example, working with just one frame, “Research as Inquiry,” and applying it to the outcomes listed above:

  1. Students can identify, define, and solve problems.
    • Corresponding frame: Research as Inquiry.
    • Corresponding knowledge practice(s): Learners formulate questions for research, determine an appropriate scope of investigation, deal with complex research by breaking complex questions into simple ones, use various research methods, organize information in meaningful ways, synthesize ideas from multiple sources, and draw reasonable conclusions based on the analysis and interpretation of information (Research as Inquiry Knowledge Practices 1-8).
    • Corresponding disposition(s): Learners consider research as open-ended exploration and engagement with information, value persistence, adaptability, and flexibility and recognize that ambiguity can benefit the research process, seek multiple perspectives, and seek appropriate help. (Research as Inquiry Dispositions

Using this one example, it’s easy to see how mapping a curriculum map to the Framework can be a complicated process due to its conceptual nature. However, doing so does also allow you to become more familiar with the concepts you do and/or should be teaching to achieve your institution’s student learning goals. You can do this same approach with the ACRL Standards for Information Literacy.

Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

After Creating a Curriculum Map, What Do You Use It For?
Hinchliffe led a curriculum mapping project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and used the project as a jumping off point for advocacy for the library’s instruction program. Advocacy includes developing leadership proficiencies among instruction librarians, and using a logic model to articulate the intended results of the library instruction program.

Regarding developing leadership proficiencies, Hinchliffe distributed a handout on the Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators, from the Association of College and Research Libraries, focusing on category number seven, Leadership Skills. These Proficiencies state:

The effective instruction librarian:

  • 7.1. Demonstrates initiative by actively seeking out instruction opportunities or instruction committee work within the library, at the institution, and in regional or national organizations.
  • 7.2. Encourages librarians and classroom faculty to participate in discussions, ask questions, and to share ideas regarding instruction.

The effective coordinator of instruction:

  • 7.3. Mentors librarians and provides constructive feedback to improve instruction.
  • 7.4. Works effectively with the head of the library and other supervisors to promote and develop library instruction on campus.
  • 7.5. Seeks leadership roles within the library and institution that promote library instruction initiatives.
  • 7.6. Advocates for improving instructional services through support for training or improving skills of instruction librarians, better facilities, increased emphasis on library instruction by library administration, and dedication of resources to these areas.

She asked participants to consider their strengths, areas in which they may improve, and key people who might help them improve.

Using a Logic Model
Logic models link Planned Work including Resources/Inputs and Program Activities to Intended Results including Outputs, Outcomes, and Impact. See links below to Hinchliffe’s handouts for a definition and visual representation of the logic model. Below are excerpts from the Logic Model Basics handout provided by Hinchliffe.

Your Planned Work:

  • Resources/Inputs include human, financial, organizational, and community resources a program has available to direct toward doing work. Leadership proficiencies of instruction librarians are included as resources or inputs in planned work for a library instruction program, as are instructional spaces, software programs, training or professional development for librarians, and curriculum maps.
  • Program Activities are what a program does with its resources. This includes classes taught, faculty outreach, outreach to programs, course coordinators, advisors, or learning support, assignment design, changes made to curriculum maps, and student learning assessment.

Your Intended Results:

  • Outputs are the direct products of program activities. Outputs of a library instruction program can include statistics on student learning, library instruction services embedded in curriculum, number of instruction sessions, how often spaces are used, and how often librarians are consulted. In assessment, this includes asking the question: Did library instruction deliver what was anticipated? And, was it high quality?
  • Outcomes are the specific changes in program participants’ behavior, knowledge, skills, status, and level of functioning. Short-term outcomes should be attainable within 1 to 3 years, while longer-term outcomes should be achievable within a 4 to 6 year timeframe. This includes answering the question: Did students learn? Is library instruction successful in supporting students to achieve departmental or institutional student learning outcomes for information literacy?
  • Impact is the fundamental intended or unintended change occurring in organizations (i.e., universities) as a result of program activities within 7 to 10 years. For a library instruction program, this requires linking student performance, retention, and/or success to library instruction.

The logic model provides a roadmap for planning, assessing, and advocating for a library instruction program; a curriculum map and instruction librarian proficiencies are just two of the resources that go into the success of such a program.