Curriculum mapping is the heartbeat of curricular performance

What is curriculum mapping?

Curriculum mapping refers to the procedures involved with recording and reviewing any operational curriculum in an electronic database. Starting with K-12, educational institutions of all kinds engage in some form of curriculum mapping. In MedEd, accurate curriculum documentation is a fundamentally important part of an institution’s success and also a requirement for accreditation. 

A curriculum map offers a clear picture of your entire curriculum. In practice, an institution will have a multitude of learning experiences and learning journeys. Curriculum mapping can bring all of these experiences together in a central repository of what’s being taught, where, and by whom. A single database contains a hierarchical representation of the entire curriculum.

A vital piece of curriculum mapping is the permissions controls, allowing different levels of access to various stakeholders. Course directors, instructors, and administrators all have different duties to perform in delivering a curriculum. Each of these can be assigned custom roles that allow them to make the necessary changes to the map. For example, giving course directors the ability to map the events in courses, while limiting instructors to modifying only the objectives of their specific events. Curriculum data access can be limited to viewing only by administrative staff in order to maintain security or privacy. Meanwhile, the events and objectives in the map can be available to all students and faculty, allowing them to access the relevant content and objectives for tests or other learning events.  

A properly constructed curriculum map gives each of its stakeholders the access they need, without duplicating any content or effort. The Acuity repository serves all of these audiences, meaning that everyone is accessing the data from a single source. 

The importance of curriculum mapping to schools

As we will explain in more detail below, curriculum documentation is necessary to fulfill accreditation requirements. The usefulness of a curriculum map for schools does not end there, however. In the event of stakeholder inquiries, schools have searchable access to answer questions about the content being taught. Everything from the expectations a school has of its students, the sequence and difficulty of content, learning objectives, assessments, and even gaps or redundancies can be identified in the map. 

How students use curriculum mapping 

Curriculum documentation helps students understand their place within the curriculum, with a record of the learning they have already done and a map of where they are going. They can use the map to set long-time goals and plot their progress based on the program expectations and graduation requirements. 

With medical students, the volume of learning experiences can be difficult to track without a searchable curriculum inventory. The record helps them to retain information about what they’ve learned, which helps them retain that knowledge, review the material, and prepare for learning events like tests and assessments. 

Faculty use of map data

Faculty, meanwhile, use curriculum mapping to establish the inventory of learning events to establish the big picture and ensure that specific content areas get the right amount of attention. The interplay between content areas, any overlaps or gaps, and program expectations are all made clearer with the map. 

For example, an instructor might be joining the curriculum midstream or for a limited number of days. They can access a record of the information that has already been covered and the material that still needs to be delivered. 

Mapping helps with continuous quality improvement

With a clearly established curriculum map, reviewing the effectiveness of courses and content is made simpler. Curriculum committees can run gap analysis reports to identify things like assessment coverage, teaching types, and program objectives. 

This allows institutions to evolve instructional materials over time, improving the learning environment as gaps are identified and teaching methods change. 

Curriculum documentation is vital for accreditation and to help other institutions

To be an accredited medical school, institutions must maintain accurate curriculum information that describes how often curriculum content is monitored, including the tools available for content monitoring. It must also list the roles and titles of all individuals who have access to the curriculum database and the ability to make changes to its content.” This documentation also has to provide examples of how monitoring curriculum content and reviews are used to identify gaps and redundancies. A number of accreditation bodies may require some version of a curriculum inventory or curriculum map. 

A recent newsletter from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) highlighted the various ways they use curriculum data as well. The AAMC relies on this data to answer enquiries from legislative bodies or the media about the activities and areas of study within institutions. 

They also make this data available to their member institutions for use in benchmarking, issuing reports to participating schools. There are presently over 50 curriculum reports available on the AAMC website. 

How Acuity helps you map and manage your MedEd curriculum  

Acuity is designed to assist with all areas of MedEd curriculum management, including mapping. Read our list of five steps on how to create a great curriculum map

Accurate curriculum documentation helps your institution in a number of ways, most notably in terms of time saved by faculty and also in student outcomes, as you measure student performance against your curriculum. 

“It’s exciting to see Acuity moving beyond the collaborative collection of data in our Curriculum Mapping tools and into the detailed review process with our Course and Curriculum Review dashboards with our Analytics offering. Not only can you see where something is being taught, you can see how students are performing on exams on those topics and then circle back to the curriculum for poor performing items.”

— Destiny Porchuny, Director of Product

In addition to mapping, Acuity also offers curriculum dashboards as part of its Analytics tools. You can better understand your data sets to track your program and learner performance. You can identify trends in performance, gain a better understanding of admissions outcomes, and get a complete picture of student performance. 
Want to see an example of the Acuity platform and curriculum mapping tools in action? Book a demo and we will show you how to get started.