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Constructive alignment through curriculum mapping

Within a university setting when using a constructive alignment approach the expectation is that Course Learning Outcomes (CLO) should clearly link to one or more Program Learning Outcomes (PLO). To make sure that these two levels of outcomes align, you can use curriculum mapping.

Curriculum mapping involves the collection of data on the key components of the curriculum. Depending on the level at which the mapping activity is undertaken, these key components may include data on program level and course level learning outcomes, content, assessment and evaluation. The curriculum mapping process then focuses on reviewing, or mapping, curriculum coverage including identifying areas of overlap or over-concentration. Alternatively, you may discover gaps in the curriculum.

Why use curriculum mapping to ensure constructive alignment?

• Students need to be clear about what they are achieving throughout their studies. There needs to be transparency in the knowledge, skills and application of these, being targeted across all course. This makes sure that graduates from any course or program achieve the stated aims and program level outcomes

• Staff need to have a shared understanding of what a program is teaching, and how their course fits within it. Engaging in curriculum mapping can also improve communication about curriculum among faculty and encourage reflective practice (RIT, n.d.)

• Universities need to be able to guarantee that students have a consistent and high quality educational experience.

Table showing relationship from program learning outcomes to external / internal auditing Copyright © UNSW Sydney 2017

Reflection point

Has your department or faculty engaged in any curriculum mapping activities?

If so, what were the outcomes of the mapping process for curriculum design? If not, do you feel confident in undertaking such a process?

Want to know more?

If you would like to more about this topic on curriculum mapping there are additional resources listed in the Want to know more.pdf for this step.


Rochester Institute of Technology (n.d.). Curriculum Mapping. The Office of Educational Effectiveness Assessment (EEA) website.

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Educational Design in Higher Education

UNSW Sydney