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Roadmap for a successful curriculum mapping project

By Katy Kavanagh Webb, East Carolina University | Oct 24, 2016

What makes up a curriculum map - collect data

Do any of these statements sound familiar?


  • “I wish I had known about the library sooner.” — graduating senior
  • “The students should have learned this already.” —  faculty member
  • “Your department should include more information literacy instruction courses.” —library administrator


If you have heard similar statements, or if you are not hearing from students and faculty members at all, it may be time to try curriculum mapping. An analysis and planning process that helps chart a course for your information literacy instruction program, it results in a curriculum map (in the form of a document or report) that maps your library learning outcomes to specific classes in a major.


Example of curriculum map
Example of curriculum map by Katy Kavanagh Webb, East Carolina University


Use the following road map to get started with curriculum mapping for departments at your institution. 



Gather data


The first things you need to make a curriculum map are the drive and the time to do it. Whatever the reason that you are undertaking a curriculum map, the three stages will be the same. In this first stage, you will collect data, including instructional statistics from your program, department course information from your university’s course catalog, and any accreditation information you can find. Collect these in a document so you have an overview of the library services now being offered to the academic department. 


You may need to conduct interviews to get more information about a particular department. Before reaching out to faculty, make sure you have done your homework. You can usually find information about the courses in a major from the course catalog, so do not ask for basic information that you can find elsewhere. At my institution, there is a curriculum coordinator for each department. Try to find an interested faculty member and meet with them before asking for an interview or going to a departmental meeting. Additionally, be aware that your curriculum map may not be met with total enthusiasm if you are reaching out for the first time, so make sure faculty know that you are making suggestions, not telling them what to do. 


Another group on campus to reach out to is your institution’s planning, assessment and research group. This office is responsible for accreditation processes and will have a lot of information to share (if they are able to).



Analyze data and map the curriculum


The second step is to analyze the data and map the curriculum. I recommend a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, which will reveal the positives in your relationship with the department and point toward opportunities you may have for better service. During this stage, you will also have to map information literacy learning outcomes to courses in the major. Curriculum mapping is visual, so consider using a colorful table or mind-mapping software, such as MindMeister, to help tell your story. 



Take action


The final step is to take action. You may find that you need to reach out to specific faculty members, attend a departmental meeting, teach some new classes or create tutorials. Your map will help you do so with a better picture of the students’ information needs. Use your university’s class scheduling software to find out who is teaching specific classes. If you email faculty members, make sure that each message is tailored specifically to them. 


Curriculum mapping is best done as a group project. If you are in a department with multiple liaison librarians offering instruction to departments, consider having each person explore one of their departments. The work can be scaffolded over the course of multiple departmental meetings in a workshop format. 


Whatever the result, you will reach out to faculty either via email, in a one-on-one meeting or a departmental meeting. Some measures of success for curriculum mapping would be new library sessions, an increase in your research consultations, modules in your learning management software, or new LibGuides to serve different tracks for a major. 



Start (and continue) your own projects


A successful curriculum mapping project can enhance your library’s information literacy program in many ways. Use the accompanying curriculum mapping checklist to start a project at your institution and modify it for your needs. 


You may find that you have time to start a curriculum map, but not the time to finish it. Curriculum maps are never really finished. Come back to it when you have the time, and once you complete your first attempt, keep it updated. Keep an eye on the classes going through the curriculum committee at your university to look for new classes to add to your curriculum map. I also suggest that you monitor your email and faculty senate committee minutes for new initiatives at your university that could that affect library instruction (and your map), such as departmental reorganizations, quality enhancement plans and large-scale grants.


And if you need a little more inspiration, watch the third segment of the Library Connect webinar “Trends in teaching information literacy” for my presentation on curriculum mapping.