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Student Curriculum Mapping: A More Authentic Way Of Examining And Evaluating Curriculum

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1307.1 - 12.1307.13

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Paper Authors


Lisa Romkey University of Toronto

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Lisa Romkey is the Lecturer, Curriculum, Teaching and Learning with the Division of Engineering Science. In this position, Lisa plays a central role in the continuous improvement of the design and delivery of a dynamic and complex curriculum, while facilitating the development and implementation of teaching and learning initiatives and innovations. Lisa is cross-appointed with the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at OISE/UT (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto). Lisa holds a Masters in Curriculum Studies and is currently pursuing a PhD in higher education at OISE/UT. Research interests include teaching & learning in higher education, engineering education, first year experience, STSE in higher education and gender issues in science and engineering.

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Laura Bradbury Division of Engineering Science, University of Toronto

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Laura Bradbury is an engineering student at the University of Toronto. She is currently completing her undergraduate degree in Engineering Science, which is a very comprehensive and well respected program. She will be focusing her studies in the field of aerospace engineering and, in particular, flight dynamics and aircraft design. She has held an internship position as a Curriculum Evaluation and Development Associate with the division of Engineering Science. Her research interests include engineering education and engineering design theory.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


Curriculum mapping is a relatively new technique used to organize and communicate curriculum. The technique is most often used within K-12 schools and boards, but has also been used in colleges and universities that tend to suffer from instructor and course isolation; in other words, faculty who do not have a clear understanding of what is addressed in the courses of their colleagues. This paper describes the initial stages of a large-scale, long-term curriculum mapping project in an undergraduate engineering program at the University of Toronto. While traditionally, the practice is conducted by the instructors who teach the course, or those responsible for curriculum development, this project takes on a new twist in that students, who have experienced the curriculum as the learner, conducted the mapping. Curriculum mapping is said to provide an accurate view of what is actually delivered, and through engaging students in the process, there is an opportunity to determine what is actually learned, from the students’ perspective. Through this paper, we look at purpose and practice of curriculum mapping, the process we have taken on, the perceived benefits to students, faculty and administration and the unique benefits achieved through engaging students in this process.

Curriculum Mapping: Purpose and Practice

Curriculum mapping was developed in response to a lack of communication and readily available information about the curriculum in a given educational setting. It is designed to provide the “whole picture” of the taught curriculum, including relationships between components that may not otherwise be linked, such as undergraduate courses taught in different departments. Curriculum mapping provides a broad picture of the “real” curriculum – what is actually being delivered to the students, as opposed to the “fictional” curriculum, or what is being declared or intended (Harden, 2001)5. The curriculum map is usually a diagram that shows the relationships between curriculum elements, or a table/matrix that displays the different elements of the curriculum and the inter-relationship between these elements (Wigal, 2005)10. A curriculum map representing an undergraduate program, in its complete form, would include information on each and every learning experience at a very detailed level, across semesters and years. Curriculum mapping demonstrates the content and sequence of the curriculum, and the goals, objectives or requirements that the curriculum is meeting. Curriculum mapping also looks at the time allocated to particular tasks, and how this has an effect on student achievement in particular domains (Clough, James and Witcher, 1996)2.

Curriculum mapping is a practice often used in the K-12 education system, where schools and school boards attempt to organize and communicate curriculum in new ways. Curriculum mapping allows a school district to ensure that national and local benchmarks are being met (Declark, 2002)3, and ensure all students are receiving the appropriate learning experience, regardless of teacher or school. It also encourages teachers, across grades or disciplines to better coordinate and integrate their curriculum. The practice is also relatively common in medical education, and is evident throughout other undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. Little has been published about curriculum mapping efforts in engineering programs, despite the potential unique benefits to engineering, given factors such as its complexity, the importance of application of theory and the accreditation process.

Romkey, L., & Bradbury, L. (2007, June), Student Curriculum Mapping: A More Authentic Way Of Examining And Evaluating Curriculum Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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