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Curriculum Mapping

Curriculum mapping is a term for many approaches and products that document instructional standards and outcomes across a course or program. Curriculum maps help instructors analyze alignment to standards and methodologies, consider coverage gaps and redundancies, and transparently document when, where, and how objectives are met both internally and externally. 

There is no one standard approach to mapping. However, some frequently-used maps are:

  • Essential/Consensus/Projection Maps - Maps created by a team before instruction of what should be taught/learned and when/how across the program, discipline, or course. 
  • Operational/Diary Maps - Maps created by an educator/team during or after instruction of what’s actually taught/learned and when/how across a course or sections of a course.

Depending on what's useful for the context, curriculum maps include information such as:

  • Content Sequencing/Progression – What is covered and when? Does sequencing make sense? 
  • Program/Course Objectives – Where/how are objectives introduced, reinforced, and assessed? 
  • Performance Standards – What internal/external standards are set by accrediting bodies, related organizations, etc.? 
  • Big Ideas/Essential Questions – Can you define "big ideas" you want students to grasp and "essential questions" that might drive inquiry? This promotes focus and depth in design. 
  • Methodology – How much time is didactic, collaborative, lab-oriented, clinical, etc.? 
  • Resources – Are there critical references, software, tools, etc. that should be introduced? 
  • Assessments/Evaluations - Are appropriate formative/summative learning assessments incorporated? Are evaluations related to peers, educators, or the experience incorporated?

Because curriculum mapping can be done at the course- or program-level, the process may vary. Here is a typical approach: 

  • Answer guiding questions about the project to consider products and use. 
  • Collect and review data such as syllabi/objectives across the program and/or course sections. 
  • Identify immediate revision points and timetable. 
  • Identify points needing additional research and timetable. 
  • Plan for an ongoing cycle of continuous quality improvement with mapping. 

Review these resources and templates: 


    Curriculum Mapping

    • Curriculum mapping. (2013). Retrieved from

    • Hale, J. A. (2008). A guide to curriculum mapping: Planning, and sustaining the process. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
    • Hale, J. A. & Dunlap, R. E. (2010). An educational leader’s guide to curriculum mapping: Creating and sustaining collaborative cultures. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 
    • Jacobs, H. H. (1997). Mapping the big picture: Integrating curriculum and assessment K-12. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. 
    • Jacobs, H .H. (2004). Getting results with curriculum mapping. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. 
    • Zenor, K. (n.d.). Approach to mapping: Map, celebrate, review, repeat… Rubicon.

    Curriculum Design

    • Ainsworth, L. (2014). Rigorous curriculum design: How to create curricular units of study that align standards, instruction, and assessment. Englewood, CO: Lead+Learn Press. 
    • Erickson, H. L. (2007). Concept-based curriculum and instruction for a thinking classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 
    • Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2011). The Understanding by design guide to advanced concepts in creating and reviewing units. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
    • Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2011). The Understanding by design guide to creating high-quality units. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
    • Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2015). Solving 25 problems in unit design: How do I refine my units to enhance student learning? Alexandria, VA: ASCD Arias. 

    Professional Learning Communities

    • DuFour, R., DuFour R., Eaker, R., & Many, T. (2010). Learning by doing: A handbook for professional communities at work - A practical guide for PLC teams and leadership. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.
    • DuFour, R. & Reason, C. (2015). Professional learning communities at work and virtual collaboration: On the tipping point of transformation. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.

    Field Anecdotes

    • Mills, M.S. (2003). “Curriculum Mapping as Professional Development: Using Maps to Jump-Start Collaboration.” Curriculum Technology. Volume 12. Number 3.