Center for Teaching and Learning

April 2, 2020

12 – Development and Piloting of a Curriculum Mapping Survey


  • Alexa Clemmons, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, UW Seattle
  • Deb Donovan, Biology Department, College of Science and Engineering, Western Washington University
  • Alison Crowe, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, UW Seattle


Following the principles of backward design, instructional planning should begin with identifying student learning outcomes. Curriculum mapping is a tool for aligning intended programmatic learning outcomes with current course offerings, in order to identify gaps, redundancies, and strengths in a degree program. However, gathering this information requires coordinating communication among all faculty in a department, a time-consuming and messy process.

To ease the process of data collection and analysis during curriculum mapping, we have begun developing a survey for departments to gather self-reported data on the frequency and assessment of learning outcomes taught in each of their courses. In this poster, we present our findings for the question “Can a faculty survey gather valid and useful curriculum mapping data?” To establish and improve validity based on response processes, we iteratively revised the survey using think aloud interviews with biology faculty (the intended survey users, n=10). Next, we piloted the survey in the biology departments of 6 institutions (n≈6-50 instructors).

These pilots allowed us to test:

  1. The validity based on response processes via probing questions asking respondents to explain their responses (analyzed for evidence of survey response processes errors),
  2. The response scale and internal validity (by examining the distribution of responses and correlation of responses to related questions), and
  3. The tool’s utility via open-ended questions at the end of the survey and informal feedback from curriculum leaders at each pilot institution (analyzed by thematic analysis).

Finally, we compared instructor survey responses with independent review of course materials (syllabi, major assessments) as well as their students’ responses to a related survey. Analyses are ongoing at the time of abstract submission. We believe this tool could be valuable in any department that has identified program learning outcomes and is interested in curriculum mapping to make data-driven programmatic decisions.

View a PDF of this poster