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To Map or Not to Map? That is the Question.

August 18, 2021

Curriculum mapping projects are an increasingly common way librarians engage with their liaison programs. A quick search for “(curriculum mapping) AND (libraries OR library OR librarian)” in Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts via EBSCOhost in August 2021 returned 109 results, with the ten most relevant cited 22 times. The question remains though, what benefit is there to you to embark on such a project; is it worthwhile for your liaison areas? 

Curriculum mapping examines what is taught, who teaches it, if instructional goals are met, and the efficacy of the process. Program learning objectives are charted visually to align with courses and form a map to allow the reader a birds eye view of a program’s curriculum as a whole, discover gaps and redundancies, and empower departments to enhance student learning (Buchanan et al., 2015, p. 95). A curriculum map will look something like this: 

Course 101Course 202Course 303Course 404
Program Learning Outcome 1
Program Learning Outcome 2
Program Learning Outcome 3
Program Learning Outcome 4

In libraries, curriculum mapping is often used to guide the library’s instructional efforts, mapping course learning outcomes against ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy (Khailova, 2021, p. 2). Bullard and Holden (2008) share four key advantages to conducting a curriculum mapping project:

  1. Key courses where information literacy instruction can be delivered at the point of need can now be prioritized with evidence. 
  2. New faculty outreach opportunities and potential instruction inroads are discovered, again with evidence to support the effort. 
  3. Departmental language surrounding information literacy is discovered, allowing librarians and faculty to speak the same language.
  4. Librarians are kept up to date on current departmental needs, further helping the library provide relevant services to the department (pp. 17–18). 

The benefits shared by Bullard and Holden (2008) make it clear that curriculum mapping projects benefit libraries, in spite of the time investment required to create and upkeep a map. While examples of libraries and librarians conducting curriculum mapping projects are easier to find today, Bullard and Holden’s outline for how to conduct a curriculum mapping project at your library is still helpful: gather syllabi from the department or faculty; analyze learning outcomes for information literacy components and weaknesses; draft your map, using departmental language; gather feedback from departmental faculty with whom you already have inroads; incorporate their feedback; begin marketing to whole department (2008, p. 21). As you gain more feedback from faculty about the map, you can grow and adapt the map to better suit your needs as a liaison. 

References and Further Reading

Archambault, S. G., & Masunaga, J. (2015). Curriculum Mapping as a Strategic Planning Tool. Journal of Library Administration, 55(6), 503–519.

Castro, G. A. G., & Eldermire, E. (2015). Laying the groundwork for information literacy at a research university. Performance Measurement and Metrics, 16(1), 4–17.

Buchanan, H., Webb, K. K., Houk, A. H., & Tingelstad, C. (2015). Curriculum Mapping in Academic Libraries. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 21(1), 94–111.

Bullard, K. A., & Holden, D. H. (2008). Hitting a Moving Target: Curriculum Mapping, Information Literacy and Academe. 5.

Jacobs, H. H. (2004). Getting Results with Curriculum Mapping. Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. 

Khailova, L. (2021). Using curriculum mapping to scaffold and equitably distribute information literacy instruction for graduate professional studies programs. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 47(1), 102281.

Truesdale, V., Thompson, C., & Lucas, M. (2004). Use of Curriculum Mapping to Build a Learning Community. In Getting Results with Curriculum Mapping (p. 15). Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.

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