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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-3

Curriculum mapping: A process to revise the path to achieving student competency

Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy at University of Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Date of Submission21-Dec-2020
Date of Acceptance02-Feb-2021
Date of Web Publication7-May-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Karleen Melody
Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy at University of Sciences, 600 S. 43rd Street, Box # 34, Philadelphia, PA 19104
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ehp.ehp_41_20

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Objective: The objective of this study was to outline the process and results of a curriculum map revision. Methods: A revision process was developed for curricular competencies and measurable abilities (MAs). A crosswalk of the original MAs to the revised MAs and curriculum mapping reports for the 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 academic years were evaluated. Results: The number of competencies decreased from 12 to 11 and MAs increased from 90 to 98. The MA word count decreased from 1719 to 1498 (12.9%); 25 were combined, 26 were deleted, seven were divided, and 47 were created. Course learning outcomes (CLOs) mapped to a mean of 139 and 39 MAs prerevision and postrevision, respectively. Prerevision, 86.9% of CLOs mapped to an MA. Postrevision, 100% of CLOs mapped to an MA. Conclusion: Our revision process reduced redundancy and complexity and addressed gaps. Institutions searching for a model to assist with curriculum mapping and revisions may find our process useful.

Keywords: Competency, curriculum mapping, entrustable professional activities

How to cite this article:
Melody K, Quinn DH, Waite LH, Mandos LA, Tietze KJ. Curriculum mapping: A process to revise the path to achieving student competency. Educ Health Prof 2021;4:1-3

How to cite this URL:
Melody K, Quinn DH, Waite LH, Mandos LA, Tietze KJ. Curriculum mapping: A process to revise the path to achieving student competency. Educ Health Prof [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 12];4:1-3. Available from: https://www.ehpjournal.com/text.asp?2021/4/1/1/315627

  Introduction Top

Curricular mapping is an essential component of developing, implementing, and assessing an effective curriculum.[1] When properly constructed, the utility of a curricular map expands beyond demonstrating compliance with accreditation standards; it allows continuous evaluation and curricular redesign to best achieve desired outcomes.[2] The reassessment and revision process, however, often requires plentiful resources, a strong vision, and a multimodal approach.[2] We describe a case study of how one college engaged in a refinement of its curricular map in a newly implemented curriculum.

The process of transforming the University's Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum began in January 2012. A competency-driven framework was built with competencies and measurable abilities (MAs) [Table 1] identified using the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) 2016 Draft Standards, Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Education 2013 educational outcomes, and the college's strategic plan.[3],[4] Twelve competencies with 90 MAs were created with a range of 1–17 MAs per competency. Course faculty teaching in the first professional year (P1) was required to proactively map their course learning outcomes (CLOs) to the MAs during the summer of 2018 before curriculum implementation in fall 2018. Mapping examination questions and other skills assessments to the MAs was optional. All course mapping for the P1 year was captured in the university's assessment management platform (AMP).
Table 1: Terminology

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Almost immediately upon implementation, concerns emerged about the ability to map CLOs and assessments to the initial version of the MAs, including gaps and overlaps. Some MAs were duplicative to one another, some were broad and nonspecific, whereas others were overly detailed and compounded, all of which led to CLOs being mapped to a large number of MAs. In addition, some CLOs could not be mapped to any MA, indicating significant gaps. With these concerns, faculty and college administrators requested that the MAs be revised. The purpose of this article is to outline the process used to revise the MAs and describe the results of the revision.

  Methods Top

In April 2019, a five-member working group (WG) from the curricular implementation team, which oversees the implementation and continuous assessment of the curriculum, began the MA revision process. The WG started with a philosophical discussion of the MAs intent, evaluating concerns with the initial MAs mentioned previously, and identifying new resources for refining the MAs including the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Core Entrustable Professional Activities (EPA), Appendix 1 of the 2016 ACPE Final Standards, and the Interprofessional Educational Collaborative (IPEC®) 2016 competencies.[5],[6] Next, a schedule was developed which divided the 12 competencies into related groups. Members individually reviewed and made suggested edits to the MAs within these assigned competencies before scheduled WG meetings. Together, the WG edited the MAs to streamline the wording, combine duplicative MAs, separate compounded MAs, and create new MAs for areas of gaps; all decisions were made by consensus. An integral part of this process involved creating a crosswalk that linked the original MAs to the revised MAs using the “track changes” and “comment” functions within the original version of the MA document. In June 2019, the WG brought the proposed changes to the College Council for approval. In summer 2019, P1 course CLOs were mapped to the revised MAs and P2 courses remapped to the revised CLOs.

The revision process evaluation included assessment of MA crosswalk including number of MAs, word count, and changes to MAs captured in comments on the document. These changes were categorized as deleted, combined, divided (separating compounded MAs), or newly created. Newly created MAs were further categorized as new MA from an EPA supporting task or newly created. The college's curriculum mapping reports were obtained from the university's AMP for the 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 academic years. For each course, the following data were extracted from these reports: total number of competencies mapped to each course; number of CLOs in each course; total number of MAs mapped to each CLO; and the number of unique MAs in a course. Courses often mapped an MA(s) to multiple CLOs. To capture the number of unique MAs, a MA was only counted once for that course even if it mapped to multiple CLOs. Courses with revised CLOs between the 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 academic years were excluded from the analysis. The study did not involve human subjects, thus review from an ethics board was not obtained.

  Results Top

The WG spent 5 h over three in-person meetings revising the competencies and MAs; each member spent additional time pre- and postmeetings. A notable change was the reduction in the number of curricular competencies from 12 to 11, which was a direct result of a revised MA that better aligned under another competency. Seven P1 courses met the inclusion criteria for the analysis including three foundational science courses, four integrated pharmaceutical sciences/therapeutic courses, and one social/administrative science course [Table 2]. Three courses were excluded due to changes in CLOs between the two academic years.
Table 2: Results of measurable ability revision process

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A total of 25 MAs were combined, 26 MAs were deleted, and 7 MAs were divided to make them more specific. A review of the additional resources previously mentioned resulted in the development of 47 new MAs; 62% of the new MAs were directly related to EPA supporting tasks.[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8] Competencies with the largest number of new MAs or increased total number of MAs included those involving patient assessment, identifying and resolving drug therapy problems, pharmaceutical calculations, and communication. The highest number of deleted MAs came from competencies involving dispensing, patient assessment, and counseling. Themes of major changes included separating written, verbal and nonverbal communication skills, which originally was a compounded MA, and differentiating skills by audience (i.e., patient vs. health-care provider). Other themes included expanding the calculations MAs to align with domains, streamlining the patient care MAs to focus on specific outcomes, and ensuring that all IPEC competencies were mapped.

Although the number of total MAs increased from 90 to 98, the total MA word count decreased from 1719 to 1498 (−12.9%). CLOs mapped to a mean of 139 MAs prerevision compared to a mean of 39 MAs postrevision [Table 2]. Courses before the revision had 30.8% unique MAs, whereas postrevision, 58.1% were unique. The basic science courses mapped to fewer MAs overall and consequently fewer unique MAs compared to the nonbasic science courses.

Overall, these changes resulted in an improved ability to successfully map course CLOs to MAs [Table 2]. Courses had a range of 4–14 CLOs. Basic science courses had an average of 4.6 CLOs, whereas the nonbasic science courses had an average of 11 CLOs. Before the MA revision, 86.9% of CLOs mapped to a MA; postrevision, 100% of CLOs mapped to an MA.

  Discussion Top

An effective curricular map is continually evaluated and revised, but this process is poorly described in the literature. The success of our revision process was demonstrated by the decreased word count of MAs and the increased number of MAs mapped to each course, as well as the increased percentage of unique MAs and percentage of CLOs mapped.

The addition of new patient assessment and drug therapy problem identification and resolution MAs was due to EPA supporting task alignment. The number of MAs for competencies involving pharmaceutical calculations and communication also increased, largely because the initial MAs were compounded and nonspecific. The highest number of deleted MAs related to redundancies surrounding dispensing, patient assessment, and counseling.

There are a few notable strengths of this research. This study addresses a gap in the literature regarding best practices surrounding curricular mapping and revision. Our approach highlights the variety of resources utilized and describes a thorough revision process that utilized a crosswalk to directly link the revision process to the original MA document. This crosswalk was crucial to explain the revisions to faculty, which expedited the approval process. Our data also highlight the importance of streamlining curricular mapping to create a more approachable process with increased efficiency for faculty.

The authors recognize that this study has limitations. Only 2 years of data for seven P1 courses were available for analysis. In addition, only CLOs were required to be mapped to MAs; examination questions and other course-level assessments were optional. More robust curricular mapping could identify further gaps or overlaps that were not identified during this first revision process. Moving forward, CLOs for all modules (P1–P3) in the entire curriculum and all examination questions are required to be mapped to the MAs. With these additional data, the curricular map will be analyzed and revised as warranted.

  Conclusion Top

The importance of curricular mapping in ensuring achievement of desired outcomes is indisputable, the process of assessment and revision of that map is less well-defined. Our approach reduced redundancy, decreased complexity, and addressed gaps. Other institutions searching for a model to assist with curriculum mapping and revisions may find our process useful.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Zelenitsky S, Vercaigne L, Davies NM, Davis C, Renaud R, Kristjanson C. Using curriculum mapping to engage faculty members in the analysis of a pharmacy program. Am J Pharm Educ 2014;78:139.  Back to cited text no. 1
Kelley KA, McAuley JW, Wallace LJ, Frank SG. Curricular mapping: Process and product. Am J Pharm Educ 2008;72:100.  Back to cited text no. 2
Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Accreditation standards and key elements for the Professional Program in Pharmacy Leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (Standards 2016). Available from: https://www.acpe-accredit.org/pdf/Standards2016FINAL.pdf. Published February 2015. [Last accessed on 2020 May 18].  Back to cited text no. 3
Medina MS, Plaza CM, Stowe CD, Robinson ET, DeLander G, Beck DE, et al. Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Education 2013 educational outcomes. Am J Pharm Ed 2013;77:162.  Back to cited text no. 4
Haines ST, Pittenger AL, Stolte SK, Plaza CM, Gleason BL, Kantorovich A, et al. Core entrustable professional activities for new pharmacy graduates. Am J Pharm Educ 2017;81:S2.  Back to cited text no. 5
Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC®). Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice-2016 Update. https://hsc.unm.edu/ipe/resources/ipec-2016-core-competencies.pdf. [Last accessed on 2020 May 18].  Back to cited text no. 6
Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine. UME/GME program resources. https://hl.im.org/resources/ume-gme-program-resources/milestones. [Last accessed on 2020 Aug 18].  Back to cited text no. 7
Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Glossary of terms. July 1, 2013. http://docplayer.net/2678449-Accreditation-council-for-graduate-medical-education-glossary-of-terms.html [Last accessed on 2020 Aug 18].  Back to cited text no. 8


  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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