A course map is a detailed blueprint that guides you through course planning and development.
There are four basic steps to create a course map:
- Define the main competencies of the course.
- Define learning outcomes that describe what the learner should be able to know, understand, or do for each competency.
- Identify how learners will demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the content.
- Identify instructional materials that align with the course learning outcomes and competencies.
Define Course Competencies
Course competencies describe the overarching objectives of the course. They are typically concepts, themes, or general statements that describe the knowledge, understanding, skills, or attitudes that a learner should have after completing a course or a program.
An example of a competency may look like this:
Understand and apply strategies for storing products in the warehouse.
From this statement, we can deduce that a module in the course will focus on strategies for storing products in a warehouse. Additionally, by the end of the course, the learner will need to understand concepts covered in the course and apply them to real-life situations. However, this statement is not overly specific and doesn’t provide clear, measurable outcomes.
Define Learning Outcomes
Learning outcomes break down course objectives further to define specific learner goals for each competency. Learning outcomes are specific statements that communicate what the learner should be able to know, understand, and do after taking the course. They should be measurable and action-oriented.
Using the previous example, the learning outcomes for the competency “Understand and apply strategies for storing products in the warehouse.” might include:
- Understand the importance of storage strategies in automated warehouses
- Describe the 3 storage strategies for high-automation warehouses
- Describe the 3 storage strategies for low to mid-automation warehouses
- Configure the software to optimize product storage by balancing inventory across several warehouse aisles
Each of the learning outcomes above begins with an action verb, which clearly states what the learner must know, understand, or do to fulfill the competency requirements. When writing your learning outcomes, use a Bloom’s Taxonomy verb chart to identify action words that align to the concepts of remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating.
Here are some examples:
As you define learning outcomes for each of your competencies, make sure they relate back to the goals of the course and the overall program.
After defining your competencies and learning outcomes, look at ways for learners to demonstrate and prove their understanding of the content. Assessments and proficiency levels give you an opportunity to gauge whether the learner grasped the concepts in the course, and if they have, how well they understood them.
Assessments come in a variety of forms, but there are two general categories:
- Formative assessments: Inform you about whether a learner is grasping concepts. Formative assessments can be quizzes, tests, projects, activities, and more.
- Summative assessments: Demonstrate how well a learner understood the content according to a predefined benchmark or standard. Summative assessments occur at the end of a course period, and they can be in-depth reports or papers, final projects, cumulative exams, and more.
For each learning outcome in the course map, specify how to assess the learner using a formative or summative assessment and consider how to determine their proficiency level.
Continuing with our warehouse example, we might have:
Identify Instructional Materials
The final step to creating your course map is to identify the instructional or supporting materials for the course. Instructional materials can include:
- Videos (premade or self-made)
Like in the previous steps, map instructional materials back to the learning outcomes. Doing so ensures that you are providing content and materials that are directly related to the objectives of the course and the program. This helps keep learners on track and avoids time spent on unnecessary resources.
Working through the four steps above will help you develop a course rooted in predefined learning outcomes that align with program objectives. Emphasizing learning outcomes and competencies creates a course that places the needs of the learner first while also providing you with a roadmap for course development.
Bloom's Taxonomy Verb Chart. Teaching Innovation and Pedagogical Support. (2014, September 18). https://tips.uark.edu/blooms-taxonomy-verb-chart/.
Course Mapping. Center for Teaching and Learning | Wiley Education Services. (2021, February 8). https://ctl.wiley.com/course-mapping-2/.
Gosselin, D. (2020, December 14). Competencies vs Learning Outcomes. InTeGrate - Interdisciplinary Teaching about Earth for a Sustainable Future. https://serc.carleton.edu/integrate/programs/workforceprep/competencies_and_LO.html.
Hartel, R. W., Foegeding, E. A. (2004). Learning: Objectives, Competencies, or Outcomes? Journal of Food Science Education, 3(4), 69–70. https://doi.org/https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1541-4329.2004.tb00047.x