A Map to Student Learning

In a recent Staff Development session Cathy Holbrook, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, introduced the idea of Mapping Learning Goals and Student Learning Outcomes. During the presentation, we were encouraged to sit with our department in order to work on our learning goals together. She equipped the group with a copy of the Divisional Student Learning Goals and Outcomes, as well as gave us map examples. She began by answering the question: What is a learning map?
It is a document that links programming (curriculum) to stated learning goals or outcomes. Maps provide a visual overview of where we provide opportunities for students to attain goals & master specific intended outcomes. Maps can be done at a variety of levels including divisional, departmental & programmatic.

Cathy then shared the goals of the workshop, along with the mapping goals.
The Goals of the Workshop:

  • Increase understanding of mapping process and purposes
  • Increase facility with the mapping process as an assessment tool
  • Provide hands on practice with the mapping process

Mapping Goals:

  • Provide opportunity for departments to identify links between what they do & the division learning goals, and what they do & departmental learning outcomes
  • Create stronger picture of how students learn through division programs/activities/etc
  • Identify how we know the intended learning actually occurs

So, why do we use maps?

Learning maps help identify where learning occurs and potential duplications and gaps.  Maps also provide a framework for program evaluation and assessment. They illustrate how individual programs relate to broader goals and where the emphasis is placed. By using mapping at BSU, it will enable our division to link a wide array of opportunities into clearer paths for learning.
Two types of maps were identified by Cathy. One kind is an Overview Map where programs/activities are linked to division learning goals OR departmental student learning outcomes. The other type of map is called a Level Map and it focuses on how outcomes are addressed in various programs such as the level of learning (i.e. introductory, developing, etc.).
source: Cathy Holbrook
Lastly, you want to consider answering a few questions as to how to create a useful map. Broadly, consider where you want to go and what areas you hope to connect. A simple grid can be expanded as the process becomes increasingly complex. For the staff development session, Cathy suggested we begin by brainstorming and engaging all staff and then determine what goes on to the map. A few questions to keep in mind in the process include:
  • Does that program/activity have defined outcomes? If not, are you willing to develop them?
  • Do you regularly assess how effectively the outcomes are met? If not, how will you add an assessment component for the program/activity?

After Cathy explained the process, including a Student Affairs Learning Goals Grid, we worked with our colleagues to identify our programs, services and meaningful activities to fill in the grid. When identifying what the learning goals are, Cathy gave us an acronym to help focus better on the goals: SWBOT (students will be able to…). Doing so allowed us to better visualize or “map” our course as a department.

About cindykane

Director of @BSUInvolved and interested in leadership and professional development strategies. Mom, scholar-practitioner, looking to make an impact! http://www.linkedin.com/in/CindyWKane
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