2 Program Learning Outcomes and Curriculum Mapping

Program Learning Outcomes

An important component of program review is the collegial review of and revision to program learning outcomes (PLO)—statements that describe the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of program graduates. Over time, PLOs may shift and the program may begin to look less like the program as it was initially designed. As faculty retire and others join, the culture of the program may need to be redefined to match the evolving expertise of the department. New trends and new skills also emerge over time in disciplines and professional fields, along with changes in programmatic accreditation requirements. A careful review of the existing PLOs and curriculum map can lead to program improvements and greater curricular coherency.

Curriculum Mapping

Curriculum mapping offers a visual approach to understanding the program curriculum, including how courses contribute to students’ learning. The curriculum map provides clarity of program and course expectations and clarifies the connections between courses, PLOs, and institutional learning outcomes. In addition, curriculum mapping facilitates assignment and assessment design.

Instructions for Program Review Teams

Timeline: May 15 – August 31

Recommended Submission Date: August 31

  1. Read Module 2 in the Program Review Handbook.
  2. Contact the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) if you need assistance with developing/refining PLOs and curriculum maps.
  3. Save the program curriculum map in a secure place and prepare it for inclusion in the Self-Study Appendices.

Blank Curriculum Mapping Template (xlsx)


CELT is a key partner during Module 2. Ideally, all program faculty members will participate in developing and/or revising PLOs and program curriculum maps. The whole process can be accomplished in roughly six hours over three to four meetings; however, it should be spread over time to allow for reflection, work to be done, and thoughtful responses to be considered.

Table 3.1
Topic Time
PLO Introduction 10 min. CELT provides an “Introduction to PLOs” presentation at the beginning of a departmental meeting.
PLO Survey 25 min. CELT initiates a PLO survey asking for input from all department members. CELT collects the survey results (typically a one to two-week turnaround) and prepares materials for first PLO workshop with the department.
PLO Sorting 1 hour Working in small groups, department members sort, revise, and consolidate the PLOs into a draft list of eight to ten PLOs.
PLO Editing 1 hour Faculty revise PLOs, as needed.
Governance and Approval 1 hour The PLOs go to Department meeting and then Faculty Council for approval.
Curriculum Mapping Introduction 15 min. CELT provides an “Introduction to Curriculum Mapping” presentation at the beginning of a departmental meeting.
How to Map Your Courses 1 hour Once the department has reached consensus on the PLOs, they engage in curriculum mapping. Courses for the program will be distributed to faculty members for review. Each faculty member will evaluate their courses based on the following questions: (1) Which PLOs are addressed in the course? (2) Does the course Introduce, Reinforce, or develop Competency in relation to the PLO? (3) Which assessment techniques are used to evaluate achievement of the PLO?
How to Interpret the Curriculum Map 1 hour This session is an opportunity for faculty to examine the strengths and opportunities of the program structure. The map provides a visual representation of the PLOs, allowing faculty to notice gaps or redundancies across the program. The assessment patterns become apparent, opening discussions about best assessment practices, consistency between sections of the same course, and variety across the program.


The Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) has numerous resources, including a guide to writing and assessing learning outcomes. CELT’s learning outcomes resources are available online.

We also suggest taking a look at CRICKET (Course Renewal in a Kit), designed by faculty and staff at TRU – a “collaborative curriculum renewal space” with information about learning outcomes, learning activities, and assessment.


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Program Review Handbook by Alana Hoare, Catharine Dishke Hondzel, and Shannon Wagner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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