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Map Assignments to Outcomes: Course Maps

What makes for a good assignment?


When it comes time to explore how well your students are learning, it is very important to design assignments that best give you that information. Think of these assignments as lenses - customize each one to reveal whichever aspect of learning interests you. If you have already created student learning outcomes (and if you haven't, best to do that now), make sure these assignments are matched to the content and skills described in those outcomes, paying particular attention to the level of learning: "spit/synthesis/speculate" or Bloom's Taxonomy Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching (2019).


For example:

    If your learning outcome states that students will recall factual information, you might assess that through a fill-in-the-blank question on a test.
    If your learning outcome states that students will apply concepts, you might assess that through a problem set or reading response.
    And if your learning outcome states that students will design something new, you might assess that through a presentation or piece of artwork.

When you decide on which assessment will test which learning outcome, it's time to create a course map.

What is a course map?

A course map depicts how you will assess each of your course learning outcomes.

Why create a course map?

Course maps are the road maps for course assessment. They show which assignments or exams (or parts of assignments or exams) you will use as direct evidence for student learning outcomes. It can also be helpful in highlighting whether your assignments cover all outcomes and effectively assess your learning priorities.

How do I create a course map?

    Create a table or chart that lists each of the student learning outcomes for your course.
    For each of your student learning outcomes, list what exams, papers or activities (or items on those exams or grading criteria for papers/activities) have been designed to address that particular outcome.

What do course maps look like?

Learning Outcomes


Recognize... Midterm Exam, Weekly Quizzes
Synthesize... Research Paper
Apply... Final Project

Go further!

    If you are teaching a course that satisfies a Pathways requirement, consider adding a column to your course map that includes that requirement's associated learning outcomes.
    You can also try displaying your course map as a graphic instead of a table to make it even more accessible to students.
    Interested in trying out a new assignment? Check out MIT OpenCourseware which offers a free portfolio of learning materials. Search through courses by topic, click to limit those with assessments.

Want examples of good course maps? Visit the Sample Tools page.

Continue to Assess Student Learning

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