The majority of Section 4.1. in the self-study template is intended to detail the curricular structure of the academic program under review. After program outcomes are articulated and aligned with Degree Level Expectations in section 4.1.1., the remaining sub-sections require that writers describe how the teaching and learning activities, assessments, and modes of delivery ultimately support students to achieve the program’s intended goals for learning.
4.1.2. Describe how the teaching and learning activities align with and demonstrate achievement of the Program-level learning outcomes
4.1.3. Describe how the methods of assessment, especially in student’s final year of the Program, align with and demonstrate achievement of the Program learning outcomes
4.1.4. Describe how the modes of delivery align with and demonstrate achievement of the Program-level learning outcomes
Teaching and Learning Activities: the activities that an instructor designs to help students learn. For example, lectures, field trips, group projects that enable students’ learning. Consider this question: What are students doing in their courses/programs that enable their learning?
Assessments: methods for assessing student’s knowledge, skills, or values; assignments, tests, tasks, evaluations, and performances students do within courses or in their program as a form of assessment.
Mode of Delivery: The means or medium used in delivering a program (e.g. lecture format, distance, online, synchronous/asynchronous, problem-based, compressed part-time, multi-campus, inter-institutional collaboration, or other non-standard forms of delivery).
How to Approach this Work
Compiling these sections of the self-study requires collecting and consolidating a great deal of information about the courses and learning events that comprise the program (optional and elective). For many programs, this kind of detail is not static (it changes year to year) and it largely resides with the course instructors.
Many different approaches are taken depending on a variety of factors such as time, capacity, and complexity of curricular structure to be detailed. This leads to a high degree of variability between self-studies – the approaches and results differ between self-studies. Consider a strategy that is:
Collaborative. No one person holds all the knowledge of the program’s curriculum. To capture the full breadth of teaching and assessments in the program, bring as many people into the conversation as you’re able, for example, collecting input from the instructors who teach the courses.
Both Standard, and exemplary. Highlight the innovative, creative, and exciting things that happen within your program. Just as important though is to reflect the true nature of the program – is your program strongly lecture-based? Demonstrate how that is a foundational and essential form of teaching within the program for enabling students to develop their knowledge-base, work with complex theories and concepts, and learn from experts in the field.
Take Stock of the Overall Curricular Design
Every program is different, however there tend to be ‘chunks’, phases, terms, or years of study that can represent different stages of learning. Do core courses comprise the first term/year of study? Do students take all their electives in third year? Do students complete their course work then engage in their comprehensive exams or practicum placements? What do students do in the last term or year of their studies?
Take stock of your overall curriculum design. Your ultimate goal is to provide the readers of your self-study document (your reviewers) with an appreciation for the curriculum, how it is structured, and how students engage in learning that is supportive of their success and accomplishments in the program. It can be helpful to provide a high-level overview of the curricular structure at the start of Section 4 to give readers an overall sense of the program and how it is structured. Queen’s Major Maps, particularly the ‘Get the Courses You Need’ section, are excellent examples of how a large amount of information about the program’s curricular structure is communicated in a condensed format.
Use Outcomes as the Guide
The following table is an example of one program’s efforts to curate, detail, and organize the major forms of teaching, assessment, and modes of delivery in an academic program.
As you can see in the above example, a single learning outcome was the focus of the detailed description of the curriculum. The Self-Study template is organized such that each sub-section (teaching, assessment, modes of delivery) is organized based on the learning outcomes. Consider the following facilitative questions:
- Are the teaching and assessment methods of the program well-suited, allowing students to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, attributes, etc. they are learning?
- Are students being taught in a way that facilitates learning and enables them to succeed on their assessments?
How can we showcase our answers to the above questions throughout Section 4 of the Self-Study?
Consider Engaging in Curriculum Mapping
Curriculum mapping is “the process of associating course outcomes with program‐level learning outcomes and aligning elements of courses (e.g., teaching and learning activities, assessment strategies) within a program, to ensure that it is structured in a strategic, thoughtful way that enhances student learning” (Dyjur et al., 2019, p. 4).
A curriculum map is a document that organizes a large amount of ‘curriculum data’, information about your program’s curriculum design, such as program learning outcomes, courses, and elements of those courses. Depending on it’s structure and level of detail, a curriculum map can be used to analyze:
- which courses support learning that relates to specific program outcomes
- how students progress through their learning over time
- the major forms of teaching and assessment across courses/across the program
- when/where students are introduced to concepts, skills, or values, when/where that learning is reinforced, and when/where students demonstrate mastery.
If you are interested in Curriculum Mapping, read more in the Curriculum Mapping unit.