Assessment of Core Curriculum: Mapping the Core

Core Curriculum

The new core curriculum designed by the faculty set out to fulfill four goals embraced by the faculty and administration. These goals were established to ensure that all students attending Salve Regina University would receive an education that have as its central themes a focus on a Catholic Identity, a Liberal Education, Lifelong Learning and becoming Responsible Citizens of the World. Additionally 28 objectives were tied to the four goals. Those objectives were developed to assist the students in the acquisition of knowledge, the development of skills and the integration of material.

Mapping the Core Curriculum

The mapping process began with the development of a mapping instrument. The instrument was reviewed by the Core Curriculum Committee. The CCC, which includes representatives from the nine core areas, worked within their respective areas to assist and encourage faculty within their area to complete the mapping assignment. The mapping of courses was first done on an individual basis. Faculty members teaching core and core complement courses were asked to complete a matrix which identified the goals and objectives being met, the frequency of which the goals and objectives were discussed within a class, the methods used to convey information about the course and means of assessment. 101 faculty were asked to participate in the process, of those 100 completed maps. (see mapping tool) A follow-up consensus mapping was conducted which brought together faculty from multiple sections of the same course to determine which goals and objectives should be common to particular courses. In addition to agreement about which goals and objectives were central to the courses, the consensus mapping process provided an opportunity for faculty members to brainstorm about methods for effectively addressing the goals and objectives.


A wealth of information was generated from the mapping exercise. We were able to determine each course's role in the delivery of goals and objectives, each core area's responsibility for covering goals and objectives and finally the big picture of how effective the core curriculum is in delivering the four goals and twenty-eight objectives of the university. Because the majority of the courses mapped were freshman courses, we gained a picture of the freshman experience.

Specifically we were able to determine the degree to which all goals and objectives are covered by the core courses. Overall we were able to understand which goal(s) is conveyed most frequently and which goal(s) is not as easily conveyed in the courses and to what degree the objectives of that goal are conveyed.

An analysis of the percentages of the courses addressing goals and objectives has allowed the faculty to understand that some objectives are met in as high as 87% of the courses and other objectives are met in as low as 4% of the courses.

The freshman experience indicated that a student would be in his or her first year exposed to all goals and twenty-one of the twenty-eight objectives. The commom core four-year experience (Portal; Seeking Wisdom, English Literature: What it Means to be Human, Christianity and Dialogue with World Religions, Philosophy and Responsibility, Capstone: Living Wisdom and Contemporary Challenges) of students indicates that all four goals and twenty-two objectives are met. We will be able to understand the experience of the juniors and seniors as the assessment process moves forward.

Lessons Learned

Throughout the process, communication, creativity, faculty development, and flexibility were paramount. Ensuring that all faculty members were included in the process has remained a central objective of this work. As noted in the timeline, many opportunities were built into the process that allowed for faculty and administrators to ask questions and remain involved in the process. Information about the purpose of mapping, the exercise and results were constantly being provided to the Salve community. Information was conveyed through meetings, workshops and presentations.

Important within the communication process, was to continually offer information that kept all faculty and administrators in the mapping loop. For many departments, examining the courses in a critical manner opened up communication within the departments about methods, assignments and assessment of student learning.

The process has always allowed for and encouraged creativity. Faculty members have been encouraged to use a variety of methods to convey the goals and objectives of the core curriculum.

A commitment to faculty development has been central to our success in mapping of goals and objectives. The undergraduate dean has been tireless in developing ways for the faculty to own, understand and participate in the process. Both the assessment and core curriculum committees worked closely with the Integrative Learning Project and were able to assist in the cultivation of the process. Bringing newly hired faculty into the process was critical. We have found that many of the newer faculty were able to more easily incorporate, the goals and objectives of the university into their teaching.

The tone throughout was one of flexibility. A tremendous amount of latitude was given to participants. Faculty members were only asked to identify those goals and objectives that they could comfortably address in their courses.

Assessment of Core Curriculum Time Line

Fall 2002

Core Curriculum and establishment of goals/objectives-the faculty voted in a new core curriculum after reviewing a number of models and decided on A Program Designed to Develop Lifelong Learners and Responsible Citizens of the World.

Fall 2003

New Core Curriculum begins-courses such as the Portal course were offered the first time. All students, new and transfer, would have 5 common courses during their time at SRU.

Acceptance into the Carnegie ILP-SRU becomes one of ten institutions of higher education to be involved in a 3-year integrative learning project.

Fall 2004

The development of Mapping Tool (Mapping of First Year courses).

Peggy Maki's book Assessing for Learning is distributed to all faculty by the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

The first Assessment and Faculty Development Workshop presentation by Peggy Maki. The workshop focused on the value of assessment for all disciplines. Colleagues from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Bishop Feehan High School participated in the workshop. The workshop included a work session on mapping for faculty.

Winter 2005

A preliminary assessment reports and analysis of data indicated that all goals and objectives were met by the courses.

Fall 2005

Consensus Mapping Teams of faculty teaching the same course collaborated to determine which goals and objectives were central to the course.

At the second Assessment Workshop reports were made to the faculty based on consensus mapping on the first year experience of the core. Even with changes to the individual mapping, all goals and objectives are being met. Areas were mapped indicating what goals and objectives a student would be exposed to during their second year of core courses.

Winter 2006

A luncheon meeting was held with 25 faculty. This working meeting helped to facilitate the mapping of sophomore level courses. Faculty having mapped before served as mentors to their colleagues who were mapping for the first time.

Spring 2006

Two pilot sections of the core capstone course, Living Wisdom: Contemporary Challenges were taught.

A total of 32 students, from a variety of majors, completed the capstone courses.

Summer 2006

Mapping of Capstone (2 pilots)

Mapping Plan
Ongoing Assessment Plan

Mapping Consensus Summary Report
Click here for Summary Report on Mapping.