Have you ever thought about mapping your programs to help you understand the learning that takes place? If you haven’t, this might be a good time to think about it. There is a useful, brief article from the National Institute of Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) that specifically focuses on learning in student affairs: https://www.learningoutcomesassessment.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/OccasionalPaper45.pdf. In addition, the DSA Committee on Student Learning in the Co-curricular is launching a project to map student learning in a variety of experiences across the Division of Student Affairs. Division staff might be reaching out to you for information about your programs!
Jankowski and Baker, the authors of the NILOA article, note
Mapping is a collaborative process of indicating which activities or experiences align with which learning outcomes throughout an institution of higher education. It is a process of making clear the relationships between different parts of the educational enterprise as well as providing clarity to students on the intended educational design. (p. 6)
As with other aspects of assessment, mapping is a team sport. It is helpful to get multiple perspectives, including students, when you are mapping experiences. These efforts provide collaboration and transparency.
Before you can map, you need to create appropriate learning outcomes for the experiences students will have. What do you want them to do after an experience? What exactly are the experiences that you are giving them in order for them to learn? What sort of evidence will you collect to know they can do something (video of a presentation, score on a test, performance judged by a rubric, etc.)?
The map can be a table of learning outcomes in the rows, the learning experiences in the column headings, and the exact assessment methods in the intersection of the two. It can be fairly simple, or it can me more complex including whether the experience introduces or emphasizes a topic. If you would like to see examples, NILOA has developed a toolkit: https://www.learningoutcomesassessment.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/MappingLearning.pdf.
If you have any questions about co-curricular mapping, please reach out to Student Life Studies. We’d be happy to help.