Curriculum Mapping and Program Competencies

It is imperative when designing a course that the faculty member is aware of how the course fits into the curriculum as a whole.8,9,14 The curriculum is composed of a series of courses that create a learning sequence for the student. A well planned and well thought out curriculum will ultimately result in a good learning experience for the student where the relationship between courses and learning activities make logical sense and build upon one another along the learning continuum. The faculty member who is aware of these relationships will be an invaluable asset to students and their higher learning institutions. See Table 1 for an example of a curriculum document: Curriculum Mapping to Assist in Guiding Course Design. The mapping of curriculum provides a visual representation and assists the faculty member in seeing how their course contributes to the overall curriculum and what program competencies are tied to their course.

Dental education in the United States participates in professional accreditation through the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). In 1998 CODA adopted standards for a competency-based curriculum for dentistry and dental hygiene followed in 2000. Competency is most often used to describe the knowledge, skills, and professional values of an individual ready to begin independently practicing.6 Competency-based education assumes that the student progresses through stages in the learning process starting with the novice or beginner stage and ultimately reaching competency prior to graduation. Both the dental and dental hygiene accreditation standards include the provision that competencies be developed for all aspects of the program as well as outcomes assessment to track attainment of competencies (http://www.ada.org/100.aspx). Outcomes assessment focuses on student learning outcomes including personal changes or benefits that follow as a result of learning. For dental education these outcomes are measured in terms of competencies.

Just as faculty need to have a good understanding of the curriculum, likewise they must be aware and understand program competencies in order to determine which specific program competencies are supported by their course. Then, as required by CODA, the faculty member must develop outcomes assessment measures to track attainment of competency. The curriculum map points out which courses are intended to serve as foundational, which courses introduce which competencies, which courses further develop and assess competency, and finally, where comprehensive assessment is achieved in the curriculum. With this understanding, the faculty member is able to develop a course that contains building blocks for students to gain the knowledge, skills and values necessary to ultimately achieve competency.

Table 1. Curriculum Mapping to Assist in Guiding Course Design.
Program CompetenciesD5332D6423D7389D8994Etc.
Program Competency 1A
Program Competency 2 D
Etc.
Key:
A: Foundational
B: Introduced
C: Further developed and assessed
D: Comprehensive assessment

See Table 2 for an example of a competency document followed by Table 3, a competency document demonstrating the relationship between courses, competencies AND outcomes assessment. Examination of Tables 2 and 3 can help faculty and administration identify gaps in the curriculum, and identify where there is repetition within scope and sequence of courses.

Table 2. Competency Document (Demonstrating the relationship of course content to defined programmatic competencies).
CourseProgram Competency 1Program Competency 2Program Competency 3Etc.
Fall – Year 1
*FDH3065: Head & Neck AnatomyX X
DH3200: Dental Morph & OcclusionXXX
DH3020: Dental Radiology
Etc.
Spring – Year 1
FDH3210: Biochem & Nutrition
DH3225: Histology and PathologyXXX
DH3260: Principles of
Perio 1
X X
Etc.
F: Foundational
Table 3. Competency document (demonstrating the relationship between courses, competencies and outcomes assessment).
Program Competency 1: Manage medical emergencies and complications that may occur during dental treatment
Year OneYear TwoYear ThreeYear Four
Basic Life Support for Health Professionals
Outcome measure:
Certification
Anesthesiology (D6414)
Outcome measure:
Successful completion of course requirements
Basic Life Support for Health Professionals
Outcome measure:
Recertification
Anxiety & Pain Control (D6613)
Outcome measure:
Successful completion of course requirements)
Intro to Oral Diagnosis (D6310)
Outcome measure:
Successful completion of course requirements
Pharmacology (D6513)
Outcome measure:
Successful completion of course requirements
Therapeutics (D6528)
Outcome measure:
Successful completion of course requirements
Comprehensive Patient Care sequence I, II (D6520C, D6521C)
Outcome measure:
Clinic Semester Evaluation using Team Evaluation Form
Comprehensive Patient Care sequence III, IV, V (D6590C, D6695C, D6698C)
Outcome measure:
Clinic Semester Evaluation using Team Evaluation Form; Oxygen Administration Competency; Code Blue Competency; OSCE
Medical Emergencies (D6440)
Outcome measure:
Successful completion of course requirements
Oral Surgery Clinical (D6551C)
Outcome measure:
Oral Surgery Competency Exam; Medical Emergencies Exam
Principles of Medical and Physical Diagnosis (D6525)
Outcome measure:
Successful completion of course requirements
Oral Diagnosis Clinical (D6635C)
Outcome measure:
Oral Diagnosis Basic Skills Exam
Oral Diagnosis Clinical (D6635C)
Outcome measure:
Oral Diagnosis Competency Exam