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University Assessment Resources: Course Alignment Matrices

Course Alignment Matrix (CAM) Information

Course alignment matrices show how a program's curriculum fosters students' development and mastery of important knowledge, skills, and values. 

A course alignment matrix is a tool to help align instruction with desired goals and student learning outcomes. It can also be used to explore what is taught and how.

The matrix:

  • Documents what is taught and when
  • Reveals gaps in the curriculum
  • Helps design an assessment plan

Benefits:

  • Improves program coherence
  • Increases the likelihood that students achieve program-level outcomes
  • Encourages reflective practice

How to complete a course alignment matrix for your program:

1.  Download the course alignment matrix template (posted below).
 

2.  Under the “Student Learning Outcomes” heading, list all the student learning outcomes (SLO) for the program.  The SLOs listed on the course alignment matrix should be the same SLOs that are used for annual assessment of student learning (in the annual assessment plans/reports).   
 

3.  In the Course Alignment Matrix table:

a.  List all of the curriculum requirements for the major, including core curriculum; groups of limited electives; required university studies courses (if students must take specific courses for the degree); required courses taught by other departments; and other requirements such as comprehensive exams, theses, or foreign language competencies.  

b.  In the column for each SLO, enter an “I” for each course in which students are introduced to the knowledge and/or skills described in the SLO.  Enter a “D” for each course in which students develop the knowledge and skills described in the SLO.  Enter an “M” for each course in which students are expected to master the knowledge and skills described in the SLO. (You can enter more than one letter for a course.)

c.  Make sure you account for each course (or group of courses) listed on the course alignment matrix.  Please indicate how every required course (or group of required, limited electives) contributes to student attainment of the student learning outcomes.  For example, CSC 199 may be required because it provides students the skills they need to use word processing and presentation software.  Therefore, it introduces them to skills they need to demonstrate effective, professional communication skills.

d.  If a course does not contribute to any of the learning outcomes, consider if you need to revise the program's learning outcomes and/or the curriculum.