Identifying Gaps and Redundancies



Health science education programs use curriculum mapping to identify and address academic gaps and redundancies in the coverage of key topic areas, accreditation standards, program learning objectives, and graduation outcomes.  The mapping of course content or the curriculum as a whole is used to perform an analysis of the effectiveness of the curriculum and to make improvements.  

The first step is to map the curriculum.  The mapping or alignment process typically consists of breaking each course down into course objectives, sessions, and/or session objectives.  The objectives are then aligned to the specific standard, competency, or topic that is covered with that objective. In some cases, the objective is also aligned to the method of instruction and method of assessment.  

Once the curriculum is mapped, run a gap analysis to check and see what is missing.  A gap analysis takes the list of standards or topics, compares it to what has been aligned to objectives and provides a list of the standards or topics that have not been aligned to any objective.  The goal of the gap analysis is to fill in the holes. To do this take each standard or topic and ask questions like the following:

  • “Are we covering this?”,
  • “Do we need to be covering this?”
  • “When should we be covering this?”

First run the gap analysis across all of the curriculum.  Once those holes are filled, run it on subsets of the curriculum (by academic year, term, course, department).  Then ask the same questions above in the context of that subset of curriculum. For example, if we are looking at Year 1 curriculum and we see gaps in foundational knowledge items, we would ask “Should we be covering this in Year 1?”, “Is this possibly covered in Year 2?”, etc.

After the gap analysis is complete, perform an overlap analysis.  This is used to identify and analyze the what, when, and how of curriculum content.  If the curriculum is properly mapped, an overlap analysis will show each and every standard or topic that is covered, how many times it is covered, the sequencing or when it is covered, how the topic is being taught, and how the topic is being assessed.  This information can then be used in conjunction with student performance to make curricular and programmatic improvements.