Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Using Radar Plots for Curricular Mapping to Visualize Assessment in a New Doctor of Pharmacy Program

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Using Radar Plots for Curricular Mapping to Visualize Assessment in a New Doctor of Pharmacy Program

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Curricular mapping is the process of making connections between the curriculum and other components of a program, such as its mission and competencies. (1) It is a way of making the curriculum more transparent to stakeholders and may be used to inform the development of a comprehensive assessment plan. (2) Many innovative approaches to the process of curricular mapping are reported in the literature, including a graphical technique by Plaza and colleagues. (3)

As a new program, and in anticipation of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education's renewed emphasis on assessment (ACPE 2016 Standards) and in the wake of the launch of the Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Education (CAPE) 2013 Learning Outcomes, (4) we recognized an opportunity to identify and incorporate existing best practices of curricular mapping into the development of a comprehensive assessment plan, while putting our own spin on the mapping process.

The doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program of Western New England University is built on a mission to prepare entry-level practitioners to provide pharmacy care to a diverse population in a variety of settings. The mission is supported by a set of institutionally defined core competencies that represent the knowledge, attitudes, and abilities graduates are expected to demonstrate upon completing the program. There are 10 core competencies, 5 of which are considered general, and 5 that are considered professional. Each competency is defined by learning outcomes (87 in all; see Appendix 1). (5) The program is delivered, in part, through the curriculum (Appendix 2), and mapping the curriculum to the competencies through the learning outcomes is a way to assess alignment between the curriculum and the mission (Figure 1). (6)

Assessment and mapping are important components of curricular validation. Arguably, all faculty members are stakeholders regarding content and delivery of a curriculum. However, functionally, not all faculty members are engaged in the idea and process. Radar plots provide clear visual maps of where faculty members' materials lie within the curriculum, which allows for quick gap analyses. Thus, the primary objectives of this project were to initiate the process of mapping the curriculum to the core competencies of our new program and to develop a novel and visually accessible method for communicating the data to stakeholders by using radar plots. (7)

DESIGN

Inspired by the term "mapping," which implies a graphical representation of information using spatial relationships to represent relationships within the data, we developed a visual approach to the curriculum mapping process through the use of radar plots. (8) Radar plots are 2-dimensional graphs designed to plot one or more series of values over multiple common quantitative variables by providing an axis for each variable, arranged radially as equiangular spokes around a central point. Radar plots are circular rather than linear, and when the plotted variables are connected with a line, an enclosed shape results, making the data more visually accessible than when displayed in a tabular format. While not appropriate for displaying all types of quantitative data, radar plots are well-suited for efficiently displaying a wide variety of data (and patterns within the data) in a single image. (9) With regard to curricular mapping, radar plots provide a convenient way to visualize how individual courses contribute to the programmatic "big picture." For example, consider the radar plots shown in Figure 2 that map 3 hypothetical courses (A, B, and C) to 10 core competencies (I-X). The radial axes correspond to a 4-point Likert scale representing the average level at which the courses are perceived by instructors to assess learning outcomes associated with a given competency as follows: 0 = outcome is not assessed; 1= outcome is assessed at an introductory/foundational level as part of a classroom session, assignment, or examination; 2= outcome is assessed at a higher level as part of a classroom session, assignment, or examination; 3 = outcome is assessed in an experiential or simulated setting. …

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