Mapping outcomes across the undergraduate curriculum

Xoces was started in 2007 by Prof. Karen Willcox at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to catalog, structure and visualize learning outcomes in an aerospace engineering program. The motivation was simple: the department wanted to restructure the curriculum, but it was difficult to pinpoint who was teaching what, and what was being taught where.

In order to do any type of curriculum redesign, learning outcomes must first be mapped. In one year, the team collected over 1100 learning outcomes over three departments at MIT. After collecting outcomes, the team mapped the data — prerequisite relationships between outcomes were drawn, outcomes are grouped within modules, modules within subjects, and courses within departments. We wrote a paper on the process and method.

Finally, to present the results, the team visualized all 1100+ outcomes and their relationships in a nested chord and tree visualization, because complex relationships are not easily seen in tables.

Since then, faculty, teaching and learning staff, instructional designers, institutional leadership, etc. from other institutions have asked about the process and technology. So we published the code as open-source on Github!

Since the project conception in 2013, has benefited from the contributions of Chad Lieberman, Jeff Merriman, Joseph Seering and Cole Shaw. Xoces has received funded from the Lord Foundation, MIT Office of Digital Learning and SUTD International Design Center.