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Building a Curriculum Inventory: Determining your CI Organizational Strategy

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Determine an organizational strategy for your curricular data is critical. 

How you organize your CI data now will impact your future data reports, which ensures the reports both are useful and high quality. We detail below the key decisions you need to make to successfully strategize your CI documentation and ensure that it is in alignment with your CI goals.

Curriculum visual schematics

The MedBiquitous CI standards, available from our Resources for CI Developers webpage, allow for multiple ways to model your data. Therefore, outlining the visual schematic of your program’s curriculum in detail will help drive how you organize your content according to the CI standards. Typically, schools have a visual schematic to represent their curriculum to students, applicants, and the public. If your program does not already have a curriculum visual schematic, or if you need to revise your current schematic, consider checking our listing of school curriculum schematics which is available on our Resources to Use Your CI Effectively webpage. A national report regarding curriculum schematics is also available on the CI Portal.

explore aAMC CI's listing of school curriculum schematics

Task #1

Design your curriculum’s visual schematic and confirm it is accurately listed on the CI Medical School Schematics webpage. If your school has a visual curriculum schematic you do not see listed on our website, please let us know at ci@aamc.org

CI organizing principles to create a list of courses

There are a variety of approaches that schools use to organize their curriculum – schools organize curriculum content by year (e.g., year 1, year 2, etc.), by phase (e.g., phase 1, phase 2), with courses or blocks, longitudinal threads, and more. In the AAMC CI, years or phases are organized in a field called “academic level.” Once you determine how you would like your CI organized (e.g., academic level 1 = year 1, academic level 2 = year 2, etc.), next you can decide how many and which courses, modules, or threads to “nest” underneath each academic level.

Task #2

Determine the number of academic levels you need to accurately represent your curriculum, and how each should be labeled (e.g., Academic Level 1 = Year 1).

When deciding which contents to include in your CI, keep in mind the following goals:

  • Minimally include all required curriculum content (e.g., required courses that all graduating students take). In your CI, you can have required courses with both required and optional events in them, and optional courses with both required and optional events in them. Of course, you may also document optional courses, special tracks, or extracurricular activities, etc.
  • Capture an accurate and complete picture of the typical, hypothetical student in your curriculum. When determining which courses, modules, and threads to include in your CI, think about your typical student, and try to replicate in your CI the experience that most of your students will have.
  • Prioritize contents that give you a meaningful output value. Ideally, all your school’s curriculum would be documented in your CI, but that may not be feasible. For example, if your school offers over 1,000 electives, it may not be realistic to document each course to its fullest extent in your CI. If not, perhaps you could prioritize the top 25 electives that have higher enrollment among your students.

Ultimately, the goals of your CI which you drafted in the Building a Curriculum Inventory: Getting Started chapter, should drive the choices you make in terms of which elements of the curriculum to document.

available on the ci portal: Report on school curriculum schematics

Task #3

Determine how many and which courses, clerkships, modules, blocks, or threads need to be within each of your academic levels. These should accurately and completely represent the curriculum experience of a typical, hypothetical student.

How data will display in the Verification Report

The Verification Report is a report each school receives after successfully uploading their CI data to the AAMC. It presents the schools’ data back to them in tables with explanations of what data populates each table. 

The last table in the Verification Report will show you content course by course, or module by module. Therefore, if you would like a given course, module, or piece of your curriculum to have a separate and distinct section in the Verification Report, perhaps to support curriculum evaluation or to support your accreditation efforts, it will be helpful to organize it separately in your CI.

Read a sample verification report

Beginning in 2020, each school will receive a second school-specific report after successfully upload their CI data to the AAMC, the Accreditation Support Report, with data tables aligned with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) Data Collection Instrument (DCI).

Read a sample accreditation support report

Task #4

Review the sample Verification and Accreditation Support Reports.

The concept of “nested sequence blocks” is a feature of the CI standards. This would allow you to represent a hierarchy in your CI. For example, perhaps your curriculum will have a sequence block for “diagnostic and therapeutic procedures”, and under that, separate sequence blocks (e.g., for “surgery,” “OBGYN,” etc.) The use of nested sequence blocks is not required in your CI, but it can be a useful tool in accurately representing the organizational structure of your curriculum.

Task #5

Determine whether and how nested sequence blocks may help you to accurately represent the hierarchy of curriculum data organization in your CI.

Keep in mind that for each course, module, theme, thread, etc. which you now include in your list for the CI, there is a need for additional documentation to capture data such as event dates and times, instructional and assessment methods, learning objectives, etc. You may find that there is curriculum (courses, modules, etc.) on your list for which the details are not centrally located (e.g., the learning objectives are on the faculty’s PowerPoint slides, and event dates/times are on a PDF syllabus, etc.), and thus it may be helpful to plan some extra time for gathering this kind of data across sources.

Task #6

Begin to think ahead as to where the follow up information you will need for each course/module in your CI may be. You will need to collect it into a centralized location.

Key Questions on Determining Your CI Organizational Strategy

  1. Do we have a visual schematic for our curriculum? Is it up to date, and reflective of what we want our CI’s structure to look like?
  2. What is our organizational approach for our CI? How many academic levels will we have, and what will we call them?

  3. Based on our CI goals identified in Chapter 1, what is our list of courses, modules, and threads we want to include in our CI, and how will these be organized within our academic levels?

  4. After reviewing the AAMC CI Verification Report, what organizational approach will we take to make sure each table populates with data we can use?

Got questions or feedback? Let us know at ci@aamc.org.

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