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Building a Curriculum Inventory: Getting Started

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A CI is essentially a database – it is the documentation of a school’s curriculum and can include many data fields. Once a medical school has created their local, school-specific CI, they share their CI data with AAMC.

The AAMC CI collects data typically found in a curriculum management system (CMS) or learning management system (LMS), such as courses, events, timing, learning objectives, and more. 

Motivations and goals from your CI

There are many reasons a school builds and maintains a CI. A chief motivation for building a CI is often accreditation, although there are many other purposes a CI can serve, including:

  • program and course evaluation,
  • evidence-based curriculum change,
  • curriculum integration and alignment, and more.

It will be helpful for your school to identify why you are building a CI – is it only for accreditation? Will you use your CI to support your curriculum review process? Are there other goals you wish your CI to achieve?

Outlining the motivations and goals for your school’s CI will help guide the choices you make and resources you will need as you work through building your CI. The CI Newsletter and orientation video above may be helpful in communicating to your school’s faculty, staff, and stakeholders about what a CI entails, the kinds of efforts it will take to build and maintain over the next year, and why your school’s CI is important.

Read more: Making the Case for Curriculum Documentation

Task #1

Identify your school’s goals for your CI and share the resources above with your school’s stakeholders.

CI data to collect

From an AAMC CI technical standards perspective, some AAMC CI data fields are required and others are optional. However, documenting some optional data fields may be critical to a school’s CI goals – for example, supporting curriculum renewal, continuous quality improvement, making curriculum visible to students and faculty, or others.

Discover more resources for CI developers

It may be helpful to first outline all the required elements of your CI based on the technical standards, and then prioritize the optional data fields, noting which ones are necessary to meet your school’s CI goals. For example, some optional data fields are necessary to populate your schools Verification Report that each school receives after successfully uploading your CI data to AAMC.

The Verification Report summarizes and synthesizes a school’s own submitted curriculum data into useful formats and tables. As you read through the sample Verification Report, please note that each table in the report outlines which data fields are necessary to populate the table. In order to use the Verification Report for program or course evaluation purposes, it is important to upload data that will populate the report accurately and completely.

view a Sample Verification Report

Collecting CI data, ensuring it is accurate and complete, choosing the technical platform to house the CI…all these steps will be a large-scale project over time. The AAMC CI collects curriculum data from the previous academic year, so building a CI is the kind of project a school would start the year before they wish to upload their CI data to AAMC. For example, in August 2020, the AAMC CI collects schools’ data on curriculum which occurred July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020.

Task #2

Develop an outline of the required elements of your CI based on the technical standards and which optional data fields, especially those visible in verification report, you might want to include in your data collection to meet your goals.

Internal operations to support your CI

From an operations standpoint, schools will need to marshal resources, people, and time for this project. One way to keep this project collectively on your school’s radar is to consider making your CI an institutional/school goal, and perhaps integrate the CI into individuals’ performance goals this year.

There will likely be a team of people who contribute to your school’s CI. The first team member to identify is your Curriculum Dean. This person should be familiar with the curriculum overall, as one of their key responsibilities will be verifying your school’s Verification Report to complete the CI upload process with AAMC. You can read more about the official AAMC CI roles in the CI Portal User Guide, beginning on page 5.

Next it will be important to identify additional members of the CI team, and stakeholders that need to be informed about your CI’s progress. There may be faculty and staff at your school who already collect CI-related data, such as curriculum coordinators and course directors. We recommend communicating to all those involved so they are prepared to assist and provide data over the next year.

Once you identify your team, you may find that different or additional staffing roles are needed. While a curriculum coordinator may be able to hand off course content to a centralized database, there will need to be some degree of central oversight, which can help ensure that curriculum documentation practices across courses and people are consistent. The amount of staffing and time your CI requires in this initial year is likely more than the amount of staffing and time it will take in subsequent years. However, some degree of faculty and staff FTE will be necessary to maintain the CI over time.

Find the official AAMC CI roles in the CI Portal User Guide 

Task #3

Please send an email to ci@aamc.org to: list your school’s curriculum dean, CI primary admin, and CI viewers.

Task #4

Make your CI an institutional/school goal and integrate the goal into all identified CI team members individual performance goals this year.

In addition to formal staffing roles to support the CI, you will need a technical platform which meets the AAMC CI standards. Schools can create an institutionally developed system or choose to work with a third-party vendor. We will discuss technical platforms more in Chapter 2. A list of AAMC CI participating vendors is available on our Resources for CI Developers webpage. It may be that a software program your school already has offers CI services. It will be important to consider your technical platform (e.g., server hosting, subscription service, staffing to manage the software, etc.) in your budget.

Key Questions for Getting Started

  1. What are our motivations for having a CI? What do we want our completed CI to be able to do? Essentially, what are our goals for our CI?
  2. After reviewing the required AAMC CI data fields, what are the data fields (including required and optional data fields) that we must collect in order to meet our CI goals?
  3. Who will be our school’s official curriculum dean for the AAMC CI?

  4. Who at our school may hold or collect CI-related data currently? It will be helpful to keep a list.

  5. Who at your school will need to be on your CI team? Who at your school needs to be informed about your CI’s progress?

  6. Share the AAMC CI orientation video and CI Newsletter “Making the Case for Curriculum Documentation” with your CI team, and consider sharing this project with other key faculty and stakeholders so they are aware this project is underway.

  7. What is our budget for staffing and technical support?

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

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