Curriculum accreditation frequently asked questions

What is OCAV?

The Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents. OCAV is affiliated with the Council of Ontario Universities


What are UDLEs?

Undergraduate degree-level expectations – the learning outcomes expected for all students awarded undergraduate degrees in Ontario.


What are outcomes?

Outcomes are statements that describe what students will be able to know (cognitive), do (psychomotor), and feel/model (affective) by the end of the program or course of study. Outcomes describe measurable behaviours. Most outcomes have three parts: an action, a topic, and a criterion or context. Note that terminology is used interchangeably; you may find "outcomes," "objectives," and "goals" used to mean the same thing in different settings. The semantics are less critical than the essential notion: statements describing what students will have learned, articulated in a way that allows that learning to be measured. 


Where are outcomes used?

Outcomes can be written at the program level, the course level, and the individual unit level. Even when we write assignment criteria, we are writing what we want students to be able to demonstrate in response to their learning. Program outcomes will outline the learning that will be common to all graduates of the program. Course outcomes will articulate the specific learning for each course. Examples of outcomes can be found in many textbooks. Each chapter may have stated outcomes or objectives, and within each chapter, mini steps may be set along the way so the learner may test their knowledge.


Do I start with the program outcomes or course outcomes?

While the OCAV UDLEs describe program outcomes, you may wish to build toward them by first creating course outcomes. Alternatively, you may wish to start with overall program outcomes. Where you begin is your choice.


How do I write (or improve) learning outcomes?

The aim is to write statements of what students will learn that incorporate an action verb, an observable behaviour, and if relevant, criteria for performance. Well written learning outcomes lead neatly into how they will be evaluated.


Where can I find examples of learning outcomes?

An excellent list is available from the Universty of Ottawa's Centre for University Teaching. It has created a Directory of University Program Learning Outcomes. It is an extensive database of outcomes from programs around the world, with a focus on Canadian and American institutions. Outcome samples are available at the undergraduate, masters and PhD level.