CWLO - Frequently Asked Questions
- Why are CWLO important?
- How can the CWLO help my students get from where they are to where they should be?
- When do I have to implement the College-Wide Learning Outcomes?
- Who will be involved in implementing CWLO and how will that occur?
- Do all College-Wide learning Outcomes need to be addressed in every course within a program?
- Why do we have 3 levels of competency?
- Is the expectation that all my students will achieve the top level of competency?
- Will there be faculty development opportunities to support instructors?
- Where do I go for help?
- How do the new CWLO relate to what I’m already doing?
- How do I integrate CWLO into the outcomes and elements of performance for my course?
- How do I plan learning activities to support CWLO such as Leadership Development, Critical Thinking, and Innovation?
- How do I find materials and resources to use?
- How do I assess CWLO?
- Do I need to give marks for CWLO?
- If I don’t give marks for CWLO, should they be in a course outline?
- Will CWLO achievement be reflected on student transcripts?
- Can CWLO be assessed in practicum, co-op, clinical, and service learning situations?
RRC’s Strategic Plan 2012-2015 identifies Renewal of College-Wide Learning Outcomes as a strategic action related to the Support Teaching Excellence Initiative under the Strengthen Student Achievement theme.
College-Wide Learning Outcomes:
- Articulate clearly what is expected of every RRC graduate. They define RRC students, graduates, and alumni.
- Define RRC as a unique institution of higher learning.
- Help to ensure our programs are of high quality by infusing competencies for career and personal success into the development of program and course learning outcomes.
- Add to the student experience by:
- Challenging students to balance theory and practice through the mastery of content knowledge and the demonstration of field related skills.
- Requiring students to actively demonstrate skills.
- Providing opportunities for students to focus on personal development as it supports professionalism.
- Helping students acquire knowledge and internalize behaviours that support career and personal development throughout their lives.
Learning outcomes, whether at the course, program or college-wide level, facilitate effective teaching and learning in a number of ways:
- The student is clear as to what is expected in terms of learning and assessment of learning; this can facilitate the student becoming an active player in the learning process.
- Outcome statements make clear to the student how they will use what they are learning, therefore allowing students to see why it is important.
- Outcome statements encourage reflection on the question "What will I be able to do at the end with what I have learned in this (course/program/college education?)"
- From a faculty perspective, having learning outcomes on course outlines facilitates awareness of what students: 1) have learned in prior courses; 2) are learning in concurrent courses; and 3) will learn in future courses.
- Outcome statements that focus on how students will use what they have learned can provide cues as to integrative student assessment strategies.
- Articulating outcomes at the program and course level facilitates rational curriculum planning---curriculum development with the end in mind, minimizing unnecessary overlap and duplication, and avoiding gaps.
You may already be using some or all of the CWLO. The revised outcomes are currently being piloted in some programs. Priority implementation schedule is:
- When new programs are being developed.
- When programs are in renewal.
- Other programs at the discretion of the Dean, Chair and faculty.
Faculty is responsible for implementing them in the classroom:
- Creating course outlines that incorporate CWLO.
- Planning and facilitating learning opportunities for students to be engaged with CWLO.
- Assessing student progress toward achieving CWLO.
Chairs are responsible for ensuring they are implemented at the program level:
- Reviewing and approving course outlines.
- Determining what levels of competency are appropriate for the program.
- Integrating CWLO in a systematic manner throughout the program.
- Recommending professional development opportunities to support implementation.
- Are responsible for ensuring CWLO have been integrated when new programs or program revisions are brought forward for approval.
- Are responsible for consulting with resources (e.g., Centre for Teaching Excellence Innovation and Research - TEIR) and providing specific faculty development opportunities to support implementation.
- Are responsible for seeking out and identifying opportunities for active engagement with CWLO.
No, all outcomes need to be addressed at the program level but not all outcomes need to be addressed in every course.
It is expected that every program will reflect the outcomes at competency levels appropriate to the discipline. For example, a program may determine that it is appropriate to develop the Leadership outcome at the first competency level and the Communication outcome at Competency level 3.
The progression in the levels reflects the increasingly complex contexts, from the individual level to the group level and finally to the community.
Progressive levels also reflect increasing levels of complexity of learning and its application, from predictable and routine tasks and situations to the unpredictable and unique, and the known to the unknown.
Competency Level 1 (minimum achievement level for graduates of any program)
- Context: Relates to achievement of the outcome with a focus on the individual and one’s personal space.
- Learning: Knowledge-based, including theory, facts, and basic skills for specific, predictable, routine situations.
Competency Level 2
- Context: Relates to achievement of the outcome as part of functioning within a group or at an interpersonal level.
- Learning: Greater depth and breadth of knowledge, plus emphasis on the application of knowledge in skills and abilities (including attitudes).
Competency Level 3
- Context: Relates to achievement of the outcome at a level necessary to lead within a community or within a workplace or career.
- Learning: The integration of learning into one’s own life and broad future perspectives, including the application and adaptation of knowledge, skills and abilities in new, unpredictable and complex environments and situations within and between disciplines.
The levels of competency are necessary because:
- Competency levels allow programs to customize the application of CWLO to reflect the characteristics of each discipline.
- The length of some programs may not allow students to achieve all outcomes at the highest level.
- They encourage students to see that there is a progression in attaining mastery.
- They enable students to recognize that their development will continue beyond graduation.
No, faculty along with the Chair and Dean, will collectively define what competency level is most appropriate as a minimum standard of achievement for each of the six outcomes.
Yes, faculty development opportunities will be provided in a number of ways, including individual consultations with a curriculum consultant, or with a teacher mentor for those participating in the mentoring program. Workshops, lunch hour sessions, presentations at faculty meetings, and other face to face learning opportunities will be offered across campus locations. Online resources will also be available.
The Centre for Teaching Excellence, Innovation and Research (TEIR) houses a variety of resources to support instructors:
- Program and Curriculum Development (opportunities for one-on-one and group consultations)
- The teacher mentoring project
- Library resources
- Technical support from the Teaching and Learning Technologies Centre
- Teacher Education is another helpful resource, particularly for those currently participating in classes in the Certificate in Adult Education (CAE) or Teaching Essentials Program (TEP)
Supports can also be obtained from:
- RPL Office
- Sustainability Office
- Student Services
Contacts will be established for each area of resource and will be published on the CWLO web page.
You are most certainly already teaching one or more of the new CWLO as they simply document the current college wide understanding of the high level outcomes desirable for all RRC graduates, regardless of program.
The fact that these previously understood, but sometimes poorly documented, CWLO are now expressed clearly and in considerable detail will likely lead to:
- Programs identifying additional CWLO for development over several courses.
- Instructors identifying desirable enhancements to current instruction related to CWLO.
As is the case with any other aspect of teaching, enhancements to instruction related to CWLO will occur over time with new learning and experience.
Some of the CWLO will already be integrated into your course(s).
Many of the decisions about CWLO at the course level will need to be made collaboratively by the faculty and Chair:
- In which course(s) is each CWLO being introduced, practiced with feedback, etc?
- To which of the three levels of competency should each of the outcomes be taught?
The clarity and detail, with which the CWLO and accompanying rubrics are expressed, will be of considerable assistance in writing or revising course outcomes or elements of performance.
Program resources you typically call on for assistance, including program Chairs, are good resources for assistance in integrating CWLO into course level outcomes as well as elements of performance.
TEIR Consultants are also available to assist you in this work.
How do I plan learning activities to support CWLO such as Leadership Development, Critical Thinking, and Innovation?
You will likely already have learning activities planned for any CWLO that you currently teach in your course(s).
The detailed documentation of CWLO and the accompanying rubrics detailing the elements that comprise the outcomes, make it clear what must be learned. It may also be apparent, based on your experience, how to teach the elements that comprise an outcome.
Collectively, College faculty has experience teaching all of the CWLO. It is the responsibility of the Chair and Dean to create opportunities for that expertise to be shared at the program level. At the College level, TEIR will plan workshops and provide consultants to assist you in this work.
- Support materials, referred to as rubrics, are published on the CWLO webpage. These rubrics identify a set of indicators or component skills for each CWLO. For each indicator, there is a description of student behavior for each of the 3 levels of competency.
- The Library staff will be happy to assist you with finding materials specific to challenges you encounter.
Support materials, referred to as rubrics, are published on the CWLO webpage. These rubrics identify a set of indicators or component skills for each CWLO. For each indicator, there is a description of student behaviour for each of the 3 levels of competency. These indicators and the descriptions of student behaviour can assist in the development of rubrics to assess students.
The CWLO can best be assessed when students are engaged in tasks that mirror the reality of the profession or enable them to demonstrate their competency in a more "authentic" setting.
In some cases assessment will be formal while in other cases assessment may take the form of informal coaching.
When the final or summative assessment of a CWLO is formal, marks will be assigned. In other cases, when assessment is informal, students will receive feedback but no mark.
If content related to a CWLO is taught and students are given feedback, then the CWLO should appear in the course outline. If the feedback will not be translated into marks, a footnote such as the following may be used to provide clarification --- Note: This outcome will be informally assessed and not assigned marks.
Achievement of CWLO will not be reported separately on student transcripts. When marks have been assigned to a CWLO in a course, those marks will be incorporated into the final mark for the course, following the typical weighting process.
Yes! Experiential learning situations provide an excellent opportunity to assess College-Wide Learning Outcomes.