Learning Outcomes

Clearly defined learning outcomes can provide the foundation for developing a degree, the majors offered within the degree  and the courses offered in support of the degree program. Learning outcomes help to define and direct learning within the degree program, the individual major, the courses and even the day to day learning within a course.

Learning outcomes start at the degree level, and become more focused, specific and targeted at the individual course level but there should be a strong relationship between these specific outcomes and the larger degree outcomes.

The College of Biological Science in conjunction with College of Physical and Engineering Science, College of Social and Applied Human Sciences and the Ontario Agricultural College have developed degree level learning outcomes, with the assistance of the Office of the Associate Vice President Academic and its partners in Learning Services. These outcomes were developed to help define the academic and broader skill base that a graduate of an Honours BSc. degree should achieve by the end of his or her program.

The Honours BSc Learning Outcomes, as developed by the BSc. Program Committee, are reproduced below:


1. Problem Solving & Critical Thinking

  • Critically evaluate ideas and arguments by gathering relevant information, assessing its credibility, and synthesizing evidence to formulate a position .
  • Identify problems and independently propose solutions using creative approaches, acquired through interdisciplinary experiences, and a depth and breadth of knowledge/expertise.
  • Accurately interpret and use numerical information to evaluate and formulate a position.

2. Communication

  • Accurately and effectively communicate scientific ideas, arguments and analyses, to a range of audiences, in graphic, oral and written form

3. Professional and Ethical Behaviour

  • Demonstrate personal and professional integrity by respecting diverse points of view and the intellectual contribution of others, and demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and accessibility in scientific practice and society at large.
  • Collaborate effectively as part of a team by demonstrating mutual respect, leadership, and an ability to set goals and manage tasks and time lines.
  • Develop a plan for professional growth and development


1. Scientific Method

  • Apply scientific methods and processes by formulating questions, designing investigations and synthesizing data to draw conclusions and make scientifically‐based decisions
  • Generate and interpret scientific data using quantitative, qualitative and analytical methodologies and techniques

2. Breadth & Depth of Understanding in a Particular Scientific Discipline

  • Apply the core concepts of math, physics, chemistry and biology to a chosen scientific discipline
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the ethical, economic and social implications of scientific discovery and technological innovation
  • Interpret current scientific concepts and gaps in knowledge in light of the historical development of a chosen discipline

3. Scientific Technology & Techniques in a Scientific Discipline

  • Apply contemporary research methods, skills and techniques to conduct independent inquiry in a chosen scientific discipline.

Major Specific Learning Outcomes

Following the development of the degree level learning outcomes, the curriculum committees were charged with the task of using these to develop their own major specific learning outcomes.

Below are links to the specific learning outcomes for the majors offered by the departments within the College of Biological Science.

Resources - Developing Learning Outcomes

There are numerous supports available on the Associate Vice-President Academic’s website related to developing, analyzing and evaluating learning outcomes at all levels of the curriculum. Individuals are encouraged to explore the AVPA’s website for more information.  
In particular, you will find “A Guide to Developing and Assessing Learning Outcomes at the University of Guelph

University of Guelph Learning Objectives and Outcomes

Developed and approved by Senate in 1987, the  University of Guelph learning objectives are stated as the following:

  1. Literacy
  2. Numeracy
  3. Sense of Historical Development
  4. Global Understanding
  5. Moral Maturity
  6. Aesthetic Maturity
  7. Understanding of Forms of Inquiry
  8. Depth and Breadth of Understanding
  9. Independence of Thought
  10. Love of Learning

More information regarding the specific details of each objective can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

In 2012, the University of Guelph approved five new learning outcomes which are to be used as the foundation for all degree programs, specializations and courses. These outcomes are:

  1. Critical and Creative Thinking
  2. Literacy
  3. Global Understanding
  4. Communicating
  5. Professional and Ethical Behaviour

The complete description for each of the Undergraduate Degree Learning Outcomes can be found on the AVPA's website.

University Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations

In 2005, the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents (OCAV) developed a set of guiding principles that describe what should be expected of a graduate from a general and honours baccalaureate degree. These principles, labeled the ‘University Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations (UUDLES)’,were later endorsed by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU).

COU recommended that these principles be used as a foundation for all Ontario Universities, to build or evaluate their degree programs, specializations and courses.

The University Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations included six pillars related to acquiring, applying, assessing, and communicating knowledge in a specific discipline, in addition to developing the student’s appreciation for his or her capabilities and professional responsibility within the discipline.
The specific six areas addressed are:

  1. Breadth of Knowledge
  2. Knowledge of Methodologies
  3. Application of Knowledge
  4. Communication Skills
  5. Awareness of Limits of Knowledge
  6. Autonomy and Professional Capacity

Please see the COU, University Degree Level Expectations document for full details.

Institutional Quality Assurance Process (IQAP)

Details related to the Institutional Quality Assurance Process (IQAP) including required documents, review time lines and examples of previous IQAP reports can be found on the IQAP website.