Queen's Learning Outcomes Assessment

Learning Outcomes Project
Learning Outcomes Project

HEQCO Learning Outcomes Assessment Project

Queen's is one of a consortium of three universities (including University of Guelph and University of Toronto) and three colleges, funded by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) to assess transferable learning outcomes. Learning outcomes are statements of what a learner is expected to understand, value, or demonstrate after completion of a process of learning. The Learning Outcomes are measurable, and communicate expectations to learners about the skills, attitudes and behaviors they are expected to achieve after successful completion of a course, program or degree. Accurate assessment of learning outcomes is an essential component of competency-based education. This project aligns well with Queen’s Academic Plan, which emphasizes the development of fundamental academic skills, transferable skills that span a range of disciplines and are essential for professional practice.


This longitudinal study focuses on the following four skills:  

  • critical thinking
  • problem solving
  • written communication
  • lifelong learning

These are being assessed in nine departments across two faculties from the first to fourth years using a variety of standardized instruments, including the Collegiate Learning Assessment and the Critical Thinking Assessment Test which measure critical thinking, problem solving and written communication, and the Transferable Learning Orientation survey (goal orientation, learning belief,  self-efficacy, transfer and organization), as well as the Association for American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) VALUE rubrics that have been adapted to specific courses and assignments.

The aims of the project are:

  • to quantify student achievement of transferable learning outcomes;
  • to develop reliable and sustainable means of assessing student learning;
  • to encourage faculty to develop and assess transferable skills in their courses and programs; and
  • to build a foundation for a wider rollout of this type of assessment across faculties and programs over the next few years.