Program renewal approaches

Program renewal is a process of aligning the courses and learning activities in a program to support student learning. This process includes analyzing the existing program and its context from three perspectives or vantage points. Considering the program from each of these perspectives will help to create a grounded, coherent, and aligned program for both the enrolled students and the faculty instructors.




The field or discipline

The larger disciplinary context

This perspective is about understanding the educational trends in the field and how similar programs are situated in the larger context: in other universities, in research, and in applied settings.

Considering these elements allows the program renewal project to be firmly grounded in the field as a whole, both in terms of priorities for student learning and program structure.

Guiding questions from this point of view:

  • How do other schools situate/frame similar programs or areas of study? What are their specific goals? How do they achieve them?
  • Are there any major debates in the field that might need to be reflected in the learning? Are there any trends, new problems, or priorities that might be relevant moving forward?

Tools: Environmental scan of peer institutions, industry markers and statistics, and conversations with stakeholders


Understanding the target student

Understanding the characteristics of potential future students also sits within this perspective, along with the expected characteristics of graduates. Consider the learning needs and priorities of potential students, as well as priorities for future employers of graduates.

Guiding questions from this point of view:

  • What attracts learners to this field or discipline? What are their motivations for pursuing a credential in the discipline? At what stage of life might they be (e.g., pre-career, late career)? What are their habits of mind? Do they have any unique learning needs?
  • What employers hire graduates with this disciplinary training? What careers do graduates with this disciplinary background go into?
  • What skills, knowledge and attitudes are in high demand? What do employers find graduates lack? What is the capacity of the labour market to hire graduates with this disciplinary background?

Tools: Analysis of need, demand, and career pathways/opportunities



The discipline at UBC

The programmatic or departmental vision

Considering the discipline within the UBC context allows you to filter your program renewal decisions through the particular lens of the department or school. This helps to establish a unique focus for the program, both in the field and for the students, articulates what your program offers, and orients it within the field of study.

Guiding questions from this point of view:

  • How is the field scoped at UBC? What is unique about the program or its specific focus?
  • What are the department or school’s values, in both the field and in learning?
  • What is the biggest difference between the way students, faculty and staff at UBC learn and work within this field compared to other educational institutions? Why do we choose to enact the field in that way?
  • What are the department or school’s signature pedagogies?

Tools: Program vision, mission, or identity statement


Student learning goals

How does the department or school expect students to embody the learning at the end of the program? Understanding and articulating the ultimate learning goals for students will help identity the content and activities that need to be reflected in course work and how courses can be appropriately scaffolded.

Guiding questions from this point of view:

  • In concrete terms, what will students learn in the program? What knowledge, skills, values, or attitudes might characterize the learning that students will internalize in your program?
  • What knowledge base will be core to graduates? How will they approach their work, and their life? What will they be able to do as a result of the program?
  • Where will graduates be applying their new skills? How will they be drawing upon their learning?
  • What are student perspectives about the impact and value of the courses and the program?
  • What might someone who completed the programs two or four years ago be doing? How might the program have shaped the way they think, talk or interact with the world?

Tools: Program outcome statements



The courses and program structure

This perspective aims to create a coherent learning experience for students, by ensuring there are strong and clear connections among individual courses and between courses and program learning goals.

Guiding questions from this point of view:

  • How do the courses align with the program goals? Do the courses scaffold toward larger learning goals? What are the gaps and redundancies in content and courses?
  • Are there certain learning experiences or courses that should apply to all students (e.g., core requirements)?
  • Are there thematic pathways of study through the program?

Tools: Course pathways, curriculum mapping, and enrollment analytics



The CTLT Curriculum and Course Services team can support any aspect of your program’s renewal. We take a customized and flexible approach that responds to the needs of your department or unit. Get in touch to discuss how we can support your program.