Course Content and Outcomes Guide Help

The SAC must respond to all elements of the CCOG.  Following you will find quick links to frequently asked questions about completing the CCOG.  

Course Number

Most courses will have a 100 or 200 number, indicating college work at the 1st year or 2nd year of study, respectively. Courses with numbers below 100 are “pre-college” and do not count towards the credit needed for a degree, even though they may be a requirement of the program or degree (e.g. MTH 65). From the Oregon’s Community College Handbook:

Collegiate level work provides skills and information beyond what is normally gained before or during the secondary school level. It is characterized by analysis, synthesis, and applications in which students demonstrate an integration of skills and critical thinking. It is a term that denotes more than college/university transfer courses. It also includes professional technical education and other courses that exceed basic skills, workplace readiness, and fundamental basic skills. Courses must be collegiate level if used to fulfill a requirement in an associate degree, option or certificate of completion program. 

The State of Oregon encourages adherence to the course common numbering guide - see the Catalog of Lower Division Collegiate Courses. If the course already exists in the Oregon Community College or University System, the same number should be used.  If no corresponding number exists in the catalog, SAC’s may select a number based on similar courses at other institutions or which may fit into existing PCC numbering patterns.

As a result of the institution of a computerized degree audit it will be problematic to “retire” a course number and then use it again for a different course, so thought should be given to the logical sequence of numbers at the outset, and spaces left so that new courses can be inserted in appropriate places.

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Course Title

The course title is restricted to 60 characters. There should be a unique title for each course.

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The general guideline is that 1 cr is equivalent to, on average, 30 hours of student learning. The relationship between credits of seat time in a classroom setting is different for courses designated as lecture, lec-lab or lab, but that is because there is an assumption of outside work that brings to total average to 30 hours. Thus, a 1 Cr lecture course meets for 10 hours, and there is an assumption that for every hour spent in lecture, and additional 2 hrs will be spent in study and/or practice, so an additional 20 hours for a total of 30. A lec-lab course meets for 20 hrs/credit, and assumes and additional 10 hrs of study or practice. Labs, co-ops etc are 30 hrs/credit, with the assumption that no additional study/practice outside of the lab or coop setting are required. Courses may, of course, be a combination of these.

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Lecture, Lab, Lec-Lab Hours per Term - General Note (definitions below)

This line is used to indicate contact hours per week (of lecture, or lab or lec-lab). . Even though our a typical term may be counted as 11 weeks for faculty load and compensation, for credit purposes it is considered a 10 week term (1 cr = 30 hrs of student learning, as described above and detailed below for each schedule type). However, the number of hours per week is sometimes shorter by design, and may be changed on occasion (for example, many courses are given in 8 weeks or even fewer in the summer). For that reason, the CCOG will now reflect the total number of contact hours of each delivery type, and will assume a standard 10-week term unless otherwise specified.

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Lecture Hours

1 cr. of Lecture = 10 contact hours of lecture (usually 1 hr/wk for 10 wks) and assumes an additional 20 hrs of study (e.g. 2 hrs/wk for 10 wks).

Classes where faculty effort is primarily on activities such as preparation, grading and student evaluation, which occur outside of and in addition to, scheduled class hours. Class format is traditionally lecture, but instructors may utilize discussion and other class activities to help students master conceptual materials. Student application of concepts is limited.
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Lec-Lab Hours

(note: total hours based on a 10-week term, not per week. See above)

1 cr. of LEC/LAB = 20 hour of lecture (e.g. 2 hrs/wk for 10 wks) assumes an additional 10 hours of study.

Classes where faculty effort in preparation generally occurs outside of scheduled class hours and evaluation occurs both during and outside of scheduled class hours. Class format is a combination of faculty lectures and demonstrations, guided student interactions and supervised student application of lectures.
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Lab Hours

1 cr. of LAB = 30 hours of lab (e.g. 3 hrs/wk for 10 wks), and assumes that the learning occurs in the lab itself (co-op ed, clinicals and practica fall in this category as well, under the general category of Field Supervision).

Laboratory (Lab):
Classes where Faculty effort is primarily during schedule class hours. Preparation generally occurs outside class hours, and evaluation of student work generally occurs during class yours. Class format is student s working independently with the Instructor available, and in the instruction area for assistance and supervision.
Lab “B”:
Some courses in PCCs curriculum have been designated as Lab B, and are compensated at the same load factor as lec-lab.  For courses that have been designated Lab B (a designation which requires college approval) this definition will be printed in the CCOG, in the “Addendum to the description” It will be added by the Curriculum office after the course has been approved for Lab B.
The lab for this course has been approved as “Lab B”:
This means that Faculty effort in preparation and evaluation generally occurs outside of scheduled class hours. Class format is a combination of Faculty lectures and demonstrations, guided student interactions and supervised student application of lectures.  Students produce written work such as lab notebooks, reports, and responses in writing to assigned questions, and the Instructor is expected to comment on and grade this written work outside of schedule class hours.  This evaluation will take place on a regular basis throughout the term.
Field Supervision:
The placement of students in a work experience activity on or off campus. A college supervisor visits the work site periodically, but the primary supervision is from the employer or other individual contracted to provide the experience.
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Special Fee

If there is a fee to students other than the standard lab fee, it should be indicated here.

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Course Description for Publication

Begin the description with an active verb and use similar verbs throughout as necessary. Avoid using the phrases: This course will . . . and/or Students will . . . . Include recommendations in this section (not prerequisites or co-requisites)

Do not include URLs in the course description (they can be put into the printed or online schedule).

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Prerequisite, Co-Requisite, Concurrent Enrollment and Recommended

There is quite a bit more to this than one might think. There are several aspects to this: deciding what a student should have in the way of prior coursework or such, thinking through the possible consequences of having the prerequisite(s) or not, expressing it in the description in a way that makes it clear to the student what is expected and to the Curriculum Office so that it gets entered into the computer correctly.

a course that must be successfully completed before the course in question can be taken (successful completion means a C or P; a D does not satisfy a prereq requirement. Also, if the prerequisite stipulates “with a C or better” this means that the student must have taken the class for a letter grade, not P/NP).
a course that  must be taken at the same time – Banner will not allow a student to register for either course alone.
Prerequisite or Concurrent Enrollment:
a course that needs to be taken either before or at the same time.

The only kinds of prerequisites that can be enforced in Banner are those that are tied to a particular set of courses or test scores. At present, Banner cannot interpret courses taken at other institutions (you can say “or equivalent” in the prereq statement of the course description, but students will get a prereq block if they don’t have PCCs course number on their transcript). If a SAC wishes to include a prerequisite that cannot be regulated by our student records database system (i.e., any attribute that is NOT a course or test score), they need to decide how strongly they want to really regulate on that basis. If they do want the regulation, they should actually add “instructor (or department) permission required” – and then in fact, no one will be able to register without an override. If they really just want a strong signal to students, they can include the language in the description as a Prereq, but with the understanding that they may get students without these attributes, because the software does not know how to block them.  

An alternative is to list it as a Recommended course, test score or other attribute. This is not Banner-enforced, but alerts both students and advisors.  

A designation of “Recommended prerequisite” is confusing and therefore discouraged (the term “Prerequisite” should be reserved for those things that really are required, and "Recommended” for those that are not.)

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Addendum to Description

This section is entirely up to the SAC, and can contain a much more elaborate description, or additional information, that would be helpful to instructors, students or others, to  understand the course. It’s not published in the catalog or the schedule. SAC recommendations on other course aspects may be recorded here as well.

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Intended Outcomes for the Course

From Stiehl and Lewchuk, The Outcomes Primer:

What is an intended OUTCOME?

Outcomes are clear statements of what the students will be able to do outside the classroom with what they have learned. The statements should be clear enough to be understood by anyone who has an interest in the course. They must also be complex enough to provide direction for the whole course.

The key to writing good outcome statements is to really be able to visualize and describe out students living and working in “the rest of life” situations. The outcome statement describes our hope for them and their ability to apply what they have learned.

Examples of intended outcomes:

  • Conduct business in an ethical manner in compliance with various environmental, employment, and international laws.
  • Use effective communication that represents competence and professionalism in the _____ setting.
  • Manage projects and project teams in a high technology lab.
  • Manage a caseload for a state division of children’s services.
  • Provide community leadership in resolving environmental hazards and issues.
  • Survey and analyze business needs to determine how telecommunications can provide solutions.
  • Use your understanding of social theory to participate in urban planning committees.

When writing good outcomes AVOID the use of - demonstrate, discuss, identify. These relate to classroom outcomes. A common tendency is to view skills and outcomes as interchangeable. Outcomes really speak to more to the value of the combination of skills (along with theoretical content) that contributes to the more complex outcomes for the course. See Skills for a further discussion of this distinction.

It is possible for a two courses to have some of the same outcomes, but because the outcomes should fundamentally describe the course, two courses should not have identical outcomes. For courses that are related, or sequential or different credit versions of the same content, the outcomes should reflect the differences as well as the similarities. Connections to the college core outcomes are encouraged, but the outcomes should also speak to what makes this particular course unique.

Some thought should be given to the assessment of outcomes as they are developed. While it would be limiting to rule out an outcome because an assessment does not come quickly to mind, it is important that we be able to evaluate how well the student outcomes have been met (see Assessment of Outcomes).

A web resource is available for your assistance and review. You can see examples of good and better outcome statements and guidelines for developing your outcome statements. (see Writing Outcomes Guidelines)

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Course Activities and Design

This section is for the SAC to use, to include “best practices” or things that the SAC feels should be consistent across the district. This is an area where you can provide details about the course and instruction. It should provide a guide for those who are teaching, what to include in the content. There is no particular format for this section – it is entirely under SAC control.

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Assessment of Outcomes

This section is a place where SACs identify a variety of ways that the students might be assessed. Ideally, the assessment activities align with specific skills and/or course outcomes. As the college moves towards defining our assessment of learning outcomes more clearly, it is important for SACs to think about defining the assessment strategies more intentionally to address the desired outcomes.

From Stiehl and Lewchuk, The Outcomes Primer:

Assessment tasks are what students are asked to do (projects, demonstrations, presentations) to show their understanding and their skill. While there may be numerous “assignments” during the course, the CCOG shows only those tasks that are designed to pull the learning together for the students. Assessment tasks, when well-designed, will generate interest and energy around the learning process.

Example of assessment task (business course):

  • Facilitate a team to develop their firm’s mission statement and formulate long-term goals consistent with their mission statement.
  • Develop a portfolio of “camera-ready” business documents using the software applications and integration techniques of MS-Office Professional.
  • Participate in, and contribute to, all class and team discussions and activities.
  • Write all scheduled examinations.
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Course Content: Themes, Concepts, Issues, and Skills

This section can be configured in whatever manner the SAC desires to communicate the elements required  for all iterations of the course. One suggested component from the Ruth Stiehl model is framing the content of the course in terms of: What they need to understand (Themes, Concepts, Issues) and what skills they need to master (Skills).

The conceptual framework expressed by the Themes, Issues, and Concepts, helps identify the whole picture of the course, and contribute to the organization and selection of content.

The notion of identifying particular skills to be mastered in a course is much more familiar. It is so familiar, in fact, that some SACs have tended to prepare an outcomes section is really a list of skills. Skills are certainly valuable, and should be described in the CCOG, but skills may be viewed as those defined and learnable processes that together contribute to the rich and complex outcomes of the course. The distinction between skills and outcomes is described in more detail below.

From Stiehl and Lewchuk, The Outcomes Primer:

What are THEMES?

Every course has a least a theme or two. They are identified as themes because they run like threads through class discussions and work tasks. It is around these themes that the instructor and the students search for information and understanding. Stating themes is really answering the questions: “What are the one or two major themes that we need to understand?”

Examples of themes (business course):

  • Productivity.
  • Ethics.
What are Concepts?

Concepts make us pour mental frameworks. The development of concepts (personal meanings) brings depth to study and leads us to connect this meaning to new experience. Concepts elevate out thinking to a level of abstraction and help us solve the problem of overloading our courses with disconnected information. Concepts are typically represented by one to two words that have universal application and appear timeless.

Examples of concepts (business course):

  • Management.
  • Adaptive systems.
What are Issues?

When we raise an Issue we are trying to resolve a difficulty or a problem. So the issues in a CCOG are those primary problems the student must understand in order to achieve the intended outcomes.

Examples of issues (business course):

  • Multiplicity and diversity in the workforce.
  • Ethical decision-making.
  • Intrinsic versus extrinsic reward systems.

Notice: In this case, ethics is treated as an issue, but it can also be treated as a theme. Do you see the difference? It could actually show up in both places.

What are Skills?

The best way to distinguish skills is simply to ask yourself what the student must be able to do that requires a routine of practice and feedback. The key here is that it must be a process they can master.

Examples of skills (business course):

  • Conduct a budget audit.
  • Lead a team to consensus.
  • Create a department budget.
  • Create a marketing plan.

Notice: Skills can be descried at all levels of complexity. Any of the above skills could be consider the whole “outcome” of a separate workshop. I always refer to this as the ability to “zoom” in and out – to think across levels of complexity and to know where you are at any given time. They key here is to stay focused on your outcomes, then zoom in to see the essential skills.

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Related Instruction

This section only applies to professional-technical courses that

  1. will be used as part of a certificate that is 45 credits or more and
  2. contain “embedded” instruction in computation, calculation or human relations that are related to the professional/technical area. 

For any other courses this section can be omitted. More information can be found on the Related Instruction Guidelines page.

For each of the three areas of related instruction, supply the hours, activities and related outcomes that apply:

Hours: ______  

Consider 1 Cr = 30 hours of student learning, including study and practice

For lecture:
10 hours in class + 20 study and practice
For lec-lab:
20 hours in class + 10 study and practice
For lab, etc:
30 hours in class (lab, clinical, practicum, co-op etc)

Describe activities that provide related instruction. It is reasonable to include the relevant hours of study and practice, but only if there has been some direct instruction in the same course to support it (e.g.: a course in which students “work in teams” could count some of the lab time towards related instruction in Human Relations if the students have had direct instruction in this area. It should be in this course, or clearly demonstrated in a prerequisite for this course.


Indicate which of the course outcomes is linked to this related instruction. If it is not linked to an existing outcome, SACs are advised to revisit their outcomes to incorporate the related instruction.

Keep in mind that the related instruction needs to be assessed as part of the outcomes assessments.

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