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This glossary allows the group to have a common understanding of key words. Please add your contributions!

Academic levels

Defined temporal stages of training within a program which students complete sequentially. For example, Academic Levels are frequently defined by academic years or phases.  In some instances, academic levels may overlap.


An individual with technical or other administrative responsibilities related to education or assessment.


A practicing clinician or student who is engaged in clinical activities

Clinical Outcomes Database

A database that allows clinicians to record their clinical outcomes and compare their outcomes to those of their peers. There are several such databases in surgery.


Possession of sufficient and necessary knowledge, skill and attitude by an individual to allow her to safely and effectively perform a specific job.


A statement describing a specific ability, or set of abilities, requiring specific knowledge, skill and/or attitude.  Competencies are used to set performance standards that must be met [Albanese 1]

Competency-based portfolio

A system that records a learner’s activities and evidence of competence using a competency framework. Portfolios may provide other functionality as well, including reflection and file storage.

Competency Framework

An organized and structured representation of a set of interrelated and purposeful competency objects

Competency Object

An umbrella term used by the CWG to describe any abstract statement of learning or performance expectations, and information related to the statement.  Statements can be learning outcomes, competencies per se, learning objectives, professional roles, topics, classifications/collections, etc.  The Competency Object may include additional data to expand on or support the statement.  The Object is abstract in the sense that it does not inherently contain information about connections of the statement to individuals or events or other objects.

Controlled vocabulary

A controlled set of terms that describe a domain of knowledge or practice. Vocabularies may have polyhierarchical relationships between them in which case they are known as taxonomies. Examples of taxonomies include MeSH, SNOMED-CT and TIME-ITEM.  Items in the vocabulary are “terms.”

Curriculum data

Data describing the structure and content of an educational program.

Curriculum database

A system that collects curriculum data from multiple institutions.

Curriculum Management System

A system providing tools and a database to manage the structure and planning for a curriculum for an educational program.

Curriculum Report

Data on a health professions curriculum for a specific period of time. A curriculum report may describe an undergraduate, graduate or continuing education curriculum.

Curriculum Researcher

An individual using a Curriculum database to research aspects of one or more curricula.

Educational program

The entirety of a course of study, such as all years/courses of an undergraduate medical degree or a residency program.

Educational session

A scheduled educational activity. Sessions may be synchronous or asynchronous and they may involve learners and teachers interacting face to face and/or at a distance.


The competencies, learning objectives, learning outcomes, milestones, and performance levels implemented in a curriculum and how they are organized into competency and performance frameworks.


An education or assessment event. Examples of events include: lecture, problem-based learning activity, virtual patient activity, Simulation activity, seminar, lab, and bedside learning activity, to name a few.


An individual driving education or assessment within a particular scope, such as an undergraduate course or post-graduate certification program.

Integration Block

An integrating concept for this curriculum. Many curricula have several integrating concepts, or themes, that apply to many courses, competencies, objectives, and events.


An individual engaged in an educational program.

Learning Management System (LMS)

A system offering learning activities. These activities may be mapped to competencies within a competency framework. (needs work)

Learning object

A reusable learning object, typically stored in a learning object repository, tagged with metadata (research further)

Learning Objective

The intended aggregate learner endpoint for an activity, typically directly linked to the means by which it is to be achieved.  Learning objectives may be derived from competencies or learning outcomes.

Learning Outcome

The intended aggregate learner endpoint for a program, typically independent of the means by which the outcome is achieved.  Used to identify, define and communicate the skills and qualities graduates should have [Harden 2]

Program component

A sub-component of an educational program, such as a course, clinical rotation, unit, assessment event, etc.


An organization that has regulatory or advisory control over teaching or assessment activities.

Self assessment system

A system running activities designed to help the learner evaluate their own competence. These activities may be mapped to competencies within a competency framework.

Sequence Block

An organizational component of the curriculum, such as a year, phase, course, module, etc. Sequence blocks can be nested to show a variety of organizational methods, including an ordered set of courses within a phase of instruction, a series of electives, selectives, and parallel blocks.


An individual driving education or assessment within a particular scope, such as an undergraduate course or post-graduate certification program. The term teacher covers more specific roles such as faculty, preceptor, tutor, mentor, professor, lecturer.



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