Self Directed Learning Tool

The purpose of the Self-Directed Learning (SDL) Tool is support members' reflection on the nature of their practice and their professional competence, and to require them to develop plans for professional improvement.

Members use the SDL Tool to: 

  • Identify areas of strength; 
  • Identify areas that need improvement; 
  • Evaluate learning plans from the previous year to determine whether specific areas of competence have been met; and 
  • Develop learning plans to enhance specific areas of competence. 

Notification Timelines

Members eligible to complete the SDL Tool will be informed of their requirement to do so by CDO in September 1, providing at least 60-day notice to complete it. The online SDL Tool is available to members from September 1 to October 31. 

Expectations of Members

All eligible members are required to complete the SDL Tool online using the forms provided.  The goals should be related to competencies and standards essential to the practice of dietetics.

Policy Statement

Eligible members of the College of Dietitians of Ontario annually assess:

  1. Their own professional performance using criteria related to professional standards and competencies; reflect on their current and future practice environments including advances in technology, set professional development goals, and report on the past year’s goals.
  2. The needs of their clients and what skills and knowledge enhancements would serve them. Members use the Self-Directed Learning (SDL) Tool or any other form provided by the Registrar & ED to self-assess, reflect on practice, set goals and report on goals.


  1. On September 1st, each year, the College will notify members of the submission process and the due date of October 31st for the SDL Tool.
  2. The member’s completed SDL Tool must be received by the College electronically, no later than October 31st each year.
New Member Notification
  1. If an individual becomes a general member after August 29, no submission is required for the current year.
Suspended Members
  1. If a member’s certificate of registration is suspended, they are not required to submit an SDL tool while under suspension.
  2. If a suspended member is reinstated, they will be required to complete the current year’s SDL Tool within 60 days.

Policy Statement

Members of the College may be granted an extension in the submission date of their annual SDL Tool or exemption from submission of an SDL Tool if there are extenuating circumstances such as current hospitalisation, illness, disability, bereavement or personal hardship. The Committee has delegated the authority to staff to consider requests and grant extensions and exemptions within the established criteria. No request is refused by staff without first being considered by the Committee.


1. Filing of a Request

A member of the College who wishes to request an exemption or extension in submitting their annual SDL Tool should do so in writing.

Requests for exemption or extension should be received one week before the due date of October 31.

Details of the Request for Exemption or Extension

The written request should include the following:

  1. The member's name
  2. A request for the exemption or extension
  3. Current work status
  4. Any information/reasons that may be pertinent and supportive of the request and would assist the Committee in making its decision. Information such as an indication of the amount of time being requested, any medical certificates notes or letters, to, any supporting documentation from other sources.

If required, the member will be asked for additional information.

2. Committee/Staff Decisions Regarding a Request for Exemption or Extension
  1. All requests for exemptions or extensions will be reviewed by the QA Staff on behalf of the Committee.
  2. The member will be notified, by email, of receipt of his/her request within five business days.
  3. Exemptions or Extensions will be granted by the QA Staff on behalf of the Committee based upon consideration of extenuating circumstances such as current hospitalization, illness or disability, bereavement or personal hardship. If a member granted an extension returns to work after April 15 then the member will be required to submit the next year’s SDL Tool.
  4. Requests for exemptions/extensions for reasons other than those mentioned in 3 (iii) will be referred to the Committee. Decisions will be made on an individual case by case basis.
  5. If a request for a specific time frame for an exemption/extension is made, the Committee and Staff may consider the request but may approve a different time period.
  6. The member will be notified, in writing, of the decision. This notification will be emailed to the member within five business days of the decision.
  7. When an extension is granted, if the member requires an additional extension, he/she is required to submit a subsequent written request.
3. Maternity/Parental Leave

Exemptions will not be granted for maternity/parental leave. Extensions will be considered.

4. Repeated Requests for Extensions Due to Long-Term Disability

Members who have been granted, as a result of a long-term disability, extensions totaling more than 12 consecutive months will be required to:

  1. Sign an undertaking requiring written notification to the Registrar & ED within 10 working days after return to work; and
  2. Complete an SDL Tool at the next renewal period.

Policy Statement

The philosophy of the CDO’s QA Program is two-fold:  to support RDs to maintain and develop competence and hold them accountable for fulfilling the requirements of the Quality Assurance Program.

Consequently, a member who fails to comply with the Self-Assessment and Professional Development requirements of the Quality Assurance Program will be referred by the College Staff to the QAC for consideration. The QAC will review information about a member’s non-compliance and determine the most appropriate action in keeping with the RHPA.

An administrative fee of $70.00 will be levied on all members who do not submit their SDL Tools on time.


Non-compliance is defined in two ways:

  1. A member has not submitted a tool as required by the due date.
  2. A member has not submitted a tool in the form provided by the Registrar.  An incomplete tool is deemed for the purposes of this definition to not be in the form provided by the Registrar.

An incomplete SDL is defined as any tool that is

  • Missing one or both of the required Learning Goals (LGs) missing one of both of the evaluations of the previous year’s Learning Goals (Last Year LGs) or
  • Missing an action plan
  • Inclusion of a meaningless or trite LG or one that has no relevance to dietetic or related practice
  • Content that is on the whole so inadequate as to be deemed not to have been submitted in the form provided by the Registrar

Staff will issue a written notice (email) by September 1st to the CDO membership of the requirement to submit an SDL Tool by October 31 and appropriate written reminders throughout the 60-day notice period. Staff will not contact specifically selected members to remind them of their obligations.
Within 15 business days following the due date (October 31) of an SDL tool or the date of any previously approved extension, staff will identify members:

Who have not submitted their SDL Tool and the member will be notified of the requirement to submit the SDL tool and that the Tool will be reviewed by the QA Committee because it was submitted after the deadline of October 31.

Failure to comply with this direction will result in a possible referral to ICRC with an allegation of Professional misconduct.

Administrative Fee

The $70.00 administration fee will be applied electronically as of midnight on the date that the SDL tool is due.

Policy Statement

Annually in November and December, the QA Committee (QAC) or a panel thereof will review selected Self-Directed Learning Tools and take appropriate actions. 

The objectives of this review are:

  1. To monitor members’ compliance with the requirement to complete a self-assessment and plan for professional development in the form provided by the Registrar.
  2. To monitor the general quality of members’ use of the SDL Tool.
  3. To give feedback to members to assist them as needed to improve the quality and value of their SDL Tool submissions.
  4. To use the results of the review for continuous improvement of the SDL Tool and related policies.

Procedure for Review

By November 1, staff will randomly select an approved percentage of SDL Tools for review. In addition, any RD whose SDL Tool submission had been assessed to be inadequate or incomplete in the past year will also have their SDL Tool reviewed. Any member who submitted an SDL tool late will be reviewed as well.

Staff will use criteria established by the QAC to screen these tools for both completeness and adequacy of the content.

Members whose tools are deemed to be incomplete or to have inadequate content will be referred to the QAC for review.

The QAC panel will review the referred SDL Tools using the criteria established by the QAC.  The QAC panel will determine the most appropriate action depending on the outcome of the review as follows:

Adequate Submission
  • Take no action
    • Staff will send an email to the member to indicate that their SDL tool was reviewed by the QA program manager and found to meet the requirements established by the QAC.

Inadequate Submission

The QAC committee may:

  • Take no action: At the direction of the committee, the QA staff will send the member an email indicating that their SDL tool was reviewed by the QAC and found to meet the requirements of the QAC.
  • At the direction of the QAC committee, if resubmission of either 1 or both goals is required, the QA staff will notify the member by email advising him that QAC feedback regarding his SDL Tool submission is found online in the SDL Tool. If this 2nd submission is inadequate, the member must attend a mandatory webinar. See attached Flow Chart of procedure.
  • Require the member to undergo a Peer and Practice Assessment (repeated problems with the completeness and accuracy of the SDL Tool)
  • Grant extension to complete+
  • *Refer a member to the ICRC for non-compliance with the requirement to submit an SDL Tool in the form provided by the Registrar (incomplete submission or one that is so inadequate as to be deemed not to have been submitted in the form provided by the Registrar).

In considering a referral of an incomplete or non-submission of the SDL Tool, the QAC panel will consider the circumstances, past history of compliance with the QA Program requirements, and weigh the benefits of supporting members to comply against the need to hold RDs accountable for compliance.

+ See Policy SDL 2-30 Self-Directed Learning Tool:  Requests for Extensions in Submission of the SDL Tool.

*If referred to the ICRC, the staff will draft a decision letter (using pre-approved templates) outlining the QAC panel decision with reasons (based on the pre-established criteria). This decision letter will be signed by the QA Manager. The decision letter will be emailed to the member within 15 business days of the decision being made.

Diagram showing Procedure for Review

SDL 2-50 Diagram