Core Graduation Competencies

Higher education and industry research has identified a skills gap--a gap that exists between what recent graduates say they can do and what employers say recent graduates can do (see e.g., AAC&U, 2015). In order to require institutions to address the skills gap, the Handbook of Accreditation (WSCUC, 2013) identifies five core graduation competencies that are important to a liberal education and fundamental to future success.

More specifically, the Handbook of Accreditation states: "Undergraduate programs engage students in an integrated course of study of sufficient breadth and depth to prepare them for work, citizenship, and life-long learning. These programs ensure the development of core competencies, including, but not limited to, written and oral communication, quantitative reasoning, information literacy, and critical thinking" (CFR 2.2a, p. 7). Students should be able to demonstrate proficiency in all five areas by the time they graduate. 

Met or Exceeded Standards

The figures below depict the percentage of USF seniors that met or exceeded expectations for competence on critical thinking, written communication, oral communication, and quantitative reasoning in 2016 - 2017. Expectations were not set for competence in information literacy because we first wanted to benchmark against other institutions. USF performed better or as well as other institutions on information literacy. 

77% of Students Met or Exceeded Standards for Critical Thinking, 80% of Students Met or Exceeded Standards for Written Communication, 86% of Students Met or Exceeded Standards for Oral Communication, 80% of Students Met or Exceeded Standards for Quantitat

USF Performed Higher on 6 of the 8 Skill Sets than Other Institutions; USF Performed as Well as Other Institutions on the Remaining 2 Skill Sets

Core Graduation Competencies Reports

Click the links below for the core graduation competencies reports, rubrics, and appendices. 

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

Written Communication

Oral Communication

Oral Communication

Quantitative Reasoning

Information Literacy

National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)

The Core Graduation Competencies Defined

  • Critical thinking - The ability to think in a way that is clear, reasoned, reflective, informed by evidence, and aimed at deciding what to believe or do. 
  • Written communication - Communication by means of written language for informational, persuasive, and expressive purposes.
  • Oral communication - Communication by means of spoken language for informational, persuasive, and expressive purposes.
  • Quantitative reasoning - The ability to apply mathematical concepts to the interpretation and analysis of quantitative information in order to solve a wide range of problems, from those arising in pure and applied research to everyday issues and questions.
  • Information literacy - The ability to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use the needed information for a wide range of purposes.