WSCUC Core Graduation Competencies

Overview

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. 

The Core Graduation Competencies Defined

  • Critical thinking - The ability to think in a clear, reasoned, and reflective way that is 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.

Met or Exceeded Standards

For critical thinking, written communication, and oral communication, 75% of graduating seniors were expected to meet or exceed standards set by faculty. For quantitative reasoning, 75% of graduating seniors were expected to earn an 80% of higher on the quantitative reasoning quiz. Expectations for information literacy were because we first wanted to benchmark against other institutions. 

In 2016 - 2017:

  • Critical thinking - 77% of USF students met or exceeded standards set by faculty for critical thinking. 
  • Written communication - 80% of USF students met or exceeded standards for written communication. 
  • Oral communication - 86% of USF students met or exceeded standards for oral communication.
  • Quantitative reasoning - 80% of USF students met or exceeded standards for quantitative reasoning.
  • Information literacy - USF students performed higher on six of the eight skills sets than other participating institutions, and as well as other participating institutions on the remaining two skill sets.

Core Graduation Competencies Reports & Rubrics

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