Core Competency Assessment Indicators
According to UH Hilo’s external accreditor, the WASC Senior Commission of University and Colleges (WSCUC), “Institutions of higher education have a responsibility to document that students acquire knowledge and develop higher-order intellectual skills appropriate to the degree earned.” This mandate comes from the U.S. Department of Education which requires universities to ensure “baseline levels of acceptable quality and performance” in order to participate in the distribution of federal student aid.
Below is a list of what WSCUC considers “core competencies” and a minimum level of skills that all undergraduate students, regardless of their major, should master by the time they graduate with their baccalaureate degrees. These are skills that are not taught by any one class, but are mastered through the collective study of multiple disciplines and subjects.
Critical thinking is about analysis, decision-making, planning, and the synthesis of information and evidence into one’s own work that results in a unique, insightful, and purposeful “product”—whether that be a scholarly paper, an artistic composition, a field experiment, or a lab report.
There is no separate rubric for this skill as it is embedded in four of the below-stated competencies—Written Communication, Quantitative Reasoning, Oral Communication, and Information Literacy. Please refer to the rubrics for these areas for further information.
The ability to logically construct a line of reasoning in well-organized and eloquent prose that effectively communicates information makes a convincing argument, and/or expresses important viewpoints to an intended audience is a marketable skill in the professional world.
Students may not need to master advanced algorithms, but all individuals need to understand numbers and what they mean (and don’t mean). Often, poor arguments are based on haphazard or misuse of data and statistics—completing a college degree ensures students will have the ability to identify & solve problems from a quantitative perspective through the critical collection and scrutiny of data and how to best visually produce data in ways that are effective.
Oral Communication refers to verbal/oral eloquence (spoken language). Students should be able to choose appropriate language for any given audience (professional or casual), and deliver a message or main points through an organized and engaging speech or presentation that may employ visual aids, body language, and other non-verbal elements that enhance the meaning or argument put forth.
College-level writing often stresses proper citation formatting in terms of bibliographies and cited material. However, Information Literacy is also about learning to avoid plagiarism (whether intentional or unintentional) as well as locating and utilizing credible sources of information as opposed to just taking anything from the internet as “fact.” Universities try and instill in students an ability to question and to reject information or arguments that are clearly inaccurate or false.
Because UH Hilo is located in a very specific place in Hawai‘i, we hope to instill in our students a better understanding of this unique place and its unique peoples and cultures, including the values and histories of Native Hawaiians. We also hope to push students’ understanding of the larger world that is home to differing religions, lifestyles, and beliefs; and, we hope to instill in students a sense of empathy and shared interests for even the most difficult and polarizing of issues.