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University Assessment Committee Responds to Feedback from Core Competency Forum

Office of the ProvostMay 11, 2017

In Early February, the University Assessment Committee (UAC) hosted the Core Competency Forum in which faculty, students, and staff were invited to provide feedback to the UAC regarding Pacific's definitions of the core competencies and the next steps Pacific should take in response to assessment data.  During spring semester, the UAC integrated feedback from the forum into Pacific's assessment plan and has plans to incorporate additional feedback into core competency assessment. Below is a summary of how the UAC is using feedback from the forum, including responses to questions posed at the forum.

General Feedback

  • In response to faculty feedback, the UAC will map the core competencies so that curriculum alignment can be evaluated. 
  • When possible, the UAC will provide disaggregated core competency data to colleges.  The UAC includes a representative from General Education and will continue to discuss how core competencies can be integrated into the General Education curriculum. 
  • The UAC will continue to promote general knowledge of the core competencies and will engage students and faculty in figuring out ways to make these competencies better known to our students. 
  • During the coming summer, the UAC website will be updated. One request that will be considered is to create an online forum where faculty can share ideas about how they are integrating the core competencies into their work. 

Written Communication and Critical Thinking

  • Several suggestions were made regarding the definitions and rubrics for written communication and critical thinking. In response to these suggestions, the written communication and critical thinking subcommittee expanded the explanation of the term, "stylistic choices" in the written communication rubric; however, the term, "shared understanding," was not revised in the interest of a succinct rubric. Additionally, the term ethical will remain in the critical thinking definition because there are individuals both in favor and opposed to including this term in the definition, but there is not a critical mass to sway the definition one direction or another. 
  • The subcommittee reaffirms that the rubric is intended for core competency assessment, but recommends that programs incorporate the rubric into program assessment because connection between the levels of assessment can create a more coherent and articulated learning experience for students. 
  • To ensure high standards of assessment, the UAC will continue to calibrate scorers during assessment scoring sessions.  
  • Writing in the Disciplines Faculty Learning Communities will continue to address concerns about training faculty in writing instruction. Contact Eileen Camfield ( for more information. 
  • The critical thinking rubric will continue to be refined through discussions held during our critical thinking assessment session in May.

Information Literacy

  • To help students learn to cite references, the information literacy subcommittee recommends that the library offer workshops and tutorials.
  • Regarding critical reading, the information literacy subcommittee is considering a faculty learning community or workshop on developing this skill in students.
  • Recommendations for altering the definition of information literacy are under consideration. 

Quantitative Reasoning

  • The subcommittee changed the learning outcome in response to forum feedback to incorporate the theme of "authentic context."
  • The quantitative reasoning subcommittee will oversee the creation of a quantitative reasoning measure that can be administered through canvas. 
  • The subcommittee plans to use an AAC&U Rubric to score quantitative reasoning work samples. 
  • The quantitative reasoning subcommittee is still considering making a recommendation to link quantitative reasoning to the university's fundamental skills requirement. 
  • The quantitative reasoning subcommittee is still considering making recommendations about co-curricular transcripts, integrating student life activities into quantitative reasoning assessment, and using healthy competition to motivate assessment.

Oral Communication

  • Forum participants affirmed the importance of oral communication skills for students' post-graduation success. Student Life is also developing an assessment project through the Career Resource Center to address this outcome, so we will have two lines of evidence to analyze.  
  • The subcommittee agrees with the need to consider culture and English-as-second-language learners in assessment. A prompt should be added to materials to ask assessors to consider intercultural differences and that each aspect of the rubric has a range of expectations within it (e.g. there are multiple ways for presenters to connect to the audience, accented speech should not be considered as less proficient, etc.)
  • In response to the concern that students need to be able to incorporate the language consistent with a 4-year degree the oral communication subcommittee reaffirms that word choice is already on the rubric.  Although we understand the value of high quality vocabulary and complex sentence structure, we place an emphasis on word choice and clarity based on persuading a particular audience regarding a particular topic.  Vocabulary and style may need to be changed for audience/purpose.
  • The oral communication subcommittee clarifies that the rubric is for presentations rather than other forms of oral communication. The subcommittee also reaffirms the benefit of a 4-point, rather than a 5-point rubric because it forces a choice between meeting and not meeting competency. Finally, the subcommittee plans to continue to use the term, "vocalics" because it is one word encompassing tone, enunciation, etc.

For more information regarding how the committee is using feedback from the Core Competency Forum, please contact Justin Low (

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