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Comprehensive Standard 3.5.1

The institution identifies college-level general education competencies and the extent to which graduates have attained them. (College-level competencies)   

Judgement: Compliant


The University of South Carolina Upstate’s (USC Upstate) faculty developed a competency-based general education program that provides students with a common academic experience and creates a foundation for life-long learning.  Through a competency-based general education model, students demonstrate achievement of a common set of general education competencies in addition to mastery of individual course content.

Competencies and student learning outcomes are aligned with the University’s mission to address the overarching principles of general education: “to collect and evaluate information (acquire knowledge), integrate and draw conclusions (create knowledge), and communicate this knowledge to others.”  The general education program focuses on essential skills and knowledge demonstrated by students at the completion of their program of study.  The five competencies and nine related student learning outcomes (SLOs) are:

  • Competency 1: The USC Upstate graduate should demonstrate an ability to communicate in English, both orally and in writing.
    • SLO 1.1:  Students are able to create and deliver coherent, grammatically correct oral presentations.
    • SLO 1.2:  Students are able to create coherent, grammatically correct responses to prompts and questions.
  • Competency 2: The USC Upstate graduate should demonstrate an understanding of and an ability to apply scientific investigation and quantitative and logical reasoning.
    • SLO 2.1:  Students demonstrate an ability to apply scientific reasoning by drawing appropriate conclusions from scientific data.
    • SLO 2.2:  Students demonstrate an ability to apply quantitative and logical reasoning by producing solutions to or analyses of appropriate problems.
  • Competency 3: The USC Upstate graduate should be able to integrate and critically evaluate information.
    • SLO 3.1:  Students are able to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of varying points of view.
    • SLO 3.2:  Students demonstrate the ability to distinguish between pertinent and irrelevant information.
  • Competency 4: The USC Upstate graduate should understand and demonstrate an awareness of distinctive features of language and cultures.
    • SLO 4.1:  Students demonstrate knowledge of linguistic and cultural diversity and contributions of such diversity to society.
  • Competency 5: The USC Upstate graduate should demonstrate responsible and appropriate use of information knowledge.
    • SLO 5.1:  Students are able to gather and correctly process information through appropriate use of technological tools.
    • SLO 5.2:  Students demonstrate the ability to use information technologies to communicate information to others.

General education courses are designed to support at least one SLO from two different competencies.  General education course proposals include an explanation of how the goals of the course support student learning outcomes.  A Course Alignment Matrix was developed to identify each general education course and its associated competencies and SLOs.

At least once yearly, the General Education Committee assesses each competency and related SLOs in senior seminar courses.  For each competency, a member of the General Education Committee joins faculty members from units offering courses that support the competency to comprise a competency assessment team (CAT).  The CATs evaluate assessment results and provide feedback and suggestions for refinement to the individual departments.

The General Education Committee collects all relevant information and writes an annual General Education Assessment Progress Report.  The USC Upstate general education curriculum has undergone one complete assessment cycle.  The General Education Assessment Progress Report, January 2011, provides a summary of assessment data and action plans for improvement.  The General Education Committee also develops more detailed reports by competency (Competency 1, Competency 2, Competency 3, Competency 4, Competency 5) on assessment and action plans and disseminates the information to the appropriate units.

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