Frequently Asked Questions: General Education Competency Assessment

The General Education Competencies represent 5 competency areas in which NC State students should develop during their undergraduate careers. These competencies were selected by NC State faculty because they are fundamental across disciplines and degree programs. General Education Competencies are introduced through multiple and sustained experiences across the GEP. It is then expected that each degree program provides additional support to build upon that foundation throughout the major.

The General Education Competencies were identified and defined by NC State faculty and vetted through the Faculty Senate, the Council on Undergraduate Education, and the Associate Deans in spring 2012. There are 5 General Education Competencies: Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, Written Communication, Oral Communication, and Quantitative Literacy. Each competency has a definition and associated outcomes.

Yes. The General Education Program (GEP) is a series of coursework (39 credit hours across 8 GEP categories) that NC State students are required to complete. The mission of general education is to provide students the opportunity to experience diverse and integrative disciplinary perspectives.

As noted previously, the General Education Competencies are competency areas in which NC State students should develop during their undergraduate careers. Development in these competencies begins in the GEP and is sustained throughout their major coursework.

General Education Competency assessment efforts measure undergraduate proficiency levels in each competency area. The Office of Assessment partners with faculty from across campus to collect and analyze data for General Education Competency Assessment, including authentic assessment artifacts and standardized assessments. For example, authentic assessment evidence of student work is collected and scored by the Office of Assessment and faculty partners for oral and written communication competencies using rubrics. The Office of Assessment assesses written communication, quantitative literacy, and critical thinking for first-year and senior students using the ETS Proficiency Profile, the Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT), and ETS HEIghten Quantitative Literacy Assessment. Additionally, the Office of Assessment supports the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) which assesses critical and creative thinking through testing, surveys, and rubrics applied to student products. The resulting data are shared through faculty champions with faculty and administrators throughout the university to make decisions to improve student learning.

There are a number of opportunities for faculty to work with the Office of Assessment to improve student learning within the General Education Competencies. These competencies were selected by NC State faculty given that they are fundamental across disciplines and degree programs. As such, many degree programs have explicit student learning outcomes tied directly to one or more of the General Education Competencies. Opportunities to collaborate:

    – The Office of Assessment works with faculty who have course or program level student learning outcomes related to General Education competencies to use rubrics, standardized assessments, and other assessment tools to collect data on student learning. The Office of Assessment is able to facilitate the administration of the assessment (often in conjunction with faculty) and then provides course/program level data back to the department. These data can be used to inform annual academic assessment reporting.

    – The Office of Assessment and General Education Competency Champions offer consulting and professional development training opportunities for faculty who seek ways to integrate teaching in the competency areas in their course and curriculum. These opportunities are shared on our website and through email communications.

The Office of Assessment’s goal is to share findings from Gen Ed Competency assessments with campus stakeholders for the purpose of continually improving student learning. The Office of Assessment and General Education Competency Champions regularly share data with stakeholders such as faculty, staff, and administrators across the university to make decisions to improve student learning. Directors of Undergraduate Programs and NC State faculty may request aggregated program-level assessment data for use in their annual Academic Program Assessments or for other student learning assessments.

For example, during the 2017-2018 academic year, the Office of Assessment worked with the Poole College of Management to administer the HEIghten Quantitative Literacy Assessment to 300 graduating seniors. Additionally, 20 faculty across 6 colleges partnered with the Office of Assessment to administer competency assessments using a variety of assessment tools.

The Office of Assessment has identified a faculty champion for each of the General Education Competencies. The role of General Education Competency Champions is to engage with faculty across disciplines and encourage improvement in student learning through teaching and use of assessment data. Faculty then use these data to make decisions about courses and curricula related to the competency. Champions work closely with the Office of Assessment to collect evidence of how faculty across campus are specifically using data to improve student learning. Faculty were selected as champions based on their content area expertise and their interest in assessment and faculty development. Learn more about the current General Education Competency Champions.

For more information about general education competency assessment, please contact:

Samantha Rich
Assistant Director, Office of Assessment
919.513.0912