General Education Assessments

Austin Community College has six general education competencies: the skills, attitudes and behaviors that characterize the educated person. The competencies are taught in many different courses across the Core Curriculum, reflecting relationships across programs and between classes. As such, they help to shape the experiences of nearly every student.

The six competencies are:

Communication Skills
 Develop, interpret, and express ideas and information through written, oral and visual communication that is adapted to purpose, structure, audience, and medium.

Critical Thinking Skills
 Gather, analyze, synthesize, evaluate and apply information for the purposes of innovation, inquiry, and creative thinking.

Empirical and Quantitative Skills
 Apply mathematical, logical and scientific principles and methods through the manipulation and analysis of numerical data or observable facts resulting in informed conclusions.

Personal Responsibility
 Identify and apply ethical principles and practices to decision-making by connecting choices, actions and consequences

Social Responsibility (Civic and Cultural Awareness)
 Analyze differences and commonalities among peoples, ideas, aesthetic traditions, and cultural practices to include intercultural competence, knowledge of civic responsibility, and the ability to engage effectively in regional, national, and global communities.

Teamwork
 Consider different points of view to work collaboratively and effectively in pursuit of a shared purpose or goal.

Meaningful assessment of these general education competencies serves to promote continuous improvement and helps guide faculty and staff in pursuing strategies to help students to succeed. Every competency should be assessed every year. Moreover, there is an expectation that the assessment data will be used to develop action plans, which will, in turn, be evaluated to determine their impact.

At the same time, there is a critical need to not overburden faculty and department chairs with demands that are overwhelming. As such, the following schedule has been created so as to promote less frequent but more meaningful assessment, while simultaneously meeting the expectations of both SACS and the Coordinating Board. Wherever possible and appropriate, disciplines may address two competencies with one assessment, e.g. a writing assignment that requires critical thinking.

The three years of assessment are labeled, respectively, “1”, “2”, or “3”. Courses in each component area will assess the stated competencies in the designated year if they teach them. For example, in Year 1, every discipline that addresses Critical Thinking and Communication (i.e., everyone) should assess these competencies.  In Year 2, disciplines teaching Empirical & Quantitative Skills or Personal Responsibility will assess those.  In Year 3, disciplines assessing Civic & Cultural Awareness and/or Teamwork will assess those competencies. 

In each case, only those courses in which the designated competency is identified as being addressed will be expected to assess it. So, for example, only those courses in the Life & Physical Science that teach Civic & Cultural Awareness will be expected to assess it in Year 3.

The accompanying chart illustrates which general education competencies are taught in which areas and the years that they are assessed. Green boxes are those in which every course in a given component area addresses that competency.  The numbers indicate the year (1, 2, or 3) of the three year cycle in which that competency is assessed.