Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2019

At its regularly scheduled meeting January 17, the VCCS State Board approved new policies designed to help system colleges better focus their efforts on producing productive and successful graduates.

“The Policy on Student Learning Assessment and Quality in Undergraduate Education, adopted by SCHEV in 2017, provided the occasion for Virginia’s Community Colleges to re-examine and update the competencies that we expect all of our graduates will acquire as part of their education,” said Thomas Nelson President John Dever, who chaired the VCCS’s year-long General Education Outcomes Task Force.

“After extensive consultation and intensive deliberation, the Task Force reached consensus that promoting the selected six competencies in all of our educational programs will prepare today’s students with the broad-based knowledge and skills needed for them to be successful in pursuing further education, undertaking careers, and contributing to the betterment of their communities.”

The task force included representatives from all 23 VCCS colleges, and identified six core competencies:

• Civic Engagement – the ability to contribute to the civic life and well-being of local, national, and global communities as both a social responsibility and a life-long learning process.
• Critical Thinking – the ability to use information, ideas and arguments from relevant perspectives to make sense of complex issues and solve problems.
• Professional Readiness – the ability to work well with others and display situationally and culturally appropriate demeanor and behavior.
• Quantitative Literacy – the ability to perform accurate calculations, interpret quantitative information, apply and analyze relevant numerical data, and use results to support conclusions.
• Scientific Literacy – the ability to apply the scientific method and related concepts and principles to make informed decisions and engage with issues related to the natural, physical, and social world.
• Written Communication – the ability to develop, convey, and exchange ideas in writing, as appropriate to a given context and audience.

The VCCS General Education Outcomes Task Force devoted a year to determining and articulating the new core competencies

The new general education competencies become effective for VCCS colleges in Fall 2019, with college catalogs reflecting the changes.

“Individual colleges should implement these new core competencies with an eye to their local needs, said Dr. Catherine Finnegan, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Research and Reporting. “VCCS faculty now have a golden opportunity to engage in thoughtful, cross-disciplinary discussions about what makes an educated Virginian.”

To assist in these discussions, the task force developed a resource guide, which will be available in Canvas later this semester.

The VCCS Office of Professional Development will be asked to develop a multi-year plan and schedule to provide significant programmatic support and professional development opportunities for faculty across the system to use in incorporating the competencies into their courses and programs, for performing authentic assessments of student learning, and for using the results of assessment for ongoing improvements in teaching and learning.

“This is important work to ensure that our colleges are in alignment with
The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, and The Principles of Accreditation of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC),” said VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois.

“We know that higher education will play an increasingly important role in Virginia’s evolving economy, and that our colleges need to take concrete steps to provide our graduates with the deeper and broader knowledge and skills they’ll need to thrive.”

jbabb@vccs.edu'

Jim Babb

Jim Babb works for Virginia's Community Colleges in the Office of Strategic Communications.

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