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WSCUC Core Competencies


The following pages provide information and resources for integrating the assessment of the five core competencies into the established annual PLO assessment practices of undergraduate majors at UC Merced. 

As described below,  programs are encouraged to integrate this work into their own practices in ways that are consistent with their philosophies. Thus, these materials are provided to support local program efforts, but in no way dictate how Core Competencies shall be integraded into annual assessment. 

Programs may prefer to use discipline-specific resources such as those provided through a relevant society or association or in published discipline-specific teaching and learning literature. Your school assessment specialist is available to support this work. 

Additional details regarding the WASC Core Competencies are available below including 

Guidelines and a template for integrating the Core Competencies into annual program assessment is available here.

History & Institutional Requirements

WASC redesigned the reaccreditation process in 2013, changing both the substance of the review and the review process itself.  Among several new accreditation expectations is that institutions must ensure the development of the following “five core competencies” in all baccalaureate programs:

  • Written communication
  • Oral communication
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Information literacy
  • Critical thinking

As part of its self-study for reaccreditation, each institution must develop an essay that

  • describes how the undergraduate curriculum addresses each of the five core competencies,
  • explains its learning outcomes in relation to those core competencies, and
  • demonstrates, through evidence of student performance, the extent to which those outcomes are achieved at or near the time of graduation.

​For more information about of this new expectation, please see Educational Quality: Student Learning, Core Competencies and Standards of Performance at Graduation on p. 30 of the 2013 Handbook of Accreditation



WSCUC is phasing in this requirement, and UC Merced is among the first set of institutions required to demonstrate student achievement of all five competencies as part of its re-accreditation efforts.  


  • By spring 2017, the time of UC Merced’s Off-Site Review for reaccreditation, WASC expects UC Merced to have assessed four of the five competencies. 
  • By the time of our Accreditation Visit in spring 2018, all five competencies will have been assessed.​

In spring 2014, each major developed a plan to ensure attention to the core competencies as part of regular annual assessment, as guided by a template


Strategy and Rationale

In consultation with the Academic Senate, a strategy to address the competencies was developed that integrates the assessment of the competencies as seamlessly as possible into the ongoing annual assessment activities of the undergraduate majors. 

This strategy reflects the following principles, which stipulate that any approach to the competencies must

  1. be supported and implemented by the faculty, with appropriate administrative support, consistent with the faculty’s ownership of curriculum.
  2. acknowledge that the competencies outline a core set of abilities that are essential to, but not sufficient for, the high quality, intellectual work expected of a bachelor’s degree graduate from the University of California.
  3. recognize that although there may be broad agreement on the general attributes of these competencies, their expression is likely to differ by discipline in keeping with field-specific intellectual conventions.
  4. add value to faculty goals for student learning.
  5. generate actionable insights into student learning at institutional level(s) (e.g., program, school,campus) at which responsive action will have meaning and impact.
  6. use and build on existing assessment support and activities, so as to be sustainable.
  7. evaluate student learning in relation to the competencies in keeping with timeline established by our accreditor.

Because assessment philosophies differ, the strategy was intended to respect and encourage programs to integrate this work into their own practices in ways that are consistent with their philosophies, but that will also contribute to the campus’ need to ensure (and document) the development of the five competencies in all baccalaureate programs. 

The original proposal to the Academic Senate and related correspondence are available here. Please address any questions to Laura Martin, UC Merced Accreditation Liaison Officer.