Competency Maps

Competency maps help to identify points within a program where assessment might be possible. They are presented as grids with goal and competencies cross referenced with courses or other activities that constitute a program. For example, for the General Education goal for Written Communication, all students are required to complete ENGL 1121. That course is a logical place where assessment might take place for this goal, but it is not the only possibility. An example of a competency map for Written Communication is given below.

Table 5—Competency Map for Written Communication

To develop writers and speakers who use the English language effectively and who read, write, speak and listen critically. ENGL
Student Competencies
a. Students will be able to understand/demonstrate the writing and speaking processes through invention, organization, drafting, revision, editing and presentation. X X X
b. Students will be able to participate effectively in groups with emphasis on listening, critical and reflective thinking, and responding. X X
c. Students will be able to locate, evaluate, and synthesize in a responsible manner materials from diverse sources and points of view. X
d. Students will be able to select appropriate communication choices for specific audiences. X X X
e. Students will be able to construct logical and coherent arguments. X X
f. Students will be able to use authority, point-of-view, and individual voice and style in their writing and speaking. X X
g. Students will be able to employ syntax and usage appropriate to academic disciplines and the professional world. X X

In this example, there are only three courses approved as meeting the Written Communication goal, which limits the possible choices. In other goal areas, there can be dozens of courses listed, offering many more choices for assessment points. In either case, it is important to ensure that all of our competencies are assessed at some point for students within the program.

Once the possible assessment points are determined, the next step is to determine the actual assessment points, based on what makes logical and practical sense for the program. In the example given above, it is possible to measure Written Communication competencies in three courses. However, because ENGL 1121 is a required course for many programs, it makes sense to focus our initial assessment efforts there. In cases where students have many options for meeting a goal, but no specific courses are required, it makes sense to select a representative sample of courses for assessment activities.