Guidelines for interpreting the DQP proficiencies


Proficiencies are organized in the DQP within the five broad areas of learning outlined above. For the sake of clarity, the DQP describes the proficiencies for each area independently. Yet, as will become clear, specific proficiencies typically integrate knowledge, one or more intellectual skills, and some form of demonstration. The same point applies to students’ development of the expected proficiencies. Students will learn what they practice as they encounter assignments that charge them to integrate knowledge, specific skills and applications.

Guidelines for interpreting the proficiencies are as follows:

  • The proficiencies are intended to be cumulative for each degree level. Thus, the proficiencies identified “at the associate level,” which are also descriptive of work assigned during the first two years of a four-year curriculum, are assumed for the baccalaureate level. In turn, outcomes stated specifically for the master’s degree include those for the associate and bachelor’s degrees. Each section of the DQP demonstrates the principle of incremental challenge and cumulative accomplishment from one degree level to the next.
  • Students can attain these proficiencies through many paths and at any point in the course of their academic pathway. Just as learning is cumulative but rarely follows a rigid sequence, evidence for learning is also cumulative and reflects programmatic and individual differences.
  • The ways of demonstrating the proficiencies frequently included in these statements are offered as illustrations. When they indicate a range of performance, the implied forms of demonstration (e.g., an essay, oral presentation or project) are suggestive rather than exhaustive.
  • The proficiencies are presented through active verbs that declare what students should do to demonstrate proficiency. These active verbs are deliberately cast at different levels of sophistication as the DQP moves up the degree ladder. The DQP avoids nouns such as “appreciation,” “awareness” and “ability” because these cannot be demonstrated through specific assignments.
  • The proficiency statements do not prescribe how well a student must demonstrate proficiency; they are intended to invite demonstration that learning outcomes have been achieved. Though faculty members should find the DQP useful in evaluating student performance, the standards of quality remain judgments based on criteria that faculty have made explicit to students.
  • Illustrations from specific disciplines, occupational fields, institutions or associations are emerging through use of the DQP by faculty in different fields of study and through work associated with the “Tuning USA” project described in Appendix B.
  • The five broad areas of learning included in the DQP will be approached in different ways and with differing degrees of emphasis by the many providers of U.S. higher education. However, the inclusion and integration of these five component areas of learning should represent a widely shared curricular goal.
  • The descriptions of proficiencies often include references to unknowns, inquiries, partial conclusions and unresolved challenges. Such inquiries and contingencies are common to all fields of study, and they apply not only to research but also to creative works, technical designs, interpretations and projects.