Intellectual Skills

shutterstock_140352514The six crosscutting Intellectual Skills presented below define proficiencies that transcend the boundaries of particular fields of study. They overlap, interact with and enable the other major areas of learning described in the DQP.

Analytic inquiry

The synthesizing cognitive operations of assembling, combining, formulating, evaluating and reconstructing information, foundational to all learning, are addressed throughout the DQP. But analytic inquiry, though it is involved in such synthesis, requires separate treatment as the core intellectual skill that enables a student to examine, probe and grasp the assumptions and conventions of different areas of study, as well as to address complex questions, problems, materials and texts of all types.

At the associate level, the student

  • Identifies and frames a problem or question in selected areas of study and distinguishes among elements of ideas, concepts, theories or practical approaches to the problem   or question.

At the bachelor’s level, the student

  • Differentiates and evaluates theories and approaches to selected complex problems within the chosen field of study and at least one other field.

At the master’s level, the student

  • Disaggregates, reformulates and adapts principal ideas, techniques or methods at the forefront of the field of study in carrying out an essay or project.

Use of information resources

There is no learning without information, and students must learn how to find, organize and evaluate information in order to work with it and perhaps contribute to it. At each degree level, these tasks become more complicated — by language, by media, by ambiguity and contradictions — and the proficiencies offered below reflect that ladder of challenge.

At the associate level, the student

  • Identifies, categorizes, evaluates and cites multiple information resources so as to create projects, papers or performances in either a specialized field of study or with respect to a general theme within the arts and sciences.

At the bachelor’s level, the student

  • Locates, evaluates, incorporates, and properly cites multiple information resources in different media or different languages in projects, papers or performances.
  • Generates information through independent or collaborative inquiry and uses that information in a project, paper or performance.

At the master’s level, the student

  • Provides evidence (through papers, projects, notebooks, computer files or catalogues) of contributing to, expanding, evaluating or refining the information base within the field of study.

Engaging diverse perspectives

Every student should develop the intellectual flexibility and broad knowledge that enables perception of the world through the eyes of others, i.e., from the perspectives of diverse cultures, personalities, places, times and technologies. This proficiency is essential to intellectual development and to both Applied and Collaborative Learning and Civic and Global Learning.

At the associate level, the student

  • Describes how knowledge from different cultural perspectives might affect interpretations of prominent problems in politics, society, the arts and global relations.
  • Describes, explains and evaluates the sources of his/her own perspective on selected issues in culture, society, politics, the arts or global relations and compares that perspective with other views.

At the bachelor’s level, the student

  • Constructs a written project, laboratory report, exhibit, performance or community service design expressing an alternate cultural, political or technological vision and explains how this vision differs from current realities.
  • Frames a controversy or problem within the field of study in terms of at least two political, cultural, historical or technological forces, explores and evaluates competing perspectives on the controversy or problem, and presents a reasoned analysis of the issue, either orally or in writing, that demonstrates consideration of the competing views.

At the master’s level, the student

  • Investigates through a project, paper or performance a core issue in the field of study from the perspective of a different point in time or a different culture, language, political order or technological context and explains how this perspective yields results that depart from current norms, dominant cultural assumptions or technologies.

Ethical reasoning

Analytic reasoning, the use of information resources, communication, and diverse perspectives should be brought to bear on situations, both clear and indeterminate, where tensions and conflicts, disparities and harms emerge, and where a particular set of intellectual skills is necessary to identify, elaborate and, if possible, resolve these cases. Ethical reasoning thus refers to the judicious and self-reflective application of ethical principles and codes of conduct resident in cultures, professions, occupations, economic behavior and social relationships to making decisions and taking action. 

At the associate level, the student

  • Describes the ethical issues present in prominent problems in politics, economics, health care, technology or the arts and shows how ethical principles or frameworks help to inform decision making with respect to such problems.

At the bachelor’s level, the student

  • Analyzes competing claims from a recent discovery, scientific contention or technical practice with respect to benefits and harms to those affected, articulates the ethical dilemmas inherent in the tension of benefits and harms, and either (a) arrives at a clearly expressed reconciliation of that tension that is informed by ethical principles or (b) explains why such a reconciliation cannot be accomplished.
  • Identifies and elaborates key ethical issues present in at least one prominent social or cultural problem, articulates the ways in which at least two differing ethical perspectives influence decision making concerning those problems, and develops and defends an approach to address the ethical issue productively.

At the master’s level, the student

  • Articulates and challenges a tradition, assumption or prevailing practice within the field of study by raising and examining relevant ethical perspectives through a project, paper or performance.
  • Distinguishes human activities and judgments particularly subject to ethical reasoning from those less subject to ethical reasoning.

Quantitative fluency

Quantitative expressions and the issues they raise inform many tasks. In addition to essential arithmetic skills, the use of visualization, symbolic translation and algorithms has become critically important.

At the associate level, the student

  • Presents accurate interpretations of quantitative information on political, economic, health-related or technological topics and explains how both calculations and symbolic operations are used in those offerings.
  • Creates and explains graphs or other visual depictions of trends, relationships or changes in status.

At the bachelor’s level, the student

  • Translates verbal problems into mathematical algorithms so as to construct valid arguments using the accepted symbolic system of mathematical reasoning and presents the resulting calculations, estimates, risk analyses or quantitative evaluations of public information in papers, projects or multimedia presentations.
  • Constructs mathematical expressions where appropriate for issues initially described in non-quantitative terms.

At the master’s level, the student

  • Uses logical, mathematical or statistical methods appropriate to addressing a topic or issue in a primary field that is not for the most part quantitatively based.
    — or —
  • Articulates and undertakes multiple appropriate applications of quantitative methods, concepts and theories in a field of study that is quantitatively based.
  • Identifies, chooses and defends the choice of a mathematical model appropriate to a problem in the social sciences or applied sciences.

Communicative fluency

The use of messages to achieve shared understanding of meaning depends on effective use of language, intentional engagement of audience, cogent and coherent iteration and negotiation with others, and skillful translation across multiple expressive modes and formulations, including digital strategies and platforms.

At the associate level, the student

  • Develops and presents cogent, coherent and substantially error-free writing for communication to general and specialized audiences.
  • Demonstrates effective interactive communication through discussion, i.e., by listening actively and responding constructively and through structured oral presentations to general and specialized audiences.
  • Negotiates with peers an action plan for a practical task and communicates the results of the negotiation either orally or in writing.

At the bachelor’s level, the student

  • Constructs sustained, coherent arguments, narratives or explications of issues, problems or technical issues and processes, in writing and at least one other medium, to general and specific audiences.
  • Conducts an inquiry concerning information, conditions, technologies or practices in the field of study that makes substantive use of non-English-language sources.
  • Negotiates with one or more collaborators to advance an oral argument or articulate an approach to resolving a social, personal or ethical dilemma.

At the master’s level, the student

  • Creates sustained, coherent arguments or explanations summarizing his/her work or that of collaborators in two or more media or languages for both general and specialized audiences.