Title
General Education Core Competencies & Competencies

Mission Statement

The mission of the Division of General Education is to provide relevant, innovative, and engaging learning opportunities that foster the foundational content and competency knowledge necessary for academic success and personal growth.

General Education Core Competencies

Ethical Reasoning Core Competency

The Ethical Reasoning competency is the examination of principles of normative and non-normative ethical theories and the application of these principles in decision-making activities including case studies and contemporary social issues. Students will explore moral character: virtues and vices, commitments and attitudes, personal relationships, and community involvement, in addition to right and wrong conduct.

Learning Outcomes

Ashford University students completing the General Education Ethical Reasoning Core Competency will be able to:

  1. Identify ethical issues within current events, society, or one or more fields of study.
  2. Present one’s own ethical position in relation to problems, issues, norms, or values.
  3. Compare different ethical positions in relation to problems, issues, norms, or values.
  4. Apply ethical theory or appropriate professional ethical codes to social and moral issues in the field of study.
  5. Evaluate the application of ethical theories and codes in relation to problems, issues, norms, or values.

Written Communication Core Competency

Written communication is the use of texts to create and transmit meaning. Students will examine, analyze, and utilize different types of communication appropriate in professional and academic settings. They will also develop and assess communication strategies appropriate for certain audiences as well as determine and evaluate ethical issues that arise from communicating with others.

Learning Outcomes

Ashford University students completing the General Education Written Communication Core Competency will be able to:


  1. Interpret information from various sources.
  2. Integrate information to effectively communicate a central message.
  3. Employ successful processes for producing effective communication.
  4. Use conventions of spelling, grammar, genre, and style appropriate to a specific purpose or context.
  5. Practice principles of academic integrity in written communication.
  6. Create cohesive and effective written work for a specific purpose.

Oral & Interpersonal Communication Core Competency

Oral and interpersonal communication is the use of language, speech, and affect to transmit messages. Students will examine the encoding of messages for different audiences and decoding of messages to reconstruct meaning. Students will assess appropriate communication strategies for various audiences and evaluate ethical issues that arise from communicating with others as well as utilize effective oral and interpersonal presentation strategies and methods.

Learning Outcomes

Ashford University students completing the General Education Oral & Interpersonal Communication Core Competency will be able to:


  1. Integrate a variety of message encoding techniques based on information about audiences.
  2. Integrate a variety of message decoding techniques to reconstruct meaning of an incoming message.
  3. Utilize communication strategies appropriate for different rhetorical purposes.
  4. Apply principles of ethical communication.
  5. Examine the impact of communication in personal and professional contexts.

Information Literacy Core Competency

Information literacy is the set of research skills that allow individuals to recognize when information is needed, to locate it, evaluate it, and effectively use it to communicate a message or support a claim. Students will develop the skills necessary to critically evaluate sources and communicate information appropriately, effectively, and ethically.

Learning Outcomes

Ashford University students completing the General Education Information Literacy Core Competency will be able to:


  1. Identify nature and extent of information needed to support a specific purpose.
  2. Use relevant and credible information sources that are appropriate to the field and purpose.
  3. Evaluate information and its sources critically.
  4. Communicate information using appropriate tools and technology to accomplish a specific purpose.
  5. Use information legally and ethically.

Critical Thinking Core Competency

Critical Thinking is a set of skills and strategies for making decisions about what people ought to do and believe. Students will analyze thought processes and language, identify logically fallacious thinking, and use the essential skills of deductive and inductive argument in analysis and evaluation. Students will also learn to objectively identify problems, gather information from varied and appropriate sources, and utilize methods of decision-making to provide solutions to those problems.

Learning Outcomes

Ashford University students completing the General Education Critical Thinking Core Competency will be able to:


  1. Describe the issues or problems in a manner appropriate to the academic field of study.
  2. Interpret evidence that is used to support positions in relation to a specific topic.
  3. Evaluate evidence based on specific criteria.
  4. Compare and contrast various positions, arguments, or theses related to the examined issues.
  5. Create arguments to support positions on issues or in relation to theses.

Quantitative Reasoning Core Competency

Quantitative Reasoning is the ability to efficiently process data, interpret it, represent it using mathematical forms, and solve numerical and applied mathematical problems. Students will use mathematical forms, logical reasoning, and valid techniques to solve problems related to their fields of study as well as their personal lives.

Learning Outcomes

Ashford University students completing the General Education Quantitative Reasoning Core Competency will be able to:


  1. Represent the given information using mathematical models and forms.
  2. Interpret quantitative data.
  3. Perform calculations that relate to specific topics and fields of study.
  4. Evaluate quantitative evidence used to support a claim.
  5. Support a position using quantitative evidence.

Capstone Requirement

The General Education Capstone provides students with a cumulative and integrated learning experience. Through the study of selected interdisciplinary topics and course-embedded assessments students will demonstrate development of the general education core competencies. Students will apply general education principles informed by ethical and critical sensibility and provide evidence of growth in acquiring the habits of active citizenship.

GEN 499 General Education Capstone

Learning Outcomes

Ashford University students completing the General Education Capstone Requirement will be able to:


  1. Apply ethical theory and moral reasoning to academic knowledge and societal concerns.
  2. Utilize principles of critical thinking in problem-solving.
  3. Communicate through investigative research and writing.
  4. Utilize information technology skills appropriate to interdisciplinary studies.
  5. Articulate the responsibility of global citizenship and multicultural understanding with regard to academic and professional pursuits.

General Education Assessment Plan

General Education Competencies

Digital Literacy Competency

Digital Literacy is the ability to effectively utilize and protect oneself and others in a society dominated by new technologies and digital devices. Students will develop skills in the use of digital tools related to research, decision-making, problem-solving, and virtual identity communication and protection.

Learning Outcomes

Ashford University students completing the General Education Digital Literacy Competency will be able to:


  1. Utilize digital tools to perform specific tasks.
  2. Examine the ethical and social issues relevant in a digital society.
  3. Assess the impact of digital technology.
  4. Evaluate the importance of digital literacy.
  5. Critique digital resources.

Aesthetic Awareness & Reasoning Competency

Aesthetic Awareness & Reasoning is the ability to creatively examine life and objects through the lens of beauty and artistic taste. Students will interpret creative works, articulate how creative works influence and respond to society and culture, determine the key contexts of creative works, and substantiate aesthetic judgments with appropriate evidence.

Learning Outcomes

Ashford University students completing the General Education Aesthetic Awareness & Reasoning Competency will be able to:


  1. Interpret creative works using a theoretical approach.
  2. Articulate the ways in which creative works influence and/or respond to society and culture.
  3. Determine key contexts of creative works.
  4. Substantiate aesthetic judgments using appropriate evidence.

Scientific Reasoning Competency

Scientific reasoning is a perspective used to study and explore the natural world. Students will learn the scientific method, apply it, interpret data gathered through research, and propose solutions to problems grounded in scientific theory.

Learning Outcomes

Ashford University students completing the General Education Scientific Reasoning Competency will be able to:


  1. Apply the scientific method to solve problems.
  2. Evaluate issues using scientific literature.
  3. Interpret scientific topics using reductionist and holistic approaches.
  4. Communicate scientific information using multiple formats.
  5. Analyze the intersection of scientific information with technology and society.

Intercultural & Global Awareness Competency

Intercultural and global awareness is a recognition and understanding of knowledge and issues through the lens of various cultural perspectives. Students will examine identities, influences, and practices that shape and contribute to the diversity of culture. They will develop awareness of contemporary issues in the global community and examine multiple perspectives and responses to those issues from diverse viewpoints.

Learning Outcomes

Ashford University students completing the General Education Intercultural & Global Awareness Competency will be able to:


  1. Analyze diverse modes of cultural expression and experience.
  2. Interpret current global issues through multiple perspectives.
  3. Evaluate the cultural biases that influence interactions.
  4. Examine how social and cultural systems develop.
  5. Compare modes of creative expression using intercultural and global perspectives.

Civic Responsibility Competency

Civic Responsibility is the demand on a citizen to responsibly act and participate in the political and social community. Students will examine what it means to be a responsible and caring member of society. They will engage in intellectual, civic, political, and community action related to the positive development of themselves and their social environments.

Learning Outcomes

Ashford University students completing the General Education Civic Responsibility Competency will be able to:


  1. Assess the civic identities of different cultures, communities, and societies, including one’s own.
  2. Evaluate the impacts of various forms of civic engagement.
  3. Articulate the intellectual foundations and governance processes of political systems.
  4. Analyze political biases in messages in various forms of print, social, and digital media.
  5. Explain how government policies or political discourse impact students’ personal, academic, and professional lives.

Foundations & Skills for Lifelong Learning Competency

Foundations and Skills for Lifelong learning are the ongoing methods by which one can enhance knowledge and competence. Students will develop the fundamental skills necessary to be successful in academic pursuits through reflection about the learning process and an understanding of how prior knowledge and experiences integrate with newly acquired knowledge.

Learning Outcomes

Ashford University students completing the General Education Foundations & Skills for Lifelong Learning Competency will be able to:


  1. Evaluate learning processes.
  2. Analyze metacognitive strategies.
  3. Integrate prior knowledge and experiences with newly acquired knowledge.
  4. Develop a plan for learning.