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Core Areas of Learning and Meta-Competencies

Core Areas of Learning and Competency, or “Meta-Competencies” to be Developed, Across All WISR Degree Programs

As a further way to define and structure WISR’s curricula—across all of our degree programs—the seven core areas of learning or “meta-competencies” (below) will provide WISR students and faculty with some guiding directions, within all degree programs.  Furthermore, each course within each program will aim to help students to develop further their competencies in more than one of these areas, and in some cases at least, in most of these competency areas.

The degree program learning outcomes at WISR are  conceptualized and articulated within learning goal areas defined by these meta-competencies.  The required learning outcomes for each degree program from MS to EdD progress, by evidencing increasing levels of knowledge and skills–from advanced beginner (and ready to become competent) to competent (and ready to become proficient) to proficient (and ready to become expert).

Master’s degree students will develop special competence and in-depth knowledge in at least one field of specialization (e.g., Marriage and Family Therapy, Community Leadership or Educational Leadership) and in one or more particular areas of personal interest within that field.

Doctoral degree students will 1) develop specialized knowledge in one or more areas of special interest within the interdisciplinary field of higher education and social change, and 2)  engage in creating new knowledge and/or new practices in the interdisciplinary field of  higher education and social change, and especially in one or more areas of the special, personal interest within that field.


1Developing Skills as a Self-Directed Learner, Including Becoming a Conscious, Intentional, and Improvising Learner

Engaging in lifelong, self-directed, self-motivated and improvisational learning, in the realm of professional practice, and in other domains in one’s life. Developing strong skills in self-assessment is especially important to this area of meta-competency.

Willingness and ability to re-evaluate and change directions and plans—ability to improvise, including the inclination and ability to turn challenges and problems into opportunities.

Developing and Using Curiosity, along with one’s own sense of purpose and meaning.

Pursuing Long-term plans, alternatives, goals and pathways.

Quite importantly, consciously and intentionally building bridges to the next important phases of one’s life–this means that learning activities at WISR should lay a foundation for the next steps, and more than this, should create pathways and movement along the pathway to the next significant things the learner wishes to do in her or his life.

In using the Internet, this means becoming aware of strategies for finding material–readings and information from a variety of sources, and learning how to critically evaluate the usefulness and validity with the extensive material, resources and data available.

2. Gaining Expertise in Methods of Participatory Action-Inquiry and Qualitative Research

Seeing oneself as a builder of knowledge

Learning from the experience and knowledge of others

Developing methods of critical inquiry in order to evaluate the strengths and methods of specific approaches to sampling, data gathering, data analysis, and uses of findings.

Use of participatory action-inquiry to build knowledge and to fashion effective improvisations

Using Stories and concrete examples to develop and convey theories.

Developing a broadly informed perspective on science and scientific methods, in order to better inform one’s own inquiries and the inquiries of others within one’s profession and chosen area(s) of specialization.

3. Developing a Multicultural, Inclusive perspective

Developing and using multicultural perspectives to inform one’s purposes, and one’s views of social issues and challenges and opportunities in one’s chosen fields or arenas of endeavor—profession, workplace, community.

Developing a sense of empathy, compassion and community toward, and with, others.

Appreciating and Understanding the broad spectrum of perspectives and consciousness, and how those arise out of people’s culture, gender, economic background, religious and sexual preferences.

4.   Developing Skills in Making Connections with the Bigger Picture and Inquiring into Ways of Creating Change for Social Justice, Greater Equality and Environmental Sustainability

Developing Economic/political/societal/cultural/environmental literacy and social change in a multicultural society.

Understanding of issues and challenges of sustainability, in relation to current decisions being made today.

Ability to understand, appreciate, act with awareness of the bigger picture as well as the immediate tasks to be accomplished.

Understanding and appreciating the connections between individual transformations and societal change, including how societal circumstances, especially injustices and inequalities, skew the way people understand and make sense of their experiences and make decisions about themselves and others.

Understanding the impact of political/social/economic inequities and injustices, and possible directions and strategies toward greater justice.

5Communicating Clearly to One’s Audiences, in One’s Own Voice, and on Topics that Matter to the Learner, and to Learn to Collaborate with Others

Writing and communicating clearly, purposefully and inquiringly, and in one’s own voice.

Using stories, ideas, visions and proposals, and questions to communicate.

Reading Critically and for Relevance.

Developing Imaginative (Creative) and Critical Thinking.

Integrating Theory and Practice—learning how to develop and use theory and practice in relation to one another, and how to communicate to others about this interplay.

Ability to think and communicate within one’s sphere of professional practice, and the ability to step outside the boundaries and scope of that professional community, in order to better contribute to one’s profession, as well as the larger society.

Ability to collaborate—experience, motivation and understanding in working with others.

Understanding the Uses and Limitations of the Technology, including but not limited to the internet, multimedia, social networking; this includes further developing one’s technical and computer literacy, as part of the collaborative process, and understanding the limitations of technology as well.

6. Developing the capability of pursuing employment opportunities and/or community involvements, appropriate to one’s capabilities, experience and interest

Exploring and gain knowledge of professional and/or community leadership career paths that incorporate one’s interests, values and purposes.

Gaining experience in leadership and in professional and/or community engagement (practical learning, experiences, identifying and using resources, challenges and opportunities, leadership skills and strategies, profit and non-profit).

Gaining sufficient competence and expertise in one or more areas of specialization to be considered for positions that make good use of one’s competence, skills and expertise.

Ability to use one’s knowledge, skills, and ability as self-directed learners to make one’s current job positions more interesting, meaningful and /or productive; and/or to create one’s own options and alternatives for employment and/or community involvement, such as for, graduate level learners, especially, starting a new program in an existing organization, starting a non-profit, or creating one’s own self-employed practice or community involvement efforts.

7.  Becoming Knowledgeable in One’s Major Field of Study, and in One’s Particular Area(s) of Specialization 

Understanding the “lay of the land” in terms of what others have done and learned—theory and practice.

Competencies Need in One’s Specific, Chosen Areas of Professional Specialization

Engagement with some portions of the communities of professionals, practitioners, writer/researchers, and/or engaged citizens in one’s chosen area(s), or at least engagement with the ideas, stories, lessons, problems and questions, and practices of these communities

Understanding the limitations of and problems facing people in this/these area(s)

Progress in beginning to formulate one’s own ideas and sense of direction in the chosen area(s) of specialization

Developing the capability of pursuing employment opportunities and/or community involvements, appropriate to one’s competencies, experience, and interests.