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Generic Skills

Skills Models: 1

(After Squires, 1990)

  1. The capacity to identify assumptions.

    The graduates are expected to be able to go beyond or beneath the statement or method presented to them, and unearth its underlying assumptions.

  2. The capacity to evaluate statements in terms of evidence.

    The graduates will typically ask what evidence or basis there is for a particular statement or approach, and will look for disconfirming as well as confirming evidence.

  3. The capacity to detect false logic or reasoning.

    This is the capacity one associates more perhaps with medieval graduates than contemporary ones who might not know a syllogism if they met one. However, the graduates should at least be aware of obvious flaws in an argument.

  4. The capacity to identify values implicit in statements or methods.

    The graduates are expected to be alert to the ethical or normative implications of what is being said or done, and to be able to distinguish fact from value (even if the relationship between them is itself open to argument).

  5. The capacity to generalise appropriately.

    In practice this nearly always means avoiding over-generalising, and delighting in picking out exceptions to the rule. The specificity of much academic work may even lead graduates to under-generalise.

  6. The capacity to define terms adequately.

    The graduates will often identify themselves and irritate others by saying "it depends on what you mean by..."

  7. The capacity to articulate.

    Graduates are expected to be able to express themselves clearly both orally and in writing, although there is perhaps a greater premium placed on this in the arts than the sciences.

  8. The capacity to quantify data where appropriate.

    This, by contrast, is associated with the sciences and technology more than the arts, but it is becoming a more general skill if one includes computing.

  9. The capacity to remain open and responsive to ideas and phenomena.

    Graduates are expected to have an open mind, though this takes different forms in different disciplines; where in the sciences it connotes systematic scepticism, in the arts it is associated more perhaps with sensitivity and responsiveness.

  10. The capacity to use complex causal models of problems and phenomena where appropriate.

    Where commonsense thinking will often attribute an effect to a single cause (It's the fault of...), graduates will typically employ more complex causal models, and often talk in terms of 'factors' and 'variables'.

  11. The capacity to pose, formulate and solve problems.

    The graduates are expected to be able to identify problems, and organise thought, resources and action to tackle them; which assumes a certain capacity for autonomy and responsibility.

  12. The capacity to apply and transfer what is known to a range of situations.

    The graduates should not be 'context-bound' in the use and application of all the above, but be able to deploy them across a wide range of situations, problems and settings.

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