Alverno’s curriculum is based on eight core abilities that every student must acquire for graduation from Alverno. The mastery of the eight abilities is not only essential to becoming a successful student at Alverno, but the abilities become central to an individual’s success as they move beyond the classroom and school.
The eight areas of what was then called "competence" first outlined in Alverno’s early Competence-Based Learning or CBL program were: effective communication; analytical capability; problem-solving ability; facility in forming value judgments; effective social interaction; understanding of individual/environment relationships; understanding the contemporary world; and educated responsiveness to the arts and humanities.
As the curriculum has evolved over the past thirty-five plus years, the identification of Alverno’s abilities has been honed and refined. Below, is a page from the May 1992 issue of Alverno Magazine which highlights the Alverno abilities as they were known at that time.
Early in the 1970-1971 school year, then president, Sister Joel Read, challenged the faculty with five critical questions. These questions are summarized in the memo (below) sent to faculty from then Academic Dean, Sister Bernarda Handrup:
For the rest of that year, faculty met regularly in order to hear each department explain and explore its contribution to undergraduate education. As a result of these sessions came a major question, "What are the outcomes for the student, rather than the input by the faculty?" This became the focus for the year-end faculty institute. As a result of the discussions at that faculty institute, four broad outcomes were defined: communication, valuing, problem solving, and involvement. The curriculum committee was charged in the following year with breaking these broad outcomes into a more detailed system.
By the third year, an expanded list of "competences," now known as "abilities" was given to an academic task force for shaping into a curriculum. Here is a photo of members of the Academic Task Force with the then Academic Dean,
Sister Bernarda Handrup:
Back row Left to Right: Sister Georgine Loacker, Sister Austin Doherty, Jack Cooper.
Front row Left to Right: Brian Nedwek, Sister Bernarda Handrup
At the same time, one section of a required freshman course in each discipline was used as a laboratory for developing the means to teach and assess selected abilities. The task force's January 1973 report further broke down each of the eight abilities into six developmental levels. The curriculum was implemented in Fall 1973.
The “Green Bible” (the first listing of ability statements and developmental levels for all eight abilities, printed on green paper) was published in August 1973.
Over time the statements for Alverno's eight abilities have evolved and changed. Below are links to ability statements
(the "4-pagers") used from 1973 to the present:
Snapshots of the Abilities
Competence Based Learning Brochure, 1974
The Eight Abilities listed in the 1976 edition of Liberal Learning at Alverno College
Alverno's Abilities described in the Winter 1984 issue of Alverno Magazine
The Eight Abilities listed in the 1985 edition of Liberal Learning at Alverno College
Alverno's Abilities described in the May 1991 issue of Alverno Magazine
Alverno's Abilities described in the Winter 1996 issue of Alverno Magazine
Alverno's Abilities outlined in the 2002-2004 Alverno College Bulletin
Alverno's Abilities outlined in the 2010-2012 Weekday Alverno College Bulletin