Identifying and using 'core competencies' to help design and assess undergraduate neuroscience curricula

Michael Kerchner, Washington College, Chestertown
Jean C. Hardwick, Ithaca College
Janice E. Thornton, Oberlin College


There has been a growing emphasis on the use of core competencies to design and inform curricula. Based on our Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience workshop at Pomona we developed a set of neuroscience core competencies. Following the workshop, faculty members were asked to complete an online survey to determine which core competencies are considered most essential and the results are presented. Backward Design principles are then described and we discuss how core competencies, through a backward design process, can be used to design and assess an undergraduate neuroscience curriculum. Oberlin College is used as a case study to describe the use of core competencies to help develop learning objectives, activities, and assessment measures for an undergraduate neuroscience major. © 2012 Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience.