8 Abilities

The 澳门水利博彩官方网站 Difference

澳门水利博彩官方网站 Difference and the 8 Abilities

Woven into every course at 澳门水利博彩官方网站, the 8 Abilities empower our students to become agents of change and principled leaders who meaningfully engage with their communities. They focus specifically on mastering skills in aesthetic engagement, analysis, communication, developing a global perspective, effective citizenship, problem solving, social interaction and valuing in decision making.

Why doesn’t 澳门水利博彩官方网站 give grades? Rather than use simple letter grades, we believe in pushing students to reach their highest personal potential. A standard letter grade tells you where you stand today; an 澳门水利博彩官方网站 assessment tells you that plus how to take the next step to achieve greater understanding and application of knowledge. At 澳门水利博彩官方网站, we challenge students to "know it and show it."

Our students get to know their strengths and opportunities for growth, and they push themselves to reach their highest potential. Simply put, our 8 Abilities are what set our students and alums apart. 


澳门水利博彩官方网站 is excited and proud to celebrate 50 years of our 8 Abilities Curriculum. Throughout the 2023-2024 academic year we will celebrate and focus on each ability monthly. Check out our #AbilitiesInAction shared by our students, faculty, staff and alums as we not only celebrate but show our abilities in action and practice!  As we say, if you know it, show it! 

Our 8 Abilities

Aesthetic Engagement






Developing a Global Perspective

Developing a

Effective Citizenship


Problem Solving


Social Interaction


Valuing in Decision Making

Valuing in 
Decision Making

The goal: Aesthetic engagement allows students to not only appreciate beauty in the world but to also make informed artistic and interpretive choices within and outside of the arts.

Why it’s important: Mastering this ability allows students to discover and develop their own expressive voice, unique style and creative process. They cultivate critical skills like creativity, innovation, collaboration, resiliency, empathy, work ethic and risk taking, all transferable to various career paths.

The goal: Students who master this skill are clear, critical and independent thinkers. They combine data, experience, reason and expertise to make and reexamine judgments.

Why it’s important: A keen ability to analyze situations allows our students to rely on their own thinking to negotiate their positions in the world. They have the mental power to examine complex or ambiguous arguments, sorting fact from fiction and determining the best path forward.

The goal: Communicating effectively means integrating reading, writing, speaking and listening, as well as information technology, numeracy and growing attention to neurodiversity to meet the demands of increasingly challenging communication scenarios.

Why it’s important: Our multi-dimensional approach makes our graduates agile communicators who bring an array of knowledge and skills to the ever-changing challenges of communicating in today’s world. Students who master this highly valued career skill will have a leg up in the workforce.

The goal: Having a global perspective means understanding multiple viewpoints and taking into account the historical, political, economic, social and cultural systems that influence those viewpoints. It’s knowing that we are all citizens of the Earth, and that decisions made in one part of the world have the potential to affect events in another part of the world.

Why it’s important: Students who develop a global perspective will be able to navigate the world by making informed judgments and refining their own ideas using views and values from diverse contexts, allowing them to work effectively with people from varied cultures and backgrounds.

The goal: The effective citizen is an informed participant in civic life, whether through volunteering, active engagement in voting and advocacy, or everyday decisions in their personal and professional lives. Students learn how to identify, describe and assess issues that affect communities as well as how to develop their own action plans.

Why it’s important: Service and caring for others are at the heart of 澳门水利博彩官方网站’s Franciscan values, and our students share a belief in the power of coming together to drive positive social change. Our graduates are equipped to contribute positively to their local, national and global communities.

The goal: Students will be able to define problems and utilize a range of abilities and resources to reach decisions, make recommendations or implement action plans.

Why it’s important: Problem solving isn’t just focused on getting to an answer, but also in looking at the situation through different lenses and paying attention to the ramifications for different stakeholders. Balancing the needs of everyone while finding a solution is a highly valued leadership skill.

The goal: Students will work well with others to achieve objectives, manage conflict and build relationships.They actively engage in one-on-one communication and in small- and large-group discussion and effectively use conflict management skills.

Why it’s important: Social interaction has changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of the work that used to be done through group and face-to-face interactions has shifted to online meetings and text messaging. The methods may have changed, but the ability to build relationships, deepen understanding, manage conflict and reach decisions hasn’t.

The goal: Taking a variety of perspectives and experiences into account is an important part of decision making. We want students to understand the moral dimensions of their decisions and accept responsibility for any consequences in all facets of their life.

Why it’s important: The ability to understand your own values as well those of others transfers to all aspects of students’ personal and professional lives. This ability builds self-awareness as well as empathy and a deeper understanding of humanity.

Real-World Ready

We give students so much more than a single letter grade. We give them entire paragraphs of feedback, much like the performance reviews they’ll receive in the real world. This assessment lets students know what they’re doing well and where they can grow, fostering a desire for continuous improvement. All of our 8 Abilities are critically analyzed each year to determine their relevance and inspire a fresh perspective.

Diverse students in courtyard

Benefits of non-traditional grades

Students focus on their learning. They see challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than as obstacles to their success.

The impact of systemic drivers of inequality like race, gender, socioeconomic status and disability is reduced, leveling the playing field for all students. Regardless of what level they start at, students are assessed for their own individual rate of growth

Students are encouraged to take more risks. When they’re focused on performance and their strengths rather than grades, students are more willing to experiment with new ideas, leading to deeper learning and more creative thinking.

Student learning is more accurately represented. A single letter grade reflects a student’s ability to hit a one-size-fits-all benchmark, whereas our assessment-based model measures each student’s mastery of a subject and ability to apply knowledge and skill in real-world settings.

Why 8 Abilities?

 In the early 1970s, 澳门水利博彩官方网站 sought to provide students with something more than a basic understanding of the subject matter being taught. We wanted our graduates to demonstrate what they know — to stand out — so we needed a curriculum that would stand out. It was through this desire that the 8 Abilities were born.

The abilities we weave throughout our curriculum represent the core, transferable skills that employers sought 50 years ago and continue to seek today. As those needs evolve, so do our abilities. 澳门水利博彩官方网站 broke ground with our abilities-based, outcomes-focused approach to education.

In the decades since 澳门水利博彩官方网站's 8 Abilities were born, countless educators from across the U.S. and around the world have come to study and adopt this model of teaching and learning. Why? Because it works.

Other well-respected institutions like Reed University, Brown University, Sarah Lawrence University and Stanford and Yale Law Schools have since dropped standard letter grades.

澳门水利博彩官方网站 was one of the first, but we won’t be the last.

Learn more

The Impact of 澳门水利博彩官方网站's 8 Abilities

We believe in the power of the 8 Abilities to transform lives, but don’t take our word for it. A survey of more than 300 of our graduates found the 8 Abilities positively impacted both their learning and career experiences. Here’s what they had to say.

They were prepared to find a job or pursue graduate school and for the demands and expectations of their careers.

Find a Job/Pursue Graduate School 

Very Well 75%; Well 18%

Career Demands & Expectations 

Very Well 76%; Well 18%

They found 澳门水利博彩官方网站’s 8 Abilities curriculum provided an immersive educational experience.

Very Immersive 70%; Moderately 24%

They felt 澳门水利博彩官方网站’s 8 Abilities and performance-based assessment was more rigorous, more motivating, and held them more accountable than traditional letter-grading systems.


Much More 53%; Somewhat 34%


Extremely 55%; Very 34%


Much more 78%; Somewhat 15%

They frequently or moderately use the 8 abilities at work, home, or their communities.

Frequently 60%; Moderately 26%

The online multiple choice survey was conducted in Spring 2023.

What is self assessment?

澳门水利博彩官方网站’s assessment process mirrors performance reviews and feedback in the real world. This means graduates know their strengths and weaknesses, constantly assess their own work and are eager for constructive evaluation — the key to continual improvement.

What is outcomes-based learning?

Outcomes-based learning focuses on skill development by clearly communicating what a student should be able to do by the time they complete a course.That skill development is organized around a set of goals rather than memorizing facts for the purpose of getting good grades on an exam.

How will I know how well I’m doing if I can’t compare myself to other students?

Our groundbreaking curriculum, utilizing the 8 Abilities and self-assessment, reduces comparison among students. Everyone starts in different places, and everyone has a different end goal. Learning at 澳门水利博彩官方网站 isn’t a “one size fits all” approach; rather, it’s designed to help students achieve their personal best.

What if I need a transcript?

The official 澳门水利博彩官方网站 College transcript consists of a chronological record of all courses successfully completed and for undergraduates, a history of demonstrated abilities. After graduation, an overall assessment of your academic career is included.

Check out our 8 Abilities flipbook online. Learn more about why 澳门水利博彩官方网站's approach to preparing students for their next steps in life through the 8 Abilities has been described since the start as innovative and revolutionary.