Crosscutting Skills graphic

Crosscutting Skills

Critical thinking is a cross-disciplinary process based on information literacy that uses inquiry and analysis, and leads to problem solving. Critical thinking is also a habit of mind characterized by the comprehensive exploration of issues, ideas, artifacts, and events before accepting or formulating a judgment or conclusion. Critical thinkers deeply reflect on the process and each of the steps below and return to each step as necessary.

Relationship to Institution's Passport Block:

This crosscutting skill may be embedded in any of the knowledge and skill areas or across multiple courses in any areas in the institution’s Passport Block.

Critical Thinking


Passport Learning Outcomes

Examples of Transfer-Level Proficiency Criteria

Each faculty member develops the ways his/her students can demonstrate transfer-level proficiency with the learning outcomes. Below are a few examples provided by participating faculty.

Problem Setting

Identify a problem or question and its component parts.

Students state, describe, and clarify an open ended problem/issue appropriate to the discipline. Examples include the following:


  • Age of Responsibility: Students identify different perspectives on how age might influence legal or ethical responsibility.
  • The Problem of Justice: Students will identify and evaluate several different views and perspectives of justice in Plato’s Republic, Book 1.
  • Business Ethics Case Study: Student will identify what decisions a corporation might consider about producing snack foods made with trans fats.


Demonstrate performance skills that include organizing and delivering content for a particular audience, occasion and purpose, and using technology as appropriate.

  • Prepare the audience by verbally outlining the speech at the start.
  • Present an accurate, relevant and fair message.
  • Support main points with specific reference to a variety of materials, including statistics, personal examples, testimony, and other techniques appropriate for the speaking occasion and audience.
  • Make clear distinctions between speaker’s ideas and ideas of others. 
  • Use verbal footnotes while delivering the speech.
  • Present without reading from notes or visual aids.
  • Use delivery techniques (posture, gesture, eye contact, pauses, and vocal expressiveness) and language choices that make the presentation understandable, and speaker appears comfortable. 
  • Treat the audience with respect. 

Recognize Assumptions

Recognize and assess personal and other relevant underlying assumptions.

Students engage with resources, ideas, problems, or questions to investigate and/or explain the role biases have in shaping point of view, analysis, and conclusions. Through this discovery students are able to examine and interpret their findings. Examples include the following:


  • Students write an exploratory essay, identifying different points of view from different sources on a policy issue, explaining how their reaction to proposed solutions to the problem changed during the research process.
  • Students identify a TED Talk of interest and assess the speaker’s assumptions and how they compare and/or differ from their own.
  • Students select an event they believe has the qualities of an “apocalypse” (i.e., The Dust Bowl, Three-Mile Island, the reintroduction of wolves into Oregon, etc.), explaining how their personal priorities influenced their choice while predicting the consequences of the event on individuals, communities, and environment.


Identify, gather, and analyze the information/data necessary to address the problem or question.

Students gather an appropriate scope and depth of evidence sufficient to address a question. Examples include the following:


  • Students quote and appropriately cite one or two passages that provide evidence for their thesis. Additionally, identify one or two passages that are still logically relevant but not quite as strong.
  • After choosing a current event of global interest, students gather reports of the event from local, regional, national, and international sources; examine the evidence as reported from the various source for levels of strength; make reasoned judgments about the reliability of the reports; and report their own conclusions about the event in an essay or presentation, commenting on reasons for accepting particular pieces of evidence in their argument.
  • Students develop an annotated bibliography of self-selected materials and a summary viewpoint that directly addresses how evidence does or does not support a particular argument.


Evaluate information/data for credibility (e.g. bias, reliability, validity) and relevance to a situation.

Students demonstrate skills as evaluators in addition to awareness of the evaluation process. Examples include the following:


  • Students differentiate relevant from irrelevant information as it pertains to a question of interest; an example assignment may deliberately provide students with thematically related but irrelevant information (cf., heroin user recidivism rates as it might pertain to the success of an alcohol treatment center) to assess an ability to distinguish fact from judgment, and belief from knowledge; to use elementary inductive and deductive processes; and to recognize common logical errors or fallacies of language and thought.
  • Students identify logical fallacies within an argument contained in a prompt or original materials.
  • Students assess and defend the credibility of each piece of data when analyzing an experiment, including some data and excluding other data in order to evaluate findings and reach a legitimate conclusion.


Identify relevant (disciplinary) context(s) including, as appropriate, principles, criteria, concepts, values, histories, and theories.

Students clarify the significance of the context/environment in which the problem, event, and/or issue exists, interpreted or is perceived. Context may include temporal, disciplinary, historical, social, and physical considerations. Examples include the following:


  • Business Case Study: Students develop criteria and utilize appropriate principles/concepts for comparing multiple courses of action in support of a conclusion or decision.
  • Fictional Memoir or Profile: Students conduct historical and cultural research in order to craft a fictional memoir or profile of a person who could have lived in a specific historical time period (e.g. Pre-Revolutionary War). Students take up their research for this project by focusing on a particular cultural, political, and/or economic context.
  • Historical Artifact Analysis: Students write an analysis of non-literary historical artifacts, explaining their physical and social contexts and significance.
  • Students participate in a forum discussion explaining how time, place, and circumstances persuaded them to take some kind of significant, personal action.


Develop logical conclusions, solutions, and outcomes that reflect an informed, well-reasoned evaluation.

Students employ appropriate reasoning processes to reach a valid conclusion supported by relevant data. Examples include the following:


  • Students develop a recommendation on the most effective way to reduce the incarceration rate in the state for illegal drug abuse.
  • Students write a conclusion based upon lab reports that deal with the extraction of microbes from local soil that potentially may have antibiotic properties. They should restate their hypothesis, describe the support or rejection of their hypothesis, evaluate experimental data, synthesize what they would like to improve or perform for further experimentations, and explain how their work adds or compares to scientific work that has been previously reported.
  • Students develop and communicate conclusions based upon self assessment (reflection) on the recursive reading, reasoning, and writing process in order to improve the quality of the exposition or argument.

  • Mark Van Selst, Professor, Psychology, San Jose State University (CA)
  • Dan Crump, Librarian (Anthropology), American River College, Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (CA)
  • Olivia George, Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Hawai'i West Oahu (HI)
  • James A. West, Arts & Humanities, Leeward Community College (HI)
  • Alan Church, Professor of English, Dickinson State University/NDGEC (ND)
  • Bill Shay, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Science, North Dakota State College of Science (ND)
  • (CHAIR) Paul Disney, Adjunct Instructor of Business/Economics, Western Oregon University (OR)
  • Jacquelyn Ray, Director, Library and Media Studies, Blue Mountain Community College (OR)
  • Ryan Hickerson, Associate Professor, Western Oregon University (OR)
  • Lynn Dilivio, Assistant Professor of Education, Northern State University (SD)
  • Tyler Miller, Assistant Professor, Psychology, South Dakota State University (SD)
  • Kati Lewis, Assistant Professor, English, Salt Lake Community College (UT)
  • Ryan Thomas, Associate Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Weber State University (OR)
  • Eric Quade, Instructor of Math, Laramie County Community College (WY)

Teamwork is collaborating towards a common purpose through shared responsibility and mutual accountability, while maintaining healthy relationships. Value Systems are a coherent set of ethical standards adopted and/or evolved by a team as a standard to guide its behavior. Teamwork and Value Systems may be embedded in any of the content areas or across multiple courses in the institution's Passport Block.

Relationship to Institution's Passport Block:

These skills may be embedded in any of the knowledge and skill areas or across multiple courses in the institution's Passport Block.

Teamwork and Value Systems


Passport Learning Outcomes

Examples of Transfer-Level Proficiency Criteria

Each faculty member develops the ways his/her students can demonstrate transfer-level proficiency with the learning outcomes. Below are a few examples provided by participating faculty.

Teamwork Fundamentals

Explain teamwork fundamentals including but not limited to team roles, rules and expectations, time and conflict management, goal setting and problem solving, and other relevant models and concepts.

  • After reading a case study or learning key aspects of teamwork, students take a test on key aspects of teamwork, students will:
  • Break into small groups. Discuss past experiences with teamwork. Identify what worked and what did not work.
  • Complete a worksheet identifying teamwork concepts demonstrated in a fictional or real-life scenario. Teamwork scenarios include, but are not limited to, films such as Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve Angry Men, The Apprentice; or board meetings, readings, classroom activities, and scientific exploration documentaries.
  • At the completion of an in-class teamwork exercise, students identify a minimum of four key aspects of teamwork that influenced behaviors during the activity. The identification could be through class discussion, journals, reports, or worksheets.
  • Following preparatory activities on teamwork (such as assigned readings, lectures, class discussions, and/or case studies), students prepare a project plan. The project plan may include timelines, roles of each member, communication expectations, team rules, and conflict management strategies.

Purposeful Participation

Demonstrate teamwork fundamentals through participation and mutual accountability.

After completing a project plan, teams will implement the plan and engage in purposeful participation in one or more of the following ways:


  • Keep a periodic, individual journal on what the individual is doing and what other people on the team are doing.
  • Participate in regular team meetings with minutes, agendas, and reports.
  • Submit reports with timelines and benchmark updates.
  • Write a group blog at periodic intervals on the team climate.
  • Provide examples of the individual’s interaction with other team members and that individual’s contribution to the team project in a blog or journal.
  • Submit a report on the relational climate of the team.
  • Join a discussion board on team progress.
  • Create multiple drafts of team project plan.
  • Troubleshoot and adjust plans if necessary.

Shared Value Systems

Demonstrate shared ethical obligations and intercultural sensitivity as they relate to teamwork.

Students will plan for and enact behaviors consistent with their code of conduct in one or more of the following ways:


  1. Create written team rules, practices, shared ethical obligations, and expectations sensitive to individual team members based on consideration of the following:
    • Personality inventory
    • Communication styles
    • Race, Class, Gender, Age, etc.
    • Learning styles
  2. Use a rubric to monitor constructive and destructive behaviors and adjust where needed.
  3. 2. Adhere to the institution's student behavior policies. For example:
    • Read and sign the institutional policy.
    • Use citation practices in course assignments as appropriate to the academic discipline.
    • Complete the CITI (Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative) training and certification.
    • Complete a mock IRB (Institutional Review Board) form for a team research project.
  4. Use a rubric to monitor constructive and destructive team behaviors and adjust behaviors appropriately.


Evaluate and communicate strengths and weaknesses of their teamwork: contributions of oneself, team members, and the team.

At the conclusion of a team project, students may complete any of the following written or oral forms of assessment:


  • Evaluate the team’s level of accomplishment against the original goal.
  • Provide an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of teamwork.
  • Analyze teamwork using a rubric provided by instructor.
  • Complete self and peer evaluations for each team member, describing each member’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Fill out an assessment form critiquing the effectiveness of the team as a whole in terms of team roles, rules and expectations, time and conflict management, goal setting and problem solving, and other relevant models and concepts.


Reflect on and communicate the impact and effectiveness of their teamwork.

At the end of the team project or activity, the team will process “lessons learned.” (What went well and what did not go well, and what to do differently for a future teamwork project?) An individual or team could choose any of the following:


  • Write an analysis paper.
  • Make a presentation.
  • Perform a role play based on a challenge presented to the team.
  • Write a paper or make a presentation on how to transfer the skills gained to future projects.

  • (CHAIR) Rebekah Villafana, Adjunct Professor, Sociology, College of the Canyons (California)
  • William Albritton, Assistant Professor Information & Computer Science , Leeward Community College (Hawaii)
  • Mary Brown, Associate Professor, Community Health, Utah Valley University
  • Dan Dolan, Professor, Mechanical Engineering; Director, Center of Excellence for Advanced Manufacturing and Production (CAMP), South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
  • David Foster, Professor, Western Oregon University
  • Claire Hitosugi, Assistant Professor, Business Administration, University of Hawaii West Oahu
  • Jenny Linker, Assistant Professor, North Dakota State University
  • Lynda McCroskey, Associate Professor, Communications Studies, California State University, Long Beach (California)
  • Tamra Phillips, Associate Professor, Communication, Salt Lake Community College (Utah)
  • Jacquelyn Ray, Director, Library and Media Services, Blue Mountain Community College (Oregon)
  • Ann Shelby, Faculty, Education, Laramie County Community College (Wyoming)
  • Teresa Tande, Associate Professor English/Humanities, Lake Region State College (North Dakota)
  • Terry Underwood, Proficiency Criteria Specialist, California State University, Sacramento (Ret.)
  • Bob Turner, Passport State Coordinator
  • Kate Springsteen, Administrative Assistant, Interstate Passport Initiative