Glossary


The Strategic Plan 2016-2021, “Experiencing Academic Distinction: Transforming Learning for the 21st Century” is heavily influenced by higher education’s current focus on equity and quality education for all. Much of that conversation is steeped in an academic vocabulary utilizing concepts that are broad, deep and complex. This glossary is not meant to be read as an exhaustive presentation of any one concept, but rather as definitions of how these ideas are operating within our particular plan. Thank you.


Liberal Arts - An approach to education that uses subject-matter content as the vehicle for honing important skills like writing, thinking and problem solving as well as stimulating engagement in big questions facing society. The liberal arts which date back to classic antiquity seek to engage students in learning across disciplines towards creating individuals who are free, independent and creative thinkers.

Liberal Education - An extension of the liberal arts idea whereby the entire college experience is designed to promote the development of intellectual and interpersonal skills. Liberal education is characterized by extending the liberal arts curricular focus to co-curricular activities as well. Engagement inside and outside of the classroom provide opportunities to hone skills like critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration. The education challenges students to confront important questions towards become citizens who are active, knowledgeable, and engaged.


General Education - The portion of the baccalaureate degree that focuses on exposing all students to the broad subject-matter areas that comprise the academy. General Education is required for all students and generally entails the selection of courses from each of three areas: humanities, social/behavioral sciences; and mathematics/natural sciences.

Curricular - Generally refers to courses that serve General Education and the major.

Co-curricular - Activities outside of the classroom that complement curricular offerings. These include activities such as study abroad, undergraduate research, community service, university and departmental lecture series, and programming in living learning communities.


Equality - Treating everyone the same.

Equity - Treating individuals in a manner that is just and fair.

Equity Mindedness - Being mindful that just and fair treatment requires more than equal access for all. Rather it dictates that institutions consider how historical inequities accumulate to place some at a disadvantage where access is not enough to help them thrive.

Equity Practices - Actions taken by an institution to ensure that just and fair practices exist so that individuals who are less knowledgeable about how to navigate opportunities receive the training, support and consideration they need to be successful.


Essential Skills - The set of intellectual and interpersonal skills thought to be crucial for success in a global-knowledge-based economy.

Intellectual Skills - Cognitive processes that underlie critical, analytic, synthesis and problem solving abilities. Winston-Salem State University has primary focus on seven such skills:

  • Critical Thinking - analyze, synthesize or deconstruct, interpret and evaluate information and concepts across or within a discipline to solve problems.
  • Critical Reading - extract, decode, evaluate, interpret, and construct meaning through interaction with written language.
  • Written Communication - use appropriate language, conventions, organization, supporting evidence, and content to effectively communicate in writing for the purpose and audience.
  • Oral Communication - use appropriate language, conventions, elocution, poise, organization, supporting evidence, and content to effectively communicate through the spoken word for the purpose and audience.
  • Scientific Literacy - exhibit knowledge of scientific concepts and processes and ability to engage the scientific method towards informing decision making and participation in civic, social, cultural, and economic affairs.
  • Quantitative Literacy - understand and create arguments that are supported by empirical evidence and clearly communicate those arguments in a variety of formats such as using words, tables, graphs, mathematical equations, as appropriate.
  • Information Literacy - identify, locate, evaluate, and use information effectively and responsibly to increase understanding

Interpersonal Skills - Skills used to communicate and interact with others. Some skills of particular focus at WSSU include the following:

  • Intercultural Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Collaboration
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Moral and Ethical Reasoning
  • Questioning
  • Listening
  • Assertiveness
  • Leadership


High Impact Practices - Those educational experiences that make a significant difference to student persistence, learning outcomes, and student success. High Impact Practices are positively associated with: persistence and GPA; deep approaches to learning; higher rates of student‐faculty interaction; increases in critical thinking, writing skills; greater appreciation for diversity; and higher student engagement overall. Examples include:

  • First-Year Seminars and Experiences
  • Common Intellectual Experiences
  • Learning Communities
  • Writing-Intensive Courses
  • Collaborative Assignments and Projects
  • Undergraduate Research
  • Diversity/Global Learning
  • Service Learning, Community-Based Learning
  • Internships
  • Capstone Courses and Projects


Social Justice - Generally concerns the distribution of advantages and disadvantages in a society. The major goal is to protect equality while advocating for the most vulnerable. Winston–Salem State University has a long history of teaching, research and action in five focused areas. These include:

  • Health Equity - Teaching, research and action geared towards effecting the highest level of health outcomes for all people.
  • Educational Equity - Teaching, research and action geared towards effecting the highest level of educational outcomes for all people.
  • Community Sustainability - Teaching, research and actions geared towards effecting communities’ ability to respond to economic, environmental and social factors threating their survival.
  • Diversity - Teaching, research and actions that facilitates understanding of the dynamics and the impact of characteristics such as race, ethnicity, nationality, class, gender, sexuality and other forms of difference.
  • Community Empowerment - Teaching, research and actions geared towards effecting communities’ ability to bring change to their own environments.