All academic departments are charged with engaging in assessment periodically. This task provides faculty members (and students!) to take stock of program virtues and limitations, the better to ensure excellence in all curricular and co-curricular activities.
This year, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology has embarked on an assessment project that has focused first on the sociology major, and then on anthropology. The first task guiding our work has been one of establishing learning goals and objectives, in answer to the question, “What skills, knowledge, and abilities do we expect majors to have attained when they are graduated from our institution?” The links below provide overviews of the learning goals and objectives for both undergraduate programs in the department.
With these goals as our foundation, the department has engaged in data collection using multiple methods. We have conducted an Alumni Survey; performed exit interviews (which we’ve recorded and transcribed); examined co-op reports (to trace the linkage between coursework and co-op experiences); run focus groups; and now begun to analyze student papers from a subset of core courses.
We hope this exercise will help guide our efforts at enhancing the major, and will provide a model from which other departments can learn. The findings have already begun to instruct us in our thinking about program innovation.
Below are the learning goals and objectives for each undergraduate program.
Anthropology: Learning Goals and Objectives
The anthropology major should demonstrate understanding of and facility with the following:
1. The discipline of socio-cultural anthropology and its role in contributing to our understanding of societies and cultures worldwide, such that the student will have knowledge of:
a. what anthropology is as a discipline;
b. what anthropology is as practice.
2. The role of ethnography in anthropology, such that the student will be able to:
a. identify what constitutes ethnographic data and how it is generated and collected.
b. apply different theoretical concepts to current social phenomena;
c. understand the social, political, and ethical implications of anthropological research.
3. Critical thinking and effective communication skills, such that the student will be able to:
a. identify key issues and key debates in anthropology;
b. communicate effectively in oral and written work;
4. Social engagement, whether in local, national, or international contexts, as evident in the student’s:
a. choice of topic in applied or theoretical projects while matriculating;
b. ability to make connections, identify similarities, and differences across cultures.
c. engagement with issues of social justice and social inequality.
5. Embedding contemporary cultures within their international, transnational, or global contexts to:
a. describe and analyze how cultures have responded to the challenges of globalization in various times and places;
b. demonstrate an understanding of the connections and differences between regions coded as west/non-west, developed/developing, colonial/postcolonial, north/global south.
Sociology – Learning Goals and Objectives
The sociology major should demonstrate understanding of the following:
1. The discipline of sociology and its role in contributing to our understanding of social reality, such that the student will be able to:
a. know what sociology is as a discipline and a practice;
b. apply the sociological imagination and concepts to her/his own life.
c. understand and apply basic concepts in sociology and their theoretical interrelations.
2. The role of theory in sociology, such that the student will be able to:
a. define theory and describe its role in building sociological knowledge;
b. compare and contrast basic theoretical orientations;
c. show how theories reflect the historical context of the times and cultures in which they were developed;
d. show how different theoretical approaches would explain current social phenomena.
3. The role of research methods in sociology, such that the student will be able to:
a. know basic methodological approaches and describe the general role of methods in building sociological knowledge;
b. compare and contrast the basic methodological approaches for gathering data, identifying the virtues and limitations of each method;
c. explain basic concepts of social statistics and compute both descriptive and inferential statistics using both calculators and SPSS;
d. understand the connection between theory and methods of investigation;
e. evaluate a published research report.
4. Creative thinking and effective communication skills, such that the student will be able to:
a. evaluate the validity of contentions commonly encountered in everyday life;
b. communicate effectively in oral and written reports;
c. understand the social and ethical implications of sociological research findings and of social policies..
5. The characteristics of contemporary societies and their international contexts sufficiently to be able to:
a. describe the structure and culture of the United States and its distinctive features, relative to other advanced industrial societies;
b. discuss the differences between Western and non-Western societies, and between the developed and less developed world;
c. understand some of the challenges that globalization poses to contemporary societies and ways of life.
Click here is a narrated PowerPoint Presentation, outlining the methods and findings that accompanied the department’s assessment project this year.