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College or Campus: College of Arts and Sciences

Student Learning Outcomes


  1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of an anthropological perspective built upon a holistic understanding of cultural and biological systems.

For example, this may include some of the following specific outcomes:

  • Define theory and describe its role in building anthropological knowledge.
  • Compare and contrast basic theoretical orientations.
  • Describe how anthropology differs from and is similar to other social sciences, and give examples of these differences.
  • Articulate knowledge of the breadth of anthropology, including its main subfields, and its ties to other sciences and the humanities.
  1. Students will develop an understanding of local and global processes and social complexity through space and time.

For example, this may include some of the following specific outcomes:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of: culture, of the range of past and present human biological and cultural systems, including ecological relationships, subsistence, social organization, and belief systems.
  • Describe the historical/cultural contexts in which social processes occur and how they influence local and global processes.
  1. Students will develop basic knowledge of data collection methods and the analytic techniques that anthropologists use to evaluate these data.

For example, this may include some of the following specific outcomes:

  • Identify basic methodological approaches and describe the general role of methods in building anthropological knowledge.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the differences among the basic methodological approaches for gathering data.
  • Design research in an area of choice and explain why various decisions were made.
  • Critically assess a published research article and explain how the project could have been improved.
  1. Students will develop the ability to critically evaluate anthropological data.

For example, this may include some of the following specific outcomes:

  • Formulate a critical, scientific understanding of the basis for contemporary human variation, both ethnic/cultural and biological, including appreciation of related ethical concerns.
  • Express ability to think holistically and comparatively in describing human ways of life, including the use of non-ethnocentric methods.
  • Demonstrate anthropological skills applicable to solutions to present-day concerns, both in the United States and in other societies.

Assessment Plan


  1. Assessment within coursework

The student learning outcomes for the program are embedded in the student learning outcomes for individual courses.

  • All program learning objectives are embedded in the course learning objectives for the program’s three required introductory-level survey courses, Anth 1010, 2010, and 2020 (see appendix). Note that these learning objectives are fixed through the state-level transfer agreement system.
  • Specific program learning objectives are embedded in the course learning objectives of the program’s 3000 and 4000 level courses.

Student attainment of the learning objectives is assessed through a variety of assessment mechanisms including objective exams, short written assignments, essay exams, major papers, etc.

  1. Anthropology major exit survey

Since the 1990s, the anthropology program has administered a senior exit survey for all students graduating in the program. This data has been collected analyzed, and tracked across time as an indirect measure of student learning. In spring 2017, the anthropology faculty reviewed and substantially revised the exit survey to reflect the changing aims and goals of the program. The survey was administered in an online Qualtrics format for the first time in spring 2017. The assessment committee will review and revise the survey again in spring 2018 in accordance with the broader assessment plan. The assessment committee will incorporate the exit survey into its annual update report. (See below for discussion of the new anthropology assessment committee.)

In addition to the survey, the anthropology program will systematically maintain data on the following indirect measures of student achievements: (1) course grades and GPA; (2) pass rates; (3) number or rate of graduating seniors; (4) number or rate of students entering graduate school or professional careers upon graduation; (5) course evaluation items relating to overall course or curriculum quality rather than instructor effectiveness; (6) surveys, individual interviews, and focus groups of graduating seniors and alumni; (7) number or rate of students involved in individual or collaborative research, conference presentations, and peer-reviewed publications; (8) honors, awards, scholarships, and other forms of public recognition earned by students and alumni.

  1. Assessment pilot project: capstone experiences and appropriate 4000 level courses?

Capstone experiences are designed to bring reflection and focus to the whole of the college experience. They are embedded in the student’s area of concentration, and they require the disciplined use of skills, methodologies, and knowledge in that discipline in an integrated manner. Capstone experiences require students to demonstrate their achievement of the program’s student learning outcomes. In anthropology, they prepare students for careers in anthropology-related fields, or graduate training in anthropology-related academic or professional programs. Capstone experiences provide direct measures of student achievement.

The anthropology program offers an array of research-based capstone experiences, rather than few specific capstone courses. In the anthropology program, capstone experiences typically include laboratory or fieldwork experience through 4000-level specialized and seminar courses; academically intensive study abroad programs; independent research with faculty supervision; research assistance on faculty-led projects; and honors research projects. These high-impact programs provide special opportunities for students in the senior year, after they have already completed the majority of the major degree requirements.

The following anthropology courses offer capstone experiences:

  • Anth 3730: Perspectives in Anth (GIS for Anthropologists)
  • Anth 3730: Perspectives in Anth (Human Variation)
  • Anth 4560: Ethnographic Methods
  • Anth 4580: Peoples, Plagues and Pestilence
  • Anth 4620: Human Rights, Law & Justice in Northern Ireland
  • Anth 4911: Field School in Ohio Archaeology
  • Anth 4940: Independent Research in Anthropology
  • Anth 4940H: Department Honors Research
  • Anth 4943: Seminar in Arch (Stone Tools and Human Behavior)

Beginning in 2017, the anthropology program will introduce an assessment plan that builds on our robust array of capstone experiences for anthropology majors. Our assessment plan features an annual anthropology undergraduate research conference for anthropology majors to demonstrate their achievement of the program’s student learning outcomes through formal research poster presentations. Beginning in 2017-2018, the conference will be held in April of each year, to coincide with our longstanding annual department awards ceremony. The conference will be open to all anthropology majors, with senior students especially encouraged to deliver poster presentations of their capstone experiences. At the end of the pilot, we will consider possibilities for institutionalizing the conference as a graduation requirement into the program curriculum.

We will begin in fall 2017 by appointing a 3-person assessment committee with one representative from each subfield. The committee will identify one member as chair, and this chairperson position may rotate among committee members each year. Following the program’s standard approach to committee work, this committee will be a three-year appointment – although we anticipate that faculty leaves may enable us to stagger committee membership rotation in the coming years.

In fall semester, the assessment committee will be responsible for:

  1. developing (and in subsequent years, reviewing) the assessment rubric for the student conference;
  2. communicating and coordinating the assessment plan across anthropology faculty;
  3. submitting the annual assessment update report to the College and University at the end of fall semester.

In spring semester, the assessment committee will be responsible for:

  1. planning, publicizing, and carrying out the undergraduate student research conference;
  2. evaluating student research posters with the rubric at the conference
  3. synthesizing and communicating the results to the other program faculty, with recommendations on how to revise or adjust the plan for the next year.

We will pursue this plan as a pilot project for three years, from 2017-2020. At the completion of the pilot, we will review the plan to determine whether and how to move forward with it. At that time, we will consider the possibility of introducing a digital portfolio for students to track progress towards the final research presentation.

In Spring of 2019, we administered a questionnaire to assess student learning and collect metrics on student performance and participation in extracurricular activities.

2019 Questionnaire Protocol

The questionnaire contains 32 questions in total, with 8 questions on demographic parameters and 8 questions from each of the Anthropological subfields (Archaeology, Biological, and Cultural). These questionnaires included both general knowledge and applications of knowledge questions. It was administered in class during the week of April 15, 2019, to five upper-division Anthropology courses: Anth 3570/5570 (Anth. of Religion), 3610 (North American Prehistory), 3730 (Perspectives: Anth. of Economic Crises & Crashes), 4560/5560 (Ethnographic Methods), and 4740 (Zooarchaeology). Students were asked not to take the exam if they had already done so and were given a total of 20 minutes to complete as many questions as they could.

The sample population included majors, non-majors, and graduate students.

Evidence of Student Learning

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Use of Student Learning Evidence

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