Anthropology Learning Goals

Teaching Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completing the BA program in Anthropology, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the concept of culture as an organizing idea of anthropology, as well as an integral, adaptive, and infinitely variable characteristic of human society.

2.  Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concept of race as a social construction and not a biological fact, yet a concept that has powerful effects on population groups around the world, the organization of societies, and the allocation of resources, rights, and privileges within various societies.

3.  Demonstrate an understanding of cultural relativism, the principle that people’s norms and values derive their meaning within a specific social context; and differentiate the discipline’s cultural relativist perspective from ethical relativism, or the view that all moral principles are equally valid to anthropologists.

4. Demonstrate knowledge in the methods of anthropological data collection, including ethnography and participant observation, as well as contemporary techniques of digital data collection (ethnographic photography, ethnographic film, and virtual ethnography).

5.  Develop skills in analyzing the portrayal of social difference in society, and the ways in which the politics of cultural, racial, ethnic, gender, and class difference operates in other areas of the worl

6. Develop knowledge of some world areas and a comparative perspective on major anthropological issues.

7. Develop and demonstrate skills in critical theoretical analysis, conduct independent research, and communicate ideas effectively both orally and in writing.


Methods and Measurement of B.A. Outcomes

Conceptual and Methodological Knowledge

For the first four Teaching Goals concerning the acquisition of anthropological conceptual and methodological knowledge, the Learning Outcomes are initially measured by test grades on the midterm and final exams of the primary course required for all majors: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology.  The exams include  written answers on “key questions” concerning cultural variation, cultural relativism, race, and anthropological method.   All majors and minors must get at least a C in the course in order to fulfill the requirements of the major (as for all anthropology courses).

Application of Concepts

Elective courses provide more focused application of these objectives, in varying combinations.  Through the elective courses in anthropology, majors and minors will continue to enhance their knowledge of socio-cultural difference and their ability to analyse global issues from an anthropological perspective, as well as their skills in written and oral communication and textual analysis through research papers and oral presentations.  These courses prepare anthropology students for a capstone Anthropology Seminar, required for all majors and minors.   These are small, graduate-level, and writing intensive. The Anthropology Seminar is typically taken by majors (as well as non-majors, by permission) in their junior and senior years.  In this course, Learning Outcome #5 is measured through capacity  to read, analyze, and discuss a large body of literature, to write reaction paper, and produce a substantial original research paper.  In their writings,  students are expected to demonstrate their grasp of fundamental anthropological concepts while applying them to particular topics within the seminar themes of International Development, Genocide, War, Human Rights, etc.  

Using the Results

A comparison of student’s grades from the lower division Intro course  to the Advanced Seminar indicates students’ maturation in writing, critical thinking, and the application of anthropological knowledge to particular research themes.    An important part of ongoing evaluation is consultation with their individual advisers.  Students are required to meet with their advisors every year, and encouraged to meet more often, to discuss their grades, their mastery of key anthropological concepts, and their likelihood of completing the program successfully. .