I. Randolph Daniel, Jr. Department of Anthropology East

I. Randolph Daniel, Jr. Department of Anthropology East

I. Randolph Daniel, Jr.
Department of Anthropology
East Carolina University
Email: [email protected]


Academic Program Assessment in the Department of
Anthropology, East Carolina University: Outcomes Assessment
in the B.A. Program 2010 2011 & 2011 - 2012

Academic program assessment has been ongoing in the Department of
Anthropology at East Carolina University for the past several years. The B.A.
institutional learning outcome (personal growth) results for AY 2010 - 2011 and
2011 - 2012 are compared . Results indicate that a majority of our majors have
experienced personal growth with respect to an increased openness to other
cultures. Exactly how this greater cultural awareness relates to their future
endeavors, however, is less clear. Consequently, a program by anthropology
faculty is underway to more explicitly link a greater understanding of how
various anthropological concepts (i.e., soft skills) can be generalized to any

Anthropology offers a global view of human culture and human and
nonhuman primate adaptation and evolution to promote a better understanding
of the archaeological, biological, and cultural aspects of human diversity
(Figure 1). These studies foster respect for the biological as well as the ethnic
and cultural diversity present in human populations toady. As a special
emphasis, the department supports curriculum development and faculty
research and service into the prehistory, history, and quality of life of eastern
North Carolina.
The ECU Department of Anthropology has about 100 majors a year and
resides in the Harriot College of Arts and Sciences offering both a Bachelor of
Arts and a Master of Arts degree in anthropology, as well an undergraduate
minor in anthropology. Students may also pursue certificates in forensic
anthropology and cultural resources management at the undergraduate level.
While assessment reporting is conducted in both degree programs and
certificates, only assessment in our BA program is highlighted here. In
particular, we focus on institutional learning.

BA Assessment (institutional learning)
OUTCOME NAME: Leadership AY 2010 2011 & 2011 2012

Soft skills comments:
Interpersonal skills: If one is at least accepting of anothers differences,
then they may learn something new that benefits both.

Table 1. Number of responses to key concepts

Concepts/ Indicators
Personal Growth
Increased open-mindedness/broadened perspective
Better understand, respect, and relate to diverse peoples
Increased self awareness
Increased understanding of intercultural/global complexity
Soft Skills
Develop better interpersonal skills
Develop transferabel skills
More "well-rounded"
Learned how to learn/increased desire to learn
Understands how anthropology contributes to future plans

AY 2010 2011 n= 24

AY 20112012 n =21

18 (75%)
19 (79%)

14 (67%)
15 (71%)
8 (38%)
13 (62%)

5 (21%)
9 (43%)
2 (8%)
5 (21%)
3 (13%)

9 (43%)
6 (29%)
3 (14%)

Relating to cultural diversity: I believe anthropology brings to light the
variety of people and cultures and celebrates [their] diversity rather than
condemning it.
Increased open-mindedness: understanding that differences in people
dont have to indicate flaws in them.
Increased self awareness: Anthropology has contributed to my personal
growth by forcing me to think critically.
Increased self awareness: I came into this program with a vague
understanding of myself and the world, and nowfour years laterhave
grown into an awarenessof my personal biases, behaviorsand
strengths and weaknesses.
Understanding of global complexity: knowledge is needed on the
different culture, values and religions of different populations in the
modern world.

Assessment method. Students were asked to respond to an essay question
composed by a faculty committee and approved by the remaining faculty. The
following question was administered in the Anthropology capstone course in
the spring semesters of 2011 (with an enrollment of 24 students) and 2012
(with an enrollment of 21 students).

Criteria for Success: A faculty member read each essay coding the responses
for key concepts identified with either 1) personal growth or 2) how their
anthropology education relates to their future goals. With respect to the
former, a successful student should recognize personal growth in a greater
openness to other cultures and ideas. With respect to the latter, a successful
student should recognize how the anthropological concepts they learned
represent soft skills that could contribute to their plans for life after
graduation. Examples of these concepts follow.

Interpersonal skills: We need to have some knowledge of other
cultures so that when one encounters an individual from another culture
they do not unknowingly offend them.
Future plans: I have an even deeper understanding and respect for
others. I think this has had a positive effect on my education because this
is something I will carry with meinto the job place.

Personal growth comments:

Outcome description: Objective #3. Utilize reflection to promote personal

How has your study of anthropology contributed to your personal growth
while at ECU? Provide specific examples of changes in your attitudes or
behavior towards others and why such changes have had a positive effect on
your education.

Increased desire to learn: Taking anthropology courses has increased
my desire to learn about others and travel to see it myself.

Faculty discussion regarding the results for the 2011 2012 academic year
suggests that a single year may not be time enough to see the desired change in
our majors. Moreover, some consideration is being given to rewording at least a
portion of the question to more explicitly ask students how their education
relates to their future goals. In any case, for the current academic year, faculty
will continue to emphasize links between soft skills and their real world
application. In addition, the department has recently implemented an alumni
lecture series whereby past graduates are invited to visit campus and share their
job experiences with current anthropology students. In some cases these ECU
graduates have careers that are not directly related to anthropology, yet they
have found an anthropological perspective useful in their work. As such,
presentations by our graduates should help students learn how the skills learned
in the anthropology curriculum are applied to various careers. Our majors will
be strongly encouraged to attend those lectures. The departments goal is that
by the time that current freshmen are seniors they will more clearly understand
how anthropology contributes to their personal growth and future aspirations.


the study of
peoples in different
cultures around the

the study of
biological variation
and the evolution
of humans and the
other primates.

the study of the
human past
through its
material remains.

Figure 1. The three major subfields of anthropology as taught at East Carolina

On average, students identified two to three of the concepts in their essays.
In brief, two patterns stand out in the data. First, with respect to the 2010 -2011
academic year, 75% or more student responses indicate an increased awareness
of and open-mindedness to cultures other than their own. Moreover, students
view this as a positive aspect of their personal growth at ECU. Second, it is
less clear to students exactly how their anthropological knowledge (i.e., soft
skills) relates to their future plans. With a single exception no more than about
20% of student responses reflected an understanding of how students
anthropological knowledge relates to their future after graduation. The one
exception, where 43% of students recognized how certain skills learned in the
major apply to possible jobs, most likely derive from several methods
courses in our curriculum. For example, courses in archaeological methods or
forensic anthropology are directly applicable to the job market.

Finally, amidst the rubrics and rhetoric that constitute assessment, the
anthropology faculty will continue to do what they always have done with a
passion: teach and generate new knowledge in anthropology. Because of its
ability to inform students about human and cultural diversity, anthropology is
arguably the most relevant program in the liberal arts curriculum. An
understanding of the similarities and differences that constitute human lifeways
both past and presentremains critical to living in a modern global village
(Figure 2).

Actions Taken
Faculty discussion regarding these results indicates that it is perhaps not
surprising that students recognized personal growth with respect to an
increased awareness of cultural diversity which is the cornerstone of
anthropology. Indeed, the concept of multiculturalism was defined by
anthropology (long before it became the current fad in other areas of
academia). Faculty also acknowledged that students were less successful in
understanding how various anthropological concepts (i.e., soft skills) gained
from their major relates to their future. Thus, in the following academic year
(2011 2012) faculty made an effort through their teaching to make more
explicit the link between anthropological soft skills and there applicability to
various careers. The results of those actions seen in the 2011 2012 academic
year reveal a modest change as only one indicator (i.e., better personal skills)
saw any improvement (although it almost doubled in frequency) in the soft
skills category (Table 1). As in the previous year, students more easily
recognized the personal growth they experienced through their coursework.

Figure 2. 2011 Anthropology graduates display their enthusiasm.

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