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Anthropology: Undergraduate Programs
Administered: On-Going at time of student's degree check.
Target Population: Graduating seniors
The School of Anthropology collects systematic, quantified information from all graduating seniors about their growth as scholars and experiences as a major in anthropology at the University of Arizona. A previous Director of Undergraduate Studies with the help of faculty colleagues and students created the Anthropology Student Outcomes Assessment Survey or “Senior Survey.” The survey allows students to share their evaluations of a broad range of topics. The results are being used to improve the program for current and future students.
The Anthropology Student Outcomes Assessment Survey allows graduating seniors to provide self-evaluations of the following: academic skills; knowledge of anthropological principles, ideas, and data; attitudes toward other human beings; and expectations after graduation. Students use an appropriate scale of “very poor” to “excellent” or “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” to compare abilities, attitudes, and ideas when matriculating to those near graduation. Students also have an opportunity to rate experiences with faculty members, teaching assistants, advisors, professional staff, and student peers. Experiences include effectiveness in communication of course materials and expectations, grading policies, availability for individualized discussions to plan a course of study and enrichment activities, general assistance, and enhanced learning.
Another section allows students to evaluate School resources, including classroom facilities and class sizes, access to faculty members and academic advisors, financial support from scholarship and research awards, and student clubs. We also ask for background information, including subfield interests, previous majors, transfer student experiences, lengths of undergraduate student programs, participation in School activities and special events, grade point average, and future plans. Students also answer a set of questions that require short answers that are useful for program assessment and enhancement: What is anthropology? How does an anthropological perspective influence your worldview? What has been your most satisfying academic experience as an anthropology major? What has been your least satisfying experience as an anthropology major? Finally, we ask students to rate their overall experiences as majors in anthropology in relation to quality of instruction, advising, and their overall academic experiences.
Results analyzed to date show an improvement in the overall experience of being an Anthropology Student from 67% ‘good’ and ‘excellent’ in 2003/04 to 90% or higher for the following seven years. There is also general satisfaction with the undergraduate student academic and advising programs. Men and women clearly differ in their responses to self-evaluation questions. Students freely express themselves in the short answers. These results reveal student perspectives and have inspired us to rethink issues related to our undergraduate academic program. Having received feedback on the assessment instrument itself for several years now we recognize that we need to modify questions, shorten the survey and make it available online.
Changes Made Based on Findings
The current sample of 111 survey forms has not yet been analyzed in full detail. Information derived from the senior survey, including similarities and differences between men and women, will be interpreted in relation to learning outcomes as more data are collected and resources become available for comprehensive statistical analyses. Preliminary analyses of 111 survey forms (2007-2010) show overall satisfaction with School educational efforts. Questionnaires are analyzed by gender to see how students compare abilities, attitudes, and ideas at the start and end of undergraduate student careers. Results show that students generally record higher-level abilities for most variables at the time of graduation. Men and women differ in their responses. Men are less likely to indicate greater than one level of improvement for many variables. Women are more likely to admit substantial improvement for most variables.
Patterns of responses for equivalent topics that are embedded in the senior survey, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews correspond. For this reason, changes made on the basis of results of the senior survey are discussed with those suggested by focus group discussions, one-on-one interviews and a 2010 Alumni Survey. Changes made directly on the basis of non-equivalent aspects of survey results are not yet possible.
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