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Department of Anthropology

Knowledge and skill goalsfor this undergraduate degree program are recorded in the most recent CU-Boulder catalog. In some summaries of assessment activity, goals are referred to by number (e.g., K-2 is knowledge goal 2).

Activity in 1999-2000

The Procedure

Members of the tenure-track faculty in the Department of Anthropology that teach Anth 2020 on a regular basis met in the spring of 2000. The agenda was to discuss methods of evaluating the effectiveness of the course in light of course goals that are to teach the basic principles of human genetics and human diversity. The faculty decided that one straight-forward and informative method to evaluate course success would be to select a sample of 10 questions that reflect the core concepts covered in the course. These questions would be administered in one section of Anthropology 2020 (section 2) taught by Professor Dennis Van Gerven. The total enrollment was 356 students. The decision to evaluate only one section was based on the similarity among sections on earlier assessments. The decision to use one section as a sample of the curriculum was approved by Todd Gleeson in 1991. The questions (true/false and multiple choice) were administered as part of two exams - once early (before) in the semester and again as part of the final examination (after). The results are presented following each question based on an item analysis conducted by Scanning Services. The results are also summarized in tabular form.

The Results

As is evident, from the summary table, the faculty was successful in providing the students knowledge regarding the primary themes of the course. Students improved on all ten questions with an average improvement of 15.4%. The range was from 1.3% to 39.2%.

1. Breeding populations may exist where there are no actual physical barriers.
The correct answer is true.
Before % correct = 92.1
After % correct = 96.9
2. Without natural selection, recessive alleles are eventually "flushed" from a population.
The correct answer is false.
Before % correct = 66.8
After % correct = 83.5
3. Infection is the same as disease.
The answer is false.
Before % correct = 98.1
After % correct = 99.4
4. If a breeding population is in genetic equilibrium, then all alleles must have a frequency higher than 0.5.
The answer if false.
Before % correct = 79.0
After % correct = 89.9
5. Point mutations are the rarest form of mutation.
The answer is false.
Before % correct = 69.6
After % correct = 86.8
6. IQ or intelligence is apparently distributed as a genetic monomorphism among modern Homo sapiens populations.
The answer is true.
Before % correct = 24.4
After % correct = 54.6
7. The unit of evolution is the:
  1. Individual
  2. Extended family
  3. Cohort
  4. Population
  5. None of the above
Before % correct = 70.4
After % correct = 91.6
8. If the sex chromosomes of a fetus are XX, then typically:
  1. The Wolffian ducts become the vas deferens
  2. The Wolffian ducts become the gonads
  3. The genital tubercle becomes the prostate
  4. A and B
  5. The Mullerian ducts become the fallopian tubes
Before % correct = 84.1
After % correct = 91.6
9. A condition which must be assumed for Hardy-Weinberg genetic equilibrium is:
  1. Small population size
  2. Random mating for all traits
  3. Random mating for the trait in question
  4. All of the above
Before % correct = 27.7
After % correct = 66.9
10. The equation p2+2pq+q2 = 1 is the algebraic expression of a principal first applied to population genetics by:
  1. Darwin and Wallace
  2. Hardy and Weinberg
  3. Wright and Dobzhansky
  4. Landsteiner
Before % correct = 92.1
After % correct = 97.2


Percentage of questions showing improvement = 100%
Average percentage of improvement = 15.4%
Range of improvement among questions = 1.3%-39.2%


Upon reviewing the results the faculty noted that with one exception (question 6) all questions in which final performance remained below 90% involved basic concepts of population genetics. The questions include: #'s 2, 4, 5, and 9. The faculty plan to meet early in the fall term to discuss how adjustments in this aspect of the course can be made with an eye to improvement.

Assessment activity through 1997-98

In 1989-90 and 1990-91, the department evaluated knowledge goal 4 (K-4) with a pre- and post-test in ANTH 2010 (Physical Anthropology). The post-test was embedded in the final exam of the course. The questions used were developed by a panel of departmental faculty. Over 100 students took both pre- and post-tests each year. In both years, the average post-test score (approximately 80% correct) was significantly better than the pre-test average (approximately 60% correct) and majors scored better than non-majors on both the pre- and post-tests. 

In 1991-92 and 1992-93 the department and its programs underwent major restructuring and outcomes assessment was temporarily suspended. A significantly expanded assessment program was put in place for 1993-94, reflecting the revised program. 

Knowledge and skills goals have been evaluated in work produced by a random sample consisting of 15% of the senior majors in selected upper division courses. The courses included ANTH 4520 (Symbolic Anthropology, 94-5/95-6), ANTH 4590 (Urban Anthropology, 93-4), ANTH 4180 (Anthropological Perspectives: Contemporary Issues, 93-4/94-5/95-6/96-97), ANTH 4110 (Human Paleontology, 93-4), ANTH 4530 (Theoretical Foundations of Sociocultural Anthropology, 96-97), ANTH 4220 (Archaeology of Mexico and Central America, 95/96), and ANTH 4340 (Archaeological Method andTheory, 96-97). 

The materials evaluated consisted of take-home essays for Urban Anthropology, Theoretical Foundations of Sociocultural anthropology, literature critiques for Anthropological Perspectives and Symbolic Anthropology, midterm essay examinations for Human Paleontology, and final exams for Archaeology of Mexico and Central America and Archaeological Method and Theory. These provided a cross-section of written work involving several formats and two of the department's three subdisciplines (cultural and physical anthropology). Assessment of the third subdiscipline, archaeology (knowledge goal 2), was added in 1994-5 with evaluation of in-class essays from 15% of the anthropology majors in ANTH 1140 (The Maya). These essays were also used to evaluate skills goal 1 (S-1). 

Each paper was read and rated independently by two (93-4) or three (94-5 through 96-7) faculty other than the course instructor. The work was ranked on a five point scale where 5=superior, 4= above expectation, 3=average, 2= below expectation and 1= inadequate. The average ratings were 3.5 or higher ("above average") for goals K-1, K-2, K-4 and S-2 and there was a substantial degree of evaluator consistency. 

The overall mean for K-3, understanding variation and patterning in human social behavior, was 3.0 in 1993-94, 3.6 in 1994-95, and 3.7 in 1995-96. The average for goal S-1 in the context of archaeology, evaluated for the first time in 1994-95, was 3.3. This area was of special interest in the 1995-96 and 1996-97 evaluations. We are pleased that the average for S-1 (archaeology) for ANTH 4220 (95-6) and 4340 (96-7) were 4.0 and 3.5 respectively. We believe that this improvement may reflect our recent increase in archaeology faculty. 

In addition, skills goal 1 (S-1) in the context of physical anthropology was evaluated for the first time in 1995-96 by evaluating take home essays for ANTH 4180. The overall mean was 3.9, a grade considered to be "above average" and there was a substantial degree of evaluator consistency. In 1996-97 take home essays were again evaluated for this course and the overall mean was 3.8, again "above average". 

In 1996-97 Anthropology began evaluating goal S-1 for cultural anthropology by examining essays from ANTH 4530. The overall mean was 4.1, a grade considered to be "above average" and there was a substantial degree of evaluator consistency. In addition, graders were impressed with the rich appreciation of aspects of anthropological theory expressed by some of these students. We will once again focus evaluation on S-1 for cultural anthropology in 1997-98. 

Go to most recent Department of Anthropology assessment report


Last revision 01/28/03

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