Center for Instructional
Innovation and Assessment


Larry Estrada
Edward Vajda
Kathleen Young
Goals Contents
Kathleen Young
Ph.D., Department of Anthropology

Institutional Goals

Listed below are selected learning outcomes in the areas of critical thinking, writing, and information literacy that Western Washington University is actively integrating into its curriculum. Each learning outcome is listed with its definition, along with a description of how Kathleen Young's teaching strategies meet each of these student learning outcome goals.

Critical Thinking

Learning Outcomes Definition Course Outcomes
Identification Accurately identifies and interprets evidence.

In introductory classes students are given a choice between multiple choice or essay exams and each student is also given a choice between two field work or essay topics which is repeated with different choices or prompts three times throughout the quarter. Weekly discussion groups are held to engage students in discourse analysis specific to a class topic. The primary motivation of the discussion groups is to get students to engage in epistemological exposition or "thinking about the way we think."

In 300-level courses, students write weekly reflection papers based on assigned topics. Students choose from one of the prompts related to the lectures and readings from that week or they may choose their own topic with instructor approval. The two midterms and final exam contain a mix of both multiple choice questions and short answer or short essay questions. Students who prefer to avoid multiple choice exams may choose an essay option.

Students in 400-level classes contribute to class discussion in seminar format. Students do a research paper in writing intensive classes and share their research with an in-class presentation. Students in the law may choose to explain a group project in poster format as well as presentation to the class. The posters remain on display in the department hallway for other students to read and follow up with questions for the author. The posters that are considered the best by the class go on to university review during scholar's week.

Alternative Consideration Considers major alternative points of view. Following the directive to "think about the way we think" students write and rewrite. Students are trained to examine issues of cultural relativism and the negotiation of truth over time and subject to change. Students look for an integrated perspective asking how change in one part of culture affects changes in other parts. Anthropology students learn to examine why no cultural group should be omitted from our quest to know what it means to be human for all people throughout time and place.
Accurate Conclusions Draws warranted, judicious, non-fallacious conclusions. Student's papers must demonstrate internal consistency based on evidence. Evidentiary materials must also be subject to various methods of analysis. Students must show comparison of literary sources and indicate review of differing perspectives. Cross-cultural comparisons include analysis of heterogeneity within a group as well as between groups.
Justification Justifies key results and procedures, and explains assumptions and reasons. The student outcome assessment at the end of the quarter asks students to write a short reflective paper on what they see differently now that the class is near the end. What in particular did they find the most valuable, troubling, or different about themselves and our culture? What holistic perspective do they see as shared with all the people alive at this time? How does what happens in one sphere affect all the spheres for people? What field trip or field work assignment or research project encouraged them to consider their own habits of mind? How has their own awareness of their own thinking, reactions, or interpretation changed? What will they take with them?

Adapted from Western Washington University's Learning Outcomes for Writing II.