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Core Objective 6: Cultures, Societies & Individuals

The Silver Core Curriculum does not take effect until Fall 2016


  • Silver Vein II: Primary Areas of Focused Inquiry
  • Brief Description of Learning Objective: Students will learn how to systematically analyze human social conditions (e.g., individuals, groups, communities, and cultures). In particular, students will learn to observe, theorize, model, experiment, and/or interpret as a means of inquiring into human social relations.

Standards or Requirements for Verification:

This objective is satisfied by a single Core Social Science course approved by the Core Board. Where appropriate, majors are encouraged to develop this objective within their courses, and if possible to integrate this objective into the Core Capstone course.

Courses satisfying this objective will also develop Core Objectives 1 or 2 and Core Objective 3. That is, a Core Social Science course should also help students improve their writing or quantitative skills and develop their critical thinking skills.

Courses satisfying CO6 examine human behavior or societies and introduce students to systematic methods of inquiry for understanding individuals and communities. They may focus on topics such as political and economic systems, laws, ideologies, religious beliefs, customs, social structures, or personal experiences that influence ideas, actions, and decisions. Information may be collected and analyzed through empirical or qualitative research methods as appropriate to the discipline.

Courses satisfying this Core Objective will meet the expectations for the Core Social Science requirement and should:

  1. Include the Core Objective, together with its brief description, on the course syllabus in its original form.
  2. Include 1 or more student learning outcomes addressing this Core Objective on the course syllabus, along with other student learning outcomes appropriate to the course.
  3. Identify in the course syllabus the teaching techniques and student experiences that will help students acquire the competencies described in the Core Objective.
  4. Assess whether students have acquired the competency described in the student learning outcomes and use methods for collecting and analyzing data that can be reported to the Core Curriculum Board.

Some examples of approved student learning outcomes and assessment methods are listed later in this document. Faculty may incorporate one or more of the examples from this list or propose their own student learning outcomes and methods of assessing the objective.


Suggested Student Learning Outcomes & Assessment Methods

Cultures, Societies, & Individuals

Students will learn how to systematically analyze human social conditions (e.g., individuals, groups, communities, and cultures). In particular, students will learn to observe, theorize, model, experiment, and/or interpret as a means of inquiring into human social relations.

Student Learning Outcomes

Courses satisfying CO6 might feature student learning outcomes like the ones listed below. Faculty may use outcomes from this list or propose their own outcomes addressing the objective. Learning outcomes must be observable and measurable so that they can be properly assessed.

Students will be able to:

  • identify fundamental concepts within a field addressing issues of human social behavior
  • use proposed social science theories and empirical evidence to provide logical, substantiated arguments in support of or in opposition to those theories and that evidence
  • identify and explain ethical issues inherent in the study of human social behavior
  • apply the social science research methods appropriate to the field they are studying and understand why these methods are used.

Direct Assessment Methods

All courses that are verified as satisfying a Core Objective will be assessed on a regular basis to determine how well students are learning the knowledge and skills described in the objective. Instructors are expected to develop ways of directly measuring student learning (through evaluating the work students produce in the course) and to report these measurements to the Core Board upon request.

The following are some examples of direct assessment methods that might be used in courses satisfying CO6. Examples of student work should be evaluated according to a clear, consistent rubric or set of criteria. Faculty may choose methods from this list or propose alternative assessment methods:

  • percent correct/acceptable performance on an exam question testing students’ knowledge of a fundamental social science concept
  • percent correct/acceptable performance on an exam question summarizing and critically analyzing a proposed social science perspective
  • an essay arguing for or against research oversight on human subjects, evaluated with a rubric containing criteria keyed to this outcome and on a scale representing disciplinary standards
  • percent correct/acceptable performance on an exam question that asks students to identify differences and similarities between competing social science theories
  • percent correct/acceptable performance on a problem set that requires the application of 1 or more quantitative methods to a social science issue
  • a 2-page social science essay that involves critical thinking about an issue or topic evaluated using a rubric as described above
  • an assignment requiring primary data collection (e.g., participant observation with field notes, conducting a survey, time series data, etc.), evaluated using a rubric as described above
  • an in-class group assignment that requires students to apply a specific theory of human social behavior to a current event or situation, evaluated using a rubric as described above.

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