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Educational Assessment

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  1. Anthropology majors will develop their intellectual skills and knowledge about cross-cultural interactions, and are trained to face the challenges of an increasingly diversified and interconnected global society. Students gain an understanding and appreciation of biological, linguistic, and sociocultural human diversity that will foster cross-cultural communication here and abroad. Our majors leave the program with important analytical and critical skills, and with a systematic understanding of people and their cultures, which is essential to developing their sense of civic and moral engagement.
  2. Anthropology majors will identify and articulate an appropriate anthropological research topic and the corresponding information need, and then develop, implement, and complete their own projects.

Art – History

  1. Students will identify and distinguish among works of art and architecture from different historical periods and cultural settings.
  2. Students will develop the techniques of formal analysis of works of art and architecture and incorporate these techniques into an effective writing style.
  3. Students will learn to analyze the work of art and architecture in relation to other cultural, historical, scientific, and geo-political developments.
  4. Students will become familiar with the protocols of secondary and primary research and to exercise critical judgment with respect to bibliographic sources and research materials.
  5. Students will formulate arguments at an advanced level and incorporate them into a scholarly essay.

Art – Studio Art

  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to develop visual ideas through the production of works of art.
  2. Students will develop a sense of artistic self-identity.
  3. Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate their ideas about art both verbally and aesthetically.
  4. Students will develop knowledge of art, artists, and art history and how it relates to their cultural context.

Athletics – Physical Education

  1. Student Experience: The student gains cooperative skills and collaborative skills through class and team activities.
  2. Acquisition of skill, physical fitness: The student acquires skills, technique and fitness in the realm of physical activity (progression of skill, technique and fitness over the course of the semester or season).

Athletics – Varsity Sports

  1. Student-athletes will develop a set of personal values including integrity, respect and compassion, and will recognize the importance of strong work ethic, individual accountability, and responsibility in the pursuit of excellence. Student-athletes will recognize the importance of making good decisions, and how these decisions affect themselves, their teammates and their community. They will learn to hold themselves to a higher standard and understand that it is a privilege to compete as a Vassar Brewer.
  2. Student-athletes will learn to become influential leaders within their team and the Vassar community as a whole. Student-athletes will develop a sense of community and take pride in Vassar through an environment that promotes collaboration, teamwork, support and genuine interaction with others.
  3. Student-athletes will support and encourage a culture of diversity and inclusion in both the team setting and the community at large. Student-athletes will learn to respectfully express themselves and skillfully listen in order to ultimately unify for a common goal.  They will cultivate communication skills to effectively interact with teammates, coaches, opponents, spectators, administrators and game officials in a respectful and honest manner.
  4. Student-athletes will focus on developing physically, emotionally and mentally to compete at the highest level. They will learn the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and gain an appreciation for life-long health and wellness.  Student-athletes will learn proper nutrition as well as strategies to further develop a sound mind.
  5. Student-athletes will become more aware of how they feel about themselves and how this affects their performance in the athletic arena. They will be encouraged to take measures to build their confidence and surround themselves with positive influences that help build their self-esteem.
  6. Student-athletes will effectively prioritize academic, athletic and social responsibilities with the ultimate goal of understanding how these commitments interact and enhance the student-athlete experience. They will learn resilience in the face of adversity and will develop coping mechanisms and strategies to manage all aspects of college life.
  7. Student-athletes will work to create and maintain a team environment that actively encourages passion for their sport, while fostering a healthy and competitive atmosphere.


  1. Communicate effectively basic biological principles in both written and oral form to scientific peers.
  2. Apply the scientific method by making observations, and generating testable hypotheses, and using appropriate experimental design.
  3. Comprehend that science involves the accumulation of knowledge/information about the natural world. Knowledge/information includes both measurable and quantifiable variables that undergo continual change and development.
  4. Articulate major concepts in biology and linkages with several sub-disciplines in science.


  1. Students will define original research questions, develop testable hypotheses, design and execute experiments, analyze data using appropriate statistical methods, and draw appropriate conclusions.
  2. Students will use the peer-reviewed scientific literature effectively and evaluate technical articles critically. They will retrieve specific information from the chemical literature and apply information from the literature to open-ended research problems.
  3. Students will present chemical information in a clear and organized manner. This includes writing well-organized and concise reports in a scientifically appropriate style, graphical display of scientific data, and use of varied presentation media such as posters and computerized presentations.
  4. Students will develop critical thinking and problem solving skills beyond the basic level through an advanced study in at least one area of chemistry (organic, inorganic, physical biochemical, or analytical). They will relate this advanced knowledge to natural phenomena.
  5. Students will gain expertise with one or more core chemical analysis techniques, which may include spectrophotometers, chromatographs, computational methods, x-ray diffraction, or electrochemical instruments.

Chinese and Japanese

  1. Communicate effectively in Chinese or Japanese.
  2. Critically interpret Chinese or Japanese literary/cultural texts in various media from a historically informed and situated perspective.
  3. Have a historically grounded knowledge in at least one of the East Asian cultural traditions (limited to Chinese and Japanese).

Cognitive Science

  1. The student articulates an original thesis, hypothesis, or question, and explains the context and reasoning that motivate it.
  2. The student proposes tentative answers to the questions raised by the thesis statement by application and integration of materials that reflect at least two distinct methodologies and theoretical frameworks characteristic of the field.
  3. The student offers a cogent evaluation of the results of the thesis project that accurately characterizes both its successes and the further work that would be necessary to strengthen the conclusions reached.

Computer Science

  1. Students should be able to write software in several programming languages, including intermediate to expert proficiency in at least two languages of distinct paradigms.
  2. Students should be able to quickly and independently learn new programming languages and the hardware and software systems they run on.
  3. Students should be able to analyze problem statements and develop data structures and algorithms capable of representing and solving those problems.


  1. Demonstrate a physical and intellectual comprehension of a variety of dance forms, individual movement vocabulary, and technique through performance.
  2. Development of the personal voice in relation to the choreographic process and the discipline-specific skills necessary to the creation of performance.


  1. Developed informed response to performance.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of organization.
  3. Become vivid theatre-makers.
  4. Demonstrate creative confidence.
  5. Effectively communicate ideas in a collaborative process.
  6. Read, analyze, and synthesize dramatic texts.
  7. Develop a sense of artistic self.

Earth Science

  1. By graduation, earth science majors will demonstrate an understanding of the magnitude of geologic (deep) time and the significance of rates of geologic change; the inter-relationships between the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, pedosphere, and biosphere; the behaviors of earth materials—minerals, rocks, soils, water, and atmospheric gases; the assessment of risk associated with geologic hazards; the application of Earth Science to important issues facing society.
  2. Majors will also demonstrate proficiency using a variety of laboratory and field measurement techniques and instrumentation; and, analyzing data in a manner appropriate to the nature of the data.
  3. Non-major students will have an appreciation for the role that earth sciences and geologic time have in informing discussions of important issues facing society.


  1. Students acquire the ability to explain the foundations, rationale, and construction of principal economic models.
  2. Students acquire the ability to apply these models to evaluate public policy and institutions.
  3. Students acquire the ability to analyze economic data.
  4. Students acquire knowledge of economic institutions and history.


  1. Understand the social, economic, political, and cultural foundations of education.
  2. Gain a critical social justice perspective on schools and schooling.
  3. Understand the relationship of research, policy, and practice.
  4. Understand how national and international policies shape students’, teachers’, and families’ lives.
  5. Develop an understanding of the types of professional careers in education.


  1. Read texts closely, analyzing the formal qualities of their genre, form, and style.
  2. Understand major theories, methods, and concepts of literary study.
  3. Situate texts and authors in historical and cultural contexts.
  4. construct original, evidence-based arguments written in clear, effective prose.


  1. Draw connections between film practice and theory.
  2. Identify key approaches to film theory.
  3. Receive, internalize and apply critical perspectives on their own and others’ work.
  4. Decipher the ideological significance of moving images.
  5. Understand how to research, analyze and write about film.

French and Francophone Studies

  1. Achieve proficiency in oral, reading, and written French.
  2. Be able to recognize and articulate cultural specificities and differences across the Francophone and American contexts.
  3. Explore an area of intellectual inquiry related to language, literary, cultural and/or media studies, and develop a conceptual approach their inquiry.
  4. Make a contribution to an intellectual conversation on a scholarly topic through synthesis, application, critique, and/or revision of theory.


  1. Geography majors will demonstrate in written and oral work an understanding of the dynamic and complex nature of linkages among humans, other life forms, and the environment, while doing so in regard to variations in space, time and social relations.
  2. Geography majors will develop and exhibit by graduation a proficiency in the theory and practice of one of more topic areas of the discipline, such as cartography, political geography, economic geography, urban geography, and environmental conservation.
  3. Geography majors will demonstrate proficiency in careful writing, centered around a clear research question, and substantiated by an argument supported through evidence. Such work will manifest strong analytical skills vis-à-vis spatial forms and representations (e.g. maps), geographic patters, landscape analysis, qualitative and quantitative data, photographic and visual depiction, and/or archival documentation of historical geography.
  4. Non-major students and Geography correlates will exhibit an ability to examine and explain the role that geography plays in relation to important issues facing society on various spatial scales—e.g. the local, national, and global.

German Studies

  1. The student interprets German-language primary materials, in conjunction with secondary sources, to develop an original argument on an issue, literary text, film or other materials related to German culture.
  2. The student gathers, sifts, analyzes and synthesizes secondary sources to deliver effective oral presentations in German on topics related to the senior seminars.
  3. Through written papers and oral presentations, the graduating senior demonstrates a high degree of control of German grammar, syntax, and vocabulary as well as an understanding of spoken and written information from many genres dealing with a wide range of subjects. (These criteria represent the attainment of Advanced High Proficiency in the 2012 Proficiency Guidelines of the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages.)

Greek and Roman Studies

  1. Connect the Greek and Roman past to the present and use one to illuminate the other.
  2. Execute a significant project that: demonstrates deep knowledge of one area of Greek and/or Roman culture; uses both primary and secondary sources appropriately; and offers an original contribution.
  3. Demonstrate broad knowledge of the history, literature, and material culture of Greek and Roman civilizations and knowledge of at least one aspect of Greek and/or Roman culture in depth.
  4. Read un-adapted works of poetry and prose in the original language, using dictionaries, commentaries, and other tools appropriately, and demonstrate mastery of the essentials of Greek or Latin grammar.

Hispanic Studies

  1. Students interpret Spanish-language primary materials, in conjunction with secondary sources, to develop an original argument on an issue, literary text, film or other materials related to Hispanic cultures. Students articulate connections between the social and political contexts and the primary sources.
  2. Through oral and written exercises appropriate to the various levels of instruction, students demonstrate increasing control of Spanish grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, leading to a high level of competence in all language skills.
  3. Through written papers and oral presentations in advanced seminars and the optional senior thesis, the graduating seniors formulate a clear hypothesis, critically review the pertinent scholarly literature, interpret their readings and findings, and draw appropriate conclusions. As part of the process of critical thinking, students identify appropriate methods to pursue their analysis and articulate the theoretical bases of their study. With respect to creative work, students demonstrate their skills in the techniques of their chosen media by effectively communicating their creative vision and they accompany that work with a critical reflection that achieves the learning outcomes of the work in advanced seminars and the senior thesis.


  1. Demonstrate advanced research in primary and secondary sources.
  2. Evaluate and contextualize evidence in an appropriate historical framework.
  3. Synthesize a broad range of historical detail (names, dates, themes, documents and texts), and the present a clear argument in written and oral form.
  4. Execute an independent project involving sustained research and analysis, effective time management, and multiple rounds of writing and revision.


  1. Read, write and speak critically in Italian on Italian topics.
  2. Converse in Italian with native speakers.
  3. Be willing to understand different cultures.
  4. Understand themselves through encounter with another language (“acquire another soul”).
  5. Work in collaborative and communal ways.
  6. Apply their knowledge of Italian in professional settings or graduate school.

Mathematics and Statistics

  1. Demonstrates understanding of mathematical or statistical objects at an appropriate level, evidenced through stating definitions, developing properties, giving examples, manipulating, calculating, or reasoning with the object, and similar activities.
  2. Independently constructs complete and rigorous mathematical or statistical arguments.
  3. Effectively communicates mathematical or statistical insights and results in oral or written form.


  1. Demonstrate a solid, internal sense of rhythm and pitch.
  2. Demonstrate familiarity with and understanding of terminology and vocabulary as it relates to the history of musical style.
  3. Know how to identify and use appropriately both primary and secondary sources in music research.
  4. Be able to hear, analyze, and construct musical phrases that exemplify harmonic practice in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  5. Be conversant enough with voice or an instrument to be able to present a compelling performance, whether as a soloist or ensemble member.


  1. Writing with clarity on well structured and sustained lines of argument.
  2. Understanding the context of a given issue, text, or theory, which is the basis for generating a well grounded interpretation.
  3. Critical Reasoning, or the ability to readily identify the conceptual structure of a text, or argument, and to develop charitable interpretations.
  4. Developing a Position, which requires being able to explain and support its premises and to show sensitivity for potential objections.

Physics and Astronomy

  1. Be able to explain physical phenomena in the universe at large to a scientifically literate audience.
  2. Be able to critically apply principles of physics to solve questions about observed phenomena in the universe at large.

Political Science

  1. To discern the political: The ability to perceive politics and power as they manifest themselves in multiple sites (e.g., local, national, global, the media, education, architecture, and cinema) and through diverse processes (e.g., identity formation, social and community life, formal and informal institutions of law and governance at state and international levels).
  2. To define the political: The ability to conceptualize key phenomena in political inquiry (e.g., abjection, belonging, biopolitics, bodies, borders, bureaucracy, class, citizenship, colonialism, conflict, Congress, culture, diplomacy, disability, development, economy, environmental degradation and protection, equality, the Executive, gender, globalization, governmentality, health, human rights, fiscal crisis, ideology, institutions, international, the Judiciary, justice, leadership, markets, mapping, migration, memory, nation, nation-state, oppression, order, peace, patriarchy, power, race, rebellion, reproduction, revolution, reform, regimes, refugees, rights, security, settlement, social movements, sovereignty, states, statelessness, subaltern, sustainability, totalitarianism, technology, utopia, violence, war).
  3. To analyze the political: The capacity to draw on different modes of explaining and theorizing politics (e.g., social scientific study of causal patterns; statistical analysis of quantitative data; critical theoretical analysis of political structures, ideologies, and emancipatory politics; interpretive, qualitative study of political meanings and texts; deconstructive analysis of the production of political subjectivities through discursive power; and combinations of interdisciplinary approaches from across the liberal arts).
  4. To engage the political: The ability to contribute meaningfully to the political world through a variety of means (e.g., making one’s voice heard, expressing one’s considered judgments in public forums and private exchanges, questioning and persuasively challenging authority, learning to participate in receptive and deliberative exchanges, helping generate respectful consensus formation, contributing to strategic empowerment, and demonstrating hospitality towards differences).


  1. Engage in informed and reasoned analysis of the empirical and theoretical literature, discern the quality of research evidence, including the appropriateness of methodological and statistical approaches, and recognize the strengths, limitations, and implications of the research findings. Students should be able to articulate the central ideas and major approaches in psychology.
  2. Demonstrate clear and coherent communication of ideas that shows command of a given topic or sub-area in the field, integrates theories and relevant evidence, and appropriately utilizes conventions of the discipline (e.g., APA format), with appropriate consideration of diverse contexts and audiences. Students should be able to write a coherent research paper that follows scholarly conventions in psychology.
  3. Pose original research questions, generate testable hypotheses, design methodologically sound research proposals that build on existing scholarship, demonstrate effective quantitative reasoning, locate their work in the broader context of the discipline, and understand and apply the ethical guidelines of the field. Students should be able to state hypotheses, review literature, collect and analyze data, and draw appropriate conclusions.


  1. Convey a recognition of value of the study of religion through reading deeply and writing and speaking clearly about religion.
  2. Develop an awareness of and passion for their own educational project.
  3. Recognize the value of the study of religion.
  4. Consider multiple perspectives on religious experience and practice by Interpreting, engaging, conversing with and critically evaluating primary and secondary sources.
  5. Be conversant in a number of areas in the study of religion.
  6. Encounter religion as an unstable and capacious category.


  1. Sociology majors will be able to identify, explain, and apply relevant sociological theories to social phenomena.
  2. Sociology majors will be able to design an empirical study that is methodologically appropriate to its topic.
  3. Sociology majors will be able to produce a sustained, independent work of sociological research, analysis and writing.


Africana Studies

  1. Gain an understanding of the diversity of the Africana world.
  2. Develop a grasp of various Africana research traditions and methodologies.

American Studies

  1. Critically question and unsettle assumptions about identities, inequalities, and structures of power in the U.S., [such that they develop a framework for understanding their own and others’ experiences.]
  2. Locate their work within American Studies as a field, conveying their grasp of its history as well as its current concerns.
  3. Analyze and produce multidisciplinary [American Studies] work using a wide range of sources critically and creatively.
  4. Speak and listen effectively to each other; engage with each others’ ideas.
  5. Luxuriate in the privileges of intellectual life and reflect on their own place in the world.

Asian Studies

  1. Strength of critical thinking in articulating the central questions.
  2. Ability to employ interdisciplinary methodologies to support the arguments.
  3. Familiarity and knowledge with the region examined and/or the context of the issue studied.
  4. Originality
  5. Quality of the writing and thesis organization.


  1. Students will demonstrate understanding of the structure, chemical properties, function, and reactions of biomolecules and biopolymers.
  2. Students will properly use appropriate lab techniques and instrumentation to measure and analyze biomolecules.
  3. Students will effectively employ critical thinking and the scientific method to design, execute, and analyze the results of biochemical research.
  4. In oral presentation and in written papers, students will communicate information and ideas logically, convey information accurately, and demonstrate evidence of critical reasoning in an area of biochemical research.

Environmental Studies

  1. Demonstrate a multidisciplinary perspective on the natural environment including human interactions with and impacts on it.
  2. Synthesize diverse multidisciplinary knowledge to develop and implement research or other major projects.
  3. Communicate multidisciplinary knowledge through synthetic conclusions in reports that are accessible to specialists and/or non-specialists in both written and oral forms.

Independent Program

  1. Students will produce a thesis proposal that states the topic of the prospective project, spans at least two disciplines associated with the major, poses a clear research question to be addressed in the thesis proper, identifies preliminary primary/secondary sources, describes the method/methodology/research design-tools to be used, specifies the larger context to which the thesis will contribute, and make it clear how it will constitute an original contribution to the area of study.
  2. Students will produce a thesis that demonstrates proficiency of writing, addresses a clear question using primary/secondary sources and manifesting strong analytical skills, spans at least two disciplines associated with the major, employs an appropriate method/methodology/research design-tools, specifies the larger context to which the thesis will contribute, and makes an original contribution to the area of study.
  3. Students will give an oral presentation and defense of the thesis and be able to respond to questions from the Independent Committee, thesis advisors, and audience members in a way that demonstrates mastery of the topic.

International Studies

  1. Student employs effectively the tools of multidisciplinary analysis.
  2. Student demonstrates an ability to describe, problematize, analyze and/or otherwise engage with “the global.”

Jewish Studies Program

  1. Read Jewish texts critically, with close attention to texts in their historical and cultural contexts, and to the ways texts engage in dialogue with other texts.
  2. Demonstrate an awareness of the plurality of global Jewish cultures.
  3. Demonstrate skills for research in secondary sources in Jewish Studies, including engagement with theoretical approaches and disciplinary methodologies and application of protocols for integrating research into critical writing.
  4. Basic proficiency in one of the significant languages of Jews and Jewish history, ordinarily Hebrew or Yiddish.

Latin American and Latino/a Studies

  1. Student identifies and synthesizes multidisciplinary conceptual frameworks.
  2. Student constructs and supports an argument.

Media Studies

  1. Describe the material circuits of media production, distribution, reception and storage.
  2. Describe and interpret media objects and their signs, codes and rhetoric.
  3. Situate their specific inquiry in its deep historical and cultural context.
  4. Explain, justify their (senior?) work to their teachers and peers.
  5. Design and create media objects, both individually and collaboratively.

Medieval and Renaissance Studies

  1. Demonstrate command of the methodologies of two different fields of study.
  2. Conduct original research using primary sources.
  3. Construct persuasive, evidence-based arguments grounded in the historical and cultural contexts of the Middle Ages and/or Renaissance.

Neuroscience and Behavior

  1. Students demonstrate in written work and/or oral presentations integration of concepts from Psychology, Biology, and related fields. In this integration, there is an attention to levels of analysis including ultimate, evolutionary explanations and proximate explanations. Further, students incorporate a range of systems in their analyses.
  2. Students demonstrate critical analysis skills with highly technical and quantitative information.
  3. Students adhere to the rules of evidence and inference that govern scientific reasoning.

Science, Technology, and Society

  1. Students should be well grounded in basic introductory frameworks in several of the social and natural sciences.
  2. Students should understand many of the central theories and concepts in the field of Science and Technology Studies and be able to apply them to appropriate case studies.
  3. Students should develop strong written and analytic skills.
  4. Students should develop strong oral presentation skills.
  5. Students should be able to construct, support and defend an argument or thesis statement relevant to the multidisciplinary field of STS.

Self-Instructional Language Program

  1. Students develop an active oral command of the language in question to engage in primary discourses in a culturally appropriate manner.
  2. In languages with a script different from the Latin writing system, students acquire basic reading and writing skills of that script (e.g. Hindi, Korean, Yiddish).
  3. On the advanced level, students read literary texts and other print material and express themselves on various topics in writing.
  4. Students obtain independent study skills through supervised self-instruction.

Urban Studies

  1. Critically distinguish, apply and synthesize urban disciplines and methods.
  2. Produce maps, stories, images and design to convey knowledge about the urban.
  3. Understand the histories of urbanism, urbanization, and urban studies.
  4. Explain urban inequalities.
  5. Critically read the built environment
  6. Discover and cultivate an intellectual agenda.

Victorian Studies

  1. Students will demonstrate familiarity with and think critically about the culture and society of nineteenth-century Britain.
  2. Students will apply multidisciplinary methodologies and scholarship drawn from at least two disciplines to answer questions about Victorian Britain.
  3. Students will conduct research in primary and secondary sources and analyze multiple types of evidence in order to craft original arguments.

Women’s Studies

  1. Evaluate and apply key terms, texts, and theories in women’s, feminist, and queer studies.
  2. Identify and analyze intersections of gender with race, class, sexualities, abilities, and other categories of difference in a range of historical periods and transnational contexts.
  3. Make original evidence-based arguments and communicate them effectively both orally and in writing.
  4. Design and complete an interdisciplinary research or creative project that engages relevant theories and methods of analysis.