Humanities & Social Sciences - Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University

H&SS Learning Objectives Samples

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36-149 The Statistics of the Gay and Lesbian Population (Michele DiPietro)

Upon successful completion of the course, you should be able to:

  • List and discuss statistical and foundational issues that impact research on LGBT topics.
  • Discuss features and limitation of various sampling procedures and research methodologies.
  • Perform simple calculations and statistical analysis.
  • Represent simple data in the appropriate graphical form.
  • Interpret statistical output in terms of the original research question.
  • Do library research using print and online resources as appropriate.
  • Evaluate the content of research and popular press articles, and websites by combining all the previous skills.
  • Draw informed conclusions that reflect an understanding of multiple (and sometimes conflicting) sources of information.
  • Communicate orally and in writing your knowledge, thoughts and positions about scientific LGBT issues.

36-309/749 Experimental Design of Behavioral and Social Sciences (Howard Seltman)

To learn how to design and experimental study, carry out an appropriate statistical analysis of the data, and properly interpret and communicate the analyses.

48-240, 79-227 History of World Architecture (Diane Shaw)

In addition to establishing the basic chronological and stylistic evolution of architecture, the class will also be examining the variety of factors that influenced the design of key buildings.  Throughout the class we should keep asking ourselves, “why did this building look the way it did?” and keep discovering that there are a multitude of factors that explain the creation and evolution to the built environment.
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Identify the hallmarks of and rationales behind a variety of world architectures
  • Make educated deductions why, when or how buildings or sites were designed that way
  • Identify and explain different types of urban plans and relationship to buildings
  • Correctly use the basic vocabulary of architecture and architectural history to develop skills of description and analysis
  • Cultivate a base of historical literacy that will permit the student to undertake more intensive study in upper level courses

48-343, 79-471 American Built Environment Since 1850: City and Suburb (Diane Shaw)

In addition to establishing the basic chronological and stylistic evolution of American architecture, the class will be examining the variety of forms and the variety of factors that influenced the design of buildings and communities.

By the end of the course, student should be able to:

  • Identify building types and styles of architecture and settlements (urban, suburban, rural).
  • Identify and understand the significance of gender, race, and class on architecture.
  • Identify and understand the evolution and influence of building materials and technologies.
  • Be able to apply all of the above categories in an analysis in “unknown” sites and make educated deductions why buildings and sites were designed in the way they were.
  • Develop skills of critical analysis, historical research, and writing.

76-101E Interpretation & Argument
Communication Globally: The World Is Your Audience (Hilary Franklin)

I hope the course readings on language in different contexts are interesting to you and will make you think about how you communicate in the 76-101 classroom and beyond.  At a minimum, however, the course readings provide the topics on which you’ll hone your analytic and writing skills.  The following objectives emphasize the connection between perceptive analysis and effective writing:

  • Articulate the thesis of each reading in the same way that you must articulate the thesis in your own written work.
  • Analyze the selection and effectiveness of support from other sources in the course readings, and support your own ideas by drawing on course readings and other approved sources.
  • Describe and analyze different types of organization in the readings—from transition sentences to introductions and conclusions—and compare these with the organization you use in your own written work.
  • Analyze the readings in terms of the common aspects that determine genre, such as purpose and audience, and consider these aspects in your own written work.
  • Practice analysis in oral and written form through class discussions, group work, and individual conferences.
  • Provide constructive feedback to your peers on their written work, and address issues identified by your instructor and peers when revising your own written work.
  • Correctly use MLA style (or, with permission, the preferred citation style of your college or department).
  • Use standard written English’s conventions or grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Format your written work according to font, margin, and other specifications given in assignment guidelines.

76-271 Introduction to Professional and Technical Writing (James Wynn)

This course is designed to prepare you for professional writing experiences.  By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Identify the primary and secondary audience(s) of a text.
  • Craft texts which take into consideration the needs of your primary audience(s).
  • Write in an array of genres for a variety of purposes.
  • Identify different rhetorical strategies and appeals in the writing of others.
  • Use various rhetorical strategies and appeals to make arguments in your own writing.
  • Appreciate the requirements and limitations placed on different types of writing by their unique rhetorical situations.
  • Craft texts which consider the requirements and limitations of their unique rhetorical situations.

76-476/876 Rhetoric of Science (James Wynn)

The course was designed as a research seminar, which means that you will develop a research interest and pursue that interest in a final research paper. To this end, you will learn how to analyze the persuasive mechanisms of a scientific text or activity, as well as how to place ideas and arguments in a social, historical, and intellectual context.  The course assignments are designed as installments leading up to the final paper.

79-201 Introduction to Anthropology (Marie Norman)

By the end of the semester, you should have gained the ability to:

  • Recognize and challenge ethnocentric assumptions
  • Apply core anthropological principles
  • Critically discuss anthropological fieldwork methods and approaches
  • Read anthropological writing critically and analytically
  • Make and support anthropological arguments
  • Interpret the function and meaning of beliefs and behaviors in your own and other cultures

79/88-202 History of Public Policy in the United States (Jay Aronson)

  • Describe past public policy debates in the United States that exemplify a broad range of historical and contemporary concerns.
  • Analyze these debates using theoretical frameworks provided in class.
  • Describe some aspects of the expansion and contraction of federal intervention in social and economic life over the pas 200-plus years, and evaluate arguments for and against these actions.
  • Critically apply the lessons learned in this class to other history and SDS courses.
  • Advocate for particular policy choices using the knowledge and skills gained in this course.

79-212 Disastrous Encounters: Technology & the Environment in Global Historical Context (Vagel Keller)

By the end of the class students will be able to:

  • Explain the scientific principles behind “natural” disasters, including cyclonic weather, global climate change, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, river flooding, famines, and diseases.
  • Analyze to what extent a given disaster is in fact “natural” at all, but rather was either caused by or exacerbated by human actions.
  • Draw connections between different types of disasters, recognizing that major disaster often produce predictable secondary disaster effects.
  • Write strong analytical essays.
  • Read documents critically, especially in terms of the author’s agenda and the author’s likely biases.

79-263 Energy and the Environment in the Americas (John Soluri)

Students should be able to:

  • Describe broad trends in energy use over time.
  • Identify variations in energy use based on region and socio-economic status.
  • Identify specific environmental “costs” associated with different forms of energy.
  • Analyze the historical forces that caused shifts in energy production and consumption.
  • Analyze and synthesize scholarly writing focused on energy and the environment.

79-276 North of the Border: Mexican Immigration Past and Present (Susan Ambrose)

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Discuss in detail why Mexican immigrants cross significant cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries to migrate to the United States (based on international migration theory and the perspectives of authors we read in the course)
  • Discuss how the history between the United States and Mexico (from 1821) has impacted and continues to impact Mexican immigration and responses to it
  • Identify recent trends (post-1965) in Mexican migration to the U.S. (including patterns of migration and new destinations), the reasons behind these trends, and the potential impact of this information on policy decisions
  • Articulate and debunk some of the common myths about Mexican immigration
  • Compare and contrast the impact of migration on both the sending and receiving communities
  • Define and discuss agency (i.e., degree of self-determination) as it relates to Mexican migrants
  • Discuss reactions to Mexican immigration and the reasons behind the respective reactions
  • Discuss the phenomenon of return migration and its potential impact on policy decisions

79-289 Development and Democracy in Latin America (John Soluri)

  • Analyze changes and continuities in the discourses, institutions, and practices of Latin American societies.
  • Identify both broad patterns and regional variations within Latin America.
  • Foster an ability to think theoretically and historically about the concepts of “democracy” and “development.”
  • Develop capacity to read, analyze, and synthesize arguments in both primary and secondary sources and articulate them in writing and conversation.

79-312 Medical Anthropology (Marie Norman)

With a reasonable effort on your part, by the end of thesemester you should be able to:

  • Explain how health and illness are socially constructed, bycomparing and contrasting the ways in which different cultures conceptualizethe body, perceive the human life cycle, and explain and treat illness.
  • Identify and describe the three basic etiological systemsand assess each in terms of different dimensions of medical efficacy.
  • Discuss the ways in which culture and belief affect thelived experience of illness.
  • Discuss the concept of culture-bound syndromes and theproblems of comparing illnesses across cultures.
  • Describe the training, social status, and behavior ofhealers in different cultures.
  • Discuss the ways in which medical knowledge and practiceoperate within local and global power structures
  • Explore your own interests within medical anthropology, vialimited library research
  • Apply medical anthropological perspectives to issues ofpopular and personal interest.

79-342 Introduction to Science and Technology Studies (Jay Aronson)

To provide students with the theoretical framework necessary to analyze contemporary issues and debates at the intersection of science, technology, and society.

  • The Production of Scientific and Technical Knowledge
  • Articulate the theory of knowledge production taught to science students and the general public by practicing scientists (i.e., the textbook version).
  • Explain the production of knowledge using various STS frameworks.
  • Apply these frameworks to analysis of knowledge not discussed in class.


  • Describe, in STS terms, why objectivity is a social phenomenon rather than an inherent property on knowledge or individuals.
  • Explain the utility of objectivity in modern society.
  • Analyze claims of objectivity made in scientific and political contexts.

Scientific Authority

  • Describe, in STS terms, why authority is a social phenomenon rather than an inherent property of individuals.
  • Analyze claims to authority made by various social actors—how are they made, what social and cultural resources are deployed, how are they contested, and when are they successful or unsuccessful?

The Relationship between S&T and Society

  • Explain the shortcoming of the notion and S&T and society are mutually exclusive and exist in separate spheres.
  • Describe the concept of “boundary work” and explain why it is useful in understanding common conceptions of the relationship between S&T and society.
  • Explain, in plain English, what it means for science and society to be “mutually constitutive”
  • Describe how this is different from saying that science and society “mutually influence one another” or “evolve together”
  • Evaluate these views and determine which one (or which combination of theories) is the best fit for the world we live in today. Don’t just argue from opinion—provide convincing evidence to back up your claim.

Science, Technology, and Power

  • Explain the various ways that S&T are political and answer the questions “can science ever be non-political?”
  • Articulate the relationship between S&T and race and gender.
  • Describe the relationship between S&T and the government in STS terms
  • Explain how governments uses science to make and/or justify decisions
  • Articulate how this description differs from those commonly offered by scientist and decision makers.

The Value of STS

  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of STS approaches in analyzing contemporary scientific and social debates such as climate change, stem cell research, and nanotechnology (to name just a few).
  • Evaluate the extent to which this course has changed your understanding of science, technology, and society. If your thinking has changed a great deal, explain how. If you still feel the same way about S&T as you did before taking this class, explain why the perspectives presented in this class are wrong either theoretically or empirically.

79-389 Caribbean Cultures (Shawn Alfonso Wells)

Upon completion of the course students should specifically be able to:

  • Recall and identify countries and specific culture groups in the Caribbean.
  • Describe and define terminology specific to studied Culture areas in the Caribbean.
  • Explain the color classification and stratification in Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad.
  • Articulate the socio-historical causes and results of classification and stratification in the Caribbean Region.
  • Compare economic and social structures.
  • Criticize theories in Caribbean Studies.
  • Write a final paper in which the information from the course is synthesized and argued in the context of your individual fieldwork and research.

82-141 Elementary Spanish I (Candace Skibba)

By the end of the course students should be able to perform a variety of communicative functions with a novice level of accuracy and fluency.  Some of these functions include:

  • Introducing oneself appropriately with different levels of formality according to the situation.
  • Talking about daily routines and educational experience.
  • Describing family relationships and members.
  • Communicating about preferences, likes and dislikes.
  • Participating in a situation where items are bought or exchanged.
  • Describing and ordering food.
  • Talking about celebrations and personal relationships.

Students will learn about some of the different practices, beliefs and attitudes that characterize Spanish-speaking cultures and contrast them with English-Speaking cultures.

82-345 Migration and exile: economic and political movement of people (Mariana Achugar)

Students should be able to:

  • Identify, describe and explain different positions/perspectives in the immigration debate through reading and analyzing a variety of texts, visual and musical artifacts.
  • Use and improve their Spanish language competencies in different in and out of class contexts.
  • Carry out fieldwork and library research to write a report synthesizing information collected.
  • Articulate in oral and written form their position on immigration.

82-480/880 Social and Cognitive Aspects of Bilingualism (Mariana Achugar)

Students should be able to:

  • Define societal and individual bilingualism acknowledging the complexity of these phenomena.
  • Briefly explain some of the issues related to bilingualism at the macro-social and micro-social level.
  • Describe bilingual language use in a particular situation in socio-pragmatic and linguistic terms.
  • Identify some of the social and cognitive factors that influence bilingual language acquisition.
  • Explore through reading a particular case study how bilingualism at the community and individual level influence each other
  • Write a book review summarizing the main ideas of a case study for the rest of the class.
  • Investigate some of the opportunities and challenges of bilingualism in particular communities and/or individuals by researching them in newspapers, journals and community based projects.
  • Explore in depth a particular topic related to bilingualism in individuals or communities by doing a synthesis review of the relevant literature and providing a critique and justification of the importance of the topic in relation to a particular concrete example.