Student Learning Goals in Asian Studies

ASIANetwork member colleges approach the study of Asia in a variety of ways.  The discussion below focuses on programs that offer majors and minors in Asian Studies, including those with a narrower focus such as East Asia, China, or Japan.

A number of professional and non-profit organizations publish statements, rubrics, and guidelines on the creation and assessment of student goals.  Some are meant to apply to the undergraduate curriculum in general and others more specifically to language or interdisciplinary programs.  A list is provided at the end of this document along with a discussion of three related terms: learning goals, objectives and outcomes.

Student Learning Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes

Although most colleges and universities articulate unique goals for their students, they often use three terms interchangeably – Learning Goals, Learning Objectives, and Learning Outcomes. While Learning Goals and Learning Objectives describe the intentions of instructors in designing and teaching courses, Learning Outcomes assess student progress toward those goals and objectives. 

Language, Culture, and Study Abroad

The foundation of most Asian Studies programs at ASIANetwork institutions includes language, culture, and study abroad. The language portion of such programs typically follows The American Center on the Teaching of Foreign Languages guidelines and sometimes exists separately from the Asian Studies program, even as a stand-alone language major, most often in Chinese or Japanese. More integrated programs can include language as a student goal set in a broader context of an area studies program.

Skills-Based Goals

Some ASIANetwork colleges describe goals as specific skills students will develop, such as the development of critical thinking and independent research abilities in analyzing scholarly works and documents in Asian Studies.

Capstone Experience

Another approach emphasizes a senior capstone experience and the learning goals it requires, such as language proficiency and cultural knowledge, and use of primary textual and visual sources

Interdisciplinary Learning within the Liberal Arts

Programs may highlight their teaching and learning as exemplary of the liberal arts. Students may be expected to become proficient in more than one academic discipline and to apply these perspectives using a comparative theme or an in-depth focus on a country or region. In addition to disciplinary study, these learning goals may include thinking comparatively and engaging with more than one Asian tradition.

Samples of Program Learning Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes

Allegheny College

Chinese Studies Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete a minor in Chinese Studies will:

  1. Understand the evolution of the culture, history, military, thoughts, and institutions of China;
  2. Become aware of the Chinese historical experience and perspective in the modern global political-economic context;
  3. Grasp the most recent trends in contemporary Chinese development as well as major directions in the field of Chinese Studies;
  4. Develop critical thinking and writing skills and research tools through interdisciplinary approaches;
  5. Be exposed to a wide range of language clubs, study abroad programs, Chinese festivities, and international internship opportunities.
Berea College

Asian Studies Student Learning Goals and Outcomes

Learning Goal 1: Broaden Understanding

  • Develops an understanding of the geography of Asia.
  • Learns the foundational themes of Asian cultures in their historical and contemporary contexts.

Learning Goal 2: Apply Knowledge and Skills

  • Gains critical thinking skills to develop an informed perspective on Asia’s place in world history and contemporary global relations.
  • Develops the skills to gather information, draw thoughtful conclusions from that information, and articulately communicate those conclusions according to the standards of professional academics.
Bowdoin College

Asian Studies Learning Goals

  1. Learn about the language, literature, religion, visual culture, gender relations, history, and politics of a non-Western region and cultivate alternative perspectives on globalization;
  2. Develop a broad historical and cross-regional understanding of Asia;
  3. Demonstrate basic proficiency in an East Asian language consistent with two years of academic study at Bowdoin; for South Asia majors, this expectation is met by intensive language study for one semester in an approved study-away program;
  4. Read primary texts critically and situate them in their historical, social, cultural, and political contexts, as well as interrogate key assumptions in secondary texts and provide informed responses and critiques;
  5. Write analytical arguments and speak clearly and articulately about Asia and its diaspora; and
  6. Conduct independent research using primary and secondary sources, applying theories and methods developed within the discipline or field.
Bryn Mawr and Haverford Bi-College Program

East Asian Languages and Cultures Learning Goals

  1. Laying the foundations for proficiency in Japanese or Chinese language and culture.
  2. Gaining broad knowledge of the East Asian cultural sphere across time and in its global context.
  3. Becoming familiar with basic bibliographic skills and protocols; learning how to identify, evaluate, and interpret primary textual and visual sources.
  4. Embarking on and completing a major independent research project that pulls together past coursework, taking the knowledge and skills gained to a new level to demonstrate mastery of a particular aspect of East Asian culture.
Bucknell University

East Asian Studies Learning Goals

  1. Demonstrate a working knowledge of the history of Japan, China or Korea, and their basic chronologies.
  2. Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of contemporary culture of their country of concentration, informed by the unique mix of academic disciplines in each student’s curriculum.
  3. Discern major issues of cross-regional social, historical, or cultural importance.
  4. Present ideas coherently in speech in the language of concentration.
  5. Present ideas coherently in writing in the language of concentration.
  6. Read basic fiction and non-fiction and be able to converse confidently about topics related to those materials.
  7. Understand Japanese or Chinese spoken at a natural speed.
Illinois Wesleyan

International Studies Learning Outcome Goals 

  1. Understand the effects of globalization on political structures, patterns of economic insecurity, and cultural life around the world;
  2. Comprehend how macro and micro-level policies affect life in societies other than the student’s own;
  3. Understand how people use literature, art and music to convey ideas, represent their unique identities, and affect change;
  4. Demonstrate in-depth understanding of at least one cultural region;
  5. Recognize the most current theories of globalization, modernity, and identity that inform the emerging field of international studies;
  6. Be able to develop researchable questions in international issues and conduct rigorous and appropriate research to answer these questions;
  7. Have the intellectual independence to think critically, to assess the beliefs and actions of others as well as themselves objectively, and to arrive at well thought views on issues related to world development;
  8. Acknowledge and respect the variety of knowledge systems at work in the world;
  9. Be able to interact confidently and sensitively with people of different cultural backgrounds;
  10. Strive to be an active and engaged global citizen
John Carroll University
  1. Demonstrate second year language proficiency (minimum) of an Asia language.  
  2. Identify common elements of the Asia region as well as differences within the region based on society and culture.
  3. Analyze East Asian society from at least three disciplinary perspectives (including, but not limited to anthropology, art history, economics, history, literature and the arts, political science, religious studies, and sociology).
  4. Understand the role of artists, the arts and the artistic impulse in society and recognize how culture, history, politics, religion, philosophy, science and technology influence art and how art influences culture, history, politics, religion, philosophy, science and technology. 
  5. Articulate the political, economic, and sociocultural relationships among Asian nations and between Asia and other regions.  
Lake Forest College

Asian Studies Major Student Learning Outcomes

  1. demonstrate an appreciation and respect for the social and political complexity and cultural diversity of Asia.
  2. demonstrate a concrete understanding of Asia’s place in the contemporary world.
  3. be able to command basic language skills in reading and interpreting one of the classic Asian languages.
  4. demonstrate critical thinking and independent research abilities in analyzing scholarly works and documents in Asian Studies.
Lewis & Clark College

Asian Studies Learning Outcomes

  • Gain breadth of understanding of historical and contemporary Asia and the major cross-regional issues.
  • Demonstrate depth of understanding in the arts, history, religions, politics, economics, literature or social/cultural practices of one Asian country through study of primary and secondary texts, living and learning abroad, and developing proficiency in the relevant language.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with the approach and fundamentals of the methodology and theoretical paradigms associated with the relevant disciplinary approach.
  • Deploy critical research skills and analytical understanding in a rigorous capstone project that involves applying relevant methodological and theoretical approaches to original research conducted by the student.
Maryville College

International Studies Program

  • Develop a global perspective and employ it in an overseas experience
  • Demonstrate sensitivity and responsiveness to the needs of persons of other cultures during an overseas experience and those present in the United States
  • Analyze foreign culture incorporating the analytical tools of social sciences, humanities and the fine arts
  • Analyze international and cross-cultural problems and apply this knowledge during an overseas experience
  • Employ a foreign language or English dialect in an overseas experience
Monmouth College

International Studies Major 

  • Master the conceptual and analytical tools necessary to analyze and comprehend the interconnected, globalized world of the 21st century
  • Be fluent in one world language
  • Be transdisciplinary
  • Demonstrate a strong interest and appreciation of different cultural perspectives and worldviews
  • Comprehend the major issues in modern global history and international politics
  • Possess excellent research, writing and communication skills
North Central College

East Asian Studies Learning Outcomes

  1. Be able to compare at least two different countries/regions in East Asia.
  2. Be able to describe cultural values and characteristics of a particular East Asian nation.
  3. Be able to describe social and/or economic changes in East Asia and their consequences.
Pomona College

Asian Studies Learning Objectives

  • Familiarity with an Asian culture gained through a direct experience of living and learning in it that is evidenced by the record of study abroad (time spent in country, grades, and credit hours passed).
  • Proficiency in an Asian language at an intermediate level or above measured by standardized achievement tests for the target language (where available). The purpose is to allow the individual to access and participate in the subjective self-understanding of an Asian culture.
  • Academic knowledge of an Asian culture that spans more than one disciplinary perspective, indicated by the distribution courses passed in the major and by what is evident to thesis readers. The underlying objective is to engender holistic knowledge of the culture of at least a part of Asia.
  • The ability to carry out a self-designed research program grounded in academic literature. To help students succeed, we offer a two-semester thesis seminar: the first semester has students deciding on a research topic, compiling a bibliography, reading the pertinent literature, and composing a research question, tentative outline and research schedule; the second semester has students writing the thesis in individual consultation with two faculty members. Two faculty readers will assess the senior thesis for rigor, originality, and attention to detail chiefly in such matters as coherence, academic relevance, and style. We believe the ability to pursue a personal intellectual agenda relating to Asia with academic rigor and a holistic perspective is a core pedagogical objective of the major.
Seattle University

Asian Studies Learning Outcomes

Students are able to acquire and demonstrate a basic understanding of the meaning of “Asia” in its relations to the world through various disciplinary frameworks, approaches, and perspectives from the humanities and social sciences.

Students are able to acquire basic proficiency in an Asian language through two years of college-level study as measured by the following criteria consistent with the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines at this level:

  • Listening: Engage in listening tasks such as understanding highly contextualized messages and information conveyed in simple speeches on familiar or everyday topics
  • Reading: Understand information conveyed in simple, predictable, loosely connected texts and start to have the basic knowledge in vocabulary and grammar to get information from more organized discourses on subjects beyond everyday and social topics
  • Speaking: Converse about familiar topics on everyday life with learned material and handle frequently seen survival situations with sentence-level language that can be understood by interlocutors who are accustomed to speeches produced by non-native learners at this level
  • Writing: Meet practical writing needs, such as simple messages and personal letters, have the ability to produce simple discourses for descriptive or expository purposes, and have basic knowledge in applying rhetorical devices to express meaning that is comprehensible to those accustomed to the writing of non-natives

Students are able to use library databases and other sources to find appropriate information and evaluate critically the probable quality of sources about Asia.

 Students are able to critically interpret and analyze important issues related to societies and sub-regions of Asia through discipline-appropriate languages and methods.

Students are able to carry out a research project grounded in scholarly literature of appropriate disciplines as measured by successful completion of a senior capstone paper:

  • Outline, conduct, organize, and critically and creatively articulate appropriate analysis of the chosen subject
  • Use English (and an Asian language) to access primary or secondary sources for the research project
  • Communicate the analysis and research findings in discipline-appropriate writing and an oral presentation

Asian Studies Learning Goals

Goal 1. Through multi-disciplinary curricular work, students will encounter in a substantive way the patterns of cultural life of a specific Asian culture as well as more general exposure to Asia as a whole. Students will develop the skills to act both sensitively and confidently within an Asian culture.

Goal 2. Students will develop foundations for proficiency in an Asian language as a foreign language to enable them to communicate within the context of an Asian culture. This opens the doors to a cognitive engagement with another culture.

Goal 3. Students will prepare for an interconnected world in which the communities, cultures, countries, and economies in Asia play increasingly central roles. The program prepares students to understand the mutually constituted nature of the past and the present.

Goal 4. Students will develop intellectual skills through extended exposure to different cultural systems and the awareness of similarities and differences that comparison stimulates. Students will be able to understand the value of cultural difference, while deepening awareness of the complexity of cross-cultural judgments/critique with respect to ethics and justice, power and privilege. Comparison also yields an ability to interrogate different points of view on matters of significance within the area of study.

Goal 5. The Asian Studies program cultivates an awareness of how disciplinary perspectives shape our understanding through exploring fields of inquiry such as the arts, history, language and literature, politics, philosophy, religion, and sociology. The program encourages students to develop skills in interdisciplinary research and writing focused on the complexity, diversity, and interconnectedness revealed when multiple disciplinary perspectives are conjoined.

Smith College

East Asian Studies Program Learning Objectives 

Knowledge Areas

  • Develop a multidimensional understanding of the arts, beliefs, societies and traditions, including a historical dimension, of either one East Asian country or of a specific theme across East Asia as a region.
  • Achieve some awareness both of the particularity and the complexity of different East Asian cultures and societies and of historical and contemporary continuities within the region.
  • Develop a basic understanding of one East Asian culture through the logic of its principal language, as well as through a study of thought, history, society and arts.
  • Demonstrate a broader understanding of contemporary social, political, economic, and cultural developments and themes that are shaping and defining the region.
  • Achieve some experiential understanding of aspects of the culture and language of study.
  • Achieve some acquaintance with the approaches and fundamentals of methodologies associated with the social sciences and humanities.

Skills of Expression and Communication

  • At a minimum, achieve conversational competence as well as ability to read and write at the second-year level of an East Asian language.
  • Be able to express complex ideas and articulate arguments clearly in English, orally and in writing.
  • Apprehend complex thoughts and arguments presented by others in English, both orally and in writing.
  • Communicate in relevant and respectful ways in an academic environment.

Skills of Inquiry and Analysis

  • Explore analytically a text, argument, or social phenomenon in their field.
  • Integrate general and specialized knowledge to ask productive questions and solve problems in their field.
  • Design and carry out an independent, thesis-driven research project (the seminar).
  • Locate and use secondary sources judiciously in research in their field.

Asian Studies Learning Goals

  1. Interdisciplinary breadth. The student must have mastered more than one academic discipline, to be able to speak to issues/ themes of their research on topics rooted in Asian traditions/regions from more than one disciplinary perspective;
  2. Comparative Scope. The student must know in some depth more than one region in Asia; though they may focus, for instance, primarily on studies in Chinese traditions, pre-modern or modern, the student must also be able to think comparatively, and engage with more than one Asian tradition in regard to the topics/ themes that are central to their main region-specific research;
  3. Depth of Knowledge in One Tradition. If the student’s research project is fundamentally trans-national or trans-regional, they should know at least one Asian tradition with depth and detail, including knowledge of language (see below);
  4. The Past, the Present, and the Future. The student should be aware of modern/contemporary or pre-modern formations (depending upon the student’s scholarly focus) within the Asian traditions they study, with the idea that one cannot never really understand the present without more than cursory knowledge of the past, and also that one cannot study the past without a scholarly awareness of the present forms of political, economic, social, environmental, or religious formations at the center of a student’s project in Asian Studies;
  5. Languages and Language Study. The student majoring in Asian Studies should demonstrate advanced knowledge of at least one Asian language central to the region/tradition that is the focus of their academic work.
Trinity University

East Asian Studies Student Goals and Learning Outcomes

Goal 1: To provide students enrolled in the EAST program instruction in one or more East Asian languages.

  • Learning Outcome 1.1: Graduates with the Chinese Studies major will demonstrate advanced proficiency in the four skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) of modern standard Chinese.
  • Learning Outcome 1.2: Students who major or minor in the EAST program will have the opportunity to study other East Asian languages.

Goal 2. To provide students an opportunity to directly experience and develop an in-depth understanding of East Asian culture through faculty-led study abroad programs.

  • Learning Outcome 2.1: Students will demonstrate attainment of an appropriate level of culture competence.
  • Learning Outcome 2.2 Students who participate in a study abroad program will be able to communicate and interact effectively with the host community.

 East Asian Studies Program Goal and Objectives

Goal 3: To provide students who major or minor in the EAST Program appropriate coursework that will enable them to pursue careers in the areas of their choice.

  • Objective 3.1: Graduates will be satisfied with the curricular offerings.
  • Objective 3.2:Students wishing to enter the workforce will be able to obtain employment after graduation.
Warren Wilson College

Global Studies Program Learning Goals

  1. To help students develop an integrated understanding of global issues from a multidisciplinary perspective.
  2. To provide opportunities for students to engage with a culture outside their own.
  3. To provide students with the tools needed to critically examine their own local and regional culture and how it is shaped by an increasingly globalized society.
  4. To prepare students for a globalized world through the study of a language other than English.
  5. To provide students with research and writing skills that promote critical thought and the effective communication of ideas.
Whitman College

Asian Studies Learning Goals

Major-Specific Areas of Knowledge

  • Identify and interpret important ideas, assumptions, and debates that are central to the study of Asia and the Middle East.
  • Develop an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and engaging in discussions about issues in the field of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

Accessing Academic Community/Resources

  • Comprehend, digest, and analyze scholarly works with attention to the author’s thesis, methodology, structure of argument and use of evidence.

Critical Thinking

  • Develop skills of critical analysis that are broadly transferable.
  • Analyze issues with a variety of tools and approaches from a range of disciplines

Research Experience

  • Conduct a substantial academic inquiry about a focused research question, demonstrating a depth of understanding of a research area, the mastery of relevant methods, and a capacity to generate substantive results in the form of a senior thesis.
Willamette University

Asian Studies Student Learning Outcomes 

  1. To develop interdisciplinary knowledge of at least one Asian culture as measured by a record of study abroad experiences and the interdisciplinary variety of courses taken for the major
  2. To acquire basic proficiency in an Asian language consistent with at least two years of academic study as measured by the category of “competent” in the foreign language rubrics. This means that:
  • Students are able to listen and understand the main ideas of connected discourse on familiar topics. [listening]
  • Students are able to speak to satisfy the requirements of everyday life; students are able to initiate and sustain basic communicative tasks. [speaking]
  • Students are able to read prose of several paragraphs designed for the general reader. [reading]
  • Students are able to write routine social correspondence and join sentences in simple discourse of several paragraphs in length on familiar topics. The writing is understandable to natives not used to the writing of non-natives. [writing]

3. To undertake a program of study abroad in Asia

  • To carry out a self-designed research project grounded in the scholarly literature of the field as measured by the completion of a successful senior seminar paper read by at least two cooperating faculty members.

We expect students to be able to:

  • Choose an appropriately interdisciplinary topic in order to demonstrate their understanding of Asia.
  • Use an Asian Language to access primary or secondary sources written in the target language for their senior projects.
  • Demonstrate their accomplished writing skills defined by Willamette University’s Writing Rubrics.