Latin American Area Studies

2005-06 Report

1. Assessment of the discipline as a whole:

     a. Who is the person responsible for program assessment, data

        gathering and analysis in your discipline?

            Donna Chollett

     b. What are the stated goals of your discipline?

            The objectives of the Latin American Area Studies program are:

     c. How do you assess whether your discipline is achieving its goals?

         All students must complete and submit a series of assessment documents that are kept in a permanent file (see below).  These are reviewed by the discipline coordinator for quality and reflection of the disciplinary goals.  In 2005, an exit survey was added as a new instrument to track whether students' learning objectives were met.  These are retained on file.

Basically, the NCA wants to know if you're learning anything. Towards that end each student enrolled in LAAS will need to do and/or provide the following:

(1)      At the completion of each unit of LAAS 3100, in addition to handing in your journal, prepare a separate typed list of the essays you read.  A typical entry would read "Geog Area:  Mexico; Source:  Proceso (19 May 1999); Subject:  PAN and Sonora elections.  If you made an oral report, please place an asterisk at beginning of item, e.g., "*GeogŠ"

(2)       For the final semester you're enrolled in LAAS 3100, your journal will not be returned, but retained as an example of the level of sophistication you've achieved.

(3)       Your final take home exam for Hist 1601 will be retained.

(4)       The list of topics developed for LAAS 4101, and the final list of topics and books read on those topics you've selected, will be typed up and submitted.

(1)      Maintain a cumulative list of those periodical and reference sources used in preparing LAAS assignments.  This list might well begin with those examined in LAAS 3201.  To be submitted prior to graduation.

(2)       Maintain a cumulative list of Internet sites searched in preparing LAAS assignments.  Due prior to graduation.

(3)       Submit a list of all courses taken for LAAS major.  List should demonstrate that courses have been taken in 3 or more disciplines.

(4)      If you have had one or more study abroad experiences in Latin America or internships working with US based Hispanics, please prepare a brief (not more than 1 page) description of that experience and relate how it enhanced your "understanding of Latin America and its diverse peoples."

(1)       Prior to graduation make sure an up-to-date APAS is filed with the LAAS coordinator.  This will demonstrate your course work which provides a basis for comparisons.

(2)       Same as No. 4 under Objective 2, but add comments on how your frame(s) of

comparison have deepened your understanding and on how your ability to empathize with Latin Americans has been enhanced.

(3)       Same as No. 2 under Objective 1.

In addition to the above, we'll need to maintain a number of lists (probably will be updated at the end of each semester):

(1)       UROPs and MAPs relating to Latin America undertaken by LAAS majors.

(2)       LAAS student presentations relating to major.

(3)       Honors and awards won by LAAS majors relative to major.

(4)      LAAS majors participation in discipline related study abroad experiences or internships.

     d. Has your discipline modified it's curriculum and/or teaching as a result of your assessment results, and if so, how?

The basic curriculum requirements remain the same, as they have worked quit well in preparing students to meet the stated objectives.  The LAAS major has experienced a transition, however.  I (Donna Chollett) assumed the coordinator position in the fall of 2001.  Our interdisciplinary major is strengthened by the hiring of new faculty and broadening of our course offerings.  We now have 12 faculty who teach LAAS-related courses in six different disciplines.  This allows us to offer a variety of elective courses, while it provides role models from a wide diversity of backgrounds.  These additions have greatly enriched our course offerings.  In 2005, we implemented an exit survey to assess students' assessments on their growth and acquisition of knowledge regarding Latin America.  We expect also to place more emphasis on encouraging study abroad for our LAAS majors.   

2. Assessment of your upper level seminar/capstone project or course:

     a.  What are your goals for this course?

The primary goal of our Senior Tutorial (LAAS 4101) is to round out the student's preparation in Latin American Area Studies by involving them in reading and research on previously unstudied or understudied geographical areas.  Students identify those areas they have not studied and undertake readings of book-length works in each of these areas.

     b.  How do you measure whether a student has achieved these goals?

Students submit a written report that is evaluated by the instructor.  Because this is a tutorial, the instructor and student work closely together, providing ample opportunity for assessment of the student's progress.  All of the above-identified materials are on file in my office. 

For academic year 2005-06, we graduated four students as LAAS majors.  Their exit surveys reveal the following data:

         Spanish – 2

         Anthropology – 2


1.  Please state briefly why you chose to major in LAAS: 

         -previous life-changing experiences in Latin America, desire to broaden horizons

         -interest, advisor recommended

         -love Latin America, wanted to learn more, great complement to anthropology         major, desire to do research in Latin America

         -supplemented Spanish major, allows many choices


2.  Please rate how much you learned about Latin America based on classes taken as an LAAS major:


         1)  much more than I expected       3 ("definitely more than I expected")

         2)  what I expected                         1

         3)  less than I expected


3.  How helpful were the LAAS faculty in enriching your learning about Latin America?


         1)  very helpful                      4

         2)  helpful

         3)  not very helpful


4.  How would you evaluate our overall program?


         1)  excellent                                    3 ("the program incorporates so many aspects

                                                      of Latin America, and the requirements are       

                                                      very helpful in obtaining an informed view of

                                                      Latin America")

         2)  average                            1

         3)  poor


5.  What improvements would you suggest?

         -more classes that apply toward the major

         -include involvement in L.A. community (Minneapolis, Wilmar), a more in-depth       contemporary L.A. course

         -getting articles back after Contemporary Latin America

         -more equal coverage of all Latin American countries


6.  What are your plans after graduation (work, graduate school, internship, etc.)? Please be as specific as you can.


Grad School                                             1

Field School in Guatemala                         1

Look for job                                     1




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