According to the American Philological Association, the principal professional organization of Classical scholars and teachers in the United States, there are four main goals for undergraduate Classics programs:
- To provide all students, regardless of their field of study, with a basic knowledge of Greek and Roman civilizations and their Mediterranean context.
- To give students a deeper knowledge of ancient languages and civilization in preparation for a wide range of careers, as well as for their own benefit and enjoyment.
- To prepare students for careers teaching Latin and Greek in primary and secondary schools.
- To prepare students for graduate work in Classics and careers in teaching and research in colleges and universities.
To this end, therefore, a Classics program ought to offer something to a variety of students, ranging from those whose interest in Classics is largely casual to those whose goal is to attend graduate school in Classics. The main difference between students within this continuum is their level of engagement with Latin and Ancient Greek. Thus, while student progress in learning these language has traditionally provided a basis for assessment in Classical Studies, we need to be sensitive to the different emphases of each student and be flexible in our employment of various instruments of assessment.
Student Learning Outcomes
We have identified six learning outcomes organized within 5 content/skill areas. that students should attain to during their course of study in Classics here at Pomona.
- Proficiency at languages: This goal has two measures: (1) Students will be able to translate a variety of authors in a variety of genres from the original Greek or Latin into English. (2) Students will be able to describe the grammar and syntax of the texts they have read using the appropriate technical terminology.
- Skill at philological interpretation: Through the close study of texts in Greek and Latin students will be able to comment meaningfully on aspects of style, word choice, structure of argument, and basic textual problems.
- Appreciation of other forms of interpretation: Students will have acquired at least a basic understanding of how to read and/or interpret other texts and artifacts from the ancient world such as art objects, material remains, monuments, inscriptions, and so on.
- Knowledge of historical/cultural contexts: Students will be able to reproduce in broad outline the main periods of Greek and Roman history, along with significant events and/or developments in each period. Students will also be able to demonstrate their awareness of basic literary, philosophical, social, and cultural developments that affect the interpretation of texts, artifacts, and historical events.
- Proficiency in research methods: Students will be able to produce scholarly work, based on the close study of ancient texts and other materials, that utilizes the latest research methods and resources in the field.
In our opinion these specific learning outcomes largely conform to the prescriptions set by the APA for the successful undergraduate Classics program. The goals are consistent with both the traditional emphases in Classics on language study and philology, while at the same time acknowledge and celebrate the interdisciplinary nature of the field. We also believe that these goals are both specific to the discipline of Classics and generally applicable to the development of the sort of critical thinking a liberal arts education is supposed to engender. The flexible application of these goals in student assessment should allow for individual student needs.
It should also be noted that Classics at the Claremont Colleges is an intercollegiate program, and so our students and faculty are drawn from four of the five Colleges. This presents us with a particular challenge since in many cases we will not be able to assess fully all our students in a given year, or be able to "enforce" these learning outcomes on faculty at the other Colleges.