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Comparative Analysis and Reflection

Analyze the differences and similarities between two cultures using your selected cultural artifacts. Choose from two lenses with which to examine these cultures: how these cultures approach decision-making and problem-solving or their customs and traditions.


Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open.

– Dalai Lama, spiritual leader

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Have you ever had a problem, such as a leaky faucet, an issue with a family member, or a school assignment, that you just couldn’t solve? You might have tried and tried to come up with an answer, growing more frustrated as time went on. Perhaps, you then asked someone else for help, and they immediately came up with the perfect solution. Baffled, you may have thought to yourself, “How did they do that?” The answer is often that the other person simply looked at the problem differently. And many times, a different point of view is exactly what you need to find a solution.

In this assessment, you will further develop your problem-solving skills by exploring how different people and cultures approach making decisions and resolving conflicts. By looking at a single problem from multiple perspectives, you will find more creative solutions to complex issues at home, school, and work. You will also continue to improve your self- and social-awareness skills as you explore how your perspective may be biased and how that bias affects the way you process information.

Most of my important lessons about life have come from recognizing how others from a different culture view things.

– Edgar H. Schein, organizational psychologist

If you’ve ever wondered why people from different cultures think and do things differently than you, here’s your chance to satisfy your curiosity about customs, traditions, religious beliefs, and more. While you work through this assessment, you’ll strengthen your problem-solving and self- and social-awareness skills by exploring cultural similarities and differences, which will allow you to understand where other people are coming from. Exploring and thinking critically about how friends, peers, colleagues, and even strangers from different backgrounds view the world can make you more empathetic and understanding. And applying this empathy and understanding will ultimately help you build the successful, collaborative relationships that are critical to your personal and professional success. You’ll continue to cultivate your problem-solving skills as you compare and contrast cultures around the world and develop critical thinking strategies to understand the perspectives and behaviors of others. You’ll also strengthen your self- and social-awareness skills by exploring how your personal and cultural experiences influence your opinions and choices.

The universe is made of stories, not atoms.

– Muriel Rukeyser, poet

Storytelling transcends all cultures, time periods, and geographic regions. That’s why the ancient Greeks built huge amphitheaters and why you find yourself saying “just one more episode!” as you devour the new season of your favorite TV show. So it’s not surprising that understanding the stories we tell is a critical part of the study of humanities.

In all of this, you will further develop your problem-solving skills by exploring stories from different cultures. By learning about common storytelling themes and values (and their differences and similarities), you will discover more ways to think critically about perspectives.


BrainyQuote. (n.d.). Dalai Lama quotes.

Goodreads. (n.d.). Edgar H. Schein quotes.

Wikiquote. (n.d.). Muriel Rukeyser.


This assessment will look more closely at the means of expression.

There is a tradition of artistic interpretation that stresses expression as the main goal of artworks. Whether it’s a painting, a film, a novel, a play, music, or a piece of sculpture, an artwork can give expression to ideas and emotions that can be difficult to express in ordinary words. We’ve seen that artworks convey aspects of culture and family tradition. But they can also express and communicate religious ideas and feelings, or political struggles. And a work of art can express the personal experiences and inner life of the artist who created it. A work of art can do all of this in a way that connects the viewer or audience to the artist. Some see this type of connection as the closest we can get to experiencing the inner life of another person.

To get an idea of the means artworks have available for expression, consider how a representational painting conveys much more than what’s directly represented (for example, a human figure or mountainscape). A painter can use color, line, shading, and composition (arrangement of forms) to express ideas and emotions about what’s depicted in the painting.


For this assessment, you will choose an artwork to analyze as a means of expression. Remember, a work of art can be a painting, a poem, a film, a piece of music, a story, or more. In 2–3 pages, you’ll write about what is expressed and will also need to pay careful attention to the detail of the artwork to identify how the expression occurs.

  • Give a description of the artwork you’ve chosen. What form does it take (music, painting, short story, etc.)? Be sure to name the artist (or artists) and say something about the historical context of its creation.
  • Explain/describe the work of art you’ve selected
  • If the work depicts a subject or event (like representational paintings, sculptures, stories, or films do) describe what is depicted. If the artwork is non-representational (like an abstract painting or sculpture, music, or architecture) you can simply say that it is non-representational.
  • Explain two or three things that the artwork expresses, beyond whatever is directly depicted in the work (if it is representational). What ideas, moods, emotions, feelings, hopes, aspirations, or states of mind do you think the artist is trying to express? If the work is representational, perhaps the artist is expressing certain feelings about what’s depicted (e.g., grief, anger, or joy).
  • Describe at least three features of the work that have an expressive power. Here you can focus on qualities like color, line, shape, composition, light and shading, sound, and so forth. These are the aspects of the work that do the job of communicating to the viewer or listener something that can’t easily be expressed in ordinary language.


Your submission should meet the following requirements:

  • Length: 2–3 pages of text, in addition to a title page and reference page.
  • Written communication: Written communication should be free of errors that detract from the overall message.
  • Formatting: Format your submission in APA style, with a title page, double spacing, and a reference page.
  • Citations: Properly cite sources according to APA rules. Review Evidence and APA for more information on how to cite your sources.

Competencies Measured

By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and scoring guide criteria:

  • Competency 1: Analyze personal cultural bias.
    • Explain how your cultural perspective shaped your response and connection with the artifact.
  • Competency 3: Analyze cultural differences and similarities of people globally.
    • Provide a description of your chosen artifact.
  • Competency 4: Analyze the role of culture and artistic expression in human thought and behavior.
    • Describe the historical and artistic contexts of the artifact.
    • Identify two cultural values that you believe the artist was trying to convey through the artifact.
  • Competency 5: Address assessment purpose in a well organized text incorporating appropriate evidence and tone in grammatically sound sentences
    • Write in a well-organized and concise manner that adheres to the rules of grammar, usage, mechanics, and formatting.

1 reply
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