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Department of Modern Languages

Identifying and Assessing Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

I. Introduction.  Student Learning Outcomes in programs of the Department of Modern Languages are listed in the six categories that are used university-wide in efforts to assess student output and program effectiveness.  The categories are as follows: Knowledge, Critical Thinking, Communication, Diversity, Ownership for Learning, and Personal and Professional Development

Learning a foreign language implies the acquisition of detailed knowledge of the target culture as well as the comprehension of the language and its literature.  Such knowledge encompasses purely technical knowledge of the target language as well as insights into modes of thinking other than those students already have.  Studying a foreign language will stimulate the student’s critical thinking about the linguistic structure of that language as well as its literature, all within a cultural context that implies a range of paradigms.  Critical thinking goes beyond the mere technical understanding of a text and the ability to summarize it.  It also implies the ability to interpret texts and the development of an understanding of the target culture.  Therefore, it extends into many disciplines across the social sciences, the humanities, and cross-cultural studies.  Students develop and improve communication skills not only in the target language, but through exposure to another linguistic system, and ultimately also in their mother tongue.  Our classes stimulates students to develop the ability to relate to diverse cultures and thus reflect on their own.  A foreign language, once started, often has the impact of turning students into life-long learners.  In that sense it is like a savings account that keeps growing once the initial investment is made.  The longer a student stays with the chosen language, especially after an extended sojourn in one of the countries in which it is spoken, the less the student may be inclined to give up on studying this language and its culture.  Language learning engages in a multitude of exercises and experiences in which students learn to interact with their peers and learn how to work as a team, an ability that is highly sought by government and industry employers.  Learning to do research cultivates individual responsibility and reinforces personal ethics.  The knowledge of another culture through its language and texts enhances social responsibility as well as cosmopolitan and even global thinking.  Consequently, the study of a foreign culture and its language has the potential to turn students into more responsible citizens of the world.  Students with four years of language training and a year abroad clearly demonstrate this development from local thinkers into more cosmopolitan thinkers.

Note: References to “advanced” and “superior” skills in reading, speaking, and writing are to definitions and guidelines of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). References are made in this document to Attachment A (*advanced) and Attachment B (**superior).

Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Grid

II. Student Learning Outcomes by Assessment Category.

A. Bachelor of Arts Modern Languages

Graduates in Modern Languages will have demonstrated:

Assessment Categories

  1. Student interprets target-language literary and cultural texts.
  2. Student investigates, evaluates, and applies secondary sources of information in research and problem-solving activities.
  3. Student demonstrates advanced-level language proficiency.
    • Student sustains discussion on a variety of topics in the past, present, and future with an interlocutor unaccustomed to speaking with non-native speakers. Student presents extended discourse using the appropriate register (formal, informal, academic) of the target language.
    • Student narrates, describes, and summarizes in paragraph-length written form in the past, present, and future. Student utilizes the appropriate register (formal, informal, academic) of the target language.
  4. Student applies knowledge of geography, culture, artistic and philosophical production, and history of regions where the target language is spoken in order to demonstrate critical consciousness.
  5. Student works effectively in diverse and collaborative environments.
  6. Student demonstrates knowledge of professional and community opportunities for those with bilingual or multilingual skills.
  1. knowledge, diversity
  2. knowledge, critical thinking, diversity
  3. knowledge, critical thinking, ownership for learning, personal and professional development
  4. knowledge, critical thinking, communication
  5. knowledge, critical thinking, communication
  6. knowledge, critical thinking, communication
  7. critical thinking, communication, diversity
  8. diversity, communication, personal and professional development, critical thinking
  9. ownership for learning; personal and professional development
 

B. Master of Arts in Modern Languages

Master’s Degrees Graduates in Modern Languages will have demonstrated:

Assessment Categories

  1. Superior ability to comprehend and interpret primary texts

  2. The ability to investigate, evaluate, and apply secondary sources of information in research and problem-solving activities

  3. Extensive knowledge of target culture and appreciation of and sensitivity to cultural differences

  4. Superior** level skills in speaking according to recognized professional guidelines

  5. Superior** level skills in reading according to recognized professional guidelines

  6. Superior** level skills in writing according to recognized professional guidelines

  7. The ability to work effectively in multi-cultural, multilingual environment

  8. Awareness of professional standards and career possibilities for those with bilingual/ multilingual skills

  1. knowledge, critical thinking, diversity

  2. knowledge, critical thinking, ownership for learning, personal and professional development

  3. knowledge; critical thinking, diversity; personal and professional development

  4. communication; knowledge

  5. communication; knowledge

  6. communication; knowledge; critical thinking

  7. diversity; critical thinking; personal and professional development; ownership for learning

  8. personal and professional development

Assessment Report, 2013-14 academic year

Prepared by the Assessment Committee: Dr. Janice McGregor, Dr. Laura Kanost, and Angélique Courbou, ABD

MA Programs

In the 2013-14 academic year, the Modern Languages department drafted new common SLOs for its M.A. programs (French, German, and Spanish Literature; Second Language Acquisition in French, German, Spanish, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language; and Second Language Acquisition with Teaching Certification in French, German, and Spanish) and used them for assessment for the first time in the Spring 2014 semester. The assessment committee gathered information from faculty on the progress and performance of its graduate students from courses at the 700-level. The assessment focused on the following SLO: Student demonstrates knowledge of relevant content and critical evaluation of current theories and approaches specific to the field of study. Results showed that the majority of students achieved the exemplary or proficient level for the SLO evaluated, and found that this SLO was representative of expectations of Modern Languages M.A. students, since all courses reported assessing it.

Undergraduate Programs

For 2013-14, the Modern Languages assessment committee focused on 700-level classes in order to assess undergraduate students nearing graduation.  The assessment committee gathered information from faculty on the progress and performance of its undergraduate students from those courses. The assessment survey focused on three SLOs. Results showed that the majority of students achieved the acceptable or proficient level on the SLO concerning cultural competency, and the proficient or exemplary level on the SLO related to the ability to work in diverse environments.