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.
Upon successful completion of the following departmental programs, students will be able to achieve the following outcomes:
A. Bachelor of Arts Modern Languages
Graduates in Modern Languages will have demonstrated:
B. Minor in Modern Languages
French, German, Spanish
Chinese, Japanese, Russian
Chinese, Classical Studies, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish:
C. Master of Arts in Modern Languages
Master’s Degrees Graduates in Modern Languages will have demonstrated:
Assessment Protocols and Report (2018-19 academic year)
Undergraduate Programs (AY 2018-2019):
The Dept. of Modern Languages regularly evaluates the efficacy of its programs and the progress of students towards achieving the program learning outcomes as defined here. Below, you will find the most recent summary report from the annual assessment of the undergraduate and graduate programs:
For 2018-19, the Modern Languages Undergraduate Advisory Committee focused on 700-level courses in order to assess undergraduate students nearing completion of their program. The committee gathered information from faculty on the progress and performance of its undergraduate students from those courses. The survey focused on three SLOs relating to advanced-level proficiency, content area knowledge, and the ability to work collaboratively in diverse environments. Results showed that the majority of students achieved the acceptable, proficient, or exemplary level on each SLO. The committee also collected data on Graduate SLO 2 related to academic language use in extended discourse. Again, the majority of students were found to be performing at a proficient or exemplary level. Results of the latter survey were forwarded to the department’s Graduate Advisory Committee.
For 2018-19, the department evaluated the following competency for the MA programs: “The ability to investigate, evaluate, and apply secondary sources of information in research and problem-solving activities.” The committee gathered information from faculty on the progress and performance of its graduate students from courses at the 600- and 700-level. Results showed that the majority of students achieved the exemplary or proficient level on this program objective and found that this competency was representative of expectations of Modern Languages MA students since all courses reported assessing it.