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:
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 Report, 2013-14 academic year
Prepared by the Assessment Committee: Dr. Janice McGregor, Dr. Laura Kanost, and Angélique Courbou, ABD
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.
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.