Assessment

Assessment

The foreign languages department believes that assessment is the key to progress: for students, in terms of developing their language proficiency, for faculty, in terms of professional development, and for the department itself, to ensure our programs are providing the services we expect them to provide.

Student Assessment

Students are regularly assessed by their instructors, through exams and other classroom assignments, in order to help them improve their language skills and their knowledge of cultures and literatures. Students are often discouraged when they can not master the language right away, but you should be aware that language learning is a process of trial and error. Taking risks with the language, using new words or new structures, is required at every level. Even at the most advanced levels, students will find that there is always more to learn about how languages are used in various linguistic communities. The department's goal is to help students develop language proficiency; that is, to be able to communicate effectively in the language, even if the students make some errors. Students may wish to consult the proficiency guidelines published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages to better understand our expectations for language learning.

Faculty Assessment

Faculty in the foreign languages department are assessed every semester through student evaluations. In these evaluations, students have the opportunity to let us know what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. Faculty also undergo an annual process of peer evaluation, where they are observed in the classroom by other tenured faculty and by the chairperson of the department. The faculty of the department of foreign languages is always striving to make language learning more accessible and more effective for students. Find out more about what professional development the faculty are involved in by clicking on Faculty and Staff 

Program Assessment

The department's programs undergo regular review by the University and the Board of Higher Education, and the department is currently in the middle of its own program assessment project. In 2008-2009, students in the Spanish major, all of the language minors, and those completing the foreign language requirement (all 202-level students) have participated in a program assessment project by taking the STAMP proficiency test . This online proficiency test, used by school systems throughout the United States, will allow us to see if our programs are helping students to attain the proficiency levels we envision them attaining. The results of this testing will be evaluated over the next year.

Department of Foreign Language Learning Objectives for Programs

Developed in the 2006-7 School Year by the department

By the End of the Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Program

  • Students will perform at the Advanced low level of Spanish proficiency based on the ACTFL Guidelines (see below)  in all areas of communication, with emphasis on oral proficiency. 
  • Students will be able to identify trends and characteristics of the literature and cultures of US Latino America, Latin America and Spain.
  • Students will be able to identify diverse cultures where the target language is spoken and compare and contrast characteristics of these cultures (history, linguistic variation, social institutions, etc). 
  • Students will develop research skills and write a research monograph on a topic of interest related to their concentration.  They will develop skills for presenting research at settings such as the Undergraduate Research Symposium.
  • Students will enhance communication skills and contribute in a meaningful way to the community through at least one semester-long service learning opportunity.
  • Students will be able to successfully function linguistically and socially in the target culture, which is best demonstrated through a structured study abroad program and/or intensive immersion experience in a target language community.
  • Students will be prepared to enter a professional career in teaching or another field in which language skills are necessary, and/or for graduate studies in related fields.
  • Students will continue to improve their Spanish proficiency after they complete the program with the understanding that language learning is a life-long process.

By the end of the Minor in Spanish, French, Italian or Foreign Languages Program

  • Students will perform at the Intermediate level of language proficiency based on the ACTFL Guidelines (see below)  in all areas of communication. 
  • Students will be able to identify trends and characteristics of the literature and cultures of the target language.
  • Students will be able to identify diverse cultures where the target language is spoken and describe characteristics of these cultures (history, linguistic variation, social institutions, etc). 
  • Students will enhance communication skills so as to be able to contribute in a meaningful way to the community.
  • Students will successfully function linguistically and socially in the target culture, which is best demonstrated through a structured study abroad program and/or intensive immersion experience in a target language community.
  • Students will continue to improve their target language proficiency after they complete the program with the understanding that language learning is a life-long process.

By the End of the 101 to 202 Language Requirement Sequence

  • Students will perform at the Intermediate low level of language proficiency based on the ACTFL Guidelines (see below)  in all areas of communication. 
  • Students will be able to identify trends and characteristics of the literature and cultures of the target language.
  • Students will be able to identify diverse cultures where the target language is spoken and list characteristics of these cultures (history, linguistic variation, social institutions, etc). 
  • Students will continue to improve their target language proficiency after they complete the program with the understanding that language learning is a life-long process.

By the End of the Master of Arts in Teaching Spanish Program

  • Students will perform at the Advanced level of Spanish proficiency based on the ACTFL Guidelines (see below) in all areas of communication, with emphasis on oral proficiency. 
  • Students will be able to identify trends and characteristics of the literature and cultures of US Latino America, Latin America and Spain.
  • Students will be able to identify diverse cultures where the target language is spoken and analyze characteristics of these cultures (history, linguistic variation, social institutions, etc). 
  • Students will develop research skills and write a research monograph on a topic of interest from their program of studies.  They will expand skills for presenting research at settings such as the Graduate Research Symposium.
  • Students will be aware of other forums through which to publish or present research. 
  • Students will successfully function linguistically and socially in the target culture, which is best demonstrated through a structured study abroad program in a target language community.
  • Students will achieve the initial or the professional level of Massachusetts licensure in Spanish.
  • Students will continue to improve their Spanish proficiency after they complete the program with the understanding that language learning is a life-long process.

ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines

The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, are an academic analog to the government language proficiency level descriptions, originally developed by the Foreign Service Institute and currently revised and used by the various language schools participating in the Interagency Language Roundtable (IRL).  The government level descriptions differ from the ACTFL Guidelines in that a number system is used to designate eleven levels of proficiency, ranging from 0 to 5 (0, 0+, 1, 1+, 2, 2+, 3, 3+, 4, 4+, and 5), whereas the ACTFL Guidelines use the terms Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Superior to designate proficiency levels.  In addition, the categories of Novice and Intermediate are further subdivided into three categories: Low, Mid, and High; the Advanced level is subdivided into Advanced and Advanced Plus (corresponding to 2 and 2+ on the government scale); the Superior level comprises the government levels 3, 3+, 4, 4+ and 5.  Further discussion of the correspondence between the government and academic scales can be found in Chapter 1 (Teaching Language in Context, 2nd ed., Alice Omaggio Hadley, Heinle and Heinle, 1993).

For more detailed descriptions go here: 

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