Submitted Fall, 2003
The Undergraduate and Graduate Assessment Plans of the Department of Modern Languages were completed, revised and approved in Spring 2003. It is still too early to assess all aspects of the plan because most of the objectives are linked to specific courses which were not taught in Spring 2003 and have not been completed yet this semester.
Objective C, however, for Spanish can be assessed because two sections of SPAN 304 (Advanced Conversation and Composition) were offered last spring, as in the case of every year. This objective is the following: "The student is able to attain sufficient language proficiency for a specific career (such as translating/interpreting) or for a professional degree."
As in the last several years, a speaking proficiency examination was given to the students in both sections of the course. To insure reliability, the students were interviewed by a qualified person other than their class instructor. Thus, the two professors (Dr. Lon Pearson and Dr. Eduardo González) interviewed some of each other's students and were assisted by the Chair of Modern Languages (Dr. Herbert Craig), who has both taught this course and conducted such interviews in the past. This year he interviewed the remaining students from both sections. The Speaking Proficiency Rubric was used (see Undergraduate Assessment Plan V. #3, also note that the general levels are the following: 1-Novice, 2-Intermediate, 3-Advanced, 4-Superior, 5-Native). A total of 29 students were interviewed, and the ratings ranged from Intermediate Low (2-) to Superior High/Native (4+/5). The average was 3.33, which is well above our stated expectation of Intermediate High (2.5). 24 of the 29 students reached this level while 5 did not. (16 of the 29 even reached the higher level of Advanced Low).
Comparing these statistics with those from the preceding two years, we can observe that the students in Spring 2003 consistently performed better. The procedures were the same with Dr. Pearson and Dr. Craig interviewing each other's students and using essentially the same Speaking Proficiency Rubric. In Spring 2001, 29 students were interviewed, and their ratings ranged from Low (2) to Native (5). The average was 2.91, which was already above the Intermediate High goal (2.5). 25 students exceeded this goal but 4 did not (furthermore 15 achieved a rating of 2.8 or above). The statistics for Spring 2002 were better than those for Spring 2001 but not as good as those for Spring 2003. In Spring 2002, 28 students were interviewed. The average was 2.96, which also attained the 2.5 goal. 21 students scored above this number while 7 did not (again 15 scored 2.8 or above). In short, we have observed a slight improvement each year, but the goal of Intermediate Low simply remains reasonable.
In the area of writing proficiency, which is also to be assessed for Objective C using the Writing Proficiency Rubric (V. #4, the general levels are similar), we have had less experience, our data are less complete, and the results are less satisfactory. When Drs. Pearson and Craig taught SPAN 304 in Spring 2001, they both had their students write an in-class essay which they assessed for their own students. (Unfortunately neither recorded data for Spring 2002). In Spring 2003 only the one professor who had experience in performing this type of assessment (Dr. Pearson) asked his own students write the essay and then assessed the results.
In Spring 2003, 11 students were assessed for writing, and their ratings ranged from Intermediate Low (1.8) to Advanced High (3.5). The average was 2.4, which did not reach the desired level of Advanced (3.0) or even Advanced Low (2.8). We only find a majority (6) of students reaching the Intermediate High level (2.5) or better. These low figures may be due to the small sample (the students in the other section were not tested), because in Spring 2001 all of the scores were better. The 27 students averaged 2.71, even though their range was similar: from Intermediate Low (2-) to Advanced High/Superior (3+/4). 19 of the 27 students were rated Intermediate High or better and 12 of them reached Advanced Low or better.
In any case, it appears that the expectation of the Advanced level (3.0) for writing proficiency is too ambitious, and the Assessment Plan should be adjusted so that the expectation of the writing proficiency level should be the same as that for speaking proficiency (Intermediate High).