ASSESSMENT RESULTS FOR THE FRENCH DISCIPLINE
The French Discipline of the University of Minnesota, Morris has been accumulating data, according to its Assessment Plan, for two years. The Plan calls for assessment of performance and attainment of educational goals by students at all three levels of classes (Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced). The Plan is not yet completely operational, but we have begun to tabulate data on the following classes:
Beginning (French 1001 and 1002)
To gauge performance for the first two semesters of French (successful completion of which satisfies the UMM Language Requirement), we have administered an oral and written language test (the Iowa Language Performance Test) at the beginning of French 1001, and at the end of French 1002. During the two years that we have administered the test in this fashion, all of our students (with four exceptions out of a total group of sixty-three students have attained a score which qualifies them for French 2001 and indicates that they have mastered all of the skills expected of them to complete the first year of French and to satisfy the Foreign Language requirement. Although the data for the students who took the placement test in the Fall of 2003 are not available, in Spring, 2004, the average score on the placement test was 28.28 for students exiting French 1002. For the 2004-2005 academic year, the average score for our students rose from 22.11 in the fall to 30.00 in the spring. The score to begin French 2001 is 27-32. In addition to this very satisfactory result, over half of the students tested have scored considerably higher than the entry level for French 2001, while six of the students assessed in French 1002 over the past two years have scored as high as students beginning in French 3001.
Our preliminary response to these numbers, as well as excellent scores by French faculty on teaching evaluations, leads to the conclusion that the French Discipline is doing an outstanding job of teaching Beginning French. (We are using a new textbook this fall and implementing special tutorial for students, using native speakers and advanced French majors, in an attempt to improve student performance and satisfaction with the course even higher.)
Intermediate (French 2001 and 2002)
For academic year 2004-05 we have just began administering the Iowa Test and collecting sample essays at the beginning and end of this course. The scores on the Iowa Test for this group have also increased significantly. The average test score for these students in the fall of 2004 was 32.67, while their average score was 36.56 in the spring. This average is slightly below the score needed to enter French 3001 (entry score = 37+), and the French Discipline will continue to monitor these students' progress in an attempt to determine if our intermediate series needs improvement or if the entry score for French 3001 is too high. We are at present evaluating the writing skills of our students.
Advanced (French 3001 and above)
Students are required to construct a portfolio of writing samples from all of their 3000-level courses, to be submitted along with their final writing project for the Senior Seminar. To date we have reviewed three such portfolios, all of which show very clearly progression in writing skills to an outstanding level in the case of two of the portfolios reviewed, and a very high level for the third. The Senior Seminar also concludes with an in-depth written and oral evaluation by the student of the strengths and weaknesses of the UMM French curriculum. These evaluations have been very positive, praising the flexibility and rigor of our program, but they have also furnished us with areas where we feel we can improve, for example in giving students more opportunities to improve their spoken language skills, and in offering more culture and business courses. The former request was new this spring, and we have not yet had the opportunity to discuss it. We have discussed these latter requests, and believe that we already offer a good number of culture courses. As for the business courses, we do not have expertise in this area and do not feel comfortable offering them. We have, however, identified two study abroad programs in France (one in Dijon and the other in Montpellier) which offer French and European business and management courses. We will encourage those students looking for business French to take it abroad.