Spanish Discipline Assessment
This note is in regard to your request to Coordinators concerning assessment in disicplines.
I have made some progress regarding assessment in my Spanish classes and I will be reporting more results to the Spanish discipline toward the end of the Spring semester:
1. Beginning Spanish (GER). One of the goals of our beginning Spanish program is to have students be able to answer simple questions. Several years ago I discovered that while students could do this for the chapter under study, the retention rate for these questions was at about 50% at the end of the
semester. I used a cumulative list of questions (about 80 questions) and found that students could answer about 50% of them within 8 seconds (I simply went around the room in order). Over the last two years I have (1) incorporated a question answer section on exams (although this is a written answer), (2) added two types of conversation sheets to each chapter, (3) added a review session for for the cumultive questions. The questions have been changed somewhat to accomodate different text materials, so the comparisons can not be exact, but basicially students are now performing in the 70 and 80 % range on this skill
test. There was one "outlier" class, which did not fit a pattern of improvement. I believe was cause by the particular mix of students in that one class. Another method that others in Spanish are using is to review consistently those parts of previous chapters which are the basis for newly
introduced items in the language. So review assignments are being made on the material of the first beginning course while the student is studying materials in the second course of the sequence. As far as I know, there has been no
objective testing of this last method.
2. Advanced Spanish. This Spring for the first time in years I will be teaching the second half of our advanced language sequence. I am going to institute some assessment procedures toward the end of the semester and I have
set aside four class periods to do so. There will be a half-hour composition written in class, an oral interview, and, possibly, a questionnaire sent to alumni (I need to talk to the Spanish staff about this last item). The written composition will be analyzed for errors and a report will be made with suggestions about improving discovered areas of weakness in writing. The
oral interview will be rated using a rubric, but notes will be taken also for feedback which will be helpful to the improvement of the program. Other skills will be tested in later years. One of our problems in Spanish is that our numbers are large in the advanced courses. We have 35 students this year. Assessment of all students is time-consuming, but we have not been able to decide on a fair random sampling (and why would students agree to such a sampling, which is not a part of a course?).
These are the efforts made so far in Spanish.
-Tom Turner, Coordinator