Assessment of Student Learning

Spanish Discipline


The Spanish curriculum offers course work in Hispanic culture, language, and literature. The courses are designed to help students develop critical insight into the philosophy and values of another culture, fluency in a second language, and sensitivity toward literature that reflects the experience of Spanish speaking peoples. The curriculum accommodates liberal arts students interested in a cross-cultural perspective, language study, secondary school teaching, or preparation for graduate study in the field.

Unit Mission/goal(s) and the Institutional Mission Relation

The study of foreign languages and literatures has been integral to the study of liberal arts since the inception of universities. At UMM students studying Spanish will receive not only the ability to perform in the skills, but also a knowledge of the context of the language spoken (the culture). They will examine other literatures within context, and they will see their own culture from a different perspective. Examination of language and literature involves the tools of the liberal arts: critical inquiry, sensitivity to the arts, knowledge of other cultures, and ability to do research in an area.


Learning Objectives
Goals and objectives for language courses have been stated recently by national organizations (e.g. American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) in terms of outcomes. The Spanish staff has reviewed the literature, our own distinctive program, and our own preferences to develop specific outcomes for each level of the study of language. We have done this in response to the new semester curriculum. Our course descriptions, as in many universities, are newly stated in terms of expected outcomes (see to right). The literature outcomes encompass contextual concerns as well as performance concerns.
Expected Outcomes
Expected Outcomes.. Reading Skill: Beg., Int., Adv. Levels

-B: read and comprehend materials such as ads, instructions, etc.

-I: read critically and understand the context of literary and cultural items, read with some basic literary analysis and analyze cultural differences

-A: Carefully read, comprehend, and analyze literary works and/or cultural readings

Speaking Skill:

-B: engage in simple conversations in Spanish, to speak about themselves and express their basic needs

-I: respond to simple questions, avoid basic pronunciation errors, engage in short conversations, discuss assigned themes at some length

-A: discuss motives and themes in literary works, read out loud with proficiency and meaning, hold sustained conversations.

Writing Skill:

-B: construct sentences and questions in Spanish in order to write accurately at the short paragraph level

-I: write accurately at the paragraph level, avoiding common grammatical errors; write analytically and accurately at the paragraph level

-A: use correct grammar to write and present compositions analyzing literary works

Listening Skill:

-B: comprehend short conversations

-I: comprehend conversations, comprehend short dialogues and paragraphs

-A: comprehend main points in Schola televised presentations and materials


Level One: Students should demonstrate the ability to: read and comprehend the literary works studied, analyze works critically while developing a sensitivity toward certain cultural aspects and literary nuances expressed therein; participate in and comprehend sustained class discussion with respect to certain topics or themes; write with accuracy in Spanish and show some degree of analytical proficiency at the short paper level.

Level Two: Students should demonstrate the ability to analyze literary texts using the text as well as the aesthetic, political, historical, and philosophical context in which the work was produced. Students must also demonstrate the ability to discuss in class the ideas of the texts, the context, and they must write papers with grammatical precision and rigorous research.

Method(s), Measure(s), and Instrument(s) for Expected Outcomes
Method(s), Measure(s), and Instrument(s) for Expected Outcomes. The Spanish Discipline discussed carefully the kind of assessment that would give good feedback to the program and yet be (1) affordable in terms of time and expense and (2) as unobtrusive as possible to students. Our recommendation is to require students to develop a portfolio in their senior year which would demonstrate achievement in all the five outcomes listed previously. The portfolio contents are not completely decided but the following items may be included: (1) Literary papers and (2) A tape to be recorded in the lab by students to include spontaneous answers to questions and, perhaps, responses to a listening passage.

Rationale for Portfolio Feedback to the Discipline

By looking at literary papers, the discipline can analyze grammatical and stylistic faults. This information will be useful in designing reinforcement of learning at various levels. The papers also indicate the quality of the reading skill, the detail of comprehension. Students should include the context of the work as indicated in outcomes, and evidence of rigorous research. By listening to the tape, the discipline will be able to detect faults in pronunciation and intonation (we can also rate fluency). The discipline will construct questions which will elicit responses about varied topics, probably including literature. There may be a listening comprehension section.


Spanish has numerous majors. We intend to randomly sample enough portfolios to obtain helpful knowledge about improving the curriculum. The purpose of the portfolio will be explained to students and students may elect two participate anonymously.

Timeline for the Outcomes
The Spanish staff has just completed a revision of its curriculum and we feel that we have corrected certain weaknesses of the program. For instance, we have added an additional Quarter to the Intermediate program. This will strengthen the language component greatly and prepare students better for the literature program. We would like to initiate assessment when the new, improved curriculum takes effect. There will be some considerable work in developing the portfolio measurements. The likely emphases are indicated at left but the actual contents of the oral tape has not been completely decided or developed.