Foreign language SLOs Rafael Arias and June Miyasaki March 11, 2008
The process • As of Spring 2008, the Foreign Language Department has developed Student Learning Outcomes for all of its courses. • What at first seemed a daunting task was achieved with a high dose of collegiality, ingenuity, and resolve.
In our favor • Our subject matter, language, is clearly oriented towards out-of- class applications. • ACTFL standards (America Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages): • Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience. The United States must educate students who are linguistically and culturally equipped to communicate successfully in a pluralistic American society and abroad. • Communication • Culture • Comparison • Community • These standards also oriented towards measurable outcomes.
Against us • Different philosophies about how languages are better learned and taught. • Different approaches to language teaching. • Each professor’s academic freedom.
Taking stock • Rather than focusing on the faculty’s different teaching approaches, we started by taking stock of what we as educators are already doing in our classes. • We realized that there was a certain overlap in the instructors’ teaching approaches and outcome expectations. • We then proceeded to see how these common traits in our practice were related to our vision for the students’ learning outcomes.
We called this the “taking stock” approach. • This “taking stock” approach for developing SLOs allowed us to identify common desired outcomes stemming from what we were already doing, without having to develop new activities specifically geared towards SLOs.
The “overlap” • We realized that professors in the department expected students to: • be able to perform communicative activities in the target language, and • demonstrate some knowledge and understanding of the culture of the countries where the target language is spoken.
We also realized that these outcome expectations were consistent across the four Romance Language disciplines taught in the department (German, French, Italian, and Spanish). • With minor modifications, they were also valid in our fifth language, Armenian.
Common SLOs • To avoid redundancy, we then decided to develop common SLOs for each level we teach. • We would use the same SLOs for: • German 1 • French 1 • Italian 1 • Spanish 1. • We called this FL1 SLO.
SLOs for Armenian, although very similar to the rest, were developed separately, given the different nature of the language and different alphabet and writing system.
FL 1 SLOs • In the Spring 2007, Rafael Arias took charge of developing the SLOs for FL1. • Linguistic: • “Using the vocabulary and structures learned, students will be able to perform elementary everyday communicative functions in the target language orally and in writing.” • Cultural • “Students will be able to recognize the relationship between culture and language use, identify common traits of the target culture, and examine the similarities and differences of these common traits with their own culture.”
FL 1 SLOs Rubrics • These SLOs also included a linguistic and a cultural rubric to assess students’ achievement of the SLO. • Starting in Fall 2007, all instructors in the department teaching a first-semester course (except Armenian) were asked to state the SLOs on their syllabi.
Program SLOs • June Miyasaki developed the SLOs and assessment measures for four of our A.A. degree programs: French, German, Italian, and Spanish. • “Demonstrate effective skills in the four major areas of language study: reading, writing, speaking, listening comprehension.” (This first SLO is a constant.) • “Demonstrate knowledge of the global society, and the role of France and francophone nations and of the French language and culture in the contemporary world. (This second SLO has minor changes for each degree program. For example, for the A.A. in Spanish, the SLO reads: “Demonstrate knowledge of the global society, and the role of Spanish-speaking nations and of the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures in the contemporary world.) • The template for these A.A. program SLOs was modified to develop the last set of SLOs for the A.A. degree in Foreign Languages.
Program SLOs • These SLOs, also approved by the SLO Committee in Spring 2007, were accompanied by two assessment tools: • An Exit Survey form • An Exit Interview form. • Given the nature and content of the Foreign Language curriculum, the program level SLOs for Foreign Languages fully align with the college SLOs in areas related to: • communication skills (verbal, written and interpersonal); • information competency; reasoning skills (critical thinking); • diversity and cultural awareness, and • aesthetic responsiveness.
SLO fest • In order to complete our Program Review, the department needed to complete the SLOs in Fall 2007. • We decided it would be more efficient and less time- consuming to develop the remaining SLOs all at once. • With the guidance of Rebecca Stein, the FL faculty got together on a Friday morning, worked in groups, and achieved consensus on SLOs for all courses numbered 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 21, 22, 185, 285, 385. • In three hours, all FL SLOs had been developed. • Some faculty members were even surprised we finished so fast.
Assessment • In Spring 2008, two sections of Spanish 1 and one section of French 1 will conduct a pilot assessment study using the rubrics developed for the assessment of the communication FL1 SLO. • The results of this pilot program will be used to assess the students’ achievement of the FL1 Linguistic SLO, i.e., their communicative competence in the target language. • The pilot will also assess the adequacy of the rubric itself as an assessment instrument.
Assessment Outcomes • With the data we gather from the assessment pilot, the department expects: • to be able to assess whether students are able to minimally communicate in the target language in a “real life” situation and, if not, • to identify areas where change is needed so that students achieve the stated SLO.