Student Achievement Assessment Committee
Learning Outcomes for Spanish Majors (Arts & Sciences) and Spanish Education
A. Linguistic Proficiency:
- Grammar: Ability to communicate effectively through appropriate utilization of grammatical functions.
- Reading: Ability to understand the main thesis and main supporting ideas as well as some nuances of written materials.
- Writing: Ability to develop and sustain a topic coherently in writing.
- Listening: Ability to understand the main thesis and main supporting ideas as well as some nuances of oral materials
B. Knowledge of Hispanic Literatures and Cultures:
- Ability to present original research on Hispanic literatures and cultures in written form.
Assessment Methods and Procedures
A. Outcome Assessment
i. Linguistic Proficiency:
- Grammar and Reading: All students were asked to take the “University of Wisconsin College-Level Placement Test for Spanish (Grammar and Reading Comprehension).” Our objective is to compare results and draw conclusions.
- Writing: Students were asked to turn in an outcomes portfolio consisting of one paper from one of their earliest classes as majors in our program and one paper that represented their best work up until that point. At the same time, they were asked to write a brief statement commenting on the development of their writing skills in Spanish using the two documents in their portfolio as evidence for their evaluations. Also, students were asked to participate in an assessment interview to discuss their outcomes portfolio and the Spanish program. The interviews were conducted as conversations; however, during the course of the interview, faculty asked each student six questions: 1) Why did s/he select the two pieces presented in the portfolio? (i.e., how are the papers representative of the students’ beginning efforts and their best work in Spanish?); 2) What s/he see as her/his particular strengths as a Spanish major (e.g., linguistic ability, cultural skills, critical thinking, etc.)?; 3) What areas did s/he believe needed improvement as a Spanish major?; 4) What areas would s/he would have liked to have learned more about?; 5) What experiences in the Spanish program had particularly formative (e.g., classes AYA program, Sigma Delta Pi, etc.)?; and 6) What else would s/he like to tell us about her/his experience as a Spanish major at BGSU? Faculty members responded to the students’ remarks on Questions #2 and #3 by offering their own evaluation of the students’ strengths on the basis of the outcomes portfolio.
ii. Knowledge of Hispanic Literatures and Cultures:
- We use the same instruments employed to assess the linguistic proficiency in writing. Students were asked to turn in an outcomes portfolio and to participate in an assessment interview. Questions #2 and #3 from the previous section were modified in the following way: 2a) What did s/he see as her/his particular strengths in terms of knowledge of Hispanic literatures and cultures?; and 3a) What areas of this knowledge did s/he believe needed improvement?. Faculty members responded to the students’ remarks on Questions #2a and #3a by offering their own evaluation of the students’ strengths on the basis of the outcomes portfolio.
B. Midterm Assessment
In addition to this outcome assessment for the Spanish major, we have completed an assessment of all students studying in our AYA-Spain program (year students in September and Spring semester students in January). This procedure serves as a mid-term assessment for the Spanish and Spanish Education majors. Since students do not follow a strict sequencing of course work in the Spanish majors, this is our best option for tracking the linguistic improvement and knowledge of Hispanic literatures and cultures of our majors before the end of their program.
3. Analysis and Interpretation of the Assessments: On-Campus Students
A. Outcomes Assessment
Based on the evaluation of both the grammar/reading diagnostic test and the portfolios, the faculty believed the on-campus students have met the Spanish program’s learning outcomes.
- Grammar/Reading Diagnostic Test: Eight of the nine graduating students took both Entrance and Exit tests. The majority who took the tests—all but one— show improvement in their scores (see Appendix I). The lowest improvement was 3% and the highest was 38%. 36% of the students showed an improvement of 18% or more. Five of the eight (62%) students received scores of 90-100% (69-77 correct answers of 77 total questions). Three (38%) received scores 80-89% (62-68 correct answers of 77 total questions). Three students did not show much improvement from their entrance scores (0-5%), but they all had extremely high entrance scores. Like past years, an analysis of the students’ answers show that the most common grammatical errors (Questions 21 & 30) were about higher-level functions (past subjunctive in subordinate clauses after an indefinite or negative antecedent and long possessive forms respectively. At their level of linguistic proficiency, students are not expected to exhibit mastery of those functions. Other common errors were questions testing the uses of the subjunctive (Questions 7, 23, & 27), special syntactic constructions (Question 35), and problematic semantic distinctions (Questions 5 & 37).
- Portfolios: Faculty saw a significant level of improvement among the students who presented their portfolios. An analysis of the papers confirmed a noticeable improvement between the first and second papers. As expected, in their second papers, the students utilized more complex grammatical structures and more coherent discourse, with extensive and sophisticated vocabulary. There were less basic grammatical and vocabulary errors indicating higher proficiency levels in Spanish. The students also demonstrated their deeper knowledge and understanding of Hispanic literatures and cultures. It confirmed that the students were able to think critically about various issues and topics relating to Hispanic cultures. Three of these (second) papers were noticeably better than the rest.
- Evaluation of the Spanish Program: Seven of the nine graduating students returned the Spanish Program Evaluation form. They all rated their experience in the Spanish program as “excellent.” The majority stated that the strengths of the program are: 1) the Study Abroad experience (AYA Spain); 2) variety and types of classes offered; 3) the professors. There was no consensus regarding the weaknesses of the program. The students offered a variety of suggestions to improve the program: 1) more activities outside of class to practice Spanish; 2) classes to improve speaking skills in Spanish and grammar knowledge at advanced levels; 3) teaching methodology class specifically for Spanish Education majors; and 4) more choices of 400 level courses; 5) an undergraduate program in Latin America; 6) creation of a Spanish-mayor list-proc.
B. Midterm Assessment: AYA, Spain
Based on the evaluation of both the Wisconsin Placement Test and the portfolios, AYA/Spain resident director believes most students have met the learning outcomes mentioned above.
Grammar, Reading and Listening: Every undergraduate student (19) enrolled in AYA/Spain took (year students in September and Spring semester students in January) the test at the beginning of his/her sojourn in Spain and at the end of it (April). The scores of these students are presented in Appendix II and III.
The Wisconsin Placement Test (WPT) has three types of examinations: Grammar, Reading, and Listening.
i. Examination I (Grammar): Fourteen (14) out of nineteen (19)), that is 74% of the AYA/Spain students, showed improvement in their scores. Eight (8) students received 90% - 100%. Seven (7) students received 80% - 89%. One (1) student received 70% - 79%. Three (3) students received 60% - 69%.
ii. Examination II (Reading): Sixteen (16) out of nineteen (19), that is 84% of the AYA/Spain SF students, showed improvement in their scores. Ten (10) students received 90% - 100%. Three (3) students received 80% - 89%. Four (4) students received 70% - 79%. Two (2) students received 60% - 69%.
iii. Examination III (Listening): Eighteen (18) out of nineteen (19), that is 95% of the AYA/Spain SF students, showed improvement in their scores. Nine (9) of the students received 90% - 100%. Five (5) students received 80% - 89%. Two (2) students received 70% - 79%. Two (2) students received 60% - 69%. One (1) student received 50% - 59%.
The resident director has seen an important level of improvement in most of the year students as well as the Spring semester students. This improvement was noticeable in terms of their writing skills as well as their knowledge of Spanish culture from their first paper to the final one. On the first papers, most students write a maximum of two (2) pages, usually about their personal experience during the process of adaptation to the foreign culture (Spanish). These assignments often belong to the Spanish Composition and Conversation course (SPAN 351 or SPAN 352). The vocabulary is reduced, and limited and the grammatical structures of a very basic level. On the final paper, most students write four (4) to six (6) pages connected to topics on Spanish contemporary culture, Spanish peninsular literature and Spanish art. In general, they do not use more sophisticated vocabulary but the linguistic structures they use are more complex and better used than in the “entrance” papers. However, they seem to lack good analytical and critical thinking except when writing upon personal experiences related to foreign culture adaptation.
Through the questionnaire, undergraduate students acknowledge their need of help from their tutors (graduate students enrolled in AYA/Spain Master’s Program) both at the beginning and at the end of their sojourn in Spain. Nevertheless, they all state that the tutors’ help is more needed at the beginning than towards the end of the semester, which is corroborated by tutors’ reports (sent to resident director periodically).
Evaluation of the AYA/Spain Program
A total of nineteen (19) undergraduate students completed the Program evaluation—that is 100% participation. Most of them considered AYA/Spain Program excellent with a grade of six, the highest of the table. Excursions (field trips) and AYA/Spain staff are the better rated categories. Computer & internet facilities is the lowest rated category. Finally, all students agree on their need for planning activities together with Spanish students (from Escuela Universitaria Cardenal Cisneros) for a better immersion in the foreign culture and a linguistic exchange. As a matter of fact, they suggest that the resident director should organize academic and cultural meetings with the Spanish students at EUCC.
AYA, Spain: Answering to the undergraduate students’ evaluation of the AYA/Spain Program, the resident director is planning to create a system so that students have it easier to meet Spanish students (EUCC) through a first encounter (pizza party, orientation meeting, visit a classroom, etc) and a network of communication through email and cell phone lists of both Spanish and American students. If this system is finalized and applied, the results will be shared on future reports.
Since intellectual and personal development has not been assessed for lack of appropriate tools, the resident director is planning to think on useful tools and learning outcomes to be used to measure the students’ personal and intellectual improvement. Then, the resident director will share new ideas with the chairman and faculty of the Department of Romance Languages. If approved by the Department, the new measures will be applied to develop future assessment processes.
Curricular Revisions: This academic year, the Spanish faculty made various efforts to strengthen the curriculum. With regard to our Lower Division courses (SPAN 101, 102, 201, 202), the implementation of a new sequence to reconstitute a basic level (SPAN 101 and 102) and a true intermediate year (SPAN 201 and 202) is successfully unfolding. These courses also have an extra hour of language practice in the Language Learning Center. We believe that these efforts are improving the acquisition and proficiency of our students. For Spanish majors and minors, we offered SPAN 395 The Impact of Globalization in Mexico (a service-learning workshop) for the third time this year. We continue working with our contacts at the Universidad de Xalapa (Veracruz, Mexico investigating the possibility of a semester-long study abroad program in Mexico. Major changes were proposed for improving the location and the activities of La Comunidad. We also planned the Third Henry Garrity Film Series.
Future actions: For the coming year, the Spanish section plans to review the program by examining our courses at the 300 and 400 levels, so as to incorporate the expertise of our two new faculties in literature and linguistics. Particular attention will be paid at the creation of a 400 level course that addresses the literature and culture of Central America, as well as a conversation course that addresses some of the concerns students have expressed in the past. One of our new faculty members, Cindy Ducar, has specialized in Assessment Methods, and has authored a placement test for Spanish heritage speakers. We hope to use her expertise to improve our placement and assessment procedures.