Student Achievement Assessment Committee
1. 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.
2. Assessment methods and procedures
A. Outcome Assessment
i. Linguistic Proficiency:
• Grammar and Reading: Students were asked to take the “University of Wisconsin College-Level Placement Test for Spanish (Grammar and Reading Comprehension).” More than half of the students graduating in December 2003 and May 2004 had taken the same test when they entered the program. 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 those students studying for one academic year in our AYA-Spain program. 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.
i. Linguistic Proficiency:
• Grammar, Reading and Listening: Undergraduate students were asked to take the “University of Wisconsin Placement Test.” Every undergraduate student enrolled in AYA/Spain both Fall and Spring semesters (FS) took the test at the beginning of his/her sojourn in Spain (September) and at the end of it (April). Our objective is to compare results and draw conclusions. The test involves three sets of examinations: Grammar, Reading, and Listening.
• Writing: FS undergraduate students were asked to turn in an outcomes portfolio consisting of one paper from one of their earliest classes in Spain and one paper that represented their best work towards the end of their second semester in Spain. In addition, students were also asked to write a brief statement commenting on the development of their writing skills in Spanish using their two documents in their portfolio as evidence for their assertions.
• Interview: 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•
3. Analysis and Interpretation of the Assessments
A. Outcomes Assessment
Based on the evaluation of both the grammar/reading diagnostic test and the portfolios, the faculty believed the students have met the Spanish program’s learning outcomes.
• Grammar/Reading Diagnostic Test: Fifteen of the seventeen graduating students took both Entrance and Exit tests. All who took the tests show improvement in their scores (see Appendix I). The lowest improvement was 1% and the highest was 54%. 50% of the students showed an improvement of 20% or more. Four of the fourteen (29%) students received scores of 90-100% (69-77 correct answers of 77 total questions). Seven (50%) received scores 80-89% (62-68 correct answers of 77 total questions). Four students did not show much improvement from their entrance scores (1-9%). One student had an extremely high entrance score. The others had lower entrance scores and showed little improvement during our program. Although we do not have entrance scores for two students, they scored 80% and 98% respectively on the exit test. The exit score for one student is also missing, but her entrance score was extremely high (94%).
As in 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 an outstanding level of improvement among the sixteen 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.
• Evaluation of the Spanish Program: Fourteen of the seventeen graduating students returned the Spanish Program Evaluation form. The average rating of their experience in the Spanish program is 3.3 (4 being ‘excellent’ and 1 ‘poor’). 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; and 4) small class sizes. 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, interact with native speakers, and learn about Spanish cultures; 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) improve La Comunidad (Spanish-language living learning community) by having a smaller space (e.g., house).
B. Midterm Assessment
Based on the evaluation of both the Wisconsin Placement Test and the portfolios, AYA/Spain resident director believes the students have met the learning outcomes mentioned above.
• Grammar/Reading Diagnostic Test: Every undergraduate student takes the test at the beginning of the semester in order to be placed at the appropriate course level. Only those students who enroll in AYA/Spain during Fall and Spring semesters (FS) were asked to take the WPT again towards the end of their second semester in Spain in order to accomplish the assessment process. Nineteen (19) undergraduate students took the test at the beginning of the Fall semester (September 2004). Ten (10) out of the nineteen (19) students completed a second semester in AYA/Spain program. Consequently, these ten (10) FS students were asked to take the WPT again at the end of their second semester in Spain. The scores of these students are presented in Appendix II.
The Wisconsin Placement Test (WPT) has three types of examinations: Grammar, Reading, and Listening.
i. Examination I (Grammar): Ten (10) out of ten (10), that is 100% of the AYA/Spain FS students, showed improvement in their scores. Seven (7) of the ten (10) students received 90% - 100% (36 – 43 correct answers out of 43 total questions). Three (3) of the ten (10) students received 80% - 89% (29 – 35 correct answers out of 43 total questions).
ii. Examination II (Reading): Ten (10) out of ten (10), that is 100% of the AYA/Spain SF students, showed improvement in their scores. Six (6) of the ten (10) students received 90% - 100% (26 – 33 correct answers out of 33 total questions). Four (4) of the ten (10) students received 80% - 89% (20 – 25 correct answers out of 33 total questions).
iii. Examination III (Listening): Ten (10) out of ten (10), that is 100% of the AYA/Spain SF students, showed improvement in their scores. Six (6) of the ten (10) students received 90% - 100% (30 – 36 correct answers out of 36 total questions). Four (4) of the ten (10) students received 80% - 89% (24 – 29 correct answers out of 36 total questions).
• Portfolios: The Resident Director saw an outstanding level of improvement among the ten (10) FS students who presented their portfolios and participated in the assessment interview. The improvement was noticeable in terms of their writing skills and knowledge of Hispanic literatures and cultures from their first paper to the latter one. In the first papers, most students write a maximum of three (3) pages, usually about their personal experiences. These assignments are often from the Spanish Composition and Conversation course (SPAN 351 & 352). Interesting enough, on the latter paper, most students write seven (7) to ten (10) pages, frequently about a topic connected to Spanish Culture or Spanish Literature, assignments required for Literature, Art and Culture, and History courses (300 & 400 levels). In addition, they use more sophisticated vocabulary as well as a more complex usage of linguistic structures such as the subjunctive mood or third person narrative voice. Above all, most of the students were able to demonstrate their knowledge of Hispanic cultures and literatures as well as their ability in analytical and critical thinking.
In their responses to the questionnaire, students acknowledge that they all needed a lot of help from their tutors (graduate students enrolled in AYA/Spain Master Program) for the first papers. However, for the latter papers, most were able to work independently and required very little revisions by tutors in spite of the length and complexity of the assignment. Their tutors completely verify this change in the reports about their tutoring activities that they send to the resident director (two reports per month).
• Evaluation of the AYA/Spain program: Thirty-three (33) students (graduate and undergraduate) were enrolled in AYA/Spain program during Spring semester 2005. Out of thirty-three (33), thirty-one (31) completed the evaluation. Out of thirty-one (31), twenty-two (22) considered AYA/Spain program “Excellent” with a grade of six, the highest in the table. Eight (8) of the students considered the AYA/Spain program “Above Average.” Finally, one student considered the AYA/Spain program “Average.”
• Curricular Revisions: This academic year, the Spanish faculty made various efforts to diversify and improve the curriculum. With regard to our Lower Division courses (SPAN 101, 102, 201, 202), we implemented a new sequence to establish a true beginning year (SPAN 101 and 102) and a true intermediate year (SPAN 201 and 202). These courses also have an extra hour of language practice in the Language Learning Center. We believe that these efforts will improve 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 second time this year. One faculty member, Dr. Amy Robinson, has established contacts with the Universidad de Xalapa (Veracruz, Mexico). The SPAN 395 course was held at this institution this year and we are currently investigating the possibility of a semester-long study abroad program in Mexico.
• Computerized Grammar/Reading Test for Placement and Assessment: Last year, the Spanish faculty has applied for and received an Assessment Grant from the Subcommittee of the Student Assessment Committee in order to buy a computerized Spanish placement exam from Brigham Young University. This year, we implemented the exam in our lower division courses (SPAN 101, 102, 201, and 202). We are currently studying the results of the students who took the placement tests at the beginning and at the end of their lower division courses. The results of these comparisons will provide us with the information to establish cut-off scores for various levels. In the future, we hope to be able to use the exam as a way to help incoming students to choose the most appropriate Spanish course for their level. We are contemplating using this new placement exam to replace the Grammar and Reading exam, which is currently part of our assessment procedure for our Spanish undergraduate program.
• Future actions: For the coming year, the Spanish section has various plans to improve our programs. We will examine our courses at the 300 and 400 levels to standardize our requirements for students in writing, reading, and speaking practice. Another area that we plan to work on is to analyze the performance of Spanish Education majors on their Praxis II Content Knowledge exams. Our immediate purpose is to identify the variables that affect fluctuation of scores from one year to another in relation to the national average pass rate. In Spring 2005, the first group of Spanish Education students was also required to take the ACTFL proficiency measures (Oral Proficiency Interview and Writing Proficiency Test) as part of the NCATE accreditation process. We will also use the results of all of these exams to evaluate our program’s efforts to prepare Spanish teachers through curricula on campus and study abroad, advising, and other measures.
For the Midterm Assessment procedures done in our AYA program, we are planning a more complete study, which is going to measure students’ intellectual and personal development together with culture adjustment during the academic year when they study in Spain. Once we complete these reports, we will also start applying this assessment process to AYA/Spain semester students. Our goal is to develop the assessment process for all AYA/Spain students, including graduate students as well.
Several section members will work on these goals during the coming academic year and will present their findings to the rest of the Spanish faculty in order to implement the needed changes.