Student Achievement Assessment Committee
2002-2003 Academic year
• Learning Outcomes for Spanish Majors (Arts & Sciences) and Spanish Education
• 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.
Knowledge of Hispanic Literatures and Cultures:
• Ability to present original research on Hispanic literatures and cultures in written form.
• Measurement and Settings
• Grammar and Reading: Students were asked to take the “University of Wisconsin College-Level Placement Test for Spanish (Grammar and Reading Comprehension).” Most of the students graduating in December 2001 and May 2002 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.
o 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.
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.
• Analysis and Interpretation of the Assessments
• After having completed all the interviews, faculty members reported the results of the assessment process. 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: Nine of the ten graduating students took both Entrance and Exit tests. Most who took the tests show improvement in their scores (see Appendix). The lowest improvement was 0.01% and the highest was 59.5%. 33.3% of the students showed an improvement of 11% or more.
• Seven of the ten students received scores of 90-100% (69-77 correct answers of 77 total questions). Three received scores 80-89% (62-68 correct answers of 77 total questions). The low rates of improvement and two negative scores reflect the abnormally high scores by the students on their entrance exams. For the three students who had lower scores on their entrance exams, all made dramatic improvement.
• 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 ten students who presented their portfolios and participated in the assessment interviews. An analysis of the papers revealed a noticeable improvement between the first and second papers. In their second papers, the students utilized more complex grammatical structures and more coherent discourse, with extensive and sophisticated vocabulary. They also demonstrated their knowledge and understanding of Hispanic literatures and cultures.
• Evaluation of the Hispanic Program: All of the eleven graduating students returned the Spanish Program Evaluation form. The average rating of their experience in the Spanish program is 3.27 (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 of classes offered, 3) the professors, 4) Spanish Club and Sigma Delta Pi. There was no consensus regarding the weaknesses of the program. The students offered a variety of suggestions to improve the program: offer internship and work programs, job preparation seminars, assessment interviews during program to measure progress in developing language skills, have students make a presentation about cultural topics, provide more selection of courses at 400 level courses, develop more extracurricular activities, and offer more courses in conversation and grammar.
• Curricular Revision: This academic year, the Spanish faculty made various efforts to diversify and improve the curriculum. A committee continued discussions about the restructuring of the major gateway courses (SPAN 351 and SPAN 352). The Spanish section has also been working on standardizing the 300-level courses in Hispanic Literatures and Civilizations. In addition, the Lower Division is also under revision. Several specific changes to the Spanish curriculum have been made this year. One course, Advanced Oral Expression, has been implemented and is open to all Spanish majors, responding to the students’ comments regarding more resources to develop their oral skills in Spanish. The offering of this course was also motivated by comments from the students that “their weakest skill was oral communication” (2000 Summary of Assessment, 2). Other improvements to the Spanish curriculum included the addition of several course options recently approved by the college. SPAN 379 “Readings in Hispanic Studies” (an independent study course for 1-3 credit hours) allows students at the intermediate levels to study a particular topic related to Hispanic literatures and language. Previously, students wishing to do an independent study could only do so at the advanced level (SPAN 470). Also, a new Selected Topics course (SPAN 380) has been approved in order to offer instruction about special topics in Peninsular, Latin American, and US Latino literatures, film, culture, language, and linguistics. Another approved course is SPAN 395, which will be offered for all-day workshops about specific topics. These new courses respond to the students’ suggestions for increasing variety of courses offered by the Spanish Section.
• Computerized Grammar/Reading Test for Placement and Assessment: The university has not allocated the funds to purchase this test, which both internal and external reviewers have recommended in the past.
• Future actions: For this coming year, we intend to continue efforts to restructure the three levels of the Spanish curriculum (Lower Division, Gateway courses for the Spanish major, and 300-level courses) with the aim of standardizing syllabi and curriculum as recommended by students in previous years. Various 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.