Preparatory Work (Spring 1997)

Jan. 1997 Original proposal presented to the Faculty
Feb. 1997 Acceptance, with minor modifications, by the faculty. Subsequent presentation to and input from the graduate students.
Spring 1997  Administrative work to describe the new curriculum to deans, advisors, and students, in flyers and diverse Newsletter announcements, readying for fall 1997 preregistration in April.
This followed the decision to begin full implementation of levels I – III and Text and Context immediately in the fall of 1997, rather than using a phase-in model.
Note: Subsequent workshops have always included all faculty and all TAs. In addition, all graduate students, irrespective of whether they were currently serving as TAs, were encouraged to participate in these events.
April 11 Half-day workshop in which the goals and themes of the sequenced courses, at levels I and III and Text and Context, were further specified
May 15 Half-day workshop
Further discussion of level goals for levels I – III, themes that best represent the content focus of the levels/courses; issues of syllabus construction and assessment; favored pedagogical approaches for enhancing particular language competencies (e.g., speaking, writing), and issues pertaining to new course development for the non-sequenced courses.
Decision on materials (including English background readings for levels I – III) and materials development, particularly authentic listening texts.

Summer 1997 Coordinated materials development
Greater incorporation and didacticization of authentic video materials, particularly at Levels II and III, the Intermediate and Advanced levels.
Preparation of framework statement for the curriculum and guidelines for the TAs.

Implementation: Year One (AY 1997-98)

Fall 1997

Beginning of the semester:
Meeting of all teaching staff to discuss summer work and further coordinate the upcoming first implementation phase of the new curriculum

End of Fall semester:
The decision to teach the remainder of level III, part 2 (spring semester), and the new Intensive Level III course in the spring semester without a textbook and to develop the necessary instructional materials. Determination of themes and topics; course development during Christmas break.

Revamping of Text in Context and preparation of proposals for new level IV courses: “Grim(m) Fairytales,” “Mysteries, Madness, Murder,” following the guidelines developed for Level IV courses (see courses for course development activities that accompanied the curriculum renewal).
End-of-semester student opinion survey to obtain students’ feedback on the curriculum

Spring 1998

Increased mutual observation of classes by faculty and graduate students
Further development of level IV courses (e.g., “Look who’s laughing: German comedies”)
End-of-semester data collection of language samples, at levels I – III
Ongoing analysis of this material.
May 14, 15, 21, two and 1/2 day workshop
Recapitulation of the previous year (e-mail comments had been solicited from all teachers, about their assessment of the curriculum renewal effort)
Summary of fall 1997 student questionnaire feedback
Coherence from level to level, and coordination of pedagogies and assessment
Further specification of themes, topics, texts, and pedagogical tasks
A process approach to second language learning on each level and its pedagogical implications
Issues of syllabus construction and assessment
The decision to do away with the Level II textbook

Summer 1998

Materials development, at levels I – III
Particular emphasis on Levels II and III because of the discontinuation of textbooks
Creation of faculty/graduate student teams to be engaged in syllabus and materials development
Begin web page development

Implementation: Year Two (AY 1998-99)

Fall 1998
August workshop of all teaching staff
Report on the summer work, and coordination and fine-tuning prior to the beginning of the semester.
Presentation of draft syllabi.
Continued class visits
Additional proposals at levels IV, two accepted from graduate students, to be taught in Spring 1999, “Berlin Stories” and “Voices from Germany: Inside and Outside”
Further refinement of various documents, pertaining to the curriculum and to the Department’s sequenced mentored TA development
Amendment of the Departmental merit review guidelines to include the curriculum renewal effort: For a three-year period, the faculty are evaluated on four criteria, teaching, scholarship, service, and the curriculum renewal effort.
Continued web page development to document the curriculum project
Series of faculty development workshops emphasizing issues at Levels IV and V

Spring 1999
Focus on assessment (for further details see the entry “Assessment”)
Under the guidance of John Norris, Ph.D. (then Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hawaií, Manaoa), developed, specification, and implementation of a task-based performance assessment framework: spring and summer 1999.
Specific activities included

  • Three faculty development workshops (January 27, April 15, and May 21)
  • Creation of a series of questionnaires on assessment practices and test use addressed to both students and teachers in Level I-IV courses
  • Creation of use specifications for Level I-IV courses and policy guidelines pertaining to assessment practices in the Department as a whole

Approval (April 13) of the document “Statement on Graduate Teacher Development, Supervision, and Curriculum Maintenance”

Level I materials decision:
Based on a comprehensive questionnaire answered by both Level I and Level II instructors which pertained to the attainment of Level I goals and objectives and also addressed the suitability of current materials the decision was made to adopt a new textbook, as of fall 1999.

Realignment of Level IV and V courses
The decision to create a small group of five courses at Level IV, as contrasted with the previous practice of more varied offerings at this level. They are united by a focus on discourse features and textuality. Majors are highly encouraged to take Text in Context. All students must take at least two Level IV courses; no other restrictions apply.
The remaining courses are now located at Level V and will be reconfigured in accordance with the curricular goals.

Diverse dissemination efforts.

Summer 1999

Development of new curriculum-based placement procedures and instrument(s)
This effort was directed by John Norris, assisted by graduate students, and pilot testing with participants in the Trier Summer Program.
Faculty-graduate student teams work on extensive materials development and syllabus and pedagogical work for Level I courses and further refinement of Level II and III courses.
New course development (e.g., “Germany in Europe”; third Business German course; “Narrative and Memory”) and reconceptualization of Topics and Methods course.
Creation of a shared computer drive, accessible to faculty and graduate students, for all curriculum materials
Expansion of web site on the curriculum project

Implementation: Year Three

During the final year of implementation, the curriculum renewal project continued to refine the entire sequence in terms of its objectives and also adjusted specific course syllabi and materials on the basis of input from the level-specific teams which was then interpreted by the entire group. Beyond those pan-curricular efforts, work focused heavily on assessment in two broad areas: assessment of learner outcomes at the curricular and course level, both summative and formative, and beginning assessment of the curriculum itself in terms of learner outcomes. Within the assessment of learner outcomes, we devoted particular attention to the development and assessment of writing in a process-writing environment that, furthermore, was content-oriented and task-based. Further information on that aspect of our work which is ongoing is found under “assessment.”

Fall 1999

Beginning-of-the-year curriculum workshop, presenting summer materials and course development work, and general outlook for the year’s work (August 25, 1999).
First use of new placement instrument, collection of background information on examinees, and tracking of placement in courses.
Administration of the C-test portion of the placement exam to all students, levels I-IV, at the beginning and end of the semester.
Administration of self-assessment to all students, levels I-IV.
Administration of the German Speaking test (GST), a simulated Oral Proficiency Interview, to a sample of student volunteers at levels II-IV. This was done both at the beginning and at the end of the semester.
Training and certification of graduate students in rating the German Speaking test (GST) offered by the Center for Applied Linguistics
Collection of semester-end written essays, levels I-III.
Collection of semester-end oral interviews, levels I-III.
Collection of semester final exams, levels I-III.
Implementation of curriculum maintenance procedures, including regular meetings of level coordinators with instructors.
Faculty seminar on the further specification of Level IV and V courses (Byrnes, October 25, 1999).
Level-specific work to coordinate speaking and writing-assessment and end-of-semester assessment and data gathering.
Creation of a shared network drive that contains all pedagogical information of the sequences levels I-III and Text in Context and is available to the entire teaching staff.
Dissemination work

Spring 2000

Workshops/presentations by faculty on various aspects of developing academic literacy in Level V courses (January 2000)
Administration of GST to all classes levels I-III
Rating of GST tapes by graduate student raters
Specification of writing tasks and associated pedagogic/assessment purposes
Initial analyses of (a) placement exam; (b) C-test; (c) self-assessment; (d) GST
Transcription of fall, 1999 semester-end performance data (ongoing)
First, two stages of the three-stage specification of writing assessment (ongoing during AY 2000-2001): (a) gathering of information on all graded writing events, Levels I-III and Text in Context; (b) beginning development of assessment criteria in terms of language focus, the weighting of specific features, and creation of an idealized performance profile of writing at these levels.
Creation of writing assessment document, with general and level-specific components.
Adjust cut-off ranges of placement test
Dissemination efforts

May 2000

End of academic year departmental workshop (May 15), with a preliminary summary presentation on assessment (learning outcomes and curriculum) by John Norris.

Summer 2000

Updating and organizational tasks pertaining to the sequenced courses, particularly the availability of all current materials on the shared network drive.
Award of the Spencer Grant focused on the teacher researcher.
Completion of the implementation phase of the curriculum renewal project.

Outlook for AY 2000-2001

Finalize writing assessment guidelines and conduct workshops emphasizing the consistency of assessment/grading practices and making recommendations on feedback.
Begin the process of developing speaking assessment guidelines
Beginning of the three teacher-researcher activities proposed under the Spencer Grant.

September 1, 2000, hb; revised July 2011