Assessment

As a result of the department's shift to a literacy- and genre-oriented and task-based curriculum and to pedagogical practices that reflect that orientation, the departmental teaching staff has also thoroughly reconsidered its assessment policies and practices. Like the curriculum renewal project itself this, too, was a gradual process, with focused attention being devoted at various times to aspects of assessment at the macro- (policy) level as well as the micro- (course) level, at the beginning of the program (e.g., placement testing) and also at the end of curricular levels through so-called prototypical performances, particularly in assessing students' developing writing abilities. Finally, we also sought to ascertain learning outcomes independent of the curriculum. This was done through SOPI testing according to the ACTFL scale of assessing oral proficiency.

This extensive work has resulted in a considerable number of documents, many of them internal to the teaching and assessment work of the department because of their intimate relationship to the curriculum, but a number also of a kind that might be useful to visitors to this site in their respective contexts.

We invite you to explore the site for these materials. From this page you have access to key documents. They have been arranged from more general to more specific issues in order to provide visitors to the site a flavor of the direction assessment has taken in the GUGD curriculum. Beyond that, aspects of assessment occur in conjunction with many other topics presented on this site, a reflection of the central role assessment has in decision-making for appropriate curriculum development as well as suitable pedagogical approaches, its so-called wash-back effect.

Finally, in this extensive work to rethink all of our assessment practices we have continuously been guided by John Norris, a specialist in program evaluation, educational research, and educational assessment, with a particular focus on foreign language curriculum and instruction, the role of assessment in higher education, measurement design in research on second language acquisition, and validity evaluation of educational assessments. His expertise, extensive knowledge of adult second language acquisition, and willingness to work with us in various capacities and at various levels of intensity over extended periods of time (starting with the spring of 1999 to the present) were decisive for our ability to come to see assessment practices not as ancillary or even counterproductive to what we wanted to accomplish as a collegiate German department at a highly selective institution but as a critically important way to continue to enhance all of our work in support of student learning, both undergraduate and graduate.

October 19, 2003; revised July 2011