In 2008 Dr. Myers revised the French assessment plan to include the language portfolio as recommended by the Council of Europe. Each student has on file with the Department a dedicated electronic portfolio in their name. The portfolio has three components: a language passport that describes the student's self-assessment of his or her language skills, a language biography that narrates interactions with the language and culture and serves as a reflection on the learning experience, and a dossier replete with supporting files of written and oral French, such as essays and recordings of recitals. It was hoped that moving to an assessment program such as this would increase student participation in the learning process and become more aware of their progress, since the students had to submit the language passport and biography in FRE 315 Introduction to French Studies and then had to reassess those documents in FRE 415 the French Studies Capstone. With such participation, there was reason to believe that insights resulting into actionable suggestions would occur. Indeed, when the first senior class graduated under this assessment plan, the use of labs led by our French Assistant, generally of Masters level student from the Université de Nantes, was added to the curriculum of FRE 415 to support interpersonal communication, because students felt that even in a research-oriented class, having that time to work on oral expression with the assistant was to valuable to miss. This in turn let the instructor integrate assessment of the skills of interpersonal communication into the class to complement the assessment of writing and oral presentational skills.
|Goals of the French major, from the William Jewell College 2012 catalog|
In 2010 the assessment plan was modified again when Drs. Westlie and Myers revised the goals of the French major. The major now has four learning outcomes targeting literature, history and culture, competencies for life-long learning and language skills rated at the C1 level, Proficient User on the CEFR scale, aligning the assessment plan with the learning outcomes. Then in spring 2012, the first senior class to graduate completely under the new assessment plan enrolled in FRE 415 and it was time to build assessment tools to evaluate student achievement on the activities of the capstone course.
After a careful review of the Council of Europe's website and documents provided there, four assessment tools were developed in spring 2012. The process included three steps: (1) to find language both the instructor and the student could understand and work with, (2) to format the standards in a comprehensible ways, and (3) to align the standards with letter grades needed for course work. These assessment tools are clearly inspired by the CEFR materials, yet adapted to meet the needs of the academic nature of a college French program and, more specifically, to the needs of the Jewell curriculum.
The first assessment tool designed targeted writing skills. While creative and reflective writings are incorporated into the French major program, the dissertation explicative is the heart of academic writing in the major and is included and evaluated in every major course through research-based papers and essay exams.
|CEFR assessment tool for writing|
The second assessment tool provided guidelines for the French assistant leading the lab portion of the capstone course. This new lab asked the students to recommend and research a topic of discussion each week as well as questions to spur conversation. The instructor worked with the assistant who could then guide the conversations with questions designed to elicit skill development. At the end of the semester, the assistant held a final oral interview with the students that would provide an assessment of their interpersonal communication skills.
|CEFR assessment tool for interpersonal communication|
The third assessment tool would provide an evaluation of oral presentational skills that could be used at the Recital, held at the end of each semester, and for in-class presentations.
|CEFR assessment tool for recitals and presentations|
|CEFR assessment tool for sketches|
Our thanks go to the students of the capstone course who were willing first subjects and these documents did go through revisions based on that first experience and I suspect that they will most likely be updated as they are integrated throughout the curriculum. Thanks as well to the spring 300-level students who first tried out the presentational assessment tool at their Recital after one test run at their midterm in-class presentation.