French B.A. Assessment Plan

Mission Statement

The faculty in French are committed to helping their majors attain a high degree of skill in the five areas of language usage: speaking, listening, reading, writing, and cultural understanding. With the increasing globalization of activity in all areas of public life, the importance for our students of entering the work force with a command of at least one foreign language cannot be doubted. French stands out among the available options by virtue of its importance in the fields of medicine, technology, diplomacy, and finance, among others, as well as by the interest which its distinctive cachet continues to inspire in beginning learners of the language. We may confidently expect--and statistical measures confirm this--that the demand for instruction in French will continue to grow at a healthy rate. By developing our students' skills in each of the five areas, we are preparing them to succeed in the greatest possible variety of situations where French may be required, without, however, neglecting our traditional mission of preparing the majority of them to pursue careers as secondary and college-level teachers of French. The members of the French section have opted to use the ACTFL (American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages) Proficiency Guidelines as the main tool for assessing the performance of our incoming and exiting majors. Following their initial publication in 1986, the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines have gained widespread application as a metric against which to measure learners' functional competency; that is, their ability to accomplish linguistic tasks representing a variety of levels. The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines offer a reliable and finely calibrated instrument for assessing what language learners can do with the language rather than what they cannot do.

To measure speaking/listening in the foreign language, a special tool called the Modified Oral Proficiency Interview (MOPI) will be used. This nationalized assessment will show where majors are on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) standards for speaking/listening. The MOPI is an audio-mediated test of speaking proficiency. All MOPI items are based on the speaking proficiency guidelines developed by ACTFL. The test is presented to examinees via a test booklet and audio (either via a recording or in person). During testing, the examinee listens to directions for speaking tasks while following along in a test booklet. As the examinee responds to each task, his or her speaking performance is recorded. Each examinee's response is later evaluated by a trained rater (i.e. members of the assessment committee) who scores the performance according to the proficiency guidelines developed ACTFL. Each examinee receives a proficiency rating based on the ACTFL proficiency scale (http://actflproficiencyguidelines2012.org)

To measure reading/writing in the foreign language, the French major will submit one of his/her research papers that was completed during the fourth year of study for a 400-level literature course in their major. The committee will then evaluate that paper using an established rubric.

A rotating committee of faculty in French will serve on the assessment committee every Spring and Fall semester to evaluate speaking/listening and reading/writing.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Students  will be able to read and comprehend literary and cultural texts written in French. Students are expected to have reached the Advanced range of reading proficiency (Advanced or Advanced-Plus, as specified in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines for Reading).

Student Performance Indicators
  • Majors, after finishing the required list of courses, choose a minimum of 2 courses numbered 407 or above. In any of those courses students will be expected to comprehend difficult literary and cultural texts written in French. They are called upon to discuss and analyze what they have read.
Assessment Method
  • Students will be evaluated by traditional methods: successful completion of the class as demonstrated through exams, assignments, class presentations and discussions.

2. Students will be able to speak French at the Intermediate Mid to Intermediate High range.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Students will take part in a Modified Oral Proficiency Interview with two trained faculty members in French.
Assessment Method
  • When a student applies for graduation with a French major, he/she will be evaluated by two faculty members in French, who will agree upon an Oral Proficiency Rating, based on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines for Speaking.

3. Students will be able to write research papers in French that demonstrate writing proficiency in the Advanced range (Advanced Low, Mid or High, as specified in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines for Writing).

Student Performance Indicators
  • Students will submit a term paper that demonstrates their ability to present, develop and support an analytical argument. This paper would preferably be one written in a 400-level seminar on French literature.
Assessment Method
  • Each student's paper will be evaluated by two faculty members who will agree upon a Writing Proficiency rating, based on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines for Writing.