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Department of French and Italian
Last updated 4/11/2002

Knowledge and skill goals for this undergraduate degree program are recorded in the most recent CU-Boulder catalog.

In some summaries of assessment activity, goals are referred to by number (e.g., K-2 is knowledge goal 2).

French

The French program evaluates students' accomplishment of its goals through a process of rigorous faculty mentoring and evaluation. That process is focused upon the requirement of the Senior Essay. It is a process which constitutes an established, substantive, annual assessment tool; it involves all of the faculty members in the unit; and it is one which the faculty unanimously support.

All majors must pursue a senior research project, the Senior Essay. That project is conceived as their capstone experience in our unit. The Senior Essay is normally undertaken in conjunction with a Senior Seminar in the major's final year. Working closely with a faculty member, students conceive a research topic and write a 15- to 20-page paper thereon. The faculty member reads and comments upon a draft of that paper at least once-and typically more than once-before the student submits the final version. Students present their research reports in written form and orally, in the presence of their classmates, the course instructor, and another member of the department. During the oral presentation, time is given for specific discussion, in French, of the topic.

Further, the strongest students in the program are encouraged to present a senior Honors Thesis in lieu of the Senior Essay. The Honors Thesis consists of a 40- to 45-page research paper, prepared in close collaboration (normally over the course of two semesters) with a faculty mentor. The final version of the Honors Thesis is read by and discussed with three members of the faculty, one of whom comes from another department or program. Students who elect the Honors Thesis must enroll in French 3200 ("Introduction to Literary Theory and Advanced Critical Analysis"), a course the department inaugurated in 1996.

The Senior Essay and oral presentation are evaluated by a committee of French faculty including the student's essay advisor. There are two members on each committee. The senior Honors Thesis and oral presentation are evaluated by a committee of three members of the Boulder faculty, including the student's thesis director, a member of another department, and a member of the Honors Council. The committees evaluate the content and methodology of the student's work and the student's language skills.

Almost all of the 20-25 essays or theses each year are rated satisfactory by their committees, although some first undergo recommended revisions. In addition, several students each year have been recommended for cum laude, summa cum laude, or magna cum laude graduation on the strength of their Honors Thesis performance. The evaluation process is informally linked to the goals of our program outlined in the CU catalogue, and is governed by principles of academic rigor and freedom.

New courses in the departmental curriculum are designed to improve majors' conversational abilities and their skills in communicating course-related insights in oral and written French, and to make the expertise of the department faculty available to the broader student population. The Honors program has been revised with the addition of a further 6 hours of required study including 3 credits of faculty-guided independent study and a new critical thinking course, FREN 3200 ("Introduction to Literary Theory and Advanced Critical Analysis"), first offered in fall 1996. Another course, FREN 3100 ("Introduction to Critical Reading and Writing in French Literature"), is required of all majors, and is intended to prepare them for the Senior Essay.

After the Senior Essays and the Honors Theses have been approved and accepted, they become archival documents in the department, and are thus available for consultation and review.

Italian

The Italian program evaluates students' accomplishment of its goals through a process of rigorous faculty mentoring and evaluation. That process is now focused upon the requirement of the Senior Essay, which the Italian program put in place in Spring 1998 after a similar requirement in the French program proved useful as an outcomes assessment tool. It is a process which constitutes an established, substantive, annual assessment tool; it involves all of the faculty members in the unit; and it is one which the faculty unanimously support.

Throughout the 3000- and 4000-level courses required for the major, students must demonstrate understanding of the content of selected literary texts and comment on formal elements. Such analysis and commentary are part of required essays, oral presentations, and examinations that also demonstrate their mastery of modern standard Italian. In addition, they must demonstrate an informed awareness of contemporary Italian culture, politics, and current events, and the ability to follow Italian broadcasts and film.

All the faculty as a group closely supervise the course work and cumulative achievements of each major, in all knowledge and skill areas. Weaknesses are remedied by advising students to take a particular course or independent study with one of the faculty.

The Senior Essay, strictly parallel to the one in French, has been added since the last Outcomes Assessment report; and an Honors Thesis option has been added. This will enable us to assess outcomes in Italian in the same way and with the same rigor as we do in French. ITAL 2130 ("Introduction to Literary Analysis") is intended to prepare Italian majors for the Senior Essay. Students electing to do an Honors Thesis must take FREN 3200 ("Introduction to Literary Theory and Advanced Critical Analysis"), which is taught in English, for majors in both French and Italian.

Just as in the French program, Senior Essays and Honors Theses in the Italian program become archival documents in the department, and are thus available for consultation and review.

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Last revision 07/12/02


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