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PBA Home > Institutional Research & Analysis > Outcomes Assessment > Unit Summaries > Germanic Studies: Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures

Germanic Studies: Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures
Last updated 11/3/1999

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).

The department uses an independently developed, objective examination to evaluate achievement of goals S-1 and S-2, ability to understand, read, write and speak German. The Goethe Institute examinations include tests of listening comprehension, writing, reading comprehension and structural analysis, and oral proficiency. They are internationally recognized tools to ascertain a student's proficiency in the German language. Until 1992-93 the Zertifikat Deutsch als Femdsprache was a three hour examination. That year it was completely restructured and it now includes a three hour and thirty minute written part and a fifteen-minute individual oral exam for each student. In 1996-97 the exam was administered only to 3rd-year students. This represents a rise in the department's expectations of its students' linguistic proficiency over past years. We now suggest that all 3rd-year students take this test. If they fail, they can retake it the following year (we are contemplating administering this test twice a year in the foreseeable future). Participation is exclusively voluntary. Eight (8) students elected to take the test in 1996-97, having had very little preparation. Five students passed with equivalent grades of one A, three Bs, and one C. It needs to be stressed that we instituted this focus on 3rd-year students more or less as an experiment to help us find even more accurate measures of what exactly our students learn in the two and a half years past the language requirement level of three semesters.

In 1994-95, the department added the Goethe Institut's Pruefung Wirtschaftsdeutsch, which specifically tests business German and is taken by those students who participate in our Business German courses. Ten (10) students participated in 1996-97, six (6) third-year students and four (4) fourth-year students. All of them passed. The test is divided into a written and an oral part and both parts are scored separately. The results of the written part were: one A, five A-, three Bs, and one C. In the oral part the results were six As, three A-, and one C. These are very respectable results and a high level of participation. The AATG (American Association of German Teachers) lists CU-Boulder as the institution with the second highest number of participants in the test!

In 1996-97, the faculty asked all graduating seniors to take the Goethe Institut's Zentrale Mittelstufenpruefung, widely considered the best available measure of advanced proficiency in German.

Thirteen (13) students participated, approximately 90% of the graduating seniors. This test, like the others, has a written and an oral part and is very highly regarded. Passing this test, for instance, entitles a student to enter a German university without passing the German linguistic entrance test adminstered by the universities there. The results were: five As, seven Bs, and one C. Students are highly motivated to take this test because of its prestige and the results clearly indicate this.

The department will introduce a fourth test during 1997-98, the Deutsch fuer den Beruf, or Professional German, which will will complement the Zertifikat Deutsch test administered during the third year.

Despite the current emphasis on practical language skills, it should also be stressed that all of these tests require a high level of structural knowledge of the language and linguistic abstraction.

In 1994-95 the faculty added information from the senior capstone seminar GRMN 4550 to the outcomes assessment process, evaluating students' knowledge of German culture and their ability to think critically about the subject matter. The capstone seminar was added to the curriculum in 1992-93. Students' final papers were read independently by three faculty members, including the seminar's instructor. The papers were read for content and for critical ability; the readers agreed that the work reviewed so far fell into the range between B+ and A. The faculty plan to evaluate these papers periodically over periods of two to three years and examine their characteristics and what they indicate about all of the department's goals. In addition, the seminar participants most years have individual one-hour interviews with the instructor. Currently, these interviews have been temporarily suspended while the faculty review the interview questions and procedures to make them better assessment tools.

Activity in 1997-98 and 1998-99

German Studies Program

In 1997-98 we administered three exams, testing different kinds of proficiencies in German language.

On April 18, 1997, nine students took the Business German Exam Prüfung Wirtschaftsdeutsch International. They were junior and senior level majors and minors. Of these, six students scored total points equivalent of "A," two students "A-," and one student "C." The exam is very demanding in that it not only requires a knowledge of the idiomatic language used in German business but also a thorough grasp of the German economic system and business practices. The test results speak for themselves.

On April 25, 1998, seven students took the Business German Exam with the following results: four students scored points equivalent to "A,", two students scored "A-," and one student did not pass. In both exams, approximately 60% received top scores.

In 1999 no undergraduates took the Business German Exam. This time, however, we also offered a new test, a Professional German Exam, in international standardized test which is on an intermediate to advanced level. Seven students participated, of whom one student did not pass, four students scored total points equivalent to "C," and two students scored the equivalent of "C-." It needs to be emphasized that the test is very demanding and that the students who take it are third-year students who have had only one semester of Professional German.

In both 1997-98 and 1998-99 we offered the test Zentrale Mittelstufenprüfung, Intermediate German Exam, which is actually an advanced test that is also used as the German equivalent of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). In '97-'98 four students took the test with score equivalents of two "B" and two "C+." In 1998-99 nine students participated and of these two reached a score of "A," five students scored "B" and two students scored "C." The sample of four out of a graduating class of 12 students in 1997-98 was somewhat smaller than usual, but in 1998-99 we had nine students out of a graduating class of 15.

We continue to sample work done in the senior seminar GRMN 4550, "The Role of Intellectuals and Academics in German Culture." All students, regardless of whether they are actually graduating that same spring, have to write a 25-page research paper on a topic developed by the individual student during the first month of the semester. In addition they are asked to participate individually in an exit interview in which they are asked questions about their experiences in the program and in the senior seminar, and where they are also given an opportunity to link their major to the professional career plans. There is a separate section of the interview where students are asked to answer specific questions of a historical or cultural nature. The answers are recorded and place in a permanent file.

Russian Studies

Assistant Professor Artemi Romanov became outcomes assessment coordinator of the Russian Program in GSLL in Fall, 1998. Previously the Russian program at CU used to administer the Educational Testing Service's (ETS) Russian Language Proficiency Test to assess the level of Russian language proficiency among graduating majors. However, in 1997 ETS decided to cease offering tests in Russian (as they came to a conclusion that the old test was outdated and they did not want to put resources into developing a new one).

In order to test our students in Fall, 1998 Professor Romanov developed a Russian Proficiency Test, parts of which were borrowed (with their permission) from an examination developed by George Washington University. Students were tested in four skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) guidelines were used in assessing the proficiency level of students. In line with the program's expectations, most of its students demonstrated proficiency in Russian at a level ranging from intermediate-mid to advanced. Advanced level of Russian proficiency is usually achieved by students who spend at least a semester in Russia when they live and study there.

Here are results for the 12 students who took the Russian Proficiency Test in 1998-99:

Speaking: 2 Advanced, 4 Intermediate-high, 6 Intermediate-mid

Listening: 1 Advanced plus, 2 Advanced, 5 Intermediate-high, 4 Intermediate-mid

Reading: 6 Advanced, 5 Intermediate-high, 1 Intermediate-mid

Writing: 1 Advanced, 5 Intermediate-high, 5 Intermediate-mid, 1 Intermediate-low

 

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Last revision 05/24/02


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