Dr. John M. Morris associate professor in the Linguistics Department at Georgetown University will give a talk entitled: "Toward useful assessment and evaluation in language education."
Abstract: While assessment and evaluation rightly conceived offer considerable potential for illuminating and improving college education, received traditions and recent impetuses have engendered resistance from language educators and others. Measurement instruments and the constructs they target may have little to do with learning goals valued in our disciplines, and imposed assessment frameworks may delimit the teaching and learning that occurs in our classes and programs. However, the educative contribution of assessment and evaluation need not be conflated with “standardized testing” and related watchwords of the accountability movement. Indeed, recent intellectual developments from within diverse language and humanities disciplines point to the possibility of a useful role for assessment and related processes like program evaluation. In consonance with these moves, and based on recent research findings related to student learning outcomes assessment, I suggest that assessment and evaluation in higher education should be driven by their intended consequences as opposed to those constructs which are easily measured or those methods which are simply politically expedient. For language programs, that implies first that we articulate specific uses for assessment and evaluation that respond to both internal and external demands, but with a constant eye towards our own educational ethics. At the same time, it implies that we define the constructs (the valued learning expectations in our classes, programs, and disciplines), that we develop meaningful and rigorous means for gathering evidence about them, and that we put that evidence to use in intended ways. As we re-envision assessment and evaluation to be something of our own devise—and as emergent examples of practices indigenous to language programs indicate—by taking responsibility for both the constructs and the consequences of assessment and evaluation, we stand a much better chance of ensuring and perpetuating the value of what we have to offer in language education.
- Davis, J. McE., Sinicrope, C., & Watanabe, Y. (2009). College foreign language program evaluation: Current practice, future directions. In J. M. Norris, J. McE. Davis, C. Sinicrope, & Y. Watanabe (Eds.), Toward useful program evaluation in college foreign language education (pp. 209–226). Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i, National Foreign Language Resource Center.
- Norris, J. M. (2006). The why (and how) of student learning outcomes assessment in college FL education. Modern Language Journal, 90(4), 590-597.
- Norris, J. M., & Watanabe, Y. (2011). Program evaluation. Blackwell Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics.
- Yang, W. (2009). Evaluation of teacher induction practices in a US university English language program: Towards useful evaluation. Language Teaching Research, 13, 77-98.
Prof. Cindy Brantmeier: firstname.lastname@example.org