Language Program Evaluation Tools
Sound language program evaluation tools and professionals who know how and when to use them are critical to building national Middle East language capacity. NMELRC is therefore teaming up with the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Hawaii to make the tools and training available that are necessary to develop plans and strategies that can serve as a framework for rational growth and the quality development of Middle East language fields.
Deliverables include: 1) Free, easy-to-use guides that focus on student’s learning outcomes assessment and protocols for evaluation of various models of language programs. 2) Options for pragmatic training outcomes assessment and program evaluation for Middle East language professionals in order to build field capacity, ranging from online video clips covering the basics to a two-week workshop designed to train a cadre of evaluators on the wise use of various types of assessment and evaluation activities. 3) Case studies of selected Middle East programs that implement various approaches and techniques for outcomes assessment and program evaluation which will help us to understand and improve the utility of these tools.
Impact: The findings of these evaluations are not an end in themselves; they are the starting point for planning for product and service development, as well as preparing language professionals (through professional development workshops and online resources) who will make these goals happen.
Overseas intensive programs are a sector we cannot afford to overlook. As stateside institutions assess the efficiency of their language program operations, both stateside and intensive abroad programs seem as an integral component of their programs. The same standards to which we hold our stateside programs must apply to our study abroad partners: quality of instruction, well-articulated curricula, documentation of student learning outcomes, as well as a general sense of professionalism.
The project builds on John Norris’ 2005-8 IRS-funded program evaluation project, “Program Evaluation in College Foreign Language Education” to adapt the findings and protocols of the original study to create a recommended framework for Middle East language programs. This includes a set of protocols for: stateside program evaluation, study abroad program evaluations, comprehensive student portfolio that documents learning outcomes, a teacher training component on evaluation basics, as well as a network of support offered to Middle East language programs that are serious about improving contributions that address the nation’s immediate needs, and include the flexibility necessary to meet future unforeseen needs.
The work done on a number of fronts supports a community of colleagues that recognize and value excellence, and lobby for buy-in from decision makers to support the efforts of teachers, coordinators, and chairs who want to promote excellence. This support can be articulated in the form of funding, release time to perform such duties, providing appropriate compensation, and counting such efforts towards promotion and tenure requirements. These efforts will ultimately help professionalize the field of foreign language instruction in general and Middle East languages in particular.