Student Outcomes Assessment Plan
Department of Modern Languages
Graduate Programs in German
Revised Spring 2009
I. Expected Learning Outcomes
A. German MA – Liberal Arts
Upon graduation, a student in this program will demonstrate that s/he
Outcome 1.
has a firm grasp of the overall dimensions of the academic discipline we call German Studies.
Chronologically, s/he can trace important developments in German thought, culture, and art
from the earliest days of oral and written German to the present. S/he can define and describe
the major differences between the cultures of Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and other
German-speaking regions such as Luxembourg, with their linguistic variations.
Outcome 2
is able to analyze, contextualize, and critically discuss the works on the reading list. In the area
of literature, candidates will be able to discuss the works based on literary concepts and sociocultural developments aided by sources in secondary literature. In the area of cultures and
civilizations of the German-speaking countries, candidates will be able to apply factual
knowledge to discussions of geopolitical, social, historical, economic, and cultural structures and
Outcome 3
find in this broad field of endeavor an interesting topic worthy of closer examination, upon which
s/he can bring to bear cogent powers of critical thinking, literary theory, and artistic exegesis,
yielding in the final analysis a new insight into an important aspect of German Studies.
Bibliographic skills commensurate to the task are demonstrated by the student to be adequate
to guide the MA student to the relevant literature on the topic, both primary and secondary.
Outcome 4
can write clearly, cogently, insightfully, and convincingly at extended length on a topic selected
on his/her own. The student shows the ability to effectively research a topic using current online
and print resources. The student will support argumentation through sufficient evidence and
effective integration of secondary sources. Excellence of style, accuracy, as well as academic
integrity are present.
Outcome 5
will be able to demonstrate oral and written proficiency at the Advanced-plus or Superior level,
as described in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. (See attached rubrics).
B. German MA -Teaching Emphasis
The German MA program with an emphasis on teachers prepares teachers to strengthen and
expand their linguistic proficiency skills in German, their knowledge about the German-speaking
societies, their historical developments and cultural manifestations. Students will learn to select
and apply modern methods to meet the varying instructional needs of students of German as a
foreign language.
Students in the program are expected to:
Outcome 1
write effectively, both technically and in terms of the field-appropriate style of analysis and
Outcome 2
demonstrate content knowledge with associated analytical skills in FL methods and second
language acquisition;
Outcome 3
identify and select teaching and assessment practices in accordance with current FL
Outcome 4
align teaching goals with language proficiency standards in the profession
Outcome 5
demonstrate knowledge of professional organizations, journals, conferences, resources,
networking opportunities among the teaching profession
Outcome 6
demonstrate academic integrity and ethical behavior, conduct in a professional manner.
II. Evidence of Learning / Assessment Methods
Direct Measures
1. Students demonstrate their having met the outcomes stated above through course-level
assessment tools including oral and written exams, research papers and other academic writing
projects, as well as oral presentations. [mid-program assessment]
2. Comprehensive Written Exam: Student’s demonstrate their ability transfer knowledge and to
synthesize information acquired in numerous courses on language, literatures, and cultures as
related to the discipline of German Studies. [at program completion]
Method of assessment for the written exam: template measuring critical thinking skills (see
attached rubrics)
3. Comprehensive Oral Exam: Assessment of language skills based on national standardized
ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines
4. M.A. Research Paper: The research paper demonstrates the student’s ability to apply
acquired knowledge and professionalism, and such skill as critical and creative thinking,
information literacy, inquiry and analysis within the context of the discipline. It is the ultimate
measure of the student’s success. [at program completion]
Method of assessment: template measuring advanced writing and research skills (see attached
Indirect Measures [post-graduating assessment]
1. Exit interview.
2. Alumni tracking survey.
3. Graduate placement. We track our students’ admissions and acceptances to Ph.D. programs
and if possible, their subsequent career choices and work in the profession.
(Adapted from German MA Program at Brigham Young University)
III. Frequency of Assessment
Upon entrance of program.
Students will complete a diagnostic language proficiency exam administered by the graduate
Students will have completed between 15 and 18 hours of credit hours in the program.
Samples of course exams, oral work, writing projects, and research-based papers in German
will be collected by the course instructor.
At program completion.
MA research paper and comprehensive written exam of each student are collected, assessed,
and retained in the department.
The oral exam is conducted and assessed by three faculty members.
Departmental survey taken every other year of graduates five years out.
Assessment Rubric for M.A. Research Paper
UNI German Graduate Program
Please see hard copy of grading rubrics modeled after UC Davis English Program
1. Addresses a clear and manageable question or problem in the field of German Studies.
2. Articulates a clear thesis statement or analytic argument in relation to that problem and
sustains it throughout the paper
3. Locates the topic within the key debates and literature in the field of German Studies.
4. Describes the research methodology clearly. That is, indicates what constitutes the
data or evidence of the work, how the data was collected (from primary or secondary
sources), and how it was used to address the central research question.
5. Draws on relevant sources and/or data to systematically develop the project’s central
argument with
supporting evidence.
6. Concludes with insightful and possibly original contributions to address the paper’s
question or problem.
7. Is written in a style that reflects professional and/or graduate-level standards and
contains a
correctly and consistently formatted bibliography.
Pass with Distinction is granted to those candidates whose performance is superior or
extraordinary in all of the above areas and is in the top 5% of former and current students.
Additional guidelines that might be helpful are:
• The student showed extraordinary initiative and originality during the project.
• The student’s performance in the working session was superior.
High Pass is awarded to students whose MA project is good in all the above areas. A Final
Project that is outstanding in a few of the above areas, but not in most or all, should be awarded a
High Pass rather than Pass with Distinction.
Pass is awarded to those MA final Projects that are adequate, but not up to the standards of High
Pass. This includes MA projects that may be good in a few of the above areas but only adequate
in the others. MA projects earning Pass may be characterized by:
Acceptable research but writing quality and style do not consistently reflect graduate-level
Acceptable presentation of MA project but significant (and correctable) problems in
argumentation or research
Adequate content and writing but that lacking in depth or originality
Student need extensive supervision and support from faculty reader
A need for significant revisions, which must be approved by the faculty reader, or one that did
not take into account feedback provided by faculty reader.
A weak performance in the working session with faculty reader
Fail is for work that is unacceptable
Adapted from Dept. of International Development and Social Change at Clark University
MA Final Project Evaluation Checklist
Initiative and Selfdirection
X Pass with Distinction
X High Pass
X Pass
X Fail
Ideas / Topic Quality and
X Pass with Distinction
X High Pass
X Pass
X Fail
Support / Evidence and Analysis
X Pass with Distinction
X High Pass
X Pass
X Fail
Organization and Coherence
X Pass with Distinction
X High Pass
X Pass
X Fail
X Pass with Distinction
X High Pass
X Weak
X Fail
Writing Mechanics
X Pass with Distinction
X High Pass
X Pass
X Fail
Critical Thinking Scoring Guide
Interpretation Skills
4 Relevant/penetrating questions clarify
facts, concepts, and relationships.
Questions are insightful and go
beyond the obvious. Detects sources
of bias even subtle or well-disguised.
Uses principles of logic to explain
fallacies in “if/then” statements.
Identifies inconsistencies in language,
data, images, or symbols and
discusses the possible intent and/or
consequences in terms of how the
information will be interpreted.
3 Asks relevant/penetrating questions to
clarify facts, concepts, and
relationships. Detects sources of bias
such as use of leading questions
designed to elicit a preferred response
or slanted definitions or comparisons.
Detects “if, then” statements based on
false assumptions. Recognizes
contradictions or inconsistencies in
language, data, images, or symbols.
2 Questions raised about facts, concepts,
or relationships are not thoughtful or
are unlikely to provide significant
information. Detects some sources of
bias but neglects other significant
elements. May recognize faulty
“if/then” statements but form an
Analysis, Evaluation
Accurately identifies the
main conclusion of an
argument; determines if the
conclusion is supported with
adequate reasons. Develops
and uses criteria for making
judgments that are reliable,
relevant, and intellectually
strong. Uses a variety of
sources and weighs
competing evidence
carefully before drawing
conclusions or forming
Analysis/evaluation is
intellectually careful and
While minor errors in
analysis may be made,
identifies the main
conclusion of an argument,
determines if the conclusion
is supported with reasons,
and determines whether an
argument makes sense.
Evaluates the credibility,
accuracy, and reliability of
sources; seeks independent
sources of evidence, rather
than a single sources.
Develops and uses relevant,
reliable criteria for making
Significant errors are made
in identifying the main
conclusion of an argument,
determining whether the
conclusion is warranted, or
determining whether the
argument makes sense.
Presentation Skills
Presents argument clearly
and succinctly, capturing
the most important points
related to the issue.
Presents the audience with
a thorough and relevant
discussion of supporting
reasons and evidence for
conclusion(s). Exhibits
intellectual honesty in
recognizing their prejudices
or biases and seeks to
address them directly.
Open-minded; strives to
understand other
Presents an argument
clearly, conveying
important points related to
the issue. Presents
supporting reasons and
evidence for conclusions
which address the concerns
of the audience. Fairly
weighs opposing points of
view; is open minded in
considering the findings on
an inquiry even when they
may not support one’s own
opinions. Makes revisions
in arguments/findings when
self-examination reveals
Presentation is difficult to
follow. While some
understanding important
points related to the issue is
apparent, the argument is
not developed logically in
the presentation. Opposing
incorrect conclusion about the source
of error.
Recognize some
contradictions/inconsistencies in
language, data, images, or symbols
but misses others or fails to recognize
inconsistencies within a particular
1 Questions are not used to clarify facts,
concepts, or generalizations. Seems
oblivious to obvious sources of bias
and/or faulty “if/then” statements.
Fails to detect
contradictions/inconsistencies in
language, data, images, or symbols.
Limited or inappropriate
sources are used in
gathering support for a
conclusion or the “evidence”
provided in the source(s) is
misinterpreted. Evaluative
criteria are poorly
developed, lack relevance
and/or are unreliable.
Overall, analysis lacks
intellectual precision.
Fails to identify the main
conclusion of an argument;
forms incorrect conclusions
about the validity of the
argument. Bases conclusions
on a single source of
evidence. Unclear what, if
any, evaluative criteria are
used in forming judgments.
points of view are
mentioned but examination
is “pro forma;
arguments/findings which
conflict with own
interpretation are given
little credence even when
additional consideration is
warranted. Fails to give
adequate consideration to
divergent points of view.
Presentation of argument is
unclear; fails to convey
important points related to
the issue. Presents little or
no supporting evidence.
Own biases/opinions are
presented as “truth.” Lacks
intellectual integrity/rigor.
Adopted from California State University, Fresno
Critical Thinking Skills – Scoring Template
Interpretation Skills
4____Pass with Distinction
3____High Pass
2____ Pass
1 ____Deficiencies
Analysis, Evaluation Skills
4____Pass with Distinction
3____High Pass
Presentation Skills
3____Pass with Distinction
3____High Pass
MA Comprehensive Written Exams
UNI German Graduate Program
ACTFL guidelines: Speaking--Advanced
General Description
The Advanced level is characterized by the speaker's ability to:
converse in a clearly participatory fashion
initiate, sustain, and bring to closure a wide variety of communicative tasks,
including those that require an increased ability to convey meaning with
diverse language strategies due to a complication or an unforeseen turn of
satisfy the requirements of school and work situations, and
narrate and describe with paragraph-length connected discourse.
Able to satisfy the requirements of everyday situations and routine school and work
requirements. Can handle with confidence but not with facility complicated tasks and
social situations, such as elaborating, complaining, and apologizing. Can narrate and
describe with some details, linking sentences together smoothly. Can communicate
facts and talk casually about topics of current public and personal interest, using
general vocabulary. Shortcomings can often be smoothed over by communicative
strategies, such as pause fillers, stalling devices, and different rates of speech.
Circumlocution which arises from vocabulary or syntactic limitations very often is
quite successful, though some groping for words may still be evident. The Advancedlevel speaker can be understood without difficulty by native interlocutors.
Advanced Plus
Able to satisfy the requirements of a broad variety of everyday, school, and work
situations. Can discuss concrete topics relating to particular interests and special
fields of competence. There is emerging evidence of ability to support opinions,
explain in detail, and hypothesize. The Advanced-Plus speaker often shows a welldeveloped ability to compensate for an imperfect grasp of some forms with confident
use of communicative strategies, such as paraphrasing and circumlocution.
Differentiated vocabulary and intonation are effectively used to communicate fine
shades of meaning. The Advanced-Plus speaker often shows remarkable fluency and
ease of speech, but under the demands of Superior-level complex tasks, language
may break down or prove inadequate.
ACTFL guidelines: Speaking--Superior
Distinguishing characteristics
The Superior level is characterized by the speaker's ability to:
participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations on practical,
social, professional, and abstract topics
support opinions and hypothesize using native-like discourse strategies.
Able to speak the language with sufficient accuracy to participate effectively in most
formal and informal conversations on practical, social, professional, and abstract
topics. Can discuss special fields of competence and interest with ease. Can support
opinions and hypothesize, but may not be able to tailor language to audience or
discuss in depth highly abstract or unfamiliar topics. Usually the Superior level
speaker is only partially familiar with regional or other dialectical variants. The
Superior level speaker commands a wide variety of interactive strategies and shows
good awareness of discourse strategies. The latter involves the ability to distinguish
main ideas from supporting information through syntactic, lexical, and
suprasegmental features (pitch, stress, intonation). Sporadic errors may occur,
particularly in low-frequency structures and some complex high-frequency structures
more common to formal writing, but no patterns of error are evident. Errors do not
disturb the native speaker or interfere with communication.
ACTFL guidelines: Writing--Advanced
Able to write routine social correspondence and join sentences in simple discourse of
at least several paragraphs in length on familiar topics. Can write simple social
correspondence, take notes, write cohesive summaries and resumes, as well as
narratives and descriptions of a factual nature. Has sufficient writing vocabulary to
express self simply with some circumlocution. May still make errors in punctuation,
spelling, or the formation of nonalphabetic symbols. Good control of the morphology
and the most frequently used syntactic structures, e.g., common word order
patterns, coordination, subordination, but makes frequent errors in producing
complex sentences. Uses a limited number of cohesive devices, such as pronouns,
accurately. Writing may resemble literal translations from the native language, but a
sense of organization (rhetorical structure) is emerging. Writing is understandable to
natives not used to the writing of non-natives.
Advanced Plus
Able to write about a variety of topics with significant precision and in detail. Can
write most social and informal business correspondence. Can describe and narrate
personal experiences fully but has difficulty supporting points of view in written
discourse. Can write about the concrete aspects of topics relating to particular
interests and special fields of competence. Often shows remarkable fluency and ease
of expression, but under time constraints and pressure writing may be inaccurate.
Generally strong in either grammar or vocabulary, but not in both. Weakness and
unevenness in one of the foregoing or in spelling or character writing formation may
result in occasional miscommunication. Some misuse of vocabulary may still be
evident. Style may still be obviously foreign.
ACTFL guidelines: Writing--Superior
Able to express self effectively in most formal and informal writing on practical, social
and professional topics. Can write most types of correspondence, such as memos as
well as social and business letters, and short research papers and statements of
position in areas of special interest or in special fields. Good control of a full range of
structures, spelling or nonalphabetic symbol production, and a wide general
vocabulary allow the writer to hypothesize and present arguments or points of view
accurately and effectively. An underlying organization, such as chronological
ordering, logical ordering, cause and effect, comparison, and thematic development
is strongly evident, although not thoroughly executed and/or not totally reflecting
target language patterns. Although sensitive to differences in formal and informal
style, still may not tailor writing precisely to a variety of purposes and/or readers.
Errors in writing rarely disturb natives or cause miscommunication.
ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines by the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages.