Friday, January 30, 2009

Jose G. Ricardo-Osorio: More Details about Community Service Learning and Assessment

It's very nice when a blog does what it is actually supposed to do: create dialogue.

That's why I was happy to see Jose G. Ricardo-Osorio's comment on the post I wrote about his recent article in Foreign Lanuguage Annals.

I want to highlight his comments here because they go into more detail than in the article itself (in which CSL was just one of many assessment methods he presented):

Dear Ann,

I am glad to know that you found the data I presented in my article very informative. I look forward to reading your research on student learning outcomes assessment in CSL programs.

I think that one way to use CSL as a key assessment is to random sample the students who will participate in the program. As you assert, using CSL as an assessment measure can be a very complex (and logistically impossible)endeavour. However, it can be used to assess certain students. If we accept that students learn at different paces and by various means, we must also embrace the notion of assessing students in the same way they learn. This means that the ideal students to participate in a CSL program should be students who better learn by doing, by constructing, by solving problems. Bottom line, not all of the students in a foreign language program should be assessed through CSL. There are other performance-based options that can be used instead. A foreign language department's learning outcomes assessment report could include CSL as a key assessment to collect data for program improvement. Thus, a random sampling approach may be less expensive and easier to administer.

I would like to maintain our communication channels open. It is always encouraging to come across colleagues who are also passionate about the assessment of learning.

Anyone else have thoughts about assessment in a Spanish CSL course and CSL as an assessment tool for Spanish programs?
  • Students: What do you think about the tests in your Spanish community service learning course? Are you, as Prof. Ricardo-Osorio describes, someone "who better learn[s] by doing, by constructing, by solving problems"? Tell us about your perspective in a comment.
  • TAs/Instructors: How do you decide what to put on your tests in your Spanish CSL course? Do you think those tests actually measure students' performance in the community? Leave a comment!
  • Researchers: What are the major research questions that we must address in foreign language CSL assessment? Post your ideas here.

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