Unit: Second Language Studies
Program: Second Language Studies (MA)
Degree: Master's
Date: Thu Oct 09, 2014 - 6:31:18 pm

1) Below are your program's student learning outcomes (SLOs). Please update as needed.


All students graduating with the MA in SLS will achieve the following learning outcomes:

1. Knowledge Base of Second Language Studies.

Our graduates will develop familiarity with topics and concepts fundamental to the broad knowledge base of the field of Second Language Studies, including: (a) the scope of issues and methods in applied linguistics, (b) linguistic analysis, (c) second language acquisition, and (c) sociolinguistics. They will also understand how their own interests in SLS relate to the larger academic, educational, and sociopolitical contexts of the discipline.

2. Utilization of Research.

Our graduates will be able to access, understand, and critically evaluate the current SLS research literature and engage in systematic investigation of topics and concepts in the SLS knowledge base to inform their own and others' professional practices.

3. Professionalism.

Our graduates will acquire the disposition to continue professional development for the duration of their careers, seeking increased knowledge of themselves and the discipline while remaining flexible and open to change. To do so, they will acquire the skills to communicate and interact effectively with their colleagues, in order to promote effective and ethical professional environments. In addition, our graduates will be able to communicate skillfully about their SLS work, both orally (e.g., at work or professional meetings) and in writing (e.g., through in-house reports and/or articles in professional newsletters and journals).

For students pursuing one of the five MA in SLS specializations, additional learning outcomes are associated with each. [Available upon request, but not included here due to length]

The program strives to maintain a balance between theoretical and practical concerns by requiring courses that are concerned with linguistic, psychological and sociocultural aspects of language as well as those which treat the methodological and practical aspects of language learning and teaching. By stressing the interdependence of theory and practice, we cultivate in our students the intellectual basis for an understanding of principles that will help guide them in their future careers. Graduates of the MA program are able to assume key positions in a number of areas of applied linguistics, including teaching (both public and private sectors in the United States and abroad), teacher education, administration, research, evaluation, and materials writing. A substantial number of students have continued their graduate training in doctoral programs.

2) Your program's SLOs are published as follows. Please update as needed.

Department Website URL: http://www.hawaii.edu/sls/graduate/ma/ma-program/
Student Handbook. URL, if available online:
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online: NA
UHM Catalog. Page Number:
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online: NA

3) Select one option:

Curriculum Map File(s) from 2014:

4) For your program, the percentage of courses that have course SLOs explicitly stated on the syllabus, a website, or other publicly available document is as follows. Please update as needed.


5) Did your program engage in any program assessment activities between June 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014? (e.g., establishing/revising outcomes, aligning the curriculum to outcomes, collecting evidence, interpreting evidence, using results, revising the assessment plan, creating surveys or tests, etc.)

No (skip to question 14)

6) For the period between June 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014: State the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goals. Include the SLOs that were targeted, if applicable.

All three mentioned in Q1. We continued to monitor our MA students' progress, achievement of SLOs and PLOs, not to mention satisfaction with the program and the successful placement of alumni. However, resource lacks have prevented more formal approaches this year; our professorial FTE is 20% below normal, there are major staff lacks in the undergraduate and language teaching programs of this department which have not been addressed by the administration despite repeated requests, and GA and lecturer support have been trimmed; accordingly, we have had to narrow our assessment efforts , focusing primarily on the BA program (see BA program report). At time of writing, the capability of UH Manoa to provide a full-service university is questionable in the face of a $31million deficit and an unwillingness on the part of the people's representatives in the State Legislature to actually fund the university, its faculty and staff, and support its students, in a manner most likely to provide a quality higher education.

7) State the type(s) of evidence gathered to answer the assessment question and/or meet the assessment goals that were given in Question #6.

We monitored students' progress while in the program using course evaluation procedures based on quizzes, examinations, class presentations, and final projects.

The MA program naturally uses a range of assessment techniques. Major assessments related to student learning outcomes (and the educational factors that contribute to them) include:

1. Scholarly Paper / Thesis : For the MA program there is a scholarly work requirement which is intended to reflect each individual student’s ability to: (a) engage in thorough-going research that is relevant to the field of SLS; (b) persist in long-term scholarly projects, from inception to dissemination; and (c) produce high-quality publishable writing. These assessments offer valuable insights into the extent to which students have achieved primary learning outcomes, such as familiarity with the broad content that describes particular domains of SLS, skill with research methods, and professional-level abilities to communicate about their work. Both of these assessment tasks involve multiple stages of (a) research conceptualization (formalized for the Thesis in a proposal, and its defense), (b) research, (c) writing, (d) feedback, and (d) completion of a final version (with formal public review in the case of the thesis, and internal two-reader review in the case of the scholarly paper).

2. Graduating student survey: The College of LLL exit survey has subsumed our previous internal graduating students. Within the redesign, questions have been generated specifically for the MA program, and these questions target both the levels of learning in key outcomes areas and the perception of professional value of these outcomes. In addition to these department-internal questions, SLS stakeholders have advised the College of LLL on the design of general questions to ask of all graduating students in the college. The Department has benefited from the recent administration of this survey again in the past year.

3. Professional activities review: We normally gather data on current and former students' publication and presentation activities over the preceding year. These professional activities provide one key indicator of the extent to which our students in the three graduate programs are developing and maintaining professional profiles that are of recognized value by the second language studies disciplines. Because of lack of staff and professorial faculty over the past two academic years, we have not analyzed these data nor been able to present them systematically. 

4. Alumni survey and review. The new Departmental website has begun to show alumni places / institutions of employment, but developments in this area projected last year have had to be held back as the website redesign took far longer than expects, again, a reflection of lack of internal staff and lack of resourses that might otherwise enabled the out-sourcing of this preliminary task, which was actually only completed within the last week. The alumni data that is supplied by UH Foundation is not fully current or correct (despite the fact that this is a UHF responsibilty) so it will take some time before this can be brought back to an adequate degree of usability.

8) State how many persons submitted evidence that was evaluated. If applicable, please include the sampling technique used.

All instructors are involved in this process. Efforts are made to keep a high rate of response in regard to students involved in this process. In particular, course level evaluation exercises draw on materials normally collected by instructors in the course of their pedagogical activities, thus ensuring a high rate of return. Key course evaluation activities, especially end-of-course evaluation data is conducted in person rather than remotely— generally high rates of return are obtained. 

9) Who interpreted or analyzed the evidence that was collected? (Check all that apply.)

Course instructor(s)
Faculty committee
Ad hoc faculty group
Department chairperson
Persons or organization outside the university
Faculty advisor
Advisors (in student support services)
Students (graduate or undergraduate)

10) How did they evaluate, analyze, or interpret the evidence? (Check all that apply.)

Used a rubric or scoring guide
Scored exams/tests/quizzes
Used professional judgment (no rubric or scoring guide used)
Compiled survey results
Used qualitative methods on interview, focus group, open-ended response data
External organization/person analyzed data (e.g., external organization administered and scored the nursing licensing exam)

11) For the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goal(s) stated in Question #6:
Summarize the actual results.

The results of our assessment efforts in the MA program continue to be generally positive, indicating that the program is functioning well. Where we find areas that need improvement, we take the matter seriously and make changes to improve our MA program curriculum. A key point here is that because of the existence and substantial use of “variable alpha” courses at the 600 level, we can easily put into place new content material, at a semester’s notice. Similarly, because of substantial use of seminar level courses, again, variability and flexibility in topic is possible. Besides formal connections in the assessment evaluation cycle, informal lines of communication are open between assessment specialists and instructors.

12) State how the program used the results or plans to use the results. Please be specific.

Within the SLS Department, there is a considerable range of assessment-based information about MA student learning. We provide here again a few notes on its use:

1. Individual Students: Students naturally, and rightly, interpret class-based and project-based assessment (including feedback and grades) as an indication of the extent to which their work is approximating the academic and professional norms of the SLS discipline and the high expectations of the SLS department. Via assessment, students come to realize their accomplishments as well as gaps in their on-going development, and they are enabled to focus their energies on closely articulated learning targets that make sense for the individualized paths that they take through their degree program.

2. Individual Faculty: Individual faculty members of SLS interpret class-based assessment data (from conventional exams, term papers, and project-based work, etc.) as an indication of the extent to which their courses are effectively fostering student learning towards specific targeted outcomes. Additionally, faculty interpret end-of-semester course evaluation data as an important indicator of the aspects of course design and delivery which are functioning as intended and those which may be in need of adjustment. Interpretations of assessment data here are about course and instructor contribution to learning outcomes, rather than merely about student achievement of learning outcomes.

3. Staff and Administration of SLS: The Department Chair and the Graduate Chair interpret course grades, scholarly paper/thesis, and other requirement completion data, in adjudicating final graduation decisions about individual students.

4. Scholarly Paper and Thesis Committees: These small committees of faculty members (usually of size 2 and 3 respectively, though occasional MA theses committees may have an additional member) utilize the major scholarly work requirement as a means for: (a) promoting a professional-grade research, writing, feedback, and final product cycle; and (b) ensuring that SLS students graduate with professional capabilities sufficient to their individualized needs and reflective of the high standards of the department. The committees work to determine the extent to which students’ research and writing reflect and approximate to professional disciplinary standards for publishable and worthwhile scholarly research on topics of importance to second language studies.

5. Graduate Faculty: The graduate faculty of SLS, working in informal groups most likely centered on an individual faculty advisor, in specific cases led by the Graduate Chair, to identify individual students who may not be meeting expectations, with the intent of providing feedback to those students. Any apparent patterns of progress or lack of progress towards key learning outcomes which appear to have broad rather than individual sources will naturally lead to larger-scale program and course changes through regular curriculum review processes.

6. The Departmental Assessment Committee: The two-member assessment committee reviews and interprets all forms of assessment activities for three basic purposes: (a) to make recommendations on revisions/additions to existing assessment practices, where needed for acquiring more valid and/or useful data; (b) to make recommendations regarding areas in need of attention in program/curriculum/course design to the Graduate Faculty (who have responsibilty for the MA curriculum); and (c) to construct annual reports about assessment activities.


13) Beyond the results, were there additional conclusions or discoveries?
This can include insights about assessment procedures, teaching and learning, program aspects and so on.

The Department is fortunate to have among its full professors two specialists in language program assessment who also have general skills in educational program evaluation. Thus for more than twenty years, we have included assessment and evaluation procedures and processes in our regular our departmental activities with a high degree of confidence in their utility. The conclusions and discoveries have been numerous and useful, and have led to periodic overhaul of the MA curriculum, including most recently, in 2005, following the collection of survey data from students, a review of scholarly work and graduation data by faculty, and consideration of the evolving nature of the profession and SLS student demographics.

The highly-flexible 600- and 700-level course structure is consistently responsive to ongoing assessments of the success of the MA curriculum as it stands, and even a core introductory course such as SLS 600 has been offered in quite distinctively different manifestations in recent years. Most notably, we have assessed the MA curriculum as in need of alternative delivery modes, and have moved to offer the introductory course in an online-only option (or section) as well as in a regular face-to-face option. We expect to try out one other core course in the online modality in the coming year. We also expect to be working on shifting our student feedback processes (reports and their archiving, and possibly analysis) into a more secure, anonymity-preserving modality in the coming year.

14) If the program did not engage in assessment activities, please explain.
Or, if the program did engage in assessment activities, please add any other important information here.