Unit: Second Language Studies
Program: Second Language Studies (MA)
Degree: Master's
Date: Tue Sep 17, 2013 - 5:20:18 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/sls/?page_id=103
Student Handbook. URL, if available online: http://www.hawaii.edu/sls/sls/resources/additional-resources/sls-student-handbook/ma-program-goals/
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 2013:

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, 2012 and September 30, 2013? (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 June 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013: State the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goals. Include the SLOs that were targeted, if applicable.

All three (see Question #1).

We continued to want to monitor our MA students' progress and satisfaction with the program as well as the accomplishments of our students, faculty, and alumni.

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 during the past summer.

3. Professional activities review: On an annual basis, current and former students report on their 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. Publication and presentation venues are periodically reviewed for quality, and suggestions are made for ways of enhancing/encouraging improvements. Because of lack of staff during the past AY, we have not analyzed these data nor been able to present them systematically. However, we expect to return to a more formal procedure following a new junior specialist hire to occur just after the present report is submitted. We also have data from the annual LLL workload survey. 

4. Alumni survey and review. The new Departmental website has begun to show alumni places / institutions of employment, but again, systematic development of such data has been hampered by lack of staff and lack of time of existing faculty. 

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. (Some faculty, and this is especially common in our ELI unit, make use of mid-term course evaluation data, mainly for formative short-term purposes, and thus rapidly and flexibly make use of this data.) 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 on an as-needed basis led by the Graduate Chair, 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 Departmental Personnel and Policy Committee; and (c) to construct annual reports about assessment activities for audiences outside of the SLS Department (e.g., the Associate Dean and Dean of the College of LLL, the VCAA).

7. The Departmental Personnel and Policy Committee: As the primary decision-making body of the Department of SLS, the DPPC receives reports on priority assessment findings and adjudicates needed responses. Generally speaking, the DPPC interprets assessment data in terms of their purview, including: (a) potential areas of expertise in need of enhancement (e.g., through the hiring of new faculty or instructors); (b) structural changes that might enhance student learning and outcomes achievement (e.g., adaptations to degree-program requirements or course offerings); and (c) recommendations for new assessment data to be collected as needed (e.g., the collection of students’ professional publication and presentation data, for tracking of scholarly productivity).

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.  For present purposes we supply again several standard examples: 

The structure of the MA degree program was overhauled 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. On the basis of these kinds of assessment data, the core course requirement was reduced from 8 to 4 courses, and 5 specialized tracks of study were established to respond to diverse student areas of professional interest.

As has previously been mentioned, three new free-standing courses have been added to the regular SLS course offerings in the past six years respond to large demand for applied course work in these areas. (Though based on very recent assessment data from alumns, we now expect to eliminate one of them.) But in addition, the highly-flexible 600- and 700-level course structure is also regularly and consistently responsive to ongoing assessments of the success of the MA curriculum

The academic representatives of the SLS student organization (SLSSA) took it upon themselves to solicit feedback from students regarding course offerings for the 2009-2010 academic year, such that faculty and the Department Chair were provided with empirical bases for deciding upon which courses to offer.

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.