Language Program Assessment

The CSLC is a principle investigator in an inter-institutionally funded study of utilization-focused outcomes assessment for foreign language programs at the University of Notre Dame.

CSLC Program Assessment

Working with Professor John Norris, director of the University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center's Language Program Evaluation Project, and NFLRC research associate Yukiko Watanabe, the CSLC is coordinating a longitudinal impact and research study on the process and product of establishing new assessment protocols and practices across three foreign language departments and nine programs in consultation with the Dean of the College of Arts & Letters and the Notre Dame Provost's Office.

Examining stakeholders and impact at curricular and institutional levels, this initiative seeks to develop a culture of iterative assessment among language faculty and a recognition of utilization-focused assessment outcomes by institutional administrators. This project builds off the already significant multi-year assessment initiative begun in the Department of Romance Languages & Literatures and spearheaded by professors Ted Cachey and Shauna Williams as well as Teagle and Spencer Foundation grant proposals for external funding.

The project has been designed to investigate a series of interrelated research questions formulated by Yukiko Watanabe, NFLRC Research Associate:

  1. What factors (contextual, human, and assessment factors) contribute to or inhibit initiating outcomes assessment (i.e., getting buy-in and commitment, setting up assessment committee, etc.)?
  2. How do organizational factors (e.g., institutional and departmental history, culture, communication, resources) and individual capacities (behavior, expertise, time, etc.) influence the prioritization, methods, and implementation of outcomes assessment?
  3. To what extent do assessment findings lead to intended and/or unintended uses and changes in teaching and learning? Is there any discernable relationship between engaging in outcomes assessment activities and changes in student learning?
  4. Do organizations transform and/or learn as assessment activities take place? In what ways do they learn and what are the factors that determine the degree and type of learning?


This project is being implemented in collaboration with Georgetown University and in consultation with Professor Peter Pfeiffer and Assistant Provost Randal Bass. A series of joint colloquia are planned between Notre Dame and Georgetown participants with the intention of identifying and sharing best practices.

The first of these colloquia was held in March 2010, following upon an inter-institutional grant application in 2009, and featured a panel that included remarks by John Norris, Peter Pfeiffer, Yukiko Watanabe and Lance Askildson.

Data collection includes both quantitative and qualitative instruments but with a decidedly ethnographic emphasis on identifying and elucidating process and best practices.