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Second Language Acquisition & Teaching Graduate Interdisciplinary Program

Overview: 

The primary mission of the SLAT doctoral program is to provide rigorous and high quality graduate-level training for researchers, teachers, curriculum specialists, and administrators at all levels of instruction who are concerned with aspects of second language acquisition, learning, and teaching. To properly prepare students at this level, the program offers:

a.       an introduction to the various disciplinary contributions to the field,

b.       experience and training in research, culminating in a major research project, and

c.       experience and training in teaching, and in presenting research findings.

Expected Learning Outcomes: 

Upon completion of the Ph.D. Program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, students will be able to:

1.  demonstrate broad knowledge of applied linguistics as related to Second Language (L2) teaching and learning.

2.  think critically and independently about topics in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching  in all areas of SLAT which are:    L2 use, L2 analysis, L2 processes, and L2 pedagogy  and program administration.

3.  define and design a research area  and plan.

4.  conduct independent research using all acceptable and ethical considerations including adherence to all human  subjects regulations.

5.  communicate research findings orally and in writing.  

Assessment Activities: 

Assessment Activities were developed by the SLAT Director and Staff, with approval by the Executive Council.  SLAT requires that students complete a first year qualifying exam, comprehensive examinations, Dissertation Proposal, and a defense of their Ph.D. dissertation.  Assessment data will be collected as outlined in the matrix below:  

 

Assessment Activities

Outcome 1:  Knowledge of Applied Linguistics

Outcome 2:  Think Critically and independently

Outcome 3: Define and design a Research Plan

Outcome 4:  Conduct independent research

Outcome 5:  Communicate research findings

First Year Qualifying Exam

X

 

 

 

X

Written and Oral Comps Exam

X

X

 

 

X

Dissertation Proposal Presentation and Defense

X

X

X

X

x

Written Dissertation and Oral Defense

X

X

X

X

X

SLAT Student Exit Survey

X

X

X

X

X

Rubrics for Assessment Activities and SLAT Student Exit Interview may be found here:  

First Year Qualifying Review Assessment

Written and Oral Comprehensive Exams Assessment

Dissertation Proposal Assessment

Dissertation Defense Assessment

SLAT Student Exit Survey

Assessment Findings: 

While we do not yet have enough data, we have completed the following matrix to assess the data obtained in the rubrics, and we have collected data from the 2015-2016 academic year.  

Faculty were asked a series of questions at each milestone:  Qualifying Review, Comprehensive Exams, Proposal Defense, and Ph.D. Defense.  The students were asked to complete an exit survey at the completion of their degree.  The participants gave a score of 1 to 5 based on the following criteria: 

1-Needs improvement

2-Developing

3-Progressing

4-Achieving

5-Excellent

 
Outcome measured Name of Assessment Questions from Rubrics N Average score for 2015-2016 N Average score for 2016-2017
1.  Knowledge of Applied Linguistics First Year Qualifying Review #1 17 3.76 10 4.35
Written/Oral Comps #1 25 4.64 35 4.36
#2 25 4.76 36 4.40
#3 26 4.54 35 4.38
Dissertation Proposal Presentation/Defense #1 28 4.79 26 4.27
#2 28 4.71 26 4.31
Written Dissertation/Oral Defense #2 34 4.47 33 4.55
#7 35 4.49 33 4.67
SLAT Student Exit Survey #1 11 4.55 12 4.67
2.  Think critically and independently Written/Oral Comps #4 26 4.58 36 4.31
#5 26 4.58 36 4.38
#6 26 4.54 36 4.08
Dissertation Proposal Presentation/Defense #2 28 4.71 26 4.31
#3 28 4.57 26 3.96
#4 28 4.71 26 4.38
#5 28 4.79 26 4.35
Written Dissertation/Oral Defense #2 34 4.47 33 4.55
#3 35 4.57 33 4.58
#4 35 4.42 33 4.39
#5 35 4.31 33 4.42
#7 35 4.89 33 4.67
SLAT Student Exit Survey #2 11 4.82 12 4.83
3.  Define and design a Research Plan Dissertation Proposal Presentation/Defense #3 28 4.57 26 3.96
#5 28 4.79 26 4.35
Written Dissertation/Oral Defense #3 35 4.57 33 4.58
#5 35 4.31 33 4.42
#6 35 4.54 33 4.45
SLAT Student Exit Survey #3 11 4.64 12 4.58
4.  Conduct independent research Dissertation Proposal Presentation/Defense #5 28 4.79 26 4.35
Written Dissertation/Oral Defense #4 35 4.43 33 4.39
#6 35 4.54 33 4.45
SLAT Student Exit Survey #4 11 4.82 12 4.50
5.  Communicate Research Findings First Year Qualifying Review #2 17 4.59 10 4.40
#3 17 4.41 10 4.30
Written/Oral Comps #4 26 4.58 36 4.31
#5 26 4.58 36 4.38
#6 26 4.54 36 4.08
Dissertation Proposal Presentation/Defense #1 28 4.79 26 4.27
#2 28 4.71 26 4.31
#4 28 4.71 26 4.38
#5 28 4.79 26 4.35
Written Dissertation/Oral Defense #1 35 4.23 33 4.33
#2 34 4.47 33 4.55
#7 35 4.49 33 4.67
SLAT Student Exit Survey #5 11 4.82 12 4.75

 

At each milestone, the scores for each learning outcome were averaged, and are presented below.

 
 
Change in Response to Findings: 

It will require at least 3-5 years of data collection to adequately determine what changes are required in response to our findings.  In the Student Exit Survey distributed during AY 2015-2016, students were offered the opportunity to add any additional comments.  While most of the students did not offer comments, three students did respond.  One student said, “Thank you to our SLAT program! I think that it was an overall great experience and education!”.  Two other students both of whom identified as Processes majors indicated that while they liked the overall SLAT experience, SLAT did not offer them opportunities to engage in laboratory research typical of students in the field.  They both indicated that SLAT did not offer enough support for the students in either Processes or Analysis Areas, and this lack of support hindered their job prospects. 

Upon evaluation of the available data (one academic year, 2015-2016) at the October 2016 Executive Council Meeting, the SLAT Executive Council made the following observations: 

1.       They see nothing in the data that is worrisome at this point in time. 

2.       We clearly see some jumps in the knowledge of applied linguistics as they progress through the program.  This observation is not unexpected.

3.       We see a clear dip in all expected outcomes following comps, and trending downward to the defense stage.  We find this very interesting and suspect that the students peak during their comprehensive exams as they have the most breadth of knowledge at this point in their Ph.D. program.  Alternatively, the expectations rise as the student progresses through the program.  Another possibility is that our dissertations in the academic year 2015-2016 are not up to the standards that we would like.  We ask what might cause these dissertations to receive lower ratings.  One potential explanation might be that in previous years SLAT admitted a high number of students whose writing abilities were not accurately assessed. Another potential explanation might be that the admitted applicants who actually matriculated were not the top tier students. With the 2016-2017 admission cycle, we chose not to admit students who were self-funded, whose GRE Analytical writing score fell below a 4.0, and committed SLAT to admitting 10 students or fewer. 

The SLAT Executive Council will meet and discuss the most recent data from AY 2016-2017 during the Fall 2017 semester.  

We look forward to collecting additional data to help us determine the answers to some of these questions.  

Updated date: Fri, 09/22/2017 - 07:58