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German Studies: Undergraduate Programs


The Department of German Studies is a tenure-granting academic unit housed within the College of Humanities and the School of International Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. It offers a Bachelor of Arts in German Studies, a Master of Arts in German Studies, and a joint binational Ph.D. in Transcultural German Studies. By fostering awareness of cultural, literary, and linguistic practices of German-speaking countries and communities, the Department serves the overall mission of the University of Arizona by preparing students to be critically thoughtful and linguistically competent citizens of local, national, and global communities.

Mission, role, and scope

The Department’s mission is to enable students to become adept speakers of German and to increase their critical awareness of German-speaking countries and cultures through the study of a wide variety of literary and other cultural texts and practices.

The Department actively partakes in the University of Arizona’s mission to “provide a comprehensive, high-quality education that engages our students in discovery” and to empower our graduates “to be leaders in solving complex societal problems” (University of Arizona web site). It helps to fulfill the institution’s mission to be a world-class, student-centered, land-grant university. In keeping with the goal, stated in the “Never Settle” Strategic Plan, to “provide students with a dynamic educational experience,” the Department offers students quality learning and research opportunities at both the undergraduate and graduate levels of instruction.

Major goals or strategic directions for the next five years

  1. Engaging in nationally and internationally recognized research in the area of Transcultural German Studies (and its cultural, literary, and applied linguistic subfields);
  2. Strengthening the department’s MA program and its unique international Ph.D. Program in Transcultural German Studies (offered with the University of Leipzig, Germany) by attracting high quality graduate students and external funding;
  3. Strengthening the department’s solid and growing undergraduate program by preparing students for transcultural interaction with the German-speaking world at political, economic and cultural levels;
  4. Contributing to general education by preparing students for transcultural communication in a globalized world;
  5. Contributing to teacher training, study abroad programs, interdisciplinary programs, and other degree programs at graduate and undergraduate levels; and
  6. Contributing to the needs of the Southwest region, the nation and international communities through outreach activities related to articulation with K-12 education, to border studies, multilingualism, in addition to a plethora of other activities the Department sponsors.
Expected Learning Outcomes: 

Our particular contribution to the University’s mission is accomplished by promoting the language, literatures, and cultures of the German-speaking world. The Department approaches these educational objectives on three different levels:

(1) the Basic Language Program and General Education courses, which serve as core course for non-majors and as foundational courses for students entering the program with less experience in these field,

(2) in German language and culture courses taught at the intermediate 300-level, including GER 300, 301, 302, 313, and 315 and finally

(3) upper-division courses which solidify and deepen students’ knowledge of German language and linguistics and the cultural history and literary and filmic traditions of the German-speaking world.

(1) At the first of these levels, the Department strives to foster humanistic inquiry and translingual and transcultural awareness in both our degree-seeking majors and the general population of the university. Through these courses, we partake in the University of Arizona’s mission to “provide a comprehensive, high-quality education that engages our students in discovery” and to empower our graduates “to be leaders in solving complex societal problems.”

Learning Outcomes for the 100-level German Language Courses

For students completing German (GER) 101 to 201, the assessment focus is on students' success in acquiring an appropriate level of German language proficiency determined by tests throughout the semester and a comprehensive final examination (see Figure 1).


Learning Outcomes for First-Year German Courses


comprehend simple conversations and stories


read and understand short texts


engage in brief conversations on everyday topics


write about life in the German-speaking countries

Table 1. Learning Outcomes for the 100-level German Language Courses


Table 2 shows the Learning Outcomes for the Second Year Language Courses, GER 201 and 202.


Learning Outcomes for Second Year German Courses


express oneself more effectively and more accurately in German on a greater variety   of topics and with an expanded vocabulary


read and critically discuss short texts


engage in longer and more complex conversations on topics related to more abstract topics such as gender relationships and multiculturalism


exhibit awareness of cultural and historical differences

Table 2. Learning Outcomes for the 200-level German Language Courses

In addition to traditional tests of language proficiency, students of GER 202 (a content- and task-based course on German fairytales) are evaluated based on their progress towards the creation of a final product (a student-produced film DVD of a modern fairytale) and the quality of the DVD. Components of project assessment include

  • students’ writing and editing of the film script,
  • their performance in German, and
  • students’ awareness of choices made in the design of the project as indicators of cultural and pragmatic awareness.

Table 3 presents the Learning Outcomes for GER 300, Gateway to German Studies: Encounters in Language and Culture - a 6-credit course designed to move students towards the advanced levels, by

  • strengthening their spoken and written German,
  • developing interpretative abilities, and
  • understanding linguistic and sociocultural nuances and the effects that they have on meaning.

Students at this level engage a variety of texts, films, images, and songs as they investigate less information and more aesthetic, pragmatic, and social functions of language.


Learning Outcomes for Third Year Gateway Course


express oneself orally more effectively and more accurately in German with a  greater sensitivity to the effects of particular linguistic and stylistic choices


read and critically longer and more complex texts on a range of subjects including vernacular, literary, journalistic, and academic genres


communicate more effectively and comfortably in written German in a variety of different genres, including narration, argumentative essays, and book/film/game reviews


exhibit awareness of how cultural and historical differences manifest themselves in a variety of linguistic practices practices

Table 3. Learning Outcomes for GER 300, the Gateway Course

Beyond GER 300, the curriculum includes a variety of courses ranging from content-based courses in literary and cultural studies, film and visual culture, and applied linguistics to language courses with specific areas of emphasis such as conversation, grammar, style and use. These courses each have their own discrete learning outcomes; however, they share in common certain core criteria, which are listed in Table 4.


Learning Outcomes for 300- and 400-level Courses


Linguistic ability: achieve a level of German language proficiency and linguistic and stylistic awareness appropriate to their course level


Cultural Literacy: develop analytical and critical skills in reading texts as aesthetic works and historical artifacts


Knowledge of Field: gain insight into the ongoing debates and issues that concern the field of German Studies


Academic Skills: develop their ability to write in academic registers in both English and German and conduct advanced research in the Humanities

Table 4. Learning Outcomes for 300- and 400-level courses beyond German 300

During the senior year, students are required to complete the Capstone Seminar (GER 496), which emphasizes critical skills, research, and writing. In this senior seminar students are given the opportunity to

  • strengthen their spoken and written German,
  • synthesize and apply what they have learned throughout their major, and to
  • make use of feedback and advice for further study and research in German Studies.
Assessment Activities: 

Regular or Recurring Activities

In the Basic Language Program, the Basic Language Director works with the Graduate Assistant Teachers to develop and implement assessment activities. These include:

  • weekly quizzes
  • homework assignments in the online workbook,
  • four chapter tests
  • midterm examination
  • final written examination
  • final oral examination

In GER 202, students’ learning outcomes are also evaluated through

  • task- and product-based assessments
  • the completion of a group project during the course of the semester in which students design and create a their own fairy tale feature film

For GER 300, 301, 302, and 315 the 300-Level Coordinator is responsible for working with the Graduate Assistant Teachers to develop and implement assessment activities. Each of these courses includes its own individual procedures for evaluating student progress including:

  • targeted writing assignments
  • examinations
  • in-class presentations based on independent research
  • oral proficiency interviews, and
  • project-based assessments

For all other courses, individual instructors develop appropriate assessment materials based on the specific emphases of the syllabus and the general principles outlined in Table 4 above. Assessment procedures for each individual course are outlined specifically in the syllabi.

In addition to assessments used in the different courses, the Department is using the following:

  • Questionnaire data
    • A language background questionnaire administered in the first week of classes in each course of the Basic Language Program, and the Gateway Course
    • Entrance, Midcareer and Exit Questionnaires for majors and minors
    • Students’ evaluations of courses and teachers
    • Survey on potential course options for 7.5 weeks vs. 17 weeks
  • Monitoring of student enrollment numbers in the basic language program, the summer study abroad program, and the undergraduate program for majors and minors of German Studies.
  • Research conducted by faculty specializing in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching

Special or Occasional Activities

Standardized proficiency examinations

Students at the advanced levels are recommended to take (on a voluntary basis) one of two standardized examinations administered by two German Studies faculty who are certified testers at the UA Testing Center of the Goethe Institute:

  • Goethe B2 certificate
  • Goethe C1 certificate

These exams assess students’ German language proficiency in reading, listening, writing, and speaking skills according to the European framework of Reference (CEFR), a standardized rubric/scale for language proficiency assessment.

Research on Language Program Effectiveness and Student Learning Outcomes

German Studies faculty members working in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching have been conducting various research projects that investigate language program effectiveness and students’ learning outcomes (see assessment findings below).

Attachments: Selected assessment instruments (See PDF file attachments below)

  • Scoring rubric for the assessment of students’ writing skills (in GER 101-202)
  • Scoring rubric for the assessment of students’ speaking skills (in GER 101-202)
  • List of topics and sample questions for oral proficiency interviews (GER 101)
  • List of topics and sample questions for oral proficiency interviews (GER 102)
  • Language background questionnaire for students in (GER 101-GER 300)
  • Evaluation of Basic Language Program and Director by GATs teaching GER 101-GER 202
  • Internal questionnaire about materials, their usefulness and student learning in GER 202
  • Classroom observation report form to evaluate GATs teaching in GER 101-202
  • Survey about potential new course options for 7.5 weeks vs. 17 weeks and GER 111 and GER 211
  • Study abroad pre-program questionnaire on student backgrounds and expectations (GER 211 and GER 392)
  • Study abroad post-program questionnaire on students’ perceived learning progress (GER 211 and GER 392)
  • Study abroad post-program questionnaire to asses program effectiveness and activities (GER 211 and GER 392)
  • Study abroad pre- and post program survey on intercultural competence development (GER 211 and GER 392)
  • Goethe Certificate B2 sample exam (GER 300+)
  • Goethe Certificate C1 sample exam (GER 475+)
Assessment Findings: 

Research on Language Program Effectiveness and Student Learning Outcomes

1. Student Analytics as Part of Research in the Longitudinal Evaluation of Language Programs

This research project, led by Professor Ecke in collaboration with Ph.D. candidate A. Ganz, pertains to language program assessment, and its findings are used to review, evaluate, and modify the curriculum in German Studies. It addresses four challenges:

Challenge 1 involves the long-term tracking and monitoring of student enrollments and their interpretation taking into account both internal (institutional, departmental) data and external (e.g., regional, national) data.

Challenge 2 concerns the identification of potential issues of the program (e.g., enrollment slumps, unclear course titles and contents of under-enrolled courses) and subsequent intervention to resolve problems and improve program components.

Challenge 3 relates to the establishment of data-based student profiles, which can be relevant for program planning and design (e.g., student motives and interests, background languages, and majors).

Challenge 4 pertains to keeping track of individual students' career paths, including their study and performance in the language and culture program.

A research report is published by Ecke and Ganz (in press) in a volume on “Innovation and Accountability in Foreign Language Program Evaluation” and findings are being used to assist in program planning and revision. For example, based on student responses to surveys, the Department renamed a number of course titles, and created a new course, GER 302 (German Conversations) which focuses on public discourses in contemporary German-speaking societies and German intermediate/advanced oral language production, in order to address two expressed needs expressed by majors and minors.

2. Expanding Literacy Practices in the Intermediate/Advanced Foreign Language Classroom

This project, conducted by Professor Warner (in progress) assesses students’ development of spoken and written German over the course of the semester. For the past three semesters, students’ written work has been collected including tests and quizzes, papers (3 drafts of 3 writing assignments), and additional coursework. Additionally, beginning in Spring 2012, they have started to collect audio recordings of speaking assignments. Using this data, Professor Warner is working with two Graduate Students to assess the progress of students in this course and to evaluate the Learning Outcomes of the Gateway course in the context of the rest of the curriculum. Results are still forthcoming, but this data will ultimately be used to strengthen the intermediate/advanced Gateway curriculum.  

3. Turning the Advanced German Course into a Site of Transdisciplinary Inquiry

In order to address the large number of double-majors in German Studies, Professor Warner (2013, in progress) designed a syllabus for German 475 last spring, which allowed students to develop and pursue an independent research project on a topic of their choice. The goal was to use concepts related to genre, stylistic, and linguistic awareness to enable them to more independently explore the content knowledge and ways of speaking specific to the other fields within which they study and work. Professor Warner collected the course work of consenting students as data for a project examining the development of students writing across this one-semester course. An intensive case study of a few of the students in the course suggests that students writing did develop and that they felt more motivated to read and writing prolifically when given an opportunity to connect their knowledge of German with their work in other fields. The Department is currently working to more permanently reconceptualize the curriculum for this course as a course on Advanced German Stylistics and the insights from this study will provide valuable data during this process. Findings of this research were presented by Warner at the 2013 ACTFL Convention and a publication is in progress.

4. Aspects of Intercultural Competence Development during Short-Term Study Abroad

Professor Ecke, who leads the Arizona Summer Study-in-Leipzig-Germany Program has researched program participants’ expectations and perceived learning outcomes at the beginning and the end of studying abroad (Badstübner & Ecke, 2009). Most recently he has looked at aspects of students intercultural competence development during their stay abroad. Particularly he investigated how participants perceive and rate members of their own culture and members of the other culture before the beginning of the program when compared to the end of the program and how they rate themselves regarding personality traits that have been suggested to foster intercultural competence development before the beginning of the program compared to the end of the program. This emic data has yielded a number of interesting findings, which are being used to shape the curriculum and course activities for culture learning within this program.

5. Translation Pedagogy in the Advanced Foreign Language Classroom

GER 450 in Spring 2013 was one of the Department’s first undergraduate language courses to intensively combine advanced language learning with translation pedagogy. 23 students took this course. In order to gauge how this new and somewhat controversial method of advanced language teaching resonated with our majors, the instructor, Professor Gramling, surveyed the students on their perspectives/opinions about translation, both at the beginning and the end of the course. The results of the survey are forthcoming in article and will contribute to on-going discussions in the field about the role that translation might play in the teaching of language.

Attachments: Selected assessment findings (see PDF file attachments below)

  • Results of survey about potential new course options for 7.5 weeks vs. 17 weeks and GER 111 and GER 211
  • Results of Survey to evaluate the Basic German Language Program and its Director by GATs teaching GER 101-GER 202 (Fall 2012)
  • Badstübner, T. & Ecke, P. (2009) report on study abroad students’ motivations, expectations, and perceived learning progress
  • Ecke, P. (2013) report on study abroad students’ development of aspects of intercultural competence
  • Ecke, P., Ganz, A., Walker, R., & Eby, A. (2010). Report on the German undergraduate curriculum: Does it Fit Students’ Interests or Needs?

Selected references:

Badstübner, T., & Ecke, P. (2009). Students’ expectations, motivations, target language use, and perceived learning progress in a summer study abroad program in Germany. Die Unterrichtspraxis: Teaching German, 42(1), 41-49.

Ecke, P. (2013). US-amerikanische DaF-Studenten im kurzfristigen Auslandsstudium: Meinungen und Einstellungen gegenüber Vertretern der eigenen und der fremden Kultur. [US students of German in short-term study abroad: Opinions and attitudes about members of own and other cultures.] In C. Fandrych, A. R. Galván Torres, W. Heidermann, U. Pleß & E. Tschirner, (Eds.), Text, Diskurs und Translation im Wandel. Transformationen in der lateinamerikanischen Germanistik (pp. 167-176). Tübingen: Stauffenburg Verlag.

Ecke, P. & Ganz, A. (in press). Student analytics as part of the longitudinal evaluation of language programs. In N. Mills & J. Norris (Eds.), Innovation and accountability in foreign language program evaluation. Boston: Heinle, Cengage Learning.

Ecke, P., Ganz, A., Walker, R., & Eby, A. (2010, November). The German undergraduate curriculum: Does it fit students’ interests and needs? American Association of University Supervisors and Coordinators (AAUSC) German Section Meeting, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

Change in Response to Findings: 

Below, some of the recent responses to the assessment activities described above are summarized with particular examples for each category:

1. Creation and Revision of Course Offerings:

In order to address the changing needs and wants of students, the Department of German Studies has created a new 300-level course, “German Conversations,” which combines the language acquisition objectives of a conversation course with content related to contemporary German society. In response to students’ increasing interest in translations, we have introduced a co-convened course GER 461/561 “The Task of the Translator”. We have also created four new General Education courses — GER 242, 246, 273, and 371, As part of our newly established pathway to the Honors degree in German Studies, we also created a new capstone course, “The Multilingual Subject,” which services multiple SILLC departments.

In response to considerable student interest reflected in a survey on potential new course options for 7.5 weeks vs. 17 weeks and intensive GER 111 and GER 211v course, we offered GER 111 in the Fall 2013. However, due to a shortage of available rooms, the 7.5 week course could only be offered at 8 am. At that time, it did not meet minimal enrollment requirements and had to be canceled.

2. Creation and Revision of Program Requirements:

In order to address a broader body of students with multiple interests, we have reconceptualized the undergraduate minor track, which emphasizes German Cultural Studies and requires less language competence. The other minor track and the major continue to include a strong emphasis on language learning and linguistic awareness. 

3. Revision of Syllabi in Core Courses:

Finally, updated curricula have been created for our Gateway course GER 300 and two upper-level courses, GER 475 and GER 450.

PDF icon Classroom Observation Report Form (Basic Language Program).pdf127.04 KB
PDF icon Evaluation of Basic Language Program & Director form.pdf79.33 KB
PDF icon Goethe B2 Certificate sample exam_Modellsatz_02_01.pdf654.72 KB
PDF icon Goethe C1 Certificate sample exam_Modellsatz_02_01.pdf648.89 KB
PDF icon Internal Questionnaire about GER 202 materials and learning.pdf15.17 KB
PDF icon Language Background Questipnnaire GER 101-300.pdf19.44 KB
PDF icon Rubric Assessment of Writing.pdf5.58 KB
PDF icon Rubric Scoring Oral Exams.pdf5.77 KB
PDF icon Rubric, guidelines and grading sheet for video project assessment in GER 202 by students.pdf81.65 KB
PDF icon Rubric, guidelines and grading sheet for video project assessment in GER 202 by teacher.pdf6.12 KB
PDF icon Study abroad pre-program questionnaire on student backgrounds and expectations.pdf109 KB
PDF icon Study abroad post-program questionnaire on students’ perceived learning progress.pdf90.66 KB
PDF icon Study abroad post-program questionnaire to asses program effectiveness.pdf168.26 KB
PDF icon Topics and sample questions for oral exam GER 101.pdf100.06 KB
PDF icon Topics and sample questions for oral exam GER 102.pdf84.17 KB
PDF icon Badstuebner & Ecke (2009) Results on student expectations, motivations and perceived learning progress in our study abroad program.doc.pdf100.34 KB
PDF icon Basic Language Program Survey Findings Fall 2012.pdf43.13 KB
PDF icon Ecke (2013) Article US-amerikanische Studenten im AS.pdf569.66 KB
PDF icon Ecke (2013) Poster Intercultural competence development during study abroad (AAAL).pdf249.6 KB
PDF icon Ecke et al. (2010) German Undergrad Curriculum Analysis Presentation at AAUSC 10.pdf161.66 KB
PDF icon Survey results about potential intensive course offerings (Ger 111 211) in 7.5 weeks, Fall 2012.pdf222.1 KB
Updated date: Fri, 12/20/2013 - 14:29