Piloting a Computer-adaptive Foreign Language Placement Exam (Foreign Languages and Cultures)

Students in the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures (DFLC) enter the program with a wide range of previous language studies and abilities, creating the need for a reliable, efficient, and consistent method to measure students’ knowledge and abilities for placement as they begin their studies in the department. Traditionally, DFLC faculty members have made recommendations for placement into courses based on individual interviews with all incoming students, requiring a great deal of faculty time. 

ATL Mini-grant Project: In the academic year 2015-16, DFLC received assessment mini-grant funding in support of their project “Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures Entrance Placement Testing,” which involved piloting a computer-adaptive foreign language placement examination. All incoming DFLC freshman and transfer students with previous language study were required to take this exam, helping to establish an initial measure of student language ability.

According to Michael Hubert, project leader and Assistant Professor in the department, “As a result of the implementation of the placement examination made possible by this grant, we have improved our placement efficiency greatly, leading to more effective instruction that can now target the intended learner audience of each course more efficiently.”

For additional information about assessment mini grants, including examples of other previously funded projects, see ATL’s Assessment Mini-Grant webpage.