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Foreign language course grades as prerequisites and programmatic game keepers

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Title:Foreign language course grades as prerequisites and programmatic game keepers
Authors:Brown, Alan Victor
Date Issued:01 Jan 2014
Publisher:Heinle Cengage Learning
Citation:Brown, A.V. (2014). Foreign language course grades as prerequisites and programmatic game keepers. The American Association of University Supervisors, Coordinators and Directors of Foreign Languages Programs (AAUSC), 183-207.
Abstract:Stakeholders within and beyond the academy are eager to know to what extent
FL programs are responsible for producing valuable student-learning outcomes
that reflect not only curriculum-specific achievement but also classroom-independent,
real-world proficiency. At the heart of the issue resides the ambiguous,
nondescript, and somewhat idiosyncratic nature of course grades. This chapter
reports, first, on a descriptive analysis of grade-based prerequisites as they appear
in electronic undergraduate Spanish program catalogues at all 73 research-intensive
public institutions, as classified by the Carnegie Foundation. The quantitative
analysis includes descriptive statistics on the use of grade-based metrics as prerequisites
for undergraduate courses, that is, previous course grade and grade point
average (GPA). The qualitative analysis examined the language and logic used in
specifying these prerequisites. Following this analysis, a correlational study of
one of the 73 programs is presented that explores the relationship between students’
grades from all sections of two mandatory pre-major courses and their performance
on an external measure of reading, speaking, and writing proficiency.
Within this program, students must earn an A or a B in both courses before continuing
with the Spanish major, so grades carry high-stakes consequences and
serve as programmatic gatekeepers. The chapter concludes with general recommendations
on how to sensibly approach program articulation, course prerequisites,
and the nature and composition of university-level FL course grades.

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