UGC Report on Modern Language and Linguistics and Intercultural Communications (MLLI) Program Review Prepared by Terrance Worchesky (Physics)

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1 UGC Report on Modern Language and Linguistics and Intercultural Communications (MLLI) Program Review Prepared by Terrance Worchesky (Physics) A. Introduction. The Department of Modern Language and Linguistics and Intercultural Communications (MLLI) offers B.A. degrees in six languages, Chinese, French, German, Korean, Russian, Spanish, a B.A. in applied linguistics, minors in those languages and linguistics and certificate programs in the languages and in intercultural communication. Over the review period, the department experienced solid growth in their undergraduate program with the number of majors increasing by 17% to 232 in In addition, MLLI plays an important part in UMBC s General Education Program (GEP), providing both language and culture courses to approximately 2,000 out of 10,573 undergraduate students registered in Fall At the graduate level, MLLI offers an M.A. degree in intercultural communications and has an accelerated BA-MA program with an average of 37 students in the M.A. program. MLLI consists of 27 full-time faculty members: four professors, 13 associate professors, two assistant professors, and eight lecturers that are supplemented by 16 adjuncts and 6 graduate assistants. MLLI faculty has increased by six full-time positions since the last APR, but only one of those positions is tenured/tenure-track. The other five positions are at the lecturer rank and of those only two are fully funded on state-supported lines. B. Student Learning Outcomes. The Department offers majors in six languages; however, all majors in MLLI share a common core of three courses taught in English. This core curriculum centers on understanding cultural and linguistic behaviors and develops the perspectives and conceptual and analytical skills applicable to the other courses taken in the major. Beyond the core, the undergraduate curriculum emphasizes the concurrent acquisition of competent language skills and cultural competence along with the tools for inquiry and research in core linguistic areas. Critical reasoning, effective oral and written communication skills, information literacy, and teambuilding are other aspects that are an integral part of all programs in MLLI. While each area in MLLI has its own curriculum, the commonalities among programs are evident in the program and course goals. In as part of the MLLI Assessment Plan, the Department formulated a set of learning outcome goals that were matched to the core course area and the separate linguistic major areas, and these along with the assessment plan were approved by CAHSS. C. State of the Discipline; Program Modifications; Program Changes. The Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication occupies a distinct place in the national field of foreign languages as the only program in the nation that combines the study of foreign languages with the general study of the concepts and practices of intercultural communication and intercultural studies. In recognition of this unique position, the

2 Department changed its name from Modern Languages and Linguistics to Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication, in With its interdisciplinary and intercultural faculty, research program, and curricula the MLLI program is in accordance with the Modern Languages Association guidelines. The Department hired a specialist in intercultural communication and training, and strengthened the intercultural component of its undergraduate and graduate programs. Also, the approval of the Asian Studies Program in Spring 2011 is expected to contribute to the sustained growth of the Chinese, Japanese and Korean areas in MLLI. D. Undergraduate Curriculum. All majors in MLLI share a common core of three courses in world languages, world language communities, and textural analysis that are taught in English. This core curriculum centers on understanding cultural and linguistic behaviors and develops the perspectives and conceptual and analytical skills applicable to every course taken in the major. A student then selects one of four options for the major: One-Language Option, Two-Language Option, Language and Cultural Studies, or Applied Linguistics. All options emphasize the concurrent acquisition of competent language skills and cultural competence (language majors) along with the tools for inquiry and research in core linguistic areas (linguistics majors). Critical reasoning, effective oral and written communication skills, information literacy, and teambuilding are other aspects that are an integral part of all programs in MLLI. Beyond the classroom environment, students develop their linguistic proficiency, professional skills and cultural and intercultural competencies through a variety of internship. Many of these internship opportunities are with governmental and non-for profit agencies that work with immigrant populations. At UMBC, students can work with international students in the conversation partner program of the English Learning Institute or work within the framework of their field of studies. Also, an internship is offered to students who are accepted in the Intercultural Living Exchange, a Living Learning Community. In response to a request by the University for cost efficiency, MLLI reduced their course offerings starting in Most of the reductions continue in place, making it necessary for majors to carefully plan their schedules over several semesters and in some cases, especially with transfer students, preventing students from taking a course for which they cannot get the prerequisite. In some areas the reduction in course offerings has cut down on available electives. E. Research Opportunities for Undergraduates. Over the past five years, MLLI has begun to encourage its top undergraduate majors to engage in scholarly research. To date, this work has mostly been in linguistics, a situation that is explained by the fact that students in that discipline read current research in their courses and are, thus, aware of the conventions and demands of the field. The challenge of preparing for research undergraduate students whose coursework is all in the target language is one that the Department is currently considering.

3 During the past five years, MLLI students have published five articles in the UMBC Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Work, four students have won Undergraduate Research Awards, and an average of three MLLI majors per year see their work selected for presentation at Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement. Through the UMBC Undergraduate Research Assistantship, three students were able to take on roles in their faculty mentors projects and a number of students were able to contribute to papers presented by their faculty mentors. F. Undergraduate Advisement. MLLI begins their student advisement by reaching out to admitted students who have declared an interest in one of our programs prior to the summer before their first year. The new students are sent a welcome letter, assigned to an advisor in their specific language area, and given instructions on how to contact their advisor. In the first week of the fall semester, the Department holds a reception for new and returning majors and minors. All full-time faculty are advisors, with new faculty members given a year to become familiar with the university, the major, and the GEP requirements before they are asked to take on advisees. Efforts are made to distribute advisees equally among faculty advisors in each language area. Advising appointments include selection of courses for the next semester and discussion of academic progress, as well as information on study abroad and internships; and most MLLI students consult with their advisors at least once a semester. The Department has an advising coordinator who serves as liaison between the Office for Academic Advising and the Department, attends advising community meetings, supervises the maintenance of the advising lists files, and answers general questions about the program from students both within and outside the program. The advising coordinator also works with the Office for Academic Advising to disseminate information to faculty advisors and students across the university in regard to the language requirement and accommodations for international students. In addition, the advising coordinator evaluates the substantial number of applications and documentation submitted to the Department by international and U.S. resident students who wish to receive equivalency for the 201-level proficiency requirement. G. Council of Majors; Undergraduate Honors; Awards; Recognition. Students are involved in MLLI through various channels and organizations. The MLLI Newsletter keeps subscribers informed about faculty and student travel and other projects and activities. The MLLI LISTSERV carries department and university announcements and provides information on cultural events in the metropolitan area, internships, opportunities for travel and work abroad, and jobs. Individual language clubs and the MLLI Council of Majors allow students the opportunity to meet socially in language and culture related activities. Many of these activities involve students in the beginning programs as well as upper-level majors and minors.

4 H. Faculty Development; Teaching Quality. MLLI supports the development of its faculty in a number of ways. Its new tenure-track hires are mentored by senior faculty and are encouraged to also go outside the Department and even outside the university to seek mentoring in their areas of interest. Also, all tenure-track faculty meet with the department chair at least once a semester. The chair also discusses SCEQ results with all faculty members. MLLI extensively uses the Faculty Development Center for support of the faculty at all levels. The typical teaching responsibility for full-time faculty during the regular academic year is 3/2 for tenure/tenure-track and 4/4 for lecturers. Sixteen adjuncts teach 40 classes in the sequence and eight graduate assistants (GAs) teach 12 classes. Several tenure/tenure track faculty regularly teach courses. Still, the majority of the 4-credit courses are taught by adjuncts and GAs. The adjuncts and GAs are native or have near-native proficiency and represent many countries and cultures. Some adjuncts teach at other institutions and all had prior teaching experience when they came to UMBC. Each area has a language teaching coordinator who, among other duties, conducts training and evaluation activities for the language area. The adjuncts and GAs are provided with syllabi and teaching materials and instructional guidelines and policies are explained. Instructors are required to follow the syllabi provided by the language teaching coordinators to ensure quality of instruction and articulation across the curriculum. The Faculty Development Center provides an orientation for adjuncts at the beginning of each semester and maintains a section of their website for adjuncts. MLLI pays special attention to the training of GAs as often they come from cultures where teaching is dramatically different from what is expected in the U.S. and at UMBC and/or may have not taught before. Graduate assistants teach one course in their first semester and two courses each in the subsequent three semesters in the INCC program. Adjuncts and GAs are observed in the classroom by the language teaching coordinators and after an observation the coordinator conducts a follow-up. The Chair as well as the area and language teaching coordinators review instructors SCEQs. Almost two-thirds of the MILLI Fall language courses were ranked above the UMBC mean (4.11/5) in teaching effectiveness. I. Additional Comments; Summary Evaluation. In general, the external reviewers had a very favorable evaluation of MLLI. In particular, they were impressed by the Department s commitment to combining intercultural and cross-discipline areas within the Department s curriculum and scholarship; and that the expertise embodied by the faculty in MLLI is, without a doubt, unique in our discipline. Also, they were impressed by the growing scholarly work of the faculty and the inclusion of students in these works. One issue that was highlighted by the external reviewers was the lack of Departmental administrative structure. In conjunction with this, the reviewers were concerned that the

5 Department is separated into groups by language and by program (graduate versus undergraduate). The Department s response to this is that this is a point of pride that they can work effectively as a group of mini-departments that are based on the languages in the program. Also, MLLI emphasized in their response that their tenure-track/tenured faculty teach, advise, and administer across both the undergraduate and graduate programs. On a second issue, the Department has begun to address comments on the coverage of intercultural issues in their lower-level courses and broaden the materials beyond literature in their upper-level courses. Another issue that is common to many departments at the University is the distribution and graying of the faculty. By June 2012 MLLI will have four and a half vacant lines, all due to retirements, so planning for new tenure-track hires to replace retiring faculty, together with a careful review of programs, is the number one priority for the Department. Also, while assistant professors have been successfully promoted, there has only been one promotion to full professor since Heavy teaching, service and administrative loads often do not leave enough time for sustained research endeavors and research productivity plays a crucial role in promotion decisions. Both the College and the University are aware of these concerns and are beginning to address these issues more directly. Finally, the Department and reviewers agree that the size and quality of the physical space that the Department occupies is abysmal. In his response, the Dean of CAHSS discusses working with the Provost s Office and the Department on a plan to rectify this situation.

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