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PACE Project


The Proficiency Assessment for Curricular Enhancement (PACE) project is designed to maintain a culture of assessment, self-assessment, and curricular improvement in the second language-learning process. Funded by a grant from The Language Flagship, the PACE project at the University of Minnesota began on August 1, 2014 to assess language proficiency of students of Arabic, French, German, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. The project is currently in its fourth year.

The 2017-2018 academic year will build on the work of the past three years. The focus will be on analyzing and responding to student proficiency test data gathered from the previous academic years, but will not include new testing. The PACE project team will work closely with two other grant recipients who have been conducting parallel projects: Michigan State University (MSU) and the University of Utah (Utah).

PACE celebration May 2018
Dean Coleman leads the opening remarks at the final celebration of the PACE Project on May 4, 2018

Major Initiatives for 2017-2018

Data analysis and research
During the first three years of the grant, the three institutions have collected over 6000 proficiency ratings in speaking, listening, and reading, in nine language programs. Data from these three institutions will be combined to more effectively investigate significant factors that affect proficiency development at the post-secondary level. The PACE project team will meet with instructors and students throughout the year and will host two events with external experts to share best practices in proficiency research and data analysis.

Collaborative Project:  Advanced Speaking Proficiency
In collaboration with MSU and Utah, the project will support the design and implementation of activities and pedagogical interventions for upper-division content courses in literature, culture, or linguistics that focus attention on speaking and will provide opportunities for students to develop proficiency beyond the Intermediate High level. Teaching Assistants (TAs) in Arabic, French, German and Spanish will join with instructors from the other two institutions and an external consultant to form a collaborative cohort that will meet throughout the year. Each TA will be mentored by a faculty member in conducting a content-focused course and will provide support in delivering the course over Spring 2018.

Professional Development for Language Instructors
The PACE project will support a year-round program of professional development, including larger events with a focus on research, and a variety of smaller events. The project will also provide special support for the Russian program, including bringing in two consultants for workshops for the team of instructors.

Project Dissemination
Utah, MSU, and the U of M will continue to publish the results of their individual and collaborative projects, and present at a variety of national and international conferences. In addition, the three universities will jointly host a symposium in late May 2018 at the University of Minnesota for representatives from sister institutions (Big Ten Academic Alliance, Pac 12). The three institutions will share experiences and findings and foster collaboration in contributing to the efforts of raising the level of cultural understanding and language proficiency in undergraduate programs, thereby expanding the reach of the Language Flagship Proficiency Initiative. The event will lay the groundwork for future collaboration and implementation.