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Learning Outcomes & Assessment


Program Purpose

1. Facilitate the acquisition and improvement of Russian language skills in all areas of competency: speaking, reading, writing and aural comprehension, including an understanding of the structure and history of the Russian language. Maintain commitment to the use of Russian as the language of instruction in core subjects.

2. Develop in students an appreciation of the highest attainments of Russian culture, particularly Russian literature. Encourage independent learning and critical thinking. Help students develop strategies and techniques that will enable them to become lifelong learners.

The Division of Russian and Slavic Studies of the Department of Classical and Oriental Studies is the largest program of its kind within the CUNY system. We have by far the highest enrollment in Slavic within CUNY and the largest and richest curriculum in both language and literature. As a result we serve many students from our sister colleges: Baruch, CCNY, Brooklyn, Queens and Lehman. Besides Russian, we offer a program in Polish, leading to a Hunter Focus in Polish, which includes two years of language study and a literature course each semester. The Polish program enjoys significant financial support from the Kosciuszko Foundation. The academic criteria outlined for Russian are applicable to the smaller Polish Program as well.


Expected Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Russian major should:

1a. be able to discuss, speak and listen in an interactive context, on a broad range of topics from Russian current events to Russian literature and cultural history. Their pronunciation should not impede communication. 

1b. read sophisticated native Russian texts, especially Russian literature. Students should be able to describe and evaluate the content and style of these texts. 

1c. write essays and research papers in which they are able to express personal experiences and opinions as well as well supported argumentation. This written work should be characterized by good organization, coherent development and standard Russian grammar, syntax and diction. 

1d. have a basic knowledge of the history and structure of Russian. 

1e. be able to understand and participate in courses taught exclusively in Russian. 


2a. analyze and discuss the main periods, figures, and achievements of Russian cultural history. 

2b. read and understand, in the original, culturally significant poems, short stories, and plays of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian literature. Analyze and discuss these works and their authors, as well as key Russian novels (read in English), in their social, historical, and religious contexts. 


3.1a. analyze and criticize the component parts of an argument 

3.1b. create their own arguments for and against a number of topics 

3.1c. indicate how they intend to continue examining issues on their own after graduation 

3.2a. be able to discuss likely outcomes of language disuse 

3.2b. be able to assess realistically their own levels of abilities in all four aspects of Russian (speaking, reading, writing, understanding speech) 

3.2c. be able to identify sources for acquiring materials for language use 

3.2d. demonstrate specific ways they could continue studying and using Russian after graduation 


Evidence of Learning

Assessment Tools

Direct Measures 

1. We use traditional course-level assessment tools including oral and written exams, research papers and essays and oral presentations (all outcomes). 

2. essays and papers in Russian, including short analytical and research papers and position papers (1c, 2a, 2b, 3.1a, 3.1b

3. oral presentations in Russian, to include presentations on literary figures and works, culture, history and linguistics (1a, 2a, 2b, 3.1b

4. reading examination, in development (1b, 2a, 2b

5. course-level tasks that involve identifying an author's opinion and an oral refutation or support of that point of view (3.1a

Indirect Measures 

1. entry survey (1e

2. exit survey to include: self evaluation of language skills, level of understanding and ability to participate in classes in Russian, the effect Russian literature has their lives, life long learning strategies and materials, other (1e, 1c, 2a, 2b, 3.1a, 3.1b, 3.1c, 3.2a, 3.2d

3. alumni tracking survey (1d, 1e, 2a, 2b

4. collect papers and tests from literature classes in which students discuss the way that particular works or authors have influenced their thinking (1b, 2a, 2b, 3.1b)

Departmental Assessment in the Russian and Polish Programs

Russian and Polish 101-102 (elementary)

The goals for the first year language program include development of the following: mastery of the alphabet, basic vocabulary and of the forms and syntax essential for reading and oral comprehension. Elementary writing skills are taught at this stage as well. In addition, the program introduces the students to some elements of Russian and Polish literature, culture, or history. Furthermore, students are taught some vocabulary, forms, and syntax through the limited introduction of original texts. 

In assessing the beginning student's knowledge a number of instruments are used. These include quizzes (both written and oral), homework, tests, class participation/response, in-class writing exercises. Close attention is given to assessing the student's knowledge of vocabulary, forms, and syntax in context. These tools include comprehension questions, transformation exercises, substitution exercises, translating sentences and/or passages at sight, translating English sentences into target language. Tests include material that the student has not seen before (such as sight passages or sentences) to assess the student's ability to apply knowledge to new contexts. They also include previously studied and memorized forms and vocabulary in context. Classroom drills that involve the whole class together as well as those that involve one student at a time are utilized for practice and ongoing assessment by both teacher and student. Oral examination designed to test students' progress in oral comprehension, reading, and speaking is given at the end of each semester.

Russian and Polish 201-202 (intermediate level)

In addition to reviewing the material studied previously, in 201-202 students learn forms, vocabulary, and syntax not encountered in the first year. There is more emphasis on writing and more exposure to original texts. Assessment instruments used at this point of study mirror the ones used in the elementary courses. Increasingly more attention, however, is given to developing listening comprehension and speaking.

Russian 300 level (advanced undergraduate)

In the advanced classes students improve their knowledge of Russian grammar, enlarge their vocabulary, and continue working on oral comprehension, speaking, reading and writing. There is a variety of 300 level classes offered, but they all incorporate a close study of grammatical and syntactical forms with practical usage. Most of the material studied and analyzed consists of original texts from literature, journalistic writing, business, and other relevant areas of language. Concepts of style are discussed and literary elements are identified when appropriate. In translation courses, equal attention is given to the English and to the target language in terms of grammar, style, and adequate rendering of the original in another language. Depending on the course, class work consists of reading, discussion, grammar drills, as well as translation of original texts from Russian into English and from English into Russian. Tests are given that include both prepared and sight material. Grammar, syntax, vocabulary knowledge and linguistic analysis are assessed through identifications, substitutions, completions, and composition. Oral testing is utilized as well.

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