General Goals and Assessment


Students completing courses in the German program gain proficiency in written and spoken German, general cultural fluency relating to German-speaking Europe and its history, and skill in writing and in the critical analysis of written texts and other cultural artifacts related to the study of German.

Students completing a major or minor in German demonstrate advanced proficiency in the German language, cultural fluency, and analytical skills in a specific area of concentration such as German language and literature, history, visual arts, music, or political science.


Linguistic proficiency of incoming students is measured through a placement exam; that of graduating students is determined by successful completion of German 232 (Advanced Composition and Conversation) and/or one or more 300-level courses taught in German.

Cultural proficiency and advanced knowledge are evaluated through student work in upper-level courses relevant to the area of a student’s concentration within German studies.

Student course evaluations forms, with special questions designed for the German program, are used to help evaluate the quality of instruction.

The department curriculum committee, chaired by the undergraduate director, reviews the structure of each semester’s curriculum, and provides guidance to instructors in preparing syllabi for their courses. Its members (the “unit coordinators”) meet regularly with language instructors to ensure that multiple sections of a unit pursue the same learning goals and give exams that are the same in structure, breadth, and difficulty.

The unit coordinators also undertake classrooms observations and submit formal reports that are circulated to the undergraduate director and chair. The unit coordinators meet with instructors to review their experiences and needs, and to discuss the results of the classroom visits and student surveys. On the basis of the information collected in this way, the committee meets to discuss the quality of instruction, and ways in which the department needs to improve its undergraduate offerings, and its support to its students and their instructors.

Additional Goals and Assessment


Roughly 20-25% of German majors become eligible for Honors in German during their senior year by taking two consecutive graduate courses in German, by completing at least six credits of independent research with a faculty member, or through a combination of the two options.

Each year two students who have completed courses in the German program are singled out for papers in German studies judged to be outstanding for their analytic acumen, originality, style and grammar. One award is given for the best paper written in German, another for the best paper written in English.

Roughly 10-20% of students in the honors track present independent research at a recently instituted annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. These students are typically expected to include those planning to pursue graduate work in German or a related field.


The qualifications of students applying for Honors in German are considered at a meeting of the faculty who have taught and advised them. A separate committee meets to evaluate outstanding student papers.