Mellon LCTL Collaborative Partners

With the support of a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the University of Chicago brings together pairs or small groups of instructors of Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) from different institutions to develop shared assessments and curricula in the target language. The grant will run from July, 2016, until June, 2021, with new collaborative pairs added each year.

When we started, a goal of the project was to create partnerships for the development of assessments and materials, and ultimately sharing learners across institutions by utilizing the CourseShare model. We now know that sharing students demands managing multiple internal and external factors, making it an elusive (and sometimes less than desirable) goal. But we also know that the professional development work we have undertaken with so many LCTL instructors is having a profound impact on their assessment and teaching practices.

With all of that in mind, and with the blessing of the Mellon Foundation, we are redefining Mellon Partners as those who agree to:

  • set shared end-of-year proficiency levels, based on the ACTFL Guidelines
  • use shared end-of-year proficiency tests as an integral part of curriculum
  • collaborate on development and realignment of curricula and materials
  • incorporate these materials into their teaching
  • engage in iterative re-evaluation of assessments and curricula on a regular basis
  • share students when and if necessary and feasible

This new definition of “partners” helps us accomplish our goals impacting the instruction of LCTLs in a wider-reaching, more sustainable way. Partnerships may be comprised of:

  • 2 or 3 or 4 instructors of the same LCTL (NOTE: Instructors may now work with others beyond the Big Ten or IvyPlus consortia)
  • multiple LCTL instructors of different languages on one campus who wish to form a cohort of experts, engaging in the activities noted above

We also continue to encourage language center directors, or others in a leadership role for assessment and curriculum on campus, to participate in our workshop cycles. We believe they can disseminate and ultimately drive similar professional initiatives on their own campuses.

Summer 2020

Summer 2020 will start a new cycle of workshops, and with this email I invite you to share this information with your LCTL instructors. Generous Mellon Foundation funding covers participants’ travel and lodging, most meal costs, and of course the cost of the training. NOTE: Participants may attend multiple workshops in one Summer.


ACTFL 4-Day OPI Workshop

June 16-19, 2020 – Online

Workshop is conducted in English for mixed languages. It delivers deep assessment literacy, most critically the difference between achievement and proficiency assessment, and familiarity with the ACTFL levels across the four skills. We consider ACTFL training an essential prerequisite to participation in our project.

Individuals who wish to take part in the OPI workshop should submit a one-page statement of purpose that describes why the project is of interest to them and how it might impact their testing and teachin practices, along with a brief letter or email of support from a chair or dean. We will fill the workshops on a first-come first-served basis.


Mellon Test Design and Development Workshop

June 22-25, 2020 – Online

In this four-day workshop participants work with partners (see above) to design end-of-sequence proficiency assessments. By the end of the workshop, you have a complete design, which is then developed more fully (i.e. finding reading and listening inputs, fleshing out prompts, creating rubrics). Upon completion of test development, developers receive a $1,000.00 incentive payment per test, or equivalent compensation.

You MUST have participated in an ACTFL 4- day workshop to attend the Test D&D Workshop and you MUST sign up with a partner or partners.

Each individual wishing to take part in the Test Design and Development Workshop should submit the attached form, with a named collaborator (or collaborators) and a signature from a chair or dean. We will fill the workshop on a first-come first-served basis.


Mellon Curriculum Development Workshops

July 15-17, 2020 – Online

Once Mellon-developed end-of-sequence assessments are complete, participants are eligible to embark on curriculum re-alignment projects. We are offer 2 ½ day Curriculum Design Workshops to address multiple issues in curricular alignment and begin to guide participants in crafting their projects. We then offer Curriculum Development grants up to $2,000.00 or its equivalent.