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Initiatives in Digital Technology: 2004–05 Funded Proposals

Simon Hooper, Susan Rose

Computer-tools for Improving American Sign Language Instruction

Enrollment in American Sign Language (ASL) world language classes at the University of Minnesota has increased more than 50% over the past four years. However, the methods used to provide instruction and assessment have changed little over the past decade. A particularly problematic instructional area is in the assessment of ASL performance. The VHS video system currently being used is an administrative problem and does little to support student learning. The purpose of this project is to build a language-learning environment that transforms the existing performance assessment process and creates new opportunities for learning ASL. The system will integrate contemporary computer networking technology and general outcome measures to enhance communication proficiency. The resulting environment will be a cost-effective application of pedagogically- and technologically-advanced innovations that together improve instructional quality. We will develop Curriculum Based Measures (CBM) to establish a flexible, fast, valid, and reliable technique for measuring student progress and promoting early detection of learning difficulties. The CBM will be integrated into in a computer-based ASL assessment system that creates, (a) an environment for students to capture, submit, and archive ASL performances, (b) a setting for instructors to evaluate and report student performance, (c) a system for students to self-assess performance, and (d) an administration component to manage and coordinate performance- and evaluation-data.