Jason Mittell (Film & Media Culture) and James Morrison (Political Science) are faculty at Middlebury who are moving towards completely paperless teaching and research. Both cite similar reasons for preferring electronic versions of papers, articles and even books. Digital documents are simply easier to organize and access when everything else you do is on your laptop. Having your students submit electronic versions of their assignments means that you can retain a definitive copy of all your students’ work which is handy when you need to write references, find model essays from past classes to guide your current students or search for evidence of plagiarism. This case study will focus on receiving and grading electronic versions of student papers.
All the Language departments and Language Schools at Middlebury require students to take a placement exam before enrolling in language courses or programs in order to ensure students take courses at a level appropriate to their knowledge of the language they want to study. Amongst language departments, the Spanish department was the first to create an online version of their placement exam in a web application referred to as Measure. Prof. Nancy O’Connor used the Spanish department exam as a guide for developing an exam for students of French.
The exam contains about 90 questions, most of which are either multiple-choice or cloze type questions, and progresses from easier points of grammar — verb conjugation in the present, possessive and demonstrative adjectives — to more difficult ones — choice between past tenses, use of the conditional and the subjunctive. There is a section to test reading comprehension, consisting of questions concerning a short text. The exam is configured to allow students to access the questions only once and has a time limit of 1 hour 15 minutes. Student answers are saved to a database and scores can be exported into a spreadsheet. Results from this exam determine what level courses students are allowed to take at Middlebury.”
Prof. Kyoko Davis has never been fully satisfied with the audio resources included with any of the textbooks used by the Japanese dept. The Japanese dept currently uses Genki, An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese. To supplement the audio resources that accompany this textbook, Prof. Davis has recorded additional audio material for students, some of this audio contains material from the textbook that is not in the accompanying resources, some contain alternative versions that are presented at a faster and/or slower pace and some contain supplementary material.
One area of study that Prof. Kyoko has focused on is vocabulary instruction. She has worked with Media Services to record hundreds of vocabulary items and used a spreadsheet to document all the metadata for each item including Hiragana, Katagana and Kanji representations of a given word, its English translation, grammatical categorization and information about lessons it appears in. All of this information was then imported into a database that was accessed by a web application she helped design for vocabulary study that allows students to specify items they know and don’t know, tracks their study habits and generates quizzes customized to their particular knowledge of the items studied.