Assessment-Driven Pedagogy and Recognizing Student Language Proficiency

Catherine Baumann


Senior Instructional Professor
Director of the University of Chicago Language Center
University of Chicago

A brownbag for language program directors, faculty, and instructors

How Assessment Informs Pedagogy, Drives Innovation, and Empowers Instructors


12:00 pm, Friday, December 2, 1418 Van Hise Hall


Two assessment-driven pedagogy initiatives on and beyond the University of Chicago campus have brought both expected and unexpected results. Instructors gained critical assessment literacy and undertook course-related test design projects, which enabled them to make more deliberate choices around curriculum and instruction. They also gained a new sense of agency and professional development, making it possible for them to innovate their curricula informed by evidence and data. I will describe the project, and possibilities for engagement with the University of Wisconsin language teaching community.

There will be opportunities for attendees to participate in the workshops in Spring 2023.

A talk for UW-Madison language educators

Give Them What They Want – Especially if It’s Real-World Language Proficiency!


4:00 pm, Friday, December 2, 1418 Van Hise Hall


21st century students come to our universities with pragmatic, career-driven agendas for their studies. We can make a case that learning a language fits those priorities – but we must also teach and test in ways that match our claims. I will describe two new initiatives on the University of Chicago campus that meet these criteria. Foreign Language Proficiency Certifications that simultaneously describe students’ real world functional abilities and drive the instruction that deliver them; and Global Honors, a way for students to assemble their many-faceted international experiences (including language study!) and be recognized for exceptional global engagement. We see both of these as a way to reframe language study as an invaluable complement to both academic and career goals.

About the speaker

Catherine C. Baumann is a Senior Instructional Professor and Director of the University of Chicago Language Center (CLC).  She received her Ph.D. in Second Languages and Cultures Education at the University of Minnesota, specializing in reading comprehension and language testing.  She has directed the CLC since 2013 and dramatically expanded its programs. In 2016 it received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation, “Transforming Language Instruction at the University of Chicago and Beyond: Collaborative Curricula and Professional Development.” A year later she co-founded, with the Director of the CLC’s Office of Language Assessment, the Language Pedagogy Innovation Initiative. Both grants support innovation in language pedagogy through an assessment-driven reverse design approach and have directly impacted the testing and teaching practices of hundreds of instructors of languages across North America and the world. She is a contributor to a variety of academic publications, and is frequently asked to consult for language programs in higher education on a variety of curricular and assessment-related issues.

Sponsors: Language Institute, with funding by the Anonymous Fund.

Contact: Jana Martin

The UW-Madison Language Institute is committed to inclusive and accessible programming. To request an accommodation for this event, please contact Language Institute associate director Jana Martin three business days in advance.