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Statement of Assessment

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  1. Introduction
  2. LFA 19-week programme: outline of course format and assessment
  3. Registration for LFA courses
  4. Language levels and learning outcomes
  5. Marking of LFA courses
  6. Feedback to students
  7. Examinations and examiners
  8. Course attendance
  9. Resit examinations
  10. Results
  11. Academic misconduct

1. Introduction 

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Languages for All (LFA) is a university-wide programme which provides courses in around 14 languages at a range of levels to undergraduate and postgraduate students in all departments of the university. Our courses are also open to members of staff and to members of the public. Some of our language courses are unassessed (e.g. Short courses) but our main 19-week general programme is assessed and leads to the award of a certificate. Under modularisation, students in some departments can take a course on the 19-week programme as a degree module, but most students take courses on the 19-week programme on an extra-curricular basis. Assessment is compulsory for credit students and optional for extra-curricular students.

LFA staff also teach a range of specialist language courses for departments such as History of Art and Music. Where a specialist language course is taken for degree credit, it forms part of the departmental degree programme and the assessment procedures therefore come under those of the department concerned.

Please find below information about how LFA modules are assessed, the role of examiners, the marking and classification of course results, feedback on work, what to do in case of illness, penalties of various sorts and academic misconduct and its consequences. Course outlines for individual languages/levels and their modes of assessment can be found on the LFA website.

2. LFA 19-week programme: outline of course format and assessment

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The main LFA programme runs as a long, thin modules over three terms (19 weeks of teaching). Courses are organised in groups of around 20 students, with classes taking place mainly in the afternoon and in the evening. The groups contain students from a range of departments, and may also have some participants who are members of staff or people from outside the university.

As well as the weekly 1hr of face-to-face teaching plus 1hr of asynchronous learning  activities (or 1hr of online live teaching plus 1hr of asynchronous learning activities), students are set an additional 2-3 hours of private study work each week in order to consolidate their language learning. This work may involve tasks such as online language learning activities on the VLE, completing worksheets or exercises set by the tutor, revising work done in class, practising pronunciation and learning vocabulary/grammar. Key aspects of the consolidation work done at home are checked by the tutor each week, and feedback is given to students.

The formal assessment for the courses takes the form of two online exams (written and oral) which evaluate the student’s progress in each of the language skills taught and are held at the end of the course. In addition, towards the end of Term 1 students will receive written individual feedback on a formative asynchronous tasks completed in Week 10. The form and timing of the assessments are as follows:

Assessment 

Formative or Summative 

Timing of the assessment

Duration

Contribution to the module mark

Asynchronous tasks

F

Wk 10

Term 1

to be completed over one week

Does not count towards overall mark

Oral Exam: task-based video recording

S

In the period: Weeks 4-5, Term 3

2-10 minutes

 30%

Online written Exam

S

In the period: Weeks 5-7, Term 3 

24 hour time window

 70%

The formal assessment for Classical Latin and Medieval Latin takes the form of one online written exam and is held at the end of the course. In addition, at the end of Term 1 students will receive individual feedback on a formative asynchronous task completed in Week 10. The form and timing of the assessments are as follows:

Assessment 

Formative or Summative

Timing of the assessment

Duration

Contribution to the module mark

Asynchronous tasks 

F

Wk 10

Term 1

to be completed over one week

Does not count towards overall mark

Online Written Examination

S

In the period: Weeks 5-7, Term 3 

24 hour time window

 100% 

3. Registration for LFA courses

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Registration takes place online from mid-September until Thursday of Week 2 of Term 1. The list of courses offered is available on the LFA website, together with details about course prerequisites, aims, contact hours, teaching methods and assessment.

Students whose academic departments offer the option of taking an LFA course as a 20-credit degree module (under the modularisation system) can find a list of all courses which can be taken as part of a degree.

4. Language levels and learning outcomes

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LFA course levels are linked to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for languages, which divides learners into three broad stages, each of which is sub-divided into two levels. The learning outcomes are defined for each stage as follows:

A Basic Speaker A1 Breakthrough A2 Waystage

A1: Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

A2: Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. personal, work and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar matters. Can describe aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

B Independent Speaker B1 Threshold B2 Vantage

B1: Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes/ambitions and give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

B2: Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

C Proficient Speaker C1 Effective Operational Proficiency C2 Mastery

C1: Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

C2: Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

Please note that student achievement/ exit level depends on their previous knowledge, their engagement with their LFA course, and their amount of independent study.

The pre-requisites for LFA courses, and the standard achieved on completion of the course, are defined under the CEFR as indicated here.

Details of the specific aims and learning objectives for each course can be found on the LFA website.

5. Marking of LFA courses

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5.1 LFA marking scheme

The LFA marking scheme follows the format of the university mark scale for undergraduate degrees. Students taking an LFA course on an extra-curricular basis receive on request a certificate (graded as Distinction, Merit and Pass as outlined below) at the end of the course. Students taking an LFA course as a degree module have the mark incorporated into their degree in accordance with the assessment regulations of their academic department.

Where the programme specifications permit it, if a student elects to take a Languages for All (LFA) module as an elective, they may do so at a lower level than their stage would normally permit, so long as the total weight of the lower-level module does not exceed 20 credits. This would allow a student to begin language study without previous experience, or further develop language skills for use after university or during a period of study abroad. Any lower level study of this nature will be reflected on the student’s transcript as pass/fail only, and marks achieved will not be incorporated into their degree, and therefore will not impact on degree classifications.

All LFA work is marked on the university mark scale:

  • First-class Honours 70-100
  • Upper second-class Honours 60-69 
  • Lower second-class Honours 50-59 
  • Third-class Honours 40-49 
  • Fail 0-39

5.2 Recording of marks

Marks for summative assessments are recorded on the e:Vision database. Candidates are identified by examination number and information about student names is accessible only to the Departmental Administrator.

5.3 Anonymous Marking

In accordance with standard University practice, all summative assessment is marked anonymously (except for the oral exam) and is submitted by exam candidate number.

6. Feedback to students

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Feedback is an essential part of the process of learning a language. During their LFA course, students will receive regular feedback on their progress in all four language skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing). Feedback will be given in a range of forms, as appropriate to the language/level of the course and to the skills being assessed. The LFA policy on feedback is as follows:

  • Results for summative assessment will be communicated to students by marks on the University mark scale.
  • All courses will provide an opportunity for students to receive formative feedback in each language skill before the summative assessment (end of year exams).
  • Feedback will, wherever practicable, provide an indication of what would have improved performance.
  • Tutors will indicate at the start of a course the types of feedback they expect to provide for that module, and the timing for this feedback.
  • For formative assessment, feedback will be provided at the beginning of teaching in Term 2 (week 2).
  • Feedback may take a variety of forms, such as provision of correct answers to an exercise; comments on student work; corrections and marks given to exercises; email answers to individual queries; individual discussion with the tutor outside the class; sample answers to exercises or exam questions; feedback forms; model or outline answers.

7. Examinations and examiners

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7.1 LFA examinations

LFA examinations take place for each language in the period of Weeks 4-7 of Term 3. LFA online written exams are included within the university’s main exam timetable, and the schedule for exams will also be posted on the LFA website. It is the responsibility of students to check that they know the time and place of any exam they are taking.

Students who have specific requirements in examinations due to medical reasons, and who wish to request a modification of the standard LFA assessment format, should contact the Department of Language and Linguistic Science at lfa@york.ac.uk. Students will be required to provide supporting documentation. If a student does not have a Student Support Plan (SSP) but may require special arrangements, he/she should contact Disability Services for further guidance at disabilityservices@york.ac.uk at the beginning of the academic year. If a student has already had such an approved SSP, the LFA office should be informed so that any adjustments can also be made within the context of LFA. Please note that in case of dyslexia, it is not possible to make adjustments in the marking of work written in a closed language exam. This is because accurate spelling and grammar are part of the assessment objectives in language assessment. Students requesting to use a University PC as part of their individual arrangements will not be entitled to use the spellchecking tool to correct their answers. Further details about the departmental policy can be found here.

7.2 Internal examiners

The internal examiners for LFA courses are the course tutors (who are specialists in the language/level under examination). Each piece of summative assessment is marked by an internal examiner (normally the LFA tutor for the course), and these marks are then moderated by a second internal examiner. If the internal examiners fail to agree on the mark to be awarded, they will resolve the disagreement internally. These internal marks are communicated to the external examiner, who ratifies the marks.

7.3 External examiners

External examiners are members of academic staff of a university other than York. They are appointed because they are experts in the language being taught and can provide an independent appraisal of the programme’s assessment practices. External examiners are approved by the University’s Standing Committee on Assessment on behalf of the Senate. They have a fixed term of office (normally four years). They bring an impartial and objective attitude to the assessment of students’ work.

LFA has nine external examiners to cover all of the languages which can currently be taken as degree modules (Arabic, Chinese, Classical and Medieval Latin, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish). External examiners approve examination papers and comment on the marking of written exam scripts and oral material (video files). Samples of each piece of double-marked assessed work are sent to the relevant external examiner for comment; the sample includes material from approximately one third of the group, selected across all levels of performance (plus all fails and borderline cases).

7.4 LFA Board of Examiners

The LFA Board of Examiners consists of all the teaching staff in LFA and the nine external examiners. The Board receives the results of examinations, considers any special cases and makes recommendations for resits where appropriate. The current Chair of the LFA Board of Examiners is Prof Ann Taylor.

8. Course attendance

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8.1 Notification of Absence

In order to learn a language successfully, regular practice in each language skill is essential. Attendance at all LFA sessions and engagement with the asynchronous activities is therefore recommended in order to be able to complete the end of year examinations successfully.

Planned absences should be communicated in advance to tutors (via email)

Students who are unable to attend a session or complete the asynchronous tasks due to illness or other extenuating circumstances should, preferably in advance, inform their tutor by email. Students should also consult the VLE site to review lesson plans and materials of the sessions they have missed.

9. Resit examinations

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If a student fails to achieve the pass mark of 40% in the May/June examinations and is taking the LFA course as a degree module, they will be required to resit the examination(s) in the August resit week. The components to be retaken (oral, written) will be determined in light of the performance in each skill. The requirements of progression will be determined by the assessment rules of the academic department for which the LFA module has been taken.

If a student is taking an LFA course on an extra-curricular basis and fails to achieve the overall pass mark of 40% in the May/June examinations, they will be offered the opportunity to resit the examination in the August resit week. An email notification confirming this will be sent and in the same email, the student will be asked to confirm whether or not they would like to resit. Please note that all resits carry an administration fee. Students have one week to confirm their choice with LFA. If a student fails to give confirmation within the deadline, they will no longer be considered for a resit examination. As an alternative, if a student cannot attend or does not wish to take a resit examination a certificate of attendance will be provided on request by contacting the administration team.

10. Results

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After the LFA exams in Weeks 4-7 of Term 3, the scripts and oral exam digital material go through the internal marking process. One-third of the double-marked scripts/orals (plus any fails and borderline cases) are moderated by the appropriate external examiner. After the LFA Exam Board meeting and the departmental progression Boards (usually in week 10, Term 3), marks for students who are taking a course as a degree module are forwarded to academic departments via e:Vision, and certificates are produced for extra-curricular students. All extra-curricular students are also informed of their result by email.

11. Academic misconduct

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11.1 Fairness in examinations

The University and LFA make considerable efforts to ensure that the examination process is fair to each student, and it is expected that candidates will approach assessment in the same way. In particular, there is the expectation that all assessed work will be the unaided work of the candidate concerned and that the candidate has not attempted to secure unfair advantage or to misrepresent his or her work. Any evidence of academic misconduct will be taken very seriously.

11.2 Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the representation of the work of another as one’s own, and is punishable under University regulations by a range of severe penalties. Plagiarism does not require intent to deceive and includes those cases where a candidate has unintentionally used the words of another; for example, when a candidate uses notes which were made some considerable time ago, but which were taken verbatim from the work of someone else.

11.3 Other examples of academic misconduct

  • Giving material to another candidate which that candidate submits as if it were his/her own work. Both persons involved are guilty of academic misconduct in such cases.
  • Copying and pasting information from the web into an essay or language exercise, without quoting the material inserted and without acknowledging its source.
  • Plagiarism also includes cases where the copied material has been translated into another language: for example, French source material translated into English, or English source material translated into German.

The University takes a serious view of these academic offences. Regulation 5.7 states: “The University regards any form of academic misconduct as an extremely serious matter. Candidates must not, in relation to assessed work at any stage of their course:

  • cheat i.e. fail to comply with the rules governing examinations e.g. by making arrangements to have unauthorised access to information;
  • collude i.e. assist another candidate to gain an advantage by unfair means, or receive such assistance;
  • fabricate i.e. mislead the examiners by presenting work for assessment in a way which intentionally or recklessly suggests that factual information has been collected which has not in fact been collected, or falsifies factual information;
  • personate i.e. act, appear, or produce work on behalf of another candidate in order to deceive the examiners, or solicit another individual to act, appear or produce work on their own behalf;
  • plagiarise i.e. incorporate within their work without appropriate acknowledgement material derived from the work (published or unpublished) of another.

Any failure to observe these regulations may result in disciplinary action being taken. The regulations above apply to the conduct of University examinations, but LFA takes exactly the same view with respect to all work submitted by students, whether in examinations or for other assessment. Failure to observe these regulations may result in disciplinary action being taken. When academic misconduct is suspected in any assessment, the Chair of the Board of Examiners will inform the Chair of the University’s Standing Committee on Assessment, A member of the exams team, acting on behalf of the Standing Committee on Assessment, will nominate a StAMP member from the reporting department/unit to act as Chair on the case and provide the names of two other StAMP members who will be assigned to the case(s), together with an SCA contact. The StAMP investigatory panel will normally be assigned within 5 working days of the initial report. Information about academic misconduct, and how to avoid e.g. unintentionally plagiarising work, can be found at: Academc misconduct. The full academic misconduct policy can be found here .

11.4 Appeals

Section 6.7 of the University of York’s Ordinances and Regulations gives details of the University’s Appeals Procedures.

11.5 Training in plagiarism awareness

There is an on-line tutorial as part of the Virtual Learning Environment which explains what is meant by plagiarism and provides information on the key issues affecting every student. At the end of the tutorial there is a two-part test. All new LFA students are advised to complete the online plagiarism tutorial/test and obtain the training certificate.