Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name



Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Justine M. Kane


Despite the need in our global society to know more than one language to communicate, learning a second language is not a highly-valued skill. Moreover, while the understanding of language acquisition has continued to evolve over the past 30 years, our teaching and assessment practices have remained relatively stagnant and many foreign language classrooms continue to employ more “traditional approaches” to teaching and assessment. If U.S. foreign language educators, however, make a commitment to effective instruction and assessment practices, we can promote students’ proficient, life-long second language skills. Therefore, this study explores the ways in which collaborative learning and performance assessments not only positively support student success in developing proficiency in a second language, but also foster students’ use of those skills in real-world contexts over a long period of time. Using a mixed-methods approach, this study analyzes a survey instrument adapted from the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements and self-assessments for the advanced to mid-level student to identify students’ perceptions of their proficiency in Spanish language skills they that would have acquired by completing Spanish 5AP. The study revealed three major findings: (1) former students perceived their proficiency in Spanish as having been fostered by collaborative learning and/or performance-based assessment practices; (2) students perceived of themselves as people who continue to use the foreign language they learned in high school in various contexts; (3) students are definitely passionate about foreign language study to various degrees. The study has important implications for both foreign language education and educational practices regarding collaboration and communicative competence, promoting foreign language proficiency in real-world contexts through students creating and constructing their knowledge, and cultivating students’ passion for foreign language through engagement in learning to create life-long learners.