Assessing Cultures

How can I assess learning of cultures?

In addition to learning how to communicate in different modes and in a culturally appropriate way, your students gain cultural competence and understanding through learning about the products, practices, and perspectives of target-language cultures. You may find it helpful to use performance assessments and alternative assessments as traditional methods of assessment are not appropriate for evaluating cultural learning, awareness, and understanding.

You can use the following strategies to plan for assessment of cultural understanding:

  • Align your activities for teaching cultures to your assessment tasks. These activities can include:
    • Simulation games to simulate encounters within and between cultures
    • Role plays that require students to apply knowledge of the target culture
    • Videos that introduce cultural concepts and issues for observation, discussion, and reflection
  • Embed elements of cultures into performance tasks and rubrics designed to assess communicative modes, including in IPAs.
    • Design tasks around authentic texts that present diverse cultural practices, products, and perspectives and encourage interactions with culture through these tasks.
    • Interpretive tasks can involve exploring cultural similarities and differences, and interpersonal and presentational tasks allow for deeper interaction with cultural topics introduced in the previous tasks.

  • Use alternative forms of assessments including self-assessments, reflective journals or diaries, and culture learning portfolios which are useful for both formative and summative purposes to allow students to demonstrate cultural understanding over time.
    • Provide students with multiple options for demonstrating their knowledge and create opportunities for discussion and collaboration in class.
    • Provide continuous feedback and support on alternative assessments. This also helps promote student ownership, self-reflection, and self-evaluation.