In 2010, the Gallaudet Faculty Senate passed a motion that mandated a formative study of the Classroom Discourse Observation (CDO). The data collection was made possible through volunteer faculty participation. Outcomes for the study included:
- Fostering multiple measures approach concerning faculty communication skills
- Identifying best practices and standards for discourse observation
- Implementing tools that will help faculty members improve their communication skills in the classroom
In 2012, the formative study and pilot of the CDO was concluded. A correlation study was conducted between participant ASLPI results and their CDO performances. Please see the Latest Research Findings for the outcomes from that study.
On February 13-15, 2013, the Gallaudet Board of Trustees met and approved an amendment to the University Faculty Guidelines as follows:
"a classroom discourse observation component will be implemented, effective immediately, in addition to the American Sign Language Proficiency Interview, in evaluating faculty sign language skills."
Data collection for the CDO will continue to track baseline, progression, improvement, and success. Further research studies will also be conducted and posted to this area of the website.
CDO's Latest Research Finding
CDOs offer feedback on the use of ASL, language discourse and communication aspects appropriate for various settings and purposes in the classroom. The assessments analyze the strengths and challenges in an array of formats. Gallaudet commissioned the use of CDO to foster a multiple measures approach for evaluating faculty communicative competency, to identify best practices, and to establish benchmark standards for discourse in the classroom. The continued research and documentation will support the expected outcomes for faculty members at Gallaudet University. We look forward to providing updated research findings on an annual basis.
Overview of Research Findings
The research-based data is focused on the 23 faculty members who participated in the CDO. For analysis, the faculty was divided into three groups according to their ASLPI holistic levels. CDOs consider three main domains: optimizing visual classroom environment, discourse, and pragmatics. Preliminary analysis of the data collected indicates there is a direct correlation between higher ASL proficiency and a better overall CDO performance. In other words, if a faculty has a higher ASLPI proficiency level, s/he is better equipped to handle all aspects of the classroom teaching/learning environment and a higher CDO performance score is awarded.
In examining more closely the three CDO domains, the strongest correlation between the ASLPI and CDO shows itself in the area of Discourse in the classroom (the second domain). Statistical data shows that all faculty, regardless of ASLPI proficiency level, did well for the most part with two of the domains: optimizing a visual classroom environment and pragmatics, though there were occasional struggles in some areas in these domains that varied among the participants.