Goals and Assessment

The Undergraduate Student Learning Initiative (USLI) is a campuswide project that has been under development at Berkeley since Fall 2007. This initiative is designed to promote and facilitate learning for undergraduates across campus. As part of this initiative, the Scandinavian Department faculty has articulated learning goals in the Scandinavian major and minor and suggested pathways to reach those goals.

Learning goals for the Scandinavian major

Communicative competence in one of the modern Nordic languages (Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish), in both the spoken and written language within a cultural context (please note special requirements for Finnish, below), or in the case of the Old Norse Studies concentration, reading competence in Old Norse;
Understanding of the linguistic, historical, and cultural relationships that join and divide the nations and peoples of the Nordic region;
Understanding the broad trajectory of Nordic literary culture from the Middle Ages to contemporary times, including both canonical works and works from the margins;
Mastery of research and analytical skills sufficient to enable the student to understand received wisdom and new scholarship, and to draw insightful and original conclusions about literature, film, folklore, art history, and other aspects of literary culture;
Writing and reasoning skills (mounting a persuasive argument, marshalling and synthesizing appropriate evidence, crafting syntactically correct, carefully documented essays and oral presentations).

One of the unique aspects of Nordic literary studies is the close relationship among the countries and their languages (excepting Finnish, which is not linguistically related to the Scandinavian languages). Students majoring in our discipline, while developing competence in one of the languages, are expected to take cultural courses (taught in translation) that extend across national boundaries so that they develop knowledge of the region as a whole. There are courses that are limited to an authorship within one national literature (Andersen, Bergman, Ibsen, Strindberg, for example), but students are expected to take courses outside their area of language competence as many of our courses are pan-Scandinavian in focus.

We assess the achievement of modern-language skills in written and oral examinations and writing assignments within the context of individual courses. The modern language courses require the assessment of both oral and written skills. Students are assessed orally for their mastery of specific communicative acts at a particular threshold (according to ACTFL proficiency guidelines): for example, correct use of appropriate vocabulary and verb tense, awareness of syntax, knowledge of time expressions, idioms, plural forms, etc. Written assessment centers on the same knowledge but requires students to use a more extensive vocabulary and stretch the range of their expression. Part of the writing process includes learning to use reference tools and libraries.

Students in literature and culture courses write research papers as well as comprehensive written examinations. Majors in the discipline take two individual tutorials designed to strengthen language and analytical skills with faculty members. The tutorials are offered in conjunction with an upper-division literature course, but require that readings be done in the original language. Faculty members teaching these tutorials assess the level of language competency through oral communication during the tutorial, when appropriate, and through written assignments in the original language. Majors in the discipline are encouraged to complete an honors thesis as a further capstone experience.

The minor in Scandinavian is designed primarily for students who wish to undertake study of Nordic culture without learning a language. Except for communicative competence, the goals for the minor are the same as those for the major. The minor program does not include the capstone tutorials or the option of an honors thesis.

We observe the achievement of these goals in the post-B.A. career trajectories of our majors both in academic and a broad range of other professions that require these skills (rigorous training emphasizing language skills, research acumen, and persuasive argument): business, law, medicine, public policy and government, and the arts.

Paths to Learning Goals in the Scandinavian Major and Minor

Foundational courses:
Scandin R5A, R5B (Reading and composition focusing on Nordic materials)
Scandin 60 (Heroic Legends of the North)
Scandin 75 (Literature and Culture of the Nordic World)

Linguistic Competence:
Danish 1A-1B, Scandin 100A-100B (Scand. Languages and Linguistics; in Dan. section)
Finnish 1A-1B, Finnish 102A-102B (Int. and Adv. Finnish; may be repeated for credit)
Icelandic 1A-1B
Norwegian 1A-1B, Scandin 100A-100B (Scand. Languages and Linguistics; in Norw. section)
Swedish 1A-1B, Scandin 100A-B (Scand. Languages and Linguistics; in Swed. section)
Scandin 101A-101B (Old Norse for undergraduates)

Literary Cultures and History:
Scandin 123 (Viking and Medieval Scandinavia)
Scandin 125 (Old Norse literature)
Scandin 132 (Finnish Culture)
Scandin 150 (Studies in Scandinavian literature. Subject varies; includes such period topics as Romanticism, Modern Breakthrough, and Decadence)
Scandin C160 (Early Scandinavian myth and religion)

Canonical authors:
Scandin 106 (H.C. Andersen)
Scandin C107 (Ibsen)
Scandin C108 (Strindberg)
Scandin 115 (Studies in Drama and Film. Subject varies; includes Ingmar Bergman)

Scandin 115 (Studies in Drama and Film. Subject varies; includes Nordic directors; Cinema lighting; Silent film)
Scandin 116 (Studies in Prose. Subject varies; includes such subjects as Isak Dinesen)
Scandin 120 (The novel in Scandinavia)

Courses dealing with specific cross-disciplinary issues:
Scandin C114 (Word and Image)
Scandin 123 (Viking and Medieval Scandinavia)
Scandin 150 (Studies in Scandinavian literature (subject varies; includes such topics as Nature and the City)

Study abroad:
Many Scandinavian majors spend a summer, semester, or academic year at a university in a Nordic country, often through the Education Abroad Program, which has centers in Lund, Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark. We encourage such study as an excellent way to obtain the communicative and cultural competence that is the goal of our major.

Capstone experiences:
Scandin 145 (Senior seminar)
Scandin 149 (subject-oriented original language reading and writing)
Senior thesis