Logo for CIT 2020 Conference - Transforming Interpreter Education

Data-Driven Teaching: Using EIPA Results to Enhance Personal Professional Development and Program Planning

by Deborah Cates

Interactive Workshop

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This workshop will walk instructors and interpreters through a tool they can use with their Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) feedback to evaluate their personal-level and program-level strengths and weaknesses to enable more effective teaching and pursuit of professional development.
The time when interpreters can make the largest and longest lasting impact on the Deaf community is in K-12 settings. About half of all graduates from interpreter training programs work as interpreters in schools. (Cogen and Cokely, 2015; Humphrey and Alcorn, 2007; Janzen 2006; Schafer and Cokely, 2016; Walker and Shaw, 2011). More than thirty percent of program graduates begin working in educational settings immediately upon graduation, and the majority of interpreters work at least some part of their career in educational settings (Cogen and Cokely, 2015). Therefore, it is critical to pay attention to trends on the EIPA in order to improve training for interpreters who will be working with the youngest and most vulnerable members of the community. The EIPA is the most widely used comprehensive diagnostic test of interpreter skill in the US. Many interpreter training programs use the EIPA as an exit exam from their programs, and many interpreters take the EIPA before taking the National Interpreter Certification exam in order to receive the comprehensive feedback. Furthermore, many states accept the EIPA for licensure, and some even require it for interpreters working in education settings.

The EIPA score trends reflect the struggle many interpreters have with producing cohesive discourse in ASL, particularly in academic settings (Johnson et.al. 2018; Schick, Williams & Bolster, 1999; Schick, Williams & Kupermintz, 2006). However, these scoring patterns also provide a scaffold for building fluency by focusing on ASL features within the interpreter’s zone of proximal development, as well as highlighting particular aspects of the work of interpreting that will be beneficial to the overall clarity of the interpreted product. The tool presented in this workshop will provide the framework necessary to build this scaffold, both for individual interpreters and for training programs. When we enhance interpreters’ discourse skills, we enhance the quality of services provided to our communities.

In this workshop, interpreters and trainers will learn about score patterns on the (37) indices of the EIPA from a national database of over 1,200 scores. These score trends will be discussed in light of what they reveal about interpreter knowledge and skills at a national level. Attendees will receive a tool for comparing their score or database of program scores with these patterns to see where their skills/program graduates are comparatively strong, and where they are comparatively weak. These analyses will be discussed and suggestions made for focal areas of training. Sample score reports and a sample database of scores will be available for any attendees who do not have their own results accessible so that they can practice with this tool. Attendees will leave the workshop with a better grasp of what their EIPA scores mean and particular steps that can be taken toward personal and program-level professional development.

Participants will be able to:

  • learn about national trends on the 37 indices of the EIPA.
  • receive a tool for analyzing personal and program EIPA scores to see how they compare with national trends.
  • determine where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
  • brainstorm ways to address weaknesses that can be immediately addressed in their programs, and
  • discuss long-term implications of these EIPA score trends on ITP planning.

A white woman with long red hair wearing green rimmed glasses and a brown shirt stands on the Gallaudet campusDr. Deborah (Deb) Cates is the Sign Language Program Coordinator at the Iowa School fo the Deaf. She oversees staff sign language development, the administration of the SLPI program, and educational interpreter professional development in the state of Iowa. Deb has a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California, Davis, where she studied sign language structure and processing under Dr. David Corina. She has a long-time affiliation with Gallaudet University’s Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2). Her research interests include the relationship between form and meaning in signed languages, bilingual education, and the cognitive demands of simultaneous interpreting. She actively develops research-based practices for interpreter skill development. Deb also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Deaf Studies with an Interpreting Emphasis from California State University, Northridge. She has fifteen years of experience in educational interpreting at the middle school, high school and university settings and is a licensed interpreter in the state of Iowa with her EIPA score of 4.7 in Secondary PSE and Nebraska with her QAST Level V in Interpreting.