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Student Outcomes for an AA Interpreting Program: A Case Study

by Cami Miner

Poster Session

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Educating budding new sign language interpreters is a daunting task considering the complexity of interpreters’ work. While many of the interpreting programs nationally are two- year degree programs, research suggests that training interpreters to be ready to enter the profession within two years is unrealistic (Witter-Merithew & Johnson, 2005). There are currently only four CCIE accredited AA programs (CCIE, 2018). The two-year programs that are attempting this monumental feat are prime candidates for program evaluation. This case study is an outcome evaluation of one two-year interpreting program based out of a community college. This study asks, to what extent do the achievements of former students align with the expected outcomes of the program and to what factors do they attribute their achievements? Specifically, what factors within and outside the program do former students perceive as primarily inhibiting or contributing to achievement of these outcomes?

Former students were surveyed about their achievement of the outcomes expected upon graduation of an interpreting program. The program website states that students should be ready to obtain entry level employment upon graduation. Data collected thus far indicates that while over 80% of former students enter this interpreting program intending to become working interpreters, less than half are currently working as interpreters. However, about 70% are still involved in the Deaf community. The program also states that students who continue developing their interpreting skills should be ready to seek national certification in 3-5 years. Only about half of former students have currently attempted any form of certification or assessment. Of the 17% of respondents who were awarded national certification, 60% took two years or more after graduation to achieve certification. This is compared to the national average according to the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC) Interpreter Education Needs Assessment Report (Cokely & Winston, 2008), which found that only 24% of graduates of two- year programs took at least two years after finishing the program to obtain national interpreting certification. These findings will be further correlated with former students’ reported perceptions of the impact of program internal and external factors on the achievement of these outcomes. Results of this study speak to the deficits in the community college based approach to interpreter education and the efficacy of program aspects. Additionally, qualitative responses point out the creative ways individual students and teachers are working within and outside the system to achieve positive student outcomes. This study has implications for educators and administrators of interpreting programs looking to realistically redefine success for two-year interpreting programs and advocate for articulation agreements and other necessary gap support for graduates of two-year interpreting programs. 

References 

Cokely, D. & Winston, E. (2008). Interpreter Education Programs Needs Assessment Final Report. National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC). 

Witter-Merithew, A., & Johnson, L. J. (2005). Toward competent practice: Conversations with stakeholders. Alexandria, VA: Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. 

CCIE, Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education (2018). About CCIE: Accredited Programs. Retrieved from http://ccie-accreditation.org/about-ccie/accredited-programs/

Participants will be able to:

  • ask insightful questions about the research conducted and the program investigated.
  • consider their own program and institution for interpreter education and will draw comparisons to the case study.
  • leave the session with specific strategies for working within the time and institutional constraints of interpreting programs to support interpreting students’ success that can potentially be implemented in their own teaching or training of interpreters.

A white woman with long dark brown hair wearing a blue shirt smiles at the camera while standing in front of a wall covered in brown cedar shakesCami Miner, native San Diegan, was trained as an interpreter at Mesa College and studied the linguistics of ASL at UCSD. She began her career as an interpreter in her hometown and was awarded NIC certification in 2011. Cami moved to DC and earned her MA in Interpreting Research with honors in 2018 and is currently continuing her studies at Gallaudet, pursuing a Ph.D. in Interpreting Research and Pedagogy. Her research focuses on interpreting pedagogy and the effect of language contact and attitudes on interpreters’ work. Still a working interpreter, Cami is passionate about bridging research and practice.