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Transforming Interpreting Assessment: Interpreter Assessment Project

by Betsy Winston, Christine Monikowski, Rico Peterson, Robert G. Lee & Laurie Swabey

Roundtable Discussion

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The need for valid, reliable measurements of sign language/spoken language interpreting competence has bedeviled interpreter education and interpreting practitioners for many years. Although we have learned much about interpreting through research and practice, we do not have an approach to performance-based assessment of interpreting that is grounded in demonstrable levels of competencies, informed by evidence. Instead, many continue to use error-based assessments checklists and/or vague descriptions of competencies that are fundamentally un-usable for consumers, learners, and educators.

In the academic setting, rubrics, checklists, and the like are used to elucidate expectations and proficiency standards. Clarifying the purpose and value of these instruments might help students understand that rubrics need not be confined to their scholastic work, as they are equally valuable for professionals in the measurement of continuing growth and development. The goal of the Interpreter Assessment Project is to heighten awareness of the many values of assessment by offering practitioners the means to engage in the authentic assessment and self-assessment of their interpretations.

To this end, a team of expert interpreting assessment specialists has been established, tasked with creating authentic rubrics that measure sign language/spoken language interpreting proficiency. We are conducting a thorough review of existing rubrics, including rubrics used by certifying bodies, educational institutions, employers, and educators. Informed by our review, we are developing and piloting rubrics and checklists for identified groups of interpreters who work with a variety of constituencies. This process will include the creation and norming of measurements, and dissemination to other practitioners for their feedback and review.

As a launching point for our Roundtable Discussion, team members briefly describe the process and progress of our project in reviewing assessment approaches, existing rubrics, and in developing resources that support effective authentic assessment of interpretations produced across the range of students through professionals.

Participants will be able to:

  • gather input from other experts about the challenges they have encountered with rubric design and development
  • identify assessment resources broadly available to interpreters and translators
  • develop standard definitions of interpreting performance
  • identify assessment resources that might be applicable to interpreting assessment in use in other fields (e.g. communication, discourse analysis, cognitive theory)

A white woman with reddish-brown curly shoulder-length hair wearing brown jacket with green shirt smiles at cameraBetsy Winston is the Director of the Teaching Interpreting Educators and Mentors (TIEM) Center, a Center focused on excellence and integrity in interpreter and mentor education and research. Her areas of expertise include teaching and research in interpreting, curriculum development, assessment and evaluation, English and ASL discourse analysis, interpreting skills development, educational interpreting, multimedia applications in ASL research and teaching, and teaching at a distance. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Georgetown University, an M.A. in Linguistics with a focus in American Sign Language from Gallaudet University, and an M.Ed. in Technology & Education from Western Governors University. Dr. Winston has been honored by CIT and RID in 2000 with the Mary Stotler Award, for her contributions to the field of Interpreter Education; in 2016, she received the Outstanding Service to Interpreting award from NAD, as a member of the RID Certification Committee.

A white woman with black and grey ear-length hair wearing button down shirt in front of grey backdropChristine Monikowski‘s published works include Evolving Paradigms in Interpreter Education co-edited with Elizabeth Winston (Gallaudet University Press, 2013); Service Learning in Interpreting Education co-authored with Rico Peterson (Oxford University Press, 2005); and Teaching and Learning: Grounded in Research (Gallaudet University Press 2017). Dr. Monikowski was Fulbright Specialist (under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State) in Australia at the University of Newcastle’s Royal Institute for Deaf Blind Children/Renwick Center (2013), and a Short-term Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin (2016). In December 2017, Professor Monikowski retired from her position in higher education but continues to present workshops for interpreters and interpreter educators on a variety of topics such as: Discourse Analysis for Interpreters, Introduction to Linguistics for Interpreters, and Professional Ethics. She and her husband recently moved from Rochester, New York to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she also continues to work as an interpreter.

A white man in a white button down shirt with blue sweater vest and reading glasses hanging around his neck looks directly at the cameraRico Peterson is a Professor in the American Sign Language Interpreting Education department at the Rochester Institute of Technology/NTID in Rochester, New York, where he also serves as the Director of the Department of Access Services. He has been involved in the provision of access service since 1978, in the roles of interpreter, professor, department chair, and Assistant Dean. He is the author of The Unlearning Curve: Learning to Learn American Sign Language, and a co-author of ASL at Work.

A white man with short reddish-brown hair with a bushy red/grey beard and mustache wearing glasses looks  to the side of the camera in front of a green backgroundRobert G. Lee, MA, CI/CT, has been interpreting, teaching and researching for more than 25 years. He is currently the Course Leader of the MA and Postgraduate Diploma in British Sign Language/English Interpreting and Translation at the University of Central Lancashire (UK). He has previously taught both Interpreting and Linguistics at Northeastern University in Boston as well as having presented workshops and conference papers in North America, South America and Europe. Robert has served on the Boards of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers, the Association of Sign Language Interpreters (UK) and is on the Panel of Experts of the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters (efsli). He has written extensively on linguistics and interpreting; he co-edited (with Betsy Winston) the RID Press book, Mentorship in Sign Language Interpreting and co-authored (with Peter Llewellyn-Jones) the SLI Press book Redefining the Role of the Community Interpreter: The Concept of Role-space.

A white woman with ear-length brown hair wearing multi-color rimmed glasses and a blue shirt and silver chain necklace stands in front of a blue corrugated metal wallLaurie Swabey is Professor of Interpreting at St. Catherine University and Director of the CATIE Center where she is the PI on two federally funded projects related to interpreter education. She holds a PhD from the University of Minnesota in Linguistics and her research interests include interpreting pedagogy and healthcare interpreting. Publications include co-edited volumes Advances in Interpreting Research (John Benjamins) and Educating healthcare interpreters (Gallaudet University Press). In addition to several book chapters, she has also published in a variety of journals including Interpreting: International Journal of Research and Practice, Translation and Interpreting Studies, Journal of Healthcare Quality, Journal of Interpreting, and International Journal of Interpreter Education. She has presented her work at numerous conferences, nationally and internationally. At her computer, she is usually sharing desk space with two cats while the dog rests on her feet anticipating his next outing, whatever the weather.