Title of Work

Designing a Meaning-Based Interpreting Performance Rubric: Re-focusing Our Teaching and Assessment

Document Type


Publication/Presentation Date

January 2021


Abstract: Designing an ASL/English Meaning-based Interpreting Performance Rubric for Teaching and AssessmentBetsy Winston, TIEM Center, Rico Peterson, Rochester Institute of TechnologyNational Technical Institute for the Deaf, Christine Monikowski, Independent Scholar, Robert G. Lee, University of Central Lancashire (UK), Laurie Swabey, St. Catherine UniversityThe need for valid, reliable measurements of sign language/spoken language interpreter competence has bedeviled interpreter education and interpreting practitioners in the United States for many years. In both academic and employment settings, rubrics and checklists, for example, are used to elucidate expectations about interpreting performance proficiency standards. Yet, a review of various rubrics indicates that many focus on basic vocabulary and language uses, rather than on the actual performance of interpreting. Clarifying the foundations/constructs, purposes and applications of these instruments can might help educators, mentors, consumers, and students better understand the concept of interpreting, and lead to their use throughout education and assessment, professional growth as well as professional certification. The Interpreter Assessment Project was established to heighten awareness of the many values of assessment by offering practitioners the means to engage in the authentic formative assessment and self-assessment of their interpreting performance. To this end, a team of expert interpreting assessment specialists has been established, tasked with creating valid rubrics that measure sign language/spoken language interpreting performance proficiency. After conducting a review of existing rubrics, including rubrics used by certifying bodies, educational institutions, employers, and educators, we have developed and piloted rubrics that focus on assessing both the products and the processes involved in effective interpreting interaction and communication. The Interpreting Performance Assessment Rubric discussed here is one of the early developments of the project.This paper shares the constructs and structure of this recently developed rubric for assessing American Sign Language/English interpreters’ effectiveness, and some early input about using it for assessment. The rubric can be used to assess both simultaneous and consecutive interpretations across a variety across a variety of settings (e.g. education, community, health). We describe three broad domains and 2-3 sub-domains of practice identified for effective interpreting performance: Domain 1: Meaning Re-Construction, with sub-domains of content reconstruction, intents & purposes, and communicative cues. Domain 2: Interpreting Performance Repertoires, with sub-domains of content management and interaction management, and Domain 3: Interpreting Setting Management, with the sub-domains of situation& environmental management, and ergonomic management. We also outline the descriptors for each domain, and discuss the scoring scales that have been developed. Taken together, the rubric supports a comprehensive assessment of effective interpretations and underlying processes.

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