STUDENT SUCCESS FACTORS AT DEFENSE LANGUAGE INSTITUTE FOREIGN LANGUAGE CENTER
Buttrey, Samuel E.
Alt, Jonathan K.
Smithmeyer, Colby J.
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The Defense Language Institute (DLI) is a DOD educational and research institution that provides language instruction in over 16 different languages and dialects to thousands of students annually. DLI implements an immersion program where select students spend time in their third semester immersed in the language and culture that they are studying in an effort to improve proficiency. At the end of a student’s course of instruction, DLI administers the Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT). The current minimum score to pass the DLPT for all basic program students is L2/R2/S1+, and not all students meet this standard. The director of the National Security Agency (NSA) identified that the L2/R2 standard leaves too large a training gap to meet NSA’s operational requirements. DLI has been directed to increase the graduation standard to L2+/R2+, which most students do not currently meet. We developed four stepwise logistic regression models that could predict a student’s probability of success at different stages in the student lifecycle. As a student progresses through the program, performance in advanced language classes was the most significant factor in predicting success. Factors such as DLAB score, prior language experience, and language category proved significant throughout the student lifecycle. We found that, after accounting for selection bias, the immersion program did not significantly contribute to improved DLPT performance.
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