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Texas Tech University

Course Title: Comprehensive Spanish Review First Year
Contact: Frederick Suppe

Status: This project originated as part of NCAT's FIPSE-funded Roadmap to Redesign (R2R) program, 2003 – 2006, and was successfully completed.

Descriptive Materials: In addition to the project description below, links for this project include a final project report, which describes the impact of the redesign on student learning and student retention; final cost savings achieved; techniques that most contributed to improved learning and reduced costs; and, an assessment of future sustainability.

Project Plan:
Comprehensive Spanish Review First Year is designed for students who have had two years of high school Spanish. The course has a history of not being able to meet demand. In 2000-2001 only 791 students were accommodated and an estimated 1100 were turned away each semester. An increase in support for graduate part-time instructors (GPTIs) and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) accompanied by intensive recruitment of graduate students has allowed Texas Tech to increase capacity to 1285 in 2003-2004 and to 1595 in 2004-2005.

The increase in course capacity was accomplished by raising section size in traditional sections to about 30 students, which exceeds Association of Departments of Foreign Languages (ADFL) maximum class size recommendations by 50%. In addition, two non-traditional versions of the course—two large (110 students) lecture/discussion and one online/TV version (90 students)—are offered. The goal of the redesign is to meet current and anticipated growth in demand, to reduce maximum sizes of classes to within ADFL's recommended 20, and to improve language mastery—without increasing costs.

In choosing the Replacement Model, Texas Tech will follow the lead of all three core Spanish practice associates. The redesigned five-credit course will more than double the number of regular sections and limit enrollment to 20 students per section. Sections will meet physically three times a week with class time devoted to communicative exercises emphasizing oral skill development. Workbook, grammar, and writing components will be moved online. Students will spend two hours of online practice in grammar with automated immediate diagnostic feedback and will write weekly compositions that will be semi-automatically graded with diagnostic feedback. Students will also participate in one hour of language lab weekly. Studio sessions taught by GTAs will be held for students scoring less than 80% on the first exam.

Online teaching of grammar and writing with rapid diagnostic feedback will be more effective than traditional in-class workbook exercise time. The amount of time spent on oral skills will increase. The one-third reduction in class size to within ADFL standards will also facilitate learning, and studio sessions will provide systematic help for weaker students.

During the pilot phase, parallel traditional and redesign sections will be taught using the same GPTIs for both versions. Comparisons of exam and other performance will be made, controlling both for teaching effectiveness and instructor personality. During the full implementation phase, students will be compared on performance indicators against earlier groups of traditional course students and those in the online course. In both phases, the team will use student-based evaluation measures, response-based evaluation measures, and learning-based evaluation measures with the data subjected to appropriate statistical analysis.

Texas Tech plans to accommodate growth while reducing class size using the same personnel and fiscal resources. The more expensive lecture/discussion and online/TV versions of the course will be eliminated. GPTIs will teach 40 students in two sections rather than 32 students in one per semester. Since in-class time and the time spent on grading will be significantly reduced, their workload will decline despite the increase in students. The mix of personnel teaching the course will change by reducing the number of faculty involved to just one faculty coordinator, having GPTIs teach all sections, and redeploying TAs from the large lecture/discussion section to teach studio sessions. Course capacity will increase by 17% while the cost-per-student will decrease by 13%. Most importantly, Texas Tech will achieve a 34.6% decrease in regular section class size with no additional budget resources required and the overall cost of the course essentially unchanged.

 

 

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