Articulation in the Spanish program at a large southwestern university: A case study
Articulation is defined by Byrnes as "the well motivated and well designed sequencing and coordination of instruction toward certain goals." Factors concerning vertical articulation (the sequencing of language courses from the entry point to the end point of instruction) and horizontal articulation (coordination of multi-sectioned language courses) are the foci of this research. Student motivation relating to articulation efforts is also considered. The data for the study included departmental documents, course textbooks and course syllabi, questionnaires from 725 students and 99 instructors, follow-up interviews with eight students and six instructors, and a composition analysis of 66 student essays. While students' perceptions are favorable to the vertical flow of Spanish courses, data reveals that students experience a gap between Spanish 202 and Spanish 251level courses. Furthermore, the data show that while certain policies and procedures implemented in the Spanish department dampen the concern of false beginners, students at the beginning and intermediate levels of instruction are placed below their proficiency levels. In regard to horizontal articulation, data indicate that standardized syllabi among individual multi-sectioned courses contribute to congruent instruction, whereas non-standardized syllabi created by individual instructors teaching the same course do not. In addition, rates of accurate usage of the verbs ser and estar in students' compositions indicate that students enrolled in Spanish 251 and 325 have reached similar levels of proficiency generally. Data also reveal a need for clearly and consistently stated instructional objectives in order to improve future articulation efforts. Other implications of the study include the need to investigate different methods for teacher training given the needs and constraints discussed by focus instructors.
Higher Education Administration
0444: Foreign Language
0446: Higher Education Administration