Spanish 101


QL content can arise in unexpected places and Spanish 101 was one of them. Dr. Sheri Spaine Long, Chair, Foreign Languages co-authored a textbook (Long, SS, Carreira, M, Velasco, SM, and Swanson, K. NEXOS. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005) that incorporates tables, graphs, and diagrams at the beginning of many chapters. These sections, "Los Datos," describe various aspects of Hispanic culture around the world. The image from Chapter 2 shown below is one example. In this case there is a pie chart and a map. Others will have table data from which a student can calculate various percentages and ratios.


The course instructor in the fall of 2007, Dr. John Moore,  spent more time emphasizing how to interpret these kinds of data and linked them specifically to QL Learning outcomes as he did so. This increased student awareness of his intentions and what they should be learning from this attention.

Dr. Moore then included items on all the tests that were identified as QL items, again linking them to the appropriate QL Learning Outcomes.

The QL Exercise that he included was a project that had been done in previous years. It is called  the Spanish-Speaking Communities in Alabama Project.  The objective of the project is "to acquire knowledge about domestic Spanish-speaking communities that will culminate in a written report."

To meet this objective students are required to interview a person of Hispanic origin and combine what he or she learns in the interview with data gleaned from US Census data. This leads to the specific objectives which are


  • To summarize and document presence of Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S., Alabama, and locally.
  • To interpret and draw conclusions from data in graphs and tables pertaining to Latino/Hispanic populations in the U.S. and Alabama.
  • To recognize and identify principal challenges for Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S., Alabama and locally.
  • To document your interaction with a Latino/Hispanic member of the community in Alabama.


At the end of the course the QL Task Force received a random sample of the tests and the project reports. An assessment of proficiency levels on the test items revealed that students 80-85% of the students were 100% proficient on the test items. Since there were no baseline data to which to compare these levels, we are left with making the judgment that those numbers appear to be satisfactory.

The results on the project reports showed a lot more variation. According to Dr. Moore, the exemplary papers were those that inter-related the responses of the individuals interviewed with the census data in an explanatory manner. That is, the census data provided a broader context for making sense of the individual's responses.

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