Dr. Mary Copple, Associate Professor from Modern Languages, received a SoTL Grant from the Teaching & Learning Center. Her abstract is below:
“This is Your Brain in Spanish”
This research project focused on using findings from neurolinguistics, cognitive linguistics, educational neurolinguistics, and second language pedagogy in order to improve Spanish language teaching and learning. Before the implementation of this study, our language students had been mostly unaware of how lesson design supported the brain’s processing of linguistic input. Instructional techniques geared toward successful processing of input, and information regarding how the brain processes incoming data were shared/used throughout an entire semester. Three Spanish 4 sections were exposed to this experimental treatment and students (N=36) participated actively in providing feedback, along with the instructor’s ongoing impressions. The proposed experimental conditions focused on three areas in student learning:
a) “pulling back the curtain” on lesson design (i.e. helping students understand why we teach the way we do and how it supports their cognitive processing) so that students became empowered partners in the learning environment;
b) helping students better understand what successful language learning is and how it may be achieved and measured;
c) allowing students to articulate what they learn about the brain and language and to evaluate the value of this information in their learning.
We assessed the effectiveness of these instructional changes from several perspectives. We have used this information in planning a more complete programmatic approach for our language program, and believe that lessons designed to facilitate long-term retention increase achievement, build proficiency, and provide students with strategies that they can apply across their course schedule.