Faculty Reflection: Ruth Hoff
Course: Spanish 261 -- "El mundo físico" (The Physical World)
Module Used: Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources - Spanish Adaptation
A Success Story in Programmatic Change
The materials are truly interdisciplinary. I like that they combine issues of geo-science with real-world, captivating case studies of environmental justice in Latin America. My students responded well to the narratives and audiovisual resources recounting stories of people who have been impacted by environmental policy decisions and/or unfair practices and who have taken action in response.
The scientific terms, concepts, and applications proved challenging for my students. Most of them are not science majors or minors and were unaccustomed to working with this type of material in a Spanish class. The most engaging class sessions involved discussions focused on the social and cultural components.
The activities for the module are highly interactive. Students are given many opportunities to discuss, describe, compare, persuade, and ask questions in small and large groups. These activities are designed to be completed in an all-Spanish, immersive classroom which allows students to practice their language skills while focusing on substantive environmental studies content.
Incorporating InTeGrate Materials
"El mundo físico" focuses on environmental issues so the materials are an excellent match for the course. I was easily able to integrate them into the course -- in fact, these materials ended up being the centerpiece of the course given that it meets for only a half-semester.
I covered the material in the 6 units of my module over 10 - 11 class periods (about 3 1/2 weeks). We spread the lessons out so that I could incorporate some attention to grammar topics also required for the course.
Outcomes and Evidence
A primary outcome which I attribute to using the InTeGrate materials is student engagement with scientific materials I usually wouldn't have covered. Several students commented that they were able to discuss topics in Spanish (their second language) that they wouldn't know how to talk about in English!
The topic of Environmental Justice is also one that captures students attention. Based on my observations of in-class discussions, student interest in these topics was high.