Projects Underway

Hybridization: Transforming to a Hybrid Foreign Language Instructional Model

Rose McEwen

Project Team
  • Felisa Brea, SUNY Geneseo
  • Bill Heller, SUNY Geneseo

Geneseo, State University College at

2012

Tier One

Project Abstract:

We are proposing the creation of a series of curricula that can serve as a template for other SUNY foreign languages departments considering transforming their beginning-level courses from the traditional, face-toface teaching/learning format to a hybrid instructional model—one that blends face-to-face classroom instruction with the flexibility afforded by online teaching/learning. Using Geneseo’s Spanish language courses as a prototype for courses in other foreign language programs, the project proposed would also guide foreign languages departments in the process of adopting ACTFL-based proficiency measurements to the design of the learning outcomes and curricula for these hybrid first- and second-year foreign language courses. The model presented would not espouse the implementation of any particular textbook; instead, its objective is to illustrate how any textbook currently in use can be adapted to a hybrid model powered by Quia, the leading platform for foreign-language education that offers online ebooks, workbooks and laboratory manuals and provides instructors the ability to generate new, digitally delivered instruction. At the same time, paradigms for assessing the effectiveness of this instructional method as measured through the implementation of ACTFL-based learning outcomes and proficiency guidelines for the assessment of the four foreign language skills (speaking, writing, listening and reading) will be designed and shared. The ultimate goal is to implement similar hybrid models at the intermediate language levels.

Co-directed by Rose McEwen and Felisa Brea, the first phase of the project, to take place before the fall, 2012, semester, will involve the elaboration of learning outcomes for a hybrid (H) version of SUNY Geneseo’s existing Spanish 101—the introductory level, first semester course—as well as a new syllabus for said course. This course has been taught at Geneseo in its present, face-to-face format, and with the currently implemented textbook, every fall since 2010. The hybrid course will complement an approximately 60% of face-to-face classroom instruction with 40% online activities including (but not limited to) computer-graded exercises; voice-board audio recordings and pronunciation exercises; video tutorials; teacher-generated podcasts and video-streamed documentaries; and other on-line, digitally generated activities to be completed by students individually or with a partner.

The second phase of the project will begin with the implementation of the 101(H) curriculum this fall, when the course is typically offered at Geneseo (SPAN 101 is not regularly offered spring semesters). To ensure there is a basis for establishing the hybrid course’s effectiveness in comparison to the traditional format, two sections of the course will be offered: Section 1, a SPAN 101 section in its present, 100% face-toface format; and Section 2, a SPAN 101(H) section, taught by Profesora Brea, in its new, hybridized form.

The project’s third phase will take place during the winter break, when the effectiveness of Spanish 101 will be assessed by Mr. Bill Heller, our Department’s assessment coordinator. At the same time, the syllabus and learning outcomes for Spanish 102(H) (beginning Spanish, second semester) course will be designed using a blended formula comparable to Spanish 101(H), and also taking into account what has been learned the previous semester.

The fourth phase, the implementation of SPAN 102(H), will take place in the spring of 2013, when one section of the hybrid course will be scheduled at a time when the majority of students moving up from SPAN 101(H) can enroll. As typical for spring semesters, from four to six sections of the traditional SPAN 102 will also be offered.

The fifth and final phase in the design of this program will be the assessment of the effectiveness of the new first-year, hybrid program and will take place early summer, 2013. At the same time, the curriculum and learning outcomes of SPAN 201(H)—the third in the sequence of SUNY Geneseo’s Foreign Language requirement, will be framed utilizing the previous year’s experience as guidance in the development of the new curriculum.

Throughout the program, specific questions used to determine the hybridization project’s effectiveness will include:
1. How does Spanish language proficiency in a hybrid course compare with its traditional, face-to-face counterparts?
2. What is the impact of hybrid courses on student retention rates?
3. Are a course’s learning outcomes met more effectively through a hybrid instructional method?
4. Is hybrid-delivered learning longer-lasting than traditional methods?
5. Does hybrid instruction/learning affect student and teacher course satisfaction?

The positive impact of a successful template for the hybridization of beginning- and intermediate-level foreign language curricula would be significant. The effective instruction and learning of a foreign language buttresses The Economic Power of SUNY, contributing to advance in today’s globalized society “the research and ideas that are the foundation for new enterprises and economic growth, preparing the workforce with new skills, ideas and entrepreneurism, and building vibrant, diverse and culturally rich communities.”

Project Outcome:

Evaluation report and presentation of three semester pilot measuring hybrid effectiveness indicated that STAMP measures could not predictably indicate proficiency, but a significant majority (73%) of students valued that the hybrid format provided them the ability to tailor some of their own learning according to their professional interests and learning needs.