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Assessing Readiness to Offer New Degree Programs


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10-17-08

Assessing Readiness to Offer New Degree Programs
Assessing Readiness to Offer New Degree Programs is a supplemental campus-based document that will

a) Inform the academic program development process and

b) Illustrate the unit’s readiness to offer the proposed degree program.
The proposing unit is expected to

a) Submit the assessing readiness document with the proposed program’s planning document and

b) Update the assessing readiness document as unit conditions change for submission with the proposed program’s request to establish.

Part One: Assessing Need for the Program




Need for the Program




● Provide detailed information regarding linkages to the university mission, vision, and strategic plan, and the impact of the proposed program on other unit programs.


● What is the societal need for the proposed program? Project the current and future need for graduates with this degree at the regional, state, and national levels.

● What are the expected enrollment patterns for the proposed program over the next five years; what is the enrollment target within five years of establishment? What evidence is there that the proposed program and this unit can attract quality students?

We present four types of evidence that demand for this program exist: A) demographic evidence B) the results from a survey conducted of two potential student pools: secondary educators in Eastern NC, and senior BA or BS majors in Hispanic Studies graduating between December 2007 and May 2012, C) Demand for the knowledge and skills our graduates will possess and D) the proposed program’s support for crucial elements of the strategic initiatives of ECU and the HCAS.


A. The external need may best be explained by considering the social and demographic changes occurring in North Carolina and nationally.
Individuals self-identifying as being of Hispanic or Latino origin now constitute both the largest and the fastest-growing minority in the U.S. According to the US Census Bureau, this demographic grew from 13% of the U.S. population in 2000 to 16.3% in 2010; in raw figures, from 35.3 million to 50.5 million—an increase of 43%. North Carolina’s Latino population increased 394 percent between 1990 and 2000 and another 111% from 2000-2010 (from 378,963 to 800,120); moreover, Census Bureau statistics showed that Eastern North Carolina hosts the largest concentration of Hispanics. Thus, the Hispanic population in NC is thus increasing much faster than it is nationally. (http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=DEC_10_PL_P2&prodType=table)
The Rural Latino Round Table Report published by ECU and the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center concluded that “Today, the growth and influence of the state’s Latino population is unprecedented. [. . .] North Carolina’s Latino population grew faster [. . .] than that of any other state between 1990 and 2000. Recent estimates indicate that that population is continuing its rapid growth. Given the dramatic changes this population has made to much of rural North Carolina, it is imperative that action be taken to better capitalize on the presence of Latinos in rural North Carolina.”

The economic impact of the Hispanic population has increased accordingly. Latinos have provided the backbone for several NC industries: for example, in Mecklenburg County, 75 percent of construction workers are Latino, over 95 percent of agricultural workers are Mexican guest workers and in Bladen County over 50 percent of the workers in meat processing plants are Latinos. Latino buying power in NC increased from $8.3 million in 1990 to $2.3 billion in 1999. The new labor supply has enabled traditional economic sectors such as tobacco, agriculture, food processing and vegetable farming to maintain their importance in the region.

As the Rural Latino Round Table Report points out, it will be imperative to “provide valuable information and services to the local Latino population” and “to help integrate the Latino population into the local community and assist Latinos to become entrepreneurs.” By becoming fully capable and informed consumers and providers of goods and services, Hispanics will contribute to the state’s economic growth. The development of linguistically- and culturally-competent business professionals in the non-Hispanic population to train Latino employees and serve their community’s needs will contribute to this end.

These facts indicate that the state and national economies will face an extreme shortage of professionals who possess both linguistic and cultural competence to deal with the Hispanic community in order to supply effectively the increasing number of Latino consumers. The potential for growth in this market sector is unknown, but clearly substantial. The demand on the public sector to provide bilingual services in fields such as health and education will also increase accordingly.


B. Survey results: We conducted a survey of two potential student pools: secondary educators in Eastern NC (a one-time survey), and senior BA or BS majors in Hispanic Studies graduating from December 2007 to May 2012. We received 16 responses from the former (as it was performed only once), and 133 from the latter. Each question was to be answered on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being “not at all” and 5 “extremely”. They were asked how interested they would be in pursuing an on-line MA and how interested they would be in pursuing the same degree in a classroom setting. 60 (40%) responded with either 4 (very, 8) or 5 (extremely, 52) to the possibility of the on-line degree (the two options were not mutually exclusive: i.e., they could put the same number on both if they wished therefore the numbers do not add up to 100% of responses. For the classroom-based MA, 49 (33%) answered with either a 4 (7 responses) or a 5 (42 responses).).The educators unanimously preferred the on-line option and commented they would otherwise not be able to enroll. The majority of our student pool showed a preference for a classroom setting, but more than half still expressed an interest level of 4 or 5 in on-line courses. It is noteworthy that only 40 of 149 respondents (27%) answered with an interest level of less than 4 in both categories. Moreover, in the last two years the combined number of BA and BS majors has increased from 90 to 152; therefore, internally, if only 1 out of 10 of these students continued directly into the MA program, even with no external students we would enroll 15 in our first cohort. Given these numbers, we believe an estimate of 10-15 students in our first cohort is not overly optimistic. We expect the student pool to include our own graduates and those of other colleges and universities in North Carolina, and K-12 educators across the state. It may also include a small number of native- or near-native speakers with undergraduate degrees in other disciplines who would enroll in the interest of professional advancement or personal development. The program may eventually attract students from outside the state, but we do not anticipate this to be the case at first, nor for their numbers to ever be significant due to the high price of out-of-state tuition.
C. Demand for the knowledge and skills our graduates will possess: In a survey of 85 graduates from our program performed in 2010 for our department’s external review, 70% of respondents stated they were working in a field related to their degree. Of these, the professions in which they were using the knowledge and skills gained as undergraduates broke down as follows: K-12 education: 45%, law, medicine, banking or government: 20%, real estate, biological science or public health: 20%, translators/Interpreters: 10%.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (henceforth BLS), positions in K-12 education are predicted to grow at a rate of 13%. An MA in Hispanic Studies will be valuable for continuing certification and career advancement. Community colleges across the country hire faculty with MA degrees, and many 4-year institutions also depend on these faculty to deliver lower-level courses.
The BLS also predicts that “Translators who work in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, and other Middle Eastern languages should be in demand’: in fact, it predicts the field will grow much faster than the average for all careers through 2018, with an increase of 20% percent or more (http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco20016.htm). Hospitals such as Pitt County Memorial Hospital and other institutions have employed our BA graduates as interpreter/translators; an MA would prepare them much better for such careers, and allow them to command larger salaries.
The variety of other fields in which our BA and BS graduates have found employment, documented above, illustrates the unique knowledge and skill sets we provide. Some professions, such as teaching and translation/interpretation, make use of trans-linguistic and trans-cultural competencies as the primary skills. However, our students also acquire a broad knowledge and skill base in demand in the business and public service sectors. There is ample evidence that the knowledge and skills we impart are in demand: for example, a recent Forbes survey of more than 100 executives at large U.S. businesses (annual revenues of more than $500 million) found that:
In global, multicultural organizations, simply expecting all employees to speak one common language, such as English, marginalizes the potential impact of international talent and leaves monolingual staff ill-equipped to help the organization compete effectively in a globalized environment,” that “In an increasingly global economy, U.S. companies will perform better by hiring individuals who can communicate in foreign languages and helping current employees develop language skills,” and that ““language barriers have a broad and pervasive impact on business operations. [. . .] foreign language skills will be even more vital in the future and that language abilities can help executives advance their careers, speed overseas expansion, and boost corporate—as well as personal—success. http://www.forbes.com/forbesinsights/language_study_reg/index.html accessed 12/16/11
In addition, the Association of American Colleges and Universities performed a survey of employers concerning what they want institutions to teach. The answers did not suggest a narrow focus. Instead, 89 percent said they wanted more emphasis on “the ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing,” 81 percent asked for better “critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills”—precisely the abilities we develop (New York Times: Sunday, 3 Jan. 2010).
Finally, in surveys conducted by Students Review Inc., graduates with a Bachelors degree in Foreign Languages had a 2.6% unemployment rate after graduation, as compared to graduates in Accounting (6.6%) and Business Management (6.8%) http://www.studentsreview.com/unemployment_by_major.php3). An MAHS would only improve their marketability. Moreover, the BLS has found that, in general, professionals with a Masters degree earn $936 more per month than those with a Bachelors in the same field, and have a comparative unemployment rate 1.4% lower (http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm; http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos175.htm). Our MAHS would improve upon their undergraduate base—or, in the case of those with the necessary language skills and an undergraduate degree in another discipline, previous knowledge and experiences—thus enabling graduates to be attractive candidates in a variety of endeavors, or to advance in their present profession.
The MAHS will also qualify our graduates for a number of other areas: national, state, and local governments are in great need of employees with Spanish language and intercultural skills, as well as knowledge of the history, politics, and economics of Spanish-speaking nations. The Departments of Justice (including the FBI), State, Defense (including all branches of the Armed Forces), the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Library of Congress, and Voice of America all hire individuals with the knowledge and skills our MAHS will develop. To illustrate, we offer the following examples: among the Department of State’s qualifications for Foreign Service Officers one finds the ability “To work and communicate effectively and harmoniously with persons of other cultures, value systems, political beliefs, and economic circumstances; to recognize and respect differences in new and different cultural environments” (http://careers.state.gov/officer/who-we-look-for). The CIA’s Intelligence Collection Analysts are called upon to “apply their foreign language, area knowledge, and subject matter expertise,” and their Open Source Officers must possess “a keen interest in foreign affairs; strong writing and analytical skills; foreign language proficiency; well developed Internet research skills; and excellent communication, interpersonal, and English language skills. Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate degrees in all areas of study are considered. Many [successful candidates] have formally studied the politics and history of a particular country or region. As a part of the screening process, selected applicants will be sent a language proficiency test and an analytic writing test” (https://www.cia.gov/careers.html).
Other areas in public service where Spanish language and inter-cultural competence give job candidates a distinct advantage are in law enforcement, immigration, customs, professions that the BLS predicts will grow at a rate of 10%, (http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos160.htm); and social services, which will experience “rapid growth” (defined by the BLS as more that 20%; http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos060.htm).
In the private sector, SimplyHired.com, an internet-based employment consultant, lists the following job titles as being typical for employment seekers with degrees in Spanish: International Relations Consultant, Importer/Exporter, International Account Manager, International Banking Officer (the employment outlook in banking is considered particularly favorable --http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos126.htm), and Bilingual Customer Support, as well as numerous positions in the travel and hospitality industries (http://www.simplyhired.com/a/jobs/list/q-spanish+major). Business fields in which our graduates’ skills will be in particular demand include marketing, advertising, sales, and public relations management, in which the BLS notes that “the ability to communicate in a foreign language may open up employment opportunities in many rapidly growing areas around the country, especially cities with large Spanish-speaking populations” (http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos020.htm; http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos297.htm).

D. ECU’s strategic initiatives as outlined in its “ECU Tomorrow” document identifies the following five focal points:



  • Education for a New Century – ECU will prepare our students to compete and succeed in the global, technology-driven economy. (UNC-T 4.1.1, 4.1.3)

The increasing Latino population is a direct result of the demographic flows caused by the global economy, and creates the necessity and the obligation for ECU to prepare this demographic segment to compete and succeed. The preparation of a sufficient number of linguistically- and culturally-competent educators will contribute in two ways: to ready non-Latinos to relate to a Latino clientele and work force, and to prepare older and second-generation Hispanic-Americans to succeed in a technology-driven economy. Furthermore, it will provide the opportunity for professional providers of goods and services to the Latino populace to supply more effectively this increasing demand. Our program will contribute to this strategic direction in the specific ways described below.

The UNC Tomorrow report (4.1) states the goal of developing both learners’ “ability to think critically, reason analytically, solve problems, communicate clearly both orally and in writing” and their “understanding of diverse cultures [and] the commonality of human problems,” goals clearly present in the learning outcomes addressed below in part 3 of the “Comparison to Similar Programs in Other Universities” section.

Part I of ECU’s Phase I Response to UNC Tomorrow, “Education for a New Century”, affirms the following objectives: “Globalizing (Internationalizing) ECU” and to “Promote more global awareness through the ECU curriculum”. Furthermore, the Mission Statement of East Carolina University affirms that through teaching, ECU nurtures “an understanding of the interdependencies of people,” and “values the contributions of a diverse community”. These goals are clearly present in the learning outcomes addressed below in part 3 of the “Comparison to Similar Programs in Other Universities” section.

The Mission Statement of East Carolina University affirms that through teaching, it fosters “lifelong learning”. Section I of ECU’s Phase I Response to UNC-T, “Education for a New Century”, promises our “commitment to student access” and “to being the leader in online education”. As part of this commitment, we will rotate offering our courses via DE beginning in the second year so that working people may complete the degree entirely online.

The “Introduction” to ECU’s Phase I Response to UNC Tomorrow vows to improve education through “experiential learning, particularly through ECU’s public service centers and outreach endeavors,” and to foster “global awareness”. Our program’s engaged research component will support the university’s outreach endeavors by placing students in service venues throughout North Carolina. Toward this end, the program will take advantage of the ECU Office of Engagement, Innovation, and Economic Development, as well as contributing to and benefitting from its Outreach and Engagement Directory/Repository.

Through research, ECU aims “to solve significant human problems, and to provide the foundation for professional practice through the support of basic and applied research”. Our students will be available to work as Graduate Assistants to faculty pursuing research concerning the Hispanic population (particularly in health care, see UNC-T 4.5.1), and would thus help solve problems involving the Latino community and its relationship with the peoples of Eastern North Carolina. Placements will be arranged in venues such as the following confirmed partners: the Mexican Consulate, the Down East Council for Hispanic/Latin Affairs, the Hispanic Community Center in Goldsboro, the Charlotte-based Latin American Coalition, Pathways to Life (statewide mental health/counseling services) , the Centro Latino of Catawba County, Student Action with Farm Workers, the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina, the Comisión Latina en SIDA (AIDS), the NC Justice Center, the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project, El Pueblo Inc. and the clinics of the future ECU School of Dental Medicine. Placements will be arranged at the beginning of each student’s studies, and need not be in North Carolina or the United States (See part IV of ECU’s Phase I Response Document, “Health Care and Medical Innovation”). These activities would also support the university’s commitment “to integrating research and creative activities in the educational experiences of students.”

The service mission of East Carolina University, as an institution with a tradition of strong regional ties and public outreach, is to provide leadership and to engage in partnerships supporting public education, health care and human services, cultural activities, and regional development. The program’s engaged learning component will provide needed skills to Eastern North Carolina Communities.


  • The Leadership University – ECU will distinguish itself by the ability to train and prepare leaders for tomorrow for the east, for North Carolina and for our nation.

As the Rural Latino Round Table Report published by ECU and the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center concludes, it will be necessary to “develop the Latino leadership” within the state, which will require educating the increasing number of children of immigrants entering the University who have some knowledge of spoken Spanish but no formal training in writing and little knowledge of the histories of Hispanic cultures. Our program will also cultivate linguistically- and culturally-competent non-Latinos prepared to engage with the Latino population.

  • Economic Prosperity – ECU will create a strong and sustainable future for eastern North Carolina through education, innovation, investment and outreach.

As the demographic changes described above illustrate, the Latino population is the fastest growing segment of our nation, our state—and hence also of our domestic economy, as both workers and consumers.

The economic impact of the Latino population has increased accordingly. Latinos have provided the backbone for several NC industries: for example, in Mecklenburg County, 75 percent of construction workers are Latino, over 95 percent of agricultural workers are Mexican guest workers and in Bladen County over 50 percent of the workers in meat processing plants are Latinos. Latino buying power in NC increased from $8.3 million in 1990 to $2.3 billion in 1999. The new labor supply has enabled traditional economic sectors such as tobacco, agriculture, food processing and vegetable farming to maintain their importance in the region.

As the Rural Latino Round Table Report points out, it will be imperative to “provide valuable information and services to the local Latino population” and “to help integrate the Latino population into the local community and assist Latinos to become entrepreneurs”. By becoming fully capable and informed consumers and providers of goods and services, Latinos will contribute to the state’s economic growth. The development of linguistically- and culturally-competent business professionals in the non-Hispanic population to train Latino employees and serve their community’s needs will serve this purpose.

Many Latinos also face challenges in housing, as they are not always aware of their rights or responsibilities as tenants under the state's landlord/tenant law. In the same way, many are particularly vulnerable to "bad" loans and violations of the Federal Fair Housing Act. They are frequently victims of payday robberies as a lack of Spanish-language financial service keep them from depositing money into the banking system.

Student participation in our engaged learning courses will help to alleviate such problems through their service in placements performed at any time of the year in venues such as (but not limited to) : the Mexican Consulate, the Down East Council for Hispanic/Latin Affairs, the Hispanic Community Center in Goldsboro, the Charlotte-based Latin American Coalition, Pathways to Life (statewide mental health/counseling services) , the Centro Latino of Catawba County, Student Action with Farm Workers, the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina, the Comisión Latina en SIDA (AIDS), the NC Justice Center, the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project, El Pueblo Inc. and the clinics of the future ECU School of Dental Medicine. Placements will be arranged at the beginning of each student’s studies, and need not be in North Carolina or the United States. Placement partners will be identified by the student and graduate program director upon enrollment in the program, and need not be limited to NC or the United States. This responds to the UNC-T Report’s (4.4.1) call for university participation in “community development” and in particular “rural and underserved areas” (4.4.2), and to Part III of ECU’s Phase I Response document, “ECU’s Vitality and Economic Prosperity in the East”.

Furthermore, this program’s focus on language and cultural study will contribute to the region’s social and economic development by promoting a closer interaction between the Latino and non-Latino populations, developing the understanding and awareness described in the “Introduction” to ECU’s Phase I Response to UNC Tomorrow, and contributing to the region’s appreciation of the growing diversity of our populace.


Sources:

The Rural Latino Round Table Report

US Bureau of the Census
State of the South report (http://www.mdcinc.org/knowledge/sos-2010.aspx)
Selig Center for Economic Growth (University of Georgia, http://www.terry.uga.edu/selig/)
El Pueblo, Inc. http://www.newsouthproductions.com/info.htm

East Carolina University's Regional Development Institute (http://www.ecu.edu/oeied/)


National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/)
NC Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nccppr.org/drupal/)


  • Health Care and Medical Innovation – ECU will save lives, cure diseases, and transform the quality of health care for the region and the state.

The UNC-T Report calls for greater university involvement in providing quality health care (4.5.1), as well as for “align[ing] campus programs with regional needs” (4.7.1).The increasing Latino presence creates an immediate demand for linguistically- and culturally-competent health care professionals, and interpreters for those who are not. According to the US Census Bureau, North Carolina Latinos generally have fewer years of formal education than NC's population as a whole, with only 43 percent of Latinos having a high school diploma. Hispanic patients continue to face significant barriers that impede access to appropriate health care, and health care providers have also become overburdened in their efforts to serve North Carolina's changing population. For instance, a Latino-accessible non-profit community-based mental health agency located in the Triangle has had a 500 percent increase in its Latino clients over the last five years. Providers overwhelmingly report that language is the most significant barrier to providing adequate care for the Latino population. Some of our students will, through engaged learning, provide these services. Furthermore, by serving as research assistants, they will contribute to advances improving the quality of health care to this underserved population.

  • The Arts, Culture and the Quality of Life – ECU will provide world class entertainment, culture and performing arts to enhance the quality of our lives.

Through the teaching of the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures, our program will contribute to a greater knowledge of and appreciation for the Latino artistic heritage. As the Hispanic population increases, their cultural and artistic heritage will become part of that of North Carolina and the nation. ECU thus has an obligation to provide the opportunity for cross-cultural experiences in the arts. By creating increasingly closer ties to the Hispanic community through engaged learning, we may attract an increase in students of Hispanic background to ECU’s arts programs, and possibly see an increase in the number of Latino arts events hosted by the university.

As the East Carolina University strategic initiatives state, “our legacy is 100 years of service to our state,” going on to note that the “Education Trust identified ECU as a national leader in ensuring the success of minority students,” and to claim that “our biggest impact occurs for those who are traditionally underserved.” We believe that our proposed MA degree will help continue that tradition in the following ways:

1) allowing North Carolina educators to continue their professional development by increasing their linguistic and cultural competence, thus improving the education of non-Hispanics in the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures, and the education of Hispanic youths so they may improve their own future opportunities and better contribute to society and

2) offering post-graduate studies to business, health and other service professionals who have a knowledge of Spanish so they may increase their linguistic and cultural competence in order to stimulate economic growth, improve the quality and quantity of goods and services offered to and consumed by Latinos and

3) our MA students will make an immediate contribution by facilitating the improvement of educational, economic, and health care opportunities for Hispanics, thereby aiding their integration into society and

4) enhancing the quality of life in Eastern North Carolina through the teaching of Hispanic historical and cultural traditions.

In addition, the degree will contribute to the vision of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences in that it will “provide a sound liberal arts education for all students, conveying the traditions of learning and inquiry that presents them with information essential for performing global, societal and professional roles”. It will participate in the College’s stated mission “to provide educational and learning experiences to provide the skills and knowledge for students to become responsible citizens in a diverse society [. . .], to support regional and health development through training and education, to serve the community and region through basic and applied research and community engagement, and to expand international opportunities for study, service, teaching, and research,” as well as supporting its commitment “to diversity and to adopting cross-cultural and transnational perspectives in our teaching, learning, and scholarly activities.”

In particular, it will contribute to the following HCAS initiatives:

Initiative: Instructions and Student Scholarship

Strategy 2: Expand degree offerings (undergraduate, Masters, PhD) consistent with SACS accreditation measures, five-year enrollment projections and the university mission


Initiative: Teacher Preparation

Strategy 1: Expand DE and evening liberal arts course offerings to meet the needs of non-traditional students and students in teaching training programs


Initiative: Support the Arts

Strategy 1: Support interdisciplinary programs that encompass aspects of the arts (e.g. Classical Studies, various cultural study programs).


Initiative: Impact Economic Advancement.

Strategy 1: Provide education and training to enhance job-related competencies for persons internal and external to the university.

Strategy 2: Expand learning opportunities for non-traditional students through increased DE course offerings.
Initiative One: Student Leadership.

Strategy 1: Identify and promote experiences that cultivate leadership skills. Develop engaged learning opportunities such as service learning, volunteer, and community service programming

It would contribute to the attainment of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature’s vision of “educating students in linguistic, literary, and cultural competencies to make a difference in our multilingual and multicultural communities at the local, state, national, and world levels,” and execute its mission to “prepare skilled teachers and scholars, liberally educated women and men, and articulate and aware citizens of the state, the nation, and the world [. . .] to enhance the education both of East Carolina University students and of K-12 students locally and statewide [. . .] to promote a better understanding of self, of culture (our own and that of others), and of humankind in general by studying the language, literature, cultural values, and living patterns of diverse peoples.” In particular, the Department’s Strategic Directions include the goal of “an M.A. in Hispanic Studies; reducing the critical need for foreign language specialists in the United States; training language specialists in support of the educational, medical and health-related, and business needs of the region and beyond; and providing access to richer literary, artistic, and cultural experiences in the 21st century”.

Comparison to Similar Programs in Other Universities

● How common is this type of program nationally and what about the proposed program would enable it to particularly stand out from the others? What would it take to become a nationally recognized program in this area?


MA programs in Spanish and Hispanic Studies do exist across the nation and in North Carolina. However, NC schools offering the degree have entirely different foci: the UNC-CH graduate program specializes in Spanish Linguistics and Spanish and Latin American literatures, and primarily caters to PhD students. UNC-W and UNC-G offer traditional language and literature curricula. NCSU offers either a “Traditional MA” in Foreign Languages (with a traditional language and literature curriculum), or the MA with a concentration in linguistics, literature, or pedagogy. Appalacian State offers an MA in Romance languages, but with only a specialization in the teaching of Spanish. None of these programs offer DE, nor do they have an engaged learning component. None uses the MLA Report’s recommended outcomes of translinguistic and transcultural competence as a basis for program assessment, nor uses the “Developing Multiple Literacies” curricular and pedagogical model.
Ours will be unique in three ways:
1) Ours will be the only MA program in the state to make all courses leading to the degree available through distance education (beginning in the second year), thus providing learning opportunities for students not living in proximity to these other UNC institutions. ECU is recognized as a leader in distance education, and our faculty in Hispanic Studies have considerable experience offering DE courses. Eastern North Carolina has traditionally been an underserved region for graduate education opportunities.
2) It will be the only graduate program in Spanish/Hispanic Studies in North Carolina with an engaged research component
3) Our curricular structure and pedagogical approach will be unique not only in North Carolina, but in the nation.
Our MA in Hispanic Studies is based on the new standards of our professional organization, the Modern Language Association of the Americas (MLA). In May 2007, the MLA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Foreign Languages report titled “Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World” advocated “[r]eplacing the two-tiered language-literature structure with a broader and more coherent curriculum in which language, culture, and literature are taught as a continuous whole”. (http://www.mla.org/flreport)
The MLA document directly addresses the new, specific desired outcomes we have for our graduate students: to become “educated speakers who have deep translingual and transcultural competence [. . .] to function as informed and capable interlocutors with educated native speakers in the target language [and] to reflect on the world and themselves through the lens of another language and culture”. Such a program “situate[s] language study in cultural, historical, and cross-cultural frames within the context of humanistic learning” and “systematically teaches differences in meaning, mentality, and worldview [. . .] to help [students] consider alternative ways of seeing, feeling, and understanding things”.
Specifically, these are our outcome goals:
1) Achieve enough proficiency in the language to converse with educated native speakers on a level that allows both linguistic exchanges and, to a lesser extent, metalinguistic exchanges (that is, discussion about the language itself). ). We expect our BA/BS students to graduate with writing and speaking proficiencies at an “Intermediate High” level on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL) scale, but we will expect our MAHS graduates to have developed “Advanced Mid” levels in those skills. On the other commonly used proficiency scale, the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR, formerly FSI) scale used for government employment, this would correspond to an increase from the “Limited Working Proficiency” or S-2 level to the S-3 or “Professional Working Proficiency” level, defined as follows:
Limited Working Proficiency:

  • able to satisfy routine social demands and limited work requirements

  • can handle with confidence, but not with facility, most social situations including introductions and casual conversations about current events, as well as work, family, and autobiographical information

  • can handle limited work requirements, needing help in handling any complications or difficulties; can get the gist of most conversations on non-technical subjects (i.e. topics which require no specialized knowledge), and has a speaking vocabulary sufficient to respond simply with some circumlocutions

  • has an accent which, though often quite faulty, is intelligible

can usually handle elementary constructions quite accurately but does not have thorough or confident control of the grammar.
Professional Working Proficiency:

  • able to speak the language with sufficient structural accuracy and vocabulary to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations on practical, social, and professional topics

  • can discuss particular interests and special fields of competence with reasonable ease

  • has comprehension which is quite complete for a normal rate of speech

  • has a general vocabulary which is broad enough that he or she rarely has to grope for a word

  • has an accent which may be obviously foreign; has a good control of grammar; and whose errors virtually never interfere with understanding and rarely disturb the native speaker.

We define transcultural understanding as the ability to comprehend and analyze discourse—the cultural narratives that appear in every kind of oral and written expressive form—from essays, fiction, poetry, drama, journalism, humor, advertising, political rhetoric, and legal documents to performance, visual forms, and music. To read a cultural narrative a student should possess the following transcultural skills:


--Recognize and analyze intra- and inter-linguistic diversity

--Achieve enough proficiency in the language to converse with educated native speakers on a level that allows both linguistic exchanges and, to a lesser extent, metalinguistic exchanges (that is, discussion about the language itself).

--Have knowledge of and be able to discuss some of the specific metaphors and key terms that inform Hispanic culture: e.g., “raza” in Latino culture, the “Special Period” in Cuba, “los desaparecidos” in Argentina, “the two Spains”.

--Have some understanding of how a particular background reality is reestablished on a daily basis through discourses such as:




  • the mass media

  • literary and artistic works as projection and investigation of a nation’s self-understanding

  • the social and historical narratives in literary texts, artistic works, the legal system, the political system, the educational system, the economic system, and other social systems

  • stereotypes of both self and others, as they are developed through texts

  • symbols or sites of memory in the broadest sense, including buildings, historical figures, popular heroes, monuments, culture-specific products, literary and artistic canons, landscapes

  • major competing traditions such as views of the nation that are secularist or religious

  • historiography

In order to achieve these outcome goals, our courses use as a specific model one such innovative curriculum, the "Developing Multiple Literacies" (DML) program used in the German Department at Georgetown University (http://www1.georgetown.edu/departments/german/programs/undergraduate/curriculum/manuscripts/). In fall semester of 2009, the Hispanic Studies faculty participated in a two-day seminar by the creator of the DML model, Professor Heidi Byrnes. A group of three faculty also followed up this training in spring of 2010 by visiting classes given in the Georgetown program.


Based on this experience, the courses will differ from our present offerings and courses at other institutions for the following reasons:
--The curriculum will consist of two parts: a core curriculum that serves to give a diverse group of students a common theoretical and methodological foundation on which to build, and an advanced curriculum in which students work in depth on a limited number of topics. The core will be unique, as it will include a course on how to design action research projects, and a second one in which they carry out their projects while performing service activities with the Hispanic community.

--Nor is any distinction made between “peninsular” and “Latin American” courses in the curriculum, as in traditional programs. Half of the advanced courses are structured chronologically so that students may immerse themselves in the world views of each time period and compare it to those of non-Hispanic cultures. The other half will be thematically oriented courses on important topics and issues.

--The chosen themes and topics are presented through a diversity of textual resources using a variety of media, with the goal of achieving sufficient level of linguistic and cultural competence to function successfully in a professional environment using an appropriately formal register.

--In all courses, students compare and contrast their native language and cultural assumptions with those of the Spanish-speaking world.



MAHS students will thereby become autonomous, self-reflective learners capable of employing the linguistic, critical thinking, and research skills acquired toward their own professional and personal goals. Moreover, students will be encouraged to present their research at conferences and to submit it to be considered for publication (four of our students have presented papers, two of which have been published).
This curriculum also reflects what we already do in our scholarly pursuits and pedagogical practices: work in creative ways to cross disciplinary boundaries, incorporate the study of all kinds of material in addition to the strictly literary, and promote wide cultural understanding through research and teaching.
The program will be a hybrid of DE and traditional classroom delivery methods. In the first year, all courses will be delivered face-to-face. Beginning the second year, two courses per semester will be offered entirely DE for students employed full-time and who will be enrolled part-time. These will be delivered in a combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction, making use of Camtasia, Centra and Blackboard technologies. Two courses will be on campus for traditional, full-time students, who will also take the DE classes. Courses will be rotated so that full-time students can graduate in 3 semesters, students taking only DE courses will be able to complete the MA in three years (at 2 courses per semester) or 5 ½ years (at 1 course per semester). Beginning in the second year, we will also be offering at least 1 DE course in second summer session, further reducing the time to completion to 4 years.
One of our program objectives is to offer engaged learning courses in which students would complete a research project (agreed upon between themselves and a faculty member) based upon service performed in venues such as the following confirmed partners: the Mexican Consulate, the Down East Council for Hispanic/Latin Affairs, the Hispanic Community Center in Goldsboro, the Charlotte-based Latin American Coalition, Pathways to Life (statewide mental health/counseling services) , the Centro Latino of Catawba County, Student Action with Farm Workers, the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina, the Comisión Latina en SIDA (AIDS), the NC Justice Center, the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project, El Pueblo Inc. and the clinics of the future ECU School of Dental Medicine. Placements will be arranged at the beginning of each student’s studies, and need not be in North Carolina or the United States. These courses respond to the UNC-T Report 4.4.1 call for university participation in “community development” and in particular “rural and underserved areas” (4.4.2).
In addition, our students will be available to work as Graduate Assistants to faculty pursuing research concerning the Hispanic population (particularly in health care, see UNC-T 4.5.1), and would thus help solve problems involving the Latino community and its relationship with the peoples of Eastern North Carolina. This would also serve as a source of financial support for our students. In fact, one of the students in the Masters in International Studies program with a Concentration in Hispanic Studies, through the initiative of one of our faculty, worked as a Research Assistant for Dr. Patricia Slagter Van Tryon in the College of Education.
Finally, it is worthy of note that the cultural content of all coursework, and the first-hand experience of Hispanic cultures provided by the engaged learning experience directly support UNC-T 4.4.2, “arts and cultural enrichment.”

In conclusion, we believe the Developing Multiple Literacies approach will offer students a unique skill set that will be highly transferrable and useful in any professional context.



Accreditation Standards

● Are there accreditation standards or requirements that will affect this program? Is so, describe in detail how the proposed program will meet those standards or requirements.


No, however, students presently teaching Spanish but not yet certified may improve their language skills and cultural knowledge, thereby increasing their chances of teaching licensure.

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