Toward inclusive and relevant second language education for Black students
In this report, I describe the research and curricular changes I am implementing to deal with issues of inequity encountered by Black students in the Spanish program I direct at Western Michigan University. In the first stage, a comprehensive analysis of student demographics, enrollment, and academic performance over six years revealed that Black and African American students begin Spanish education at high rates but are less likely to advance to courses beyond second-year Spanish and more likely to obtain lower final grades than other groups. These findings are consistent with literature showing similar patterns of participation and achievement among Black students in language learning across secondary and higher education. Following methodologies used in previous studies, the second phase of the project consists of a comprehensive needs analysis composed of surveys, interviews, and class observations aimed at better understanding Black students’ experiences and needs in my department’s Spanish program. Based on results from the needs analysis, the last part of the project will educate personnel in the program on issues of equity and diversity and will implement changes in the curriculum to make our Spanish courses more relevant for Black students.
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