Spanish & Portuguese Studies (SPPT), the largest of the College of Liberal Arts’s language departments, enrolls approximately 160 students in its two majors, Spanish Studies and Spanish & Portuguese Studies. Departmental instructors also provide language instruction to hundreds of non-majors each year. To accommodate these two distinct student populations, the department’s 14 faculty members are joined by roughly 25 Professional and Academic (P/A) Staff and 35 Graduate Instructors (GIs), who teach many of the Spanish and Portuguese language and upper-division courses. Spanish & Portuguese Studies also houses its own writing center, where students taking 3000-level courses can receive face-to-face and online writing support.
In developing their first two Writing Plans, faculty members and instructors in Spanish & Portuguese determined that the most critical task they faced involved gaining clearer understanding of the ways writing instruction was being included across their curricula. Early discussions also focused on using an online instructional tool, Cuaderno, to assess student writing using the writing abilities articulated in the Writing Plan. Presentations focusing on WEC and Cuaderno were provided by four members of the faculty and instructional staff (Emilce Lopez, Joanna O’Connell, Frances Matos-Schultz, and Susan Villar) at the 2009 Symposium on Second Language Writing at Arizona State University. The second Writing Plan, approved in Spring 2014, collected and assessed randomized student writing samples from core courses to pinpoint the desired writing abilities students struggle with the most. Results from these ratings were analyzed together with writing prompts and syllabi collected from every instructor. This Plan also initiated a longitudinal study of department majors, which collects every piece of formal writing participants complete for their major.
SPPT’s third-edition Writing Plan, approved in Spring 2017, focuses on sustaining the unit’s WEC efforts through an ongoing forum, Workshops on Writing (WOW), featuring presentations, discussions, and planning meetings each semester related to the role of writing and critical analysis. In Spring 2018, SPPT will conclude its longitudinal study of student writing, geared toward composing a cumulative portrait of the progression of writing abilities between SPAN 3015 (Spanish Compositions and Communication) and SPAN 3972W (Senior Project).