Inaugural Ursula Williams Faculty Fellow presents on hybrid Chinese language course

Author: Anne Daly

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As the number of educational technologies continues to increase, it can be difficult to know which ones are most helpful in language classrooms, and to maintain technological literacy. In response to this dilemma, the CSLC partnered with the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning to offer the Ursula Williams Faculty Fellowship, which connects curious language faculty with technology experts at the CSLC and Kaneb Center, and supports Fellow research on incorporating these technologies into their own language classrooms. In Spring 2015, Chinese professor Chengxu Yin was selected as the first Ursula Williams Faculty Fellow, and this past Wednesday, January 27th, she presented on her experience as the first Fellow.

Although she had previously used little technology in her classes, Professor Yin was inspired to apply for the Fellowship to develop a hybrid model, which blends traditional class time with online learning, for her Chinese I course. She felt her students could benefit from more independent study and a flexible schedule. During the semester-long fellowship, Professor Yin met with CSLC and Kaneb Center specialists for one-on-one workshops to discuss and develop strategies she could incorporate into her teaching, including Powerpoint, Sakai, Sakai Library Reserves, Audacity, and improving sound recordings. During this time, Professor Yin also performed research on the advantages and disadvantages of traditional and flipped language classrooms, which she presented last November at the 2015 American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) conference in San Diego, California.

Then, during the fall of 2015, Professor Yin offered the hybrid Chinese I class to Notre Dame students. Supplementing traditional classroom instruction with online videos and activities, she decreased meeting times from 5 to 4 days per week. “Students learn grammar through online materials,” says Professor Yin, and “class time is fully utilized for oral drill work and communicative tasks.” Professor Yin noted that this schedule made the class more attractive to busy students, and inspired students to take ownership of their own language learning. In addition, quantitative analysis on language scores showed that “students from [the] flipped class outperformed students from [the] traditional class in quiz, homework, and oral exam” scores. Because of its success, Professor Yin says the “[hybrid] model will be kept in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures in the future.”

The CSLC and Kaneb Center sponsor one Ursula Williams Fellow per semester. Applications for the Fall 2016 Fellowship are due on Friday, February 5th. To learn more about the program, and for application instructions, please visit the CSLC website.