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Jill Robbins, Chair 150 W 21st Street, Stop B3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4936

Fall 2004


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46805 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
BEN 1.124

Course Description

The director of UT's Computer Writing and Research Lab, Dr. Margaret (Peg) Syverson follows a pattern called the Learning Record Online as a foundation for course design (). I plan on using this method to present a contrastive analysis of Spanish and English. The learning record begins with the identification of "learner strands." In this course the learner strands are the lexical, phonetic, syntactic, and semantic differences between Spanish and English. These objectives or strands are measured in terms of five learning dimensions: 1. Confidence and independence. Students gain confidence in their ability to discuss learner stands. They contribute more in discussions and start to form personal opinions, independent from the original sources where they read such information. 2. Knowledge and understanding. This refers to the "content" knowledge and information. 3. Skills and strategies. Students develop the "know-how" aspect of a contrastive analysis of Spanish and English. 4. Use of prior and emerging experience. This refers to a student's ability to build on prior experience and knowledge. If, for example, if a student comes into class having already studied dialectal difference among Latin Americans, she should use that foundation to build to new levels. By focusing and identifying prior experience, students will be able to create new skills and knowledge. They are evaluated on new understandings and not graded just on previous experience. 5. Reflection. This refers to the students ability to step back and see how all the pieces fit together. Dr. Syverson says, "we are referring to the development of the learner's ability to step back and consider a situation critically and analytically, with growing insight into his or her own learning processes, a kind of metacognition." The five dimensions provide a way for students to assess progress in global terms, as opposed to merely passing a quiz or test. It also provides for a way for them to choose any area of interest within contrastive analysis, but still be evaluated in terms of the same learning dimensions. As such learners may focus on applied, pragmatic, theoretical, or literary areas. The five dimensions are an integral part of the learning record. The actual phases of the learning record are divided into interviews, evidence of work, summaries, and evaluations that make up a student portfolio. The learning record is powerful in that it provides a way to give students of Spanish linguistics a way to choose their specific topics of interest, to progress in an academic setting, and to take advantage of the personal motivations why they want to learn Spanish and linguistics.

Grading Policy

Students provide an evaluation and assessment of their own grade in class as part of their learning record. I will use Dr. Syverson's description as a guide for their evaluation and assessment. (web site:


Whitley, M. Stanley. 2002. Spanish/English Contrasts: A Course in Spanish Linguistics. Second Edition. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press. Given the nature of the course, additional readings will focus on issues from published journals and other online materials.


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