at U.Va. muy popular
Department exploring options as enrollment pressures build
with enrollment pressure, the Department of Spanish, Italian and
Portuguese received a one-time $50,000 grant from University President
John T. Casteen III to hire additional teachers to meet student
department chair Joel Rini says he is grateful for the money,
it is only a short-term solution and the department needs a better
handle on the future.
Spanishs problem is its popularity. This semester, there
are 12 sections of 100-level courses and 34 sections of 200- level
courses, including eight new sections taught by the four additional
instructors hired with the presidents additional funds.
new instructors include a former graduate student and others who
have taught for the department before, Rini said. The college
requires two years of language all of which can be taken elsewhere
but the 202-level course.
he cannot count on additional money in coming years, Rini is working
out a plan that he said will allow the department more flexible
use of its 45 teaching assistants.
idea is to have the 100-level courses, which meet five days a
week for four credits, scaled back to three classroom days a week.
Since graduate students can teach one five-day-a-week class or
two three-day-a-week classes, this would free up teaching assistant
time, add flexibility to the schedule and allow more sections
to be opened.
challenge is how to give the students independent work for the
off days in order to keep the 100-level courses at four credits.
need to justify one hour a week, Rini said.
professor Emily Scida, director of the required sequences in Spanish,
is working with others to develop a Web-based program in which
students can take their practice sessions and language drills.
Eventually, she said, she wants to post all the students
workbooks and labs on the Web. Scidas vision is that the
contact with a teacher in class becomes more concentrated, with
the student using out-of-class time for written elements.
would like to be able to switch [to the new system] by fall,
Rini said. There are a lot of benefits. We could double
101 and 102 [sections].
said he also encourages students to take Spanish over the summer
because he does not see the interest in the language flagging.
He said the deans office has been supportive of the department
as students and parents have complained that they cannot get into
sections of Spanish.
is only so much you can do, Rini said, noting that despite
the additional $50,000, he still had to cancel some classes, including
business Spanish, to deploy the resources elsewhere.
said the department is also stretched at the upper levels. A survey
course for Spanish majors and minors has been converted into a
lecture, with examinations and no papers, jumping the maximum
enrollment from 35 to 72 students.
Gies, Spanish professor and former department chair, said the
enrollment pressure is perennial.
demographics outrun the math, he said, noting that while
the money increases, the increase in students is greater. Its
a good department and everyone wants Spanish.