Theses and Dissertations - Department of Modern Languages and Classics

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    En Busqueda del Sumak Kawsay: Hacia un Nuevo Cine Indigenista Ecuatoriano del Siglo XXI
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Tarco Carrera, Henry Rubén; Moody (Chair), Sarah; Monette (Co-Chair), Marie-Eve; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    This dissertation examines indigenista cinema from Ecuador and how non-native Ecuadorian directors enact a process of decolonization in their cinematographic productions through construction of different images that seek to empower, rescue and preserve the traditions and cultures of the Kichwa people in Ecuador. This pattern is apparent in such films as Galo Urbina’s Ayawaska (2007), José Paúl Moreira’s Saraguro: historia con sangre Inka (2010), Ví­ctor Arregui’s El facilitador (2013), and Gabriel Páez’s Vengo volviendo (2015). These indigenista motion pictures incorporate the indigenous inhabitants' epistemologies, principles and worldviews, which, excluded by modernity, lead to the philosophy of life known as Sumak Kawsay, or the attainment of a full life, defined as a harmonic and balanced state of being. In this manner, the films move away from traditional feature films made in Ecuador or in broader Latin America, which only tend to display values and ideals of Western civilization. In contrast, these indigenista films portray the indigenous way of life and the native epistemes in a positive light, thereby contributing to an intercultural dialogue with the aim of imagining a future decolonized Ecuador, free of the hierarchies of the modern/colonial world-system. These cinematographic productions can be linked to the demands for justice and equity that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador has repeatedly made of the Ecuadorian state. The government’s imposition of neoliberal economic policies led to economic and political instability beginning with the government of former president Jamil Mahuad, lasting until 2007 and occurring again in October of 2019. Indigenous peoples demanded that the Ecuadorian state carry out social, political and economic reforms to the benefit of all its citizens. These demands had a significant impact on the films made in Ecuador, which have become artistic d Degree Awarded*: Doctor of Philosophy Department*: Spanish Primary Subject Category*: Hispanic American studies [0737] Additional Subject Categories: Keywords (include up to 6): Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair*: Enter your primary advisor(s), not your entire committee. Do not include degrees as part of the name. First name: Middle Initial: Last name: Committee Members: Include up to 10 names. Do not include degrees as part of the name. First name: Middle Initial: Last name: Add another member evices that reflect the ideals of the indigenous peoples.
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    Comparatisme Du Conte Francophone : Poétique De La Réécriture Et Enjeux Transtextuels Chez Tahar Ben Jelloun Et Amélie Nothomb.
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Kadji, Deproux; Picone, Michaã«L D; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Dissertation Abstract Central to this dissertation is a reflection on the properties of deformability and variability that occur in the retelling of an oral tale. The tale is defined as a text with multiple origins whose articulations vary from one storyteller to another, such that variability becomes a defining feature of the story itself. Consequently, inasmuch as a literary tale has no stable form, it is crucial to take into account the intertextual relations that exist between an original text and all the others that extend it through various rewritings. To that end, an investigation is undertaken of the rewriting, by two outstanding figures of Francophone literature, of seven French traditional fairy tales taken from Les Contes by Charles Perrault. The work of the rewriters, the Moroccan Tahar Ben Jelloun and the Belgian Amélie Nothomb, refocuses the question of the transtextual and dialogical relationships that exist in such cases. Reflection and analysis concern the following questions: How to characterize the textual specificities that make every tale recast by Ben Jelloun and Nothmb a different story from Perrault’s. How to account for the manner in which the tales comprising the corpus fit into a discursive and narratological enterprise owing to the authors’ desire to suggest new ways of reading and understanding them. What is at stake, in terms of discourse and meaning-building, in a situation where the voice of the author seems to be absorbed by reading and listening to the tales?
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    Technology-Assisted Training in L2 Spanish Pronunciation: Evaluation From Phonetic and Psychometric Perspectives
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Jacobson, Stacey Michelle; O'Rourke, Erin E.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Pronunciation is often not given the attention it deserves in the foreign language classroom, especially as research continues to show that poor pronunciation can impede communication (Agostinelli, 2012; Arteaga, 2000). Recent attempts have been made to determine the utility of technology for the purposes of acquiring another language; specifically, speech recognition technology, along with the feedback it can provide, has been found to assist with pronunciation acquisition (Golonka et al., 2014). This study investigated the effects of technology-enhanced Spanish pronunciation training and its potential to improve beginning L2 learners’ accuracy in pronouncing grapheme-phoneme mismatches as well as a decrease in voice onset time (VOT) duration when producing the voiceless stops /p t k/. Over the course of a semester, the pronunciation of learners using an app with speech recognition functionality was compared to that of learners interacting with pronunciation activities in the online companion to the course textbook, and to learners who completed grammar activities with no pronunciation component. Overall, both the grapheme-phoneme mismatch accuracy and VOT duration showed improvement with use of technologies and over time. Beyond the improvement in pronunciation, this study investigated the participants’ opinions regarding the technology they interacted with. The software Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) (Pennebaker, Booth, et al., 2015) was utilized to conduct psychometric analyses of participants’ thoughts and emotions regarding their assigned technology from the language used in the questionnaire responses. Despite participants’ generally positive views of their assigned technology, the findings also supported previous claims that enjoyment does not necessarily translate into improvement (Youngs et al., 2011), and suggest that too much focus on the technology itself may hinder pronunciation improvement.
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    Fronteras, indígenas, revolucionarios y bandidos: cuatro siglos de resistencia en el suroeste de Los Estados Unidos de América
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Dick, James Walsh; Rodeño, Ignacio F.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    This thesis encompasses an analysis of various narratives regarding popular heroes of the region that now compromises the Southwest of the United States and the frontier with Mexico between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries to demonstrate the development of distinctively regional narrative tradition shared among the oppressed groups of the region, the legend of the hero of the resistance. Hegelian dialectics will be used as the theoretical framework to analyze the legendary narratives of four historical persons: Popé, a shaman among the indigenous Tewa Pueblo people of New Mexico in the seventeenth century, the Hispanic “bandidos” Joaquín Murrieta and Tiburcio Vásquez of California in the nineteenth century, and the Mexican fugitive Gregorio Cortez in Texas in the twentieth century to demonstrate a narrative tradition of legends of heroes of the resistance shared among all subaltern cultures of the region, both indigenous and Hispanic, as a means of challenging the narratives of the hegemonic cultures of the Southwest, most notably the hegemonies of the Spaniards and, later, of the Anglo-Americans. From these conflicts, five fundamental elements of the hero of the legends of the resistance can be derived which generate a shared narrative form among the subaltern cultures of the Southwest. The complex interactions between the cultures of the Indigenous Peoples, Spaniards, Mexicans, Hispanics, Afrodescendants, and Anglo-Americans in the frontier zone of the Southwest will also be discussed in detail as a characteristic that distinguishes the narrative tradition of legends of resistance in the Southwest from other narrative traditions in other cultures in other regions of the world.
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    À la recherche des Ètats-Unis D'Afrique: une approche linguistique
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Vignon, Kpatagnon Maxime; Picone, Michael D.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    After centuries of colonization, the African continent saw most of its present nation-states emerge from colonization and achieve independence in the 1960s. Sixty years later, various formidable obstacles have hampered the development of the continent. In view of previous studies pointing toward a solution in the form of a continent-wide federal union of Africans, why does the advocated federation remain a dream? As demonstrated in the present study, the linguistic component of any projected African federation, taking into account both exogenous and endogenous obstacles, must be accorded its due importance in contributing to a successful outcome overall. The present study seeks to outline the salient issues involved and to analyze potential linguistic approaches that might play a role in preparing Africans’ minds for the advocated ambitious project of the ‘United States of Africa’, as a necessary component in the promotion of a new politico-cultural structure characterizing the development of the continent. Clearly, African languages must be promoted, but European languages need not be abandoned. What is crucial is that the overall configuration must not continue on as a haphazard relic of colonization imposed from without, but rather it must be an outgrowth of a real African-inspired development that promotes unity. Although the idea of the United States of Africa is not new and has been discussed by the pioneers of African independence over many decades, the originality of this study resides in the consideration of the unity of Africans from the perspective of a linguistic federation. It is understood that the linguistic union of Africans would be a complex and formidable undertaking, but carefully planned first steps in that direction must be taken in order to facilitate a successful federal integration of Africa. Therefore, this study aims to discuss the role of an African continent-wide lingua franca language planning in the layout of a potential union of Africans, as a corollary of great importance in a real and complex federal integration of the African continent.
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    Using cognitive and usage-based linguistic principles in an approach to teach German
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2019) Nuesser, Michaela Ramona; Lightfoot, Douglas J.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Cognitive and usage-based linguistics have been in focus for some decades and language acquisition and teaching scholars are starting to apply those principles to their domain. This thesis summarizes the most important events in the history of usage-based and cognitive approaches in general linguistics, second language acquisition and second language teaching up until nowadays’ state of the art. It includes sample textbook pages focusing on teaching the German accusative case to American first-year college students and a three-step guide to teaching languages according to up-to-date usage-based and cognitive principles.
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    Han’gŭlization and romanization: two models of script change
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2019) Alford, Timothy Wayland; Lightfoot, Douglas; Petrovic, John; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Script change is a branch of language planning and language policy. To assist language planners and policy makers with their endeavors, I have performed a Qualitative Research Synthesis to determine if the Han’gŭlization of Korean and the Romanization of Turkish are two distinct models of script change and if one model is more useful than the other. After describing language planning and policy making, I define script change, operationalize the terms used in the field, and discuss its history, its causes, and factors. Then, I explain the methodology and detail how I use it. Next, there are case studies of the language communities which exemplify the two models of script change: Korean representing the evolutionary one and Turkish the revolutionary. Following that, there are selected studies regarding the status of each script change. Current research on Korean asks who should receive credit for the revaluation of Han’gŭl; for Turkish the concern is national identity reconstruction along neo-Ottomanist lines. The data extracted from the selected studies are used to identify themes and sub-themes for producing a synthesis and a comparative analysis. My conclusion is that the answers to my questions are in the affirmative: the two models are distinct, and one is more useful than the other.
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    Parisian green spaces in the work of Guy de Maupassant from 1880-1886
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2019) Lewter, Martin Cole; Mayer, Carmen K.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    France in the nineteenth century was a chaotic period of social, cultural, and political revolution. Yet out of this tumultuous climate arose numerous symbols and images associated with modern France, not the least of which is Paris, one of the most celebrated cities in the world. Paris has lived at the center of literary works throughout time, but it is in the nineteenth century that French authors begin to sketch the capital city in stark contrast to the countryside. Some, such as Stendhal, focused on Paris as the locus for success, but also of corruption, in contrast to the countryside, which came to represent family, origins, tradition, but also stagnancy. Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) positioned himself on this literary continuum by characterizing Paris as a modern metropolis not against the countryside, but rather, aware of itself as an urban setting that required natural green spaces for its very integrity. While Maupassant certainly delivered depictions of corruption in Paris, his representation of the city was more complex and served to drive character and plot development in the narrative. His characters often ventured into Parisian green spaces, and by circulating in and out of their urban settings, Maupassant allowed them to grow both as individuals and in partnerships with others. It is my aim to illustrate the narrative function and socio-cultural necessity of Parisian green spaces in selected works by Maupassant, from the short stories “Les Dimanches d’un bourgeois de Paris”, “Menuet”, “Deux amis”, and “Mademoiselle Perle”, to the novel, Bel-Ami. Although these works and, indeed, Maupassant, have never before been considered as early examples of what we now call nature writing, they can arguably be considered as relevant precursors to this movement in more contemporary French literature. Ultimately, these works show that Maupassant broke with the traditional image of Paris contre province and offered us instead a Paris qui a besoin de la province.
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    Investigating the effects of mindfulness meditation on l2 learners’ self-efficacy in an instructed foreign language context
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2019) Morgan, William Justin; Koronkiewicz, Bryan J.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    A large body of research in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) is dedicated to the effects of individual differences among language learners. One commonly studied factor is self-efficacy, and its related subcomponents of foreign language anxiety and second language (L2) motivation. However, specific pedagogical interventions to either enhance or lessen these individual differences have been scarcely investigated and often overlooked in the literature. The present study investigated how mindfulness meditation could be implemented as such an intervention in a university-level Spanish course. Five Spanish sections (n = 65) received mindfulness meditation as a treatment, consisting of five-minute sessions every class period over the span of 13 weeks. An additional five sections (n = 59) were the control group and were used for baseline comparisons, as they completed no such treatment. The Freiberg Mindfulness Inventory (Walach, Buchheld, Buttenmüller, Kleinecht & Schmidt, 2006) elicited participants’ mindfulness scores to measure the effectiveness of the treatment. Using an experimental design at two levels (pre- and posttest comparisons), I used an adapted version of the Questionnaire for English Self-efficacy (Wang, Schwab, Fenn, & Chang, 2013) for an L2 self-efficacy measurement. The Language Orientation Questionnaire (adapted from Dornyei & Chan, 2013) measured participants’ motivation, and the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986) measured participants’ foreign language anxiety. Finally, participants in the experimental group also completed the Mindfulness Experience Questionnaire (created for this study) to provide open-ended responses regarding their experience with the mindfulness meditation practice in the foreign language classroom. Using a mixed between-within analysis of variance (SPANOVA), this study quantitatively analyzes differences in scores using pretest and posttest survey data. Qualitatively, I used Charmaz’s (2006) Constructivist Grounded Theory to do a line-by-line analysis of the open-ended responses provided by the learners regarding various aspects of the experimental group’s perceptions of the treatment. Quantitative findings from this investigation did not show a significant difference in the survey scores between the experimental and control groups in any of the dependent variables except for the mindfulness scores. However, the qualitative findings indicated that participants had strong positive sentiment towards the mindfulness meditation practice. There were two major categories that emerged from the qualitative data analysis, which related to language learners’ anxiety and a mindset for language learning. Overall, this study provides evidence that mindfulness meditation can be a useful pedagogical tool in the instructed foreign language classroom.
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    Navigating a pluricentric language in the classroom: attitudes towards regional varieties of Spanish
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2019) Martinez Franco, Sandra Patricia; Cipria, Alicia; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Spanish language regional varieties have been studied in the contexts of heritage speakers, language beliefs and attitudes, and language policy. Although these studies have been significant to the field, there is little reference to the role of Spanish instructors’ attitudes towards Spanish regional varieties in a communicative foreign language classroom as an important aspect when preparing students to enter a globalized world. More specifically, this investigation analyzes instructors’ attitudes towards the use of regional varieties in the classroom and how these attitudes influence the inclusion or exclusion of those varieties in the language classroom. Research instruments include an online questionnaire, video recordings of basic and intermediate Spanish classes, field notes, and focus group interviews. Findings show that although there are some instructors who use their regional variety because it is considered prestigious, there are others who modify their classroom discourse because of perpetuated attitudes that include stigmatization of their variety or because their variety is different from that in the textbook. At the same time, extra-linguistic factors such as syllabi, textbooks, and language tests influence decisions related to Spanish regional varieties. These findings offer insights for Spanish pedagogy, teacher training, curriculum design, and language policy and planning.
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    The social indexicality of forms of address tú and usted in Bogotá, Colombia
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2019) Lopez Lopez, Giovani; Cipria, Alicia; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    This ethnographic study examines the indexical meanings of forms of address tú and usted in the speech of Bogotá, Colombia; the social and linguistic factors that influence their meaning and use; the preferences in address of different social groups found in this city; and the implications of using either form in conversation. 78 individuals from different socioeconomic and generational groups participated in this study through a sociolinguistic interview, a questionnaire, and more than 40 hours of video recording of spontaneous conversations mostly in the home context. Findings of this study were analyzed from the perspective of the concepts of indexicality, language and social identity, language attitudes and language ideologies, and the precepts of the Communication Accommodation Theory. Among other aspects, findings of this study indicate that in Bogota tú and usted have a multiplicity of social meanings which in great part depend on the characteristics that make up the social identity of interlocutors and the context at hand. The findings also indicate that a variety of social and linguistic/situational factors influence the use of forms of address tú and usted, and that using either form in conversation can have meaningful effects in the development of dialogue. Consequently, individuals use tú and usted in strategic ways, indexing their agency and intentionality. The current study highlights the fact that in Bogotá the meaning and use of tú and usted can be co-constructed and negotiated in dialogue; and most important, that through their use individuals depict a series of social perspectives and affiliations. The current investigation advocates for the inclusion of a more comprehensive address in the classroom in which not only the form tú is presented given the benefits that more variation can represent in real-life situations.
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    Socio-cognitive approach to teaching l2 pronunciation: an acoustic analysis of Spanish diphthongs
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2019) Martinez Reyes, Claudia Beatriz; O'Rourke, Erin; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    To date, few studies have emphasized the use of language learning strategies in the acquisition of L2 pronunciation, specifically those classified as cognitive and metacognitive strategies. Yet, there is a significant gap in the literature that this study attempts to fill, namely, the lack of descriptions of the acquisition of L2 Spanish diphthongs. This study draws upon various approaches, namely, cognitivist, constructivist, and sociopsychological, to shed light on the application of four language learning strategies (i.e., critical listening, repetition, rehearsal, and annotation) combined with Dickerson’s covert rehearsal model (CRM) to practice the pronunciation of Spanish rising diphthongs (SRD); that is, /ia/, /ie/, /io/, /iu/, ua/, /ue/, /uo/, and /ui/. Sixteen native English-speaking L2 Spanish learners were randomly assigned to experimental (n = 8) and control (n = 8) groups. A group of 8 native Spanish speakers provided baseline values of diphthong productions. Learners were recorded performing three tasks at pretest: a word list (Task 1), a Spanish text (Task 2), and an English sentence list (Task 3). An acoustic analysis of the first two tasks from the pretest and posttest was conducted with respect to three acoustic measures: (a) total duration of the diphthong, (b) duration of the three parts of the diphthong (i.e., Vowel 1, Vowel 2, and Transition), and (c) duration of individual diphthongs. An additional element of investigation in this study was the role of individual social factors, including motivation and attitude, as well as the linguistic factor, L1 dialectal variety. Quantitative results from learners who employed the self-monitoring strategies and CRM model (i.e., L2 experimental group) revealed statistically significant target-like achievement in the pronunciation of SRD with respect to all acoustic measures in Task 1, but not for Task 2. Correlation analyses suggested that extrinsic motivation was a potent factor affecting the pronunciation of SRD in both the L2 experimental group and L2 control group. Moreover, affective attitude was positively correlated with the target-like productions of SRD in L2 experimental group learners. Statistical examinations of the L1 learners’ dialectal variety and the pronunciation of SRD did not provide strong evidence in support of the effect of a specific L1 variety influencing the pronunciation of SRD in the L2 Spanish learners.
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    Towards a genre of return in the contemporary Central American novel
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2018) Roberts, Seth; Janiga-Perkins, Constance; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    This dissertation examines exile in four contemporary Central American novels and focuses on the return of each protagonist after an extended absence. The works establish homecoming as a critical feature of Central American literature and include El asco by Horacio Castellanos Moya, Cruz de olvido by Carlos Cortés, El retorno de los mayas by Gaspar Pedro González, and Con pasión absoluta by Carol Zardetto. The aim of this dissertation is to demonstrate that return represents a significant yet often underappreciated aspect of displacement in literature and criticism. The motivations for each character’s flight and eventual trip home are unique, and the distinctiveness of each path is mirrored in the various responses to the experience. The novels also approach return from differences of class, race, and gender that inform the perspectives and outcomes of each journey. Return is a dynamic process that contrasts memories of origins with the sudden encounter with an altered home. An important factor is the underlying tension between what was left behind and the people or places that appear unfamiliar after an extended absence. These journeys and their aftermaths spark difficult encounters and myriad obstacles. This dissertation establishes that exile and its repercussions do not cease once displacement comes to an end. The protagonists defy the assumption that exiles will seamlessly reengage with long-absent communities. In each novel, return is only the first step in a succession of trials and self-discoveries that reflect the tumultuous postwar era in Central America.
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    Virtual reality training: reducing social distance abroad and facilitating spanish second language acquisition
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2018) Zimotti, Giovanni; Cipria, Alicia; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The current study attempts to investigate the potential benefit of using a custom-designed virtual reality experience to reduce the social distance between the students and the speakers of the target language. This virtual reality experience provides opportunities for students to acclimate to the Spanish culture and at the same time practice and consolidate certain aspects of the communicative competence of Spanish in a simulated version of the natural setting. The final goal of this experiment is to reduce the impact of transcultural contact once abroad and facilitate interaction between the learners and the speakers of Spanish. The participants of this study were undergraduate students of Spanish who took part in a summer study abroad program in Spain. The participants were divided into a control group undergoing traditional pre-study abroad training and an experimental group undergoing a virtual reality experience. The present study used mixed methods research to collect numerical and non-numerical data. The data were collected through interviews, journal entries, questionnaires, and recordings of in-game behaviors. The results of the study showed improvement in the level of adjustment to the foreign language culture for the participants who completed the virtual reality experience. The positive feedback received and the analysis of the language attitudes of the participants while abroad confirmed the effectiveness of the virtual reality training in comparison with traditional training.
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    Con voz propia: Creación de una rúbrica autoevaluativa para valorar la participación diaria en las clases elementales de español como lengua extranjera
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2018) Rubio, Laura; Cipria, Alicia; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    One of the implicit aims of higher education is to enable students to become better judges of their own work. The present study is the first to examine the effect of self-assessment on the daily class participation of novice college Spanish students, involving students in their own daily assessment and the creation of the self-assessment tool used in the classroom. This investigation explores the validity, reliability, and outcomes of self-assessment methodology, and the effects it may have on students’ motivation, risk taking, and learning styles when learning Spanish as a foreign language. The study included an treatment group (n = 23) and a control group (n = 23) and utilized a mixed approach that combined quantitative and qualitative data collection through pre- and poststudy questionnaires, a reaction paper, an individual interview, and daily participation scores. The results show that self-assessment is an evaluative technique as valid as instructor grading, with the advantage that students’ awareness in terms of their expectations is positively reinforced by the formative assessment. The results performed on the participants’ gains in overall motivation and risk taking from pretest and posttest show that awareness of daily grade participation criteria did not have a statistically significant main effect. This study is not without its own limitations because the results are based upon a single case study with a relatively small sample size (N = 46) and as a result should be interpreted or generalized accordingly. However, it sheds light into a new area of study such as engaging elementary college students as active agents of their own learning.
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    The inextricable connection of the personal and the political in transition-era Spain
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2018) Reynolds, Jenna E.; Corbalán, Ana; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    During the last years of the 1970s, Spain faced a shift from dictatorship to democracy upon the death of dictator, Francisco Franco. This period of change from dictatorial regime to democracy is referred to as the Transition. This era inspired new political ideas and reflection on societal attitudes. Most specifically related to this thesis, feminism began to gain ground. The two works that I explore, the magazine, Vindicación feminista and the novel, Crónica del desamor exemplify the idea that the personal is political, and particularly for women living in this time through their exploration of highly politicized and at the same time, quite personal themes. This thesis establishes that here is an indivisible link between the personal and political by analyzing the themes shared by the two primary works that elucidate this connection: reproductive rights, sexuality, women’s writing, labor, and the constructs of motherhood and family. Vindicación feminista and Crónica del desamor demonstrate the multidimensional face of feminism through their respectively non-fictional and fictional approaches while sharing language and themes. The magazine considers the Transition through an explicitly political lens while highlighting the personal and the novel does so through an intimate point of view, interweaving the political. Ultimately, both texts advocate the focus on the personal, daily aspect of the political and the importance of this connection in achieving societal progress
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    Creating conditions for authenticity in the Spanish classroom: promoting agency, empathy, and inquiry through a U.S.-Mexico role-immersion simulation
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2018) Finney, Sara; Drewelow, Isabelle; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The present study investigates if and how a US-Mexico border role-immersion simulation creates conditions for authenticity in an intermediate Spanish classroom. Aiming to promote whole-person engagement within a rich contextualized scenario, 16 undergraduate students adopted the roles of real-world cultural identities and were tasked with achieving individual and collective goals aimed at curbing the problems of drug trafficking and violence at the border. Learners participated in a variety of activities including becoming familiar with the scenario, selecting and developing character roles, and engaging in a set of learner-managed class sessions in which they collectively devised solutions to problems. In order to understand how the dynamic interplay among the various elements in the simulation influenced learners’ subjective perceptions, I adopted an ecological vision of the classroom and used a qualitative approach, collecting self-reported and interactional data. Following Charmaz’s (2006) Constructivist Grounded Theory, I conducted a line-by-line coding of the pre- and post-simulation questionnaires and two post-simulation interviews and then derived categories based on recurrent themes. As for the interactional data, I video-recorded and transcribed two learner-managed classes. After translating these verbal exchanges as well as learners’ virtual communications on the technology platform Google Plus into English, I coded the data in terms of agency, as operationalized by van Lier (2008), and analyzed it, drawing on complexity theory. Findings showed that a majority of learners likened their simulation experience to being immersed in real-world circumstances. These learners also exhibited high degrees of both intellectual and affective (i.e., personal) engagement during the simulation. Learners who only displayed one of the two were less likely to consider their classroom experience authentic. These results suggested that adopting an ecological perspective to explore relationships among the many dynamic elements present in the simulation uncovered the potential of this role-immersion simulation to cultivate in learners a sense that they were engaged in authentic linguistic and cultural encounters. However, data also indicated that learners’ capacity to perceive their experience as authentic and personally meaningful may be contingent on the particular nature of their encounters and their incoming views and experiences related to the communities under study.
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    Goal setting and its influence on achievement in the Spanish language classroom: combining second language acquisition, achievement goal theory, and goal setting theory
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2018) Miller, Alyssia; Koronkiewicz, Bryan J.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The present study employs an interdisciplinary approach that bridges theories from second language acquisition, education, and psychology, and centers on finding new techniques to help students learn. In this study, I examined goal orientations, goal setting, and the effects on achievement in beginning level Spanish language learners. Firstly, I defined language achievement as three-fold consisting of final course grades, intercultural competence, and linguistic competence. Then, in nine sections of a beginning level Spanish course, I employed five steps of goal setting, a process that I have coined the "5 As." They are articulation, action, assessment, adherence, and achievement. Results show that in the main goal orientation categories (which consist of mastery, performance, approach, and avoidance) mastery goals and approach goals were the most common. The mastery approach goal orientation was the most common goal type when using a 2 x 2 framework (which compares mastery approach, mastery avoidance, performance approach, and performance avoidance). Analysis of participants' written goal statements showed communication/speaking, grammar, and listening comprehension as the main areas that participants wanted to master in their Spanish course. Considering the effects on achievement, results indicate that students who followed this process of the 5 As and actively set goals had statistically significant higher final course grades as compared to the control group (p = .034). Further analysis of these results revealed a significant difference between the control group and the approach goal orientations (p = .020). In terms of intercultural competence development, results suggest that students did not develop interculturally, and this was independent of whether they set a goal or not. Participants also did not believe that learning culture was a necessary part of language learning. Regarding linguistic competence development, there were statistically significant interactions, but the main effects and post hoc analyses only revealed significance between the pre- and posttest scores in the control group, who significantly decreased (p = .050), and the pre- and posttest scores in the avoidance group, who significantly increased (p = .024). This study also demonstrates the positive benefits gleaned from the goal setting process. These include increased attentiveness, awareness, engagement, language learner autonomy, motivation, self-efficacy, and self-regulation. As such, the results of this study can and should be implemented into the standards, curricula, and textbooks in order to have students become an active part of the learning process.