Summary statement of upper-level learning outcomes
The upper-level curriculum in RLL is content-driven, interdisciplinary, and designed for students who seek to improve their: 1. critical-thinking abilities, 2. target-language proficiency (French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish), and 3. cultural and historical knowledge related to these languages. Students develop critical-thinking skills as a way of deepening their cultural and historical knowledge related to specific disciplines of humanistic inquiry, such as literature, visual arts, linguistics, and history. Course topics are accessed through speaking, listening, writing, and reading in the target language.
In third-year courses, students are exposed to key issues and analytical methods in different humanistic disciplines. Students are expected to show their ability to think critically about primary sources (e.g. texts, films, language data, historical artifacts), acquire a panoramic cultural and historical understanding of the course content, make comparisons, question assumptions, and consider alternative perspectives.
In fourth-year courses, students engage with advanced topics that are typically historically, geographically, and/or thematically-oriented. Through more advanced and sophisticated reading, discussion, and critical analysis of course materials, students develop a level of writing and oral expression that prepares them to engage with native speakers of the target language. Courses at this level are aimed at deepening cultural knowledge while developing target-language skills. These courses also aim to provide students with more rigorous methodological training in different disciplines.
Upper-level learning outcomes framed within the course curriculum
1. Critical-thinking abilities: In third-year courses, students learn to argue ideas through coherent and informed thinking, and by building on others’ comments and perspectives. By learning how to reason carefully from clearly stated premises, students develop the ability to frame sophisticated questions and explore pre-determined topics within the course’s disciplinary framework (i.e. guided critical thinking).
In fourth-year courses, students apply their critical-thinking abilities through more focused disciplinary settings in which students have greater ownership over the course material and its discussion. Students may be asked to consult outside sources in order to ask complex questions and achieve open-ended production of knowledge (i.e. engaged critical thinking). Final projects may include research papers, media projects, close readings, oral interviews, or presentations.
At the conclusion of their program of study, students will achieve an advanced level of conceptualization by learning to construct complex ideas and take intellectual positions relating to the target cultures.
2. Target-language proficiency: In third-year courses, students acquire a broad control of grammatical and syntactic structures and a fairly wide general vocabulary. They write at the discourse level on course topics with minimal errors and with some syntactic sophistication. Students converse with fluency and spontaneity on topics that are familiar or of personal interest, and with somewhat less fluency and accuracy on more complex topics of wider, historical, or public interest about which they are learning.
In fourth-year courses, students incorporate complex grammatical structures (e.g. a variety of tenses and moods) as well as a broad and specialized vocabulary, with a higher level of accuracy in the target language (i.e. errors do not affect comprehensibility). Students are able to converse with fluency and spontaneity not only regarding topics that are familiar or of personal interest, but also on a variety of scholarly topics of community, national, or global interest introduced in the course.
At the conclusion of their program of study, students will be able to combine and link thoughts in sustained discourse, articulate complex ideas and opinions, and make persuasive arguments in the target language.
3. Cultural and historical knowledge: In third-year courses, students learn to identify key terms and debates relevant to specific disciplines, as well as ways to approach problems within these disciplines through a guided analysis of texts, visual arts, linguistic data, or historical artifacts. These skills enable students to succeed in cultural immersion experiences in the target language (e.g. study abroad, internships, service learning, field work), should they choose to do so.
In fourth-year courses, students develop finer-grained knowledge of a topic within a specific discipline and achieve a greater understanding of the course topic through scholarly and original and/or creative work. Students also develop a greater specialization in cross-cultural analysis, thereby achieving a higher sense of global citizenship. Students are able to draw from their first- hand cultural immersion experiences in course discussions.
At the conclusion of their program of study, students will have developed metacognitive skills and deeper knowledge of texts, contexts and situations from a diversity and complexity of cultures in/from the target language.