Modern Languages: Learning and Analyzing The Preterit and Imperfect in Spanish

Title: Learning and Analyzing The Preterit and Imperfect
Authors: Laura M Merino and Matthew Field
Discipline: Modern Languages, Spanish
Submission Date: April 2013

Abstract: The difference between the preterit and imperfect is a key intermediate grammatical concept in Spanish foreign language classes so this study aimed to observe student’s thought processes when analyzing it. Students would be given the task of completing a paragraph in the past that involved verbs in both tenses while the investigators walked around observing student’s strategies and methods of choosing either preterit or imperfect. Students were tasked with not only completing the verbs correctly but also discussing in groups and writing down the reason why they chose what they chose. Student’s discussions helped investigators learn that a few key words throughout the paragraph were causing confusion as to what the implications were for the students responsible for choosing between preterit and imperfect.

Spanish Lesson Study: Learning and Analyzing The Preterit and Imperfect (Full Report)

English: Student Interpretation and Application of Peer Writing Comments

Title: Student Interpretation and Application of Peer Writing Comments
Discipline/Field: English, Composition
: Ryan Friesen, Jennifer Mohlenhoff-Baggett, and Bruce Handtke; Department of English, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Submission Date: June 19, 2013

Abstract: In order to understand how student writers perceive peer and instructor comments and what value or usefulness they assign to them, we observed students reading, understanding, and applying given comments to the revision of a text. Through observation we collected evidence of how students understand peer comments, how they translate them into a process, and how they use the comments to evaluate their revisions. To make student learning visible, we observed how peers offered revision comments on a paper written by a member of their group. For many of us, the habits and methods undertaken by student writers when they have peer and instructor comments in front of them are a mystery. We wonder how student writers read peer comments, what they recognize within them, and how they apply their reading of these comments to the revisions they make within the paper. We wish to understand what has happened when writers do not recognize meaningful content in peer comments or do not apply them to revision, and we wish we knew how this form of communication could be improved. In our lesson study, we observed students interpreting peer comments and making decisions about their applications. As a result, we have developed strategies for refining the peer critique process to the benefit of writers, readers, instructors, and the texts that students produce.

English Lesson Study: Student Interpretation and Application of Peer Writing Comments (Full Report)

English: Framing Expectations for Literary Study

Title: Framing Expectations for Literary Study
Discipline/Field: English, Literary Study, Literature
Authors: Susan Crutchfield, Natalie Eschenbaum, Bryan Kopp, Kelly Sultzbach (alphabetical listing), Department of English, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Submission Date: December 7, 2012

Abstract: Students frequently think about general education and foundational literature courses simply as requirements to fulfill. Our broader goal was to scaffold student thinking about the purpose, value, and necessity of literary study. We focused on three more specific goals: 1) to help students understand that both a “right answer” approach to interpretation and an “anything goes” approach are problematic; 2) to help students appreciate the positive value of ambiguity as something that invites multiple persuasive interpretations; and 3) to help them recognize that literary modes of thinking can be applicable to non-literary texts as well. Our observations revealed that some teams arrived quickly at single, closed interpretations whereas others generated new, persuasive readings of the poem. During the large group conversation, individuals generally were good at providing valid textual support for their interpretations. In subsequent classes students seemed more willing to entertain multiple interpretations and to challenge one another. Students seemed to have made progress with our first and second goals. We saw evidence for our third goal when students at the end of class started asking the question, what makes a text “literature” or not?

English Lesson Study: Framing Expectations for Literary Study (Final Report)

Theatre Arts / Library: Researching Hamlet’s Madness

Title: Hawk or Handsaw?  Researching Hamlet’s Madness.  A Theatre Studies Library Lesson Study Plan
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Theatre Arts and Information Literacy
Authors: Beth Cherne, Walter Elder (Theatre Arts), Michael Current, Cris Prucha (Murphy Library),  University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Submission Date: August 21, 2007

Executive Summary

Learning goals were to introduce and deepen students’ knowledge and interest in library resources for theatre research. We wanted to ignite their curiosity and thrill them with the possibilities of finding information for their use in work for the stage. We designed a worksheet of questions, based on real-world scholars’ debates about Shakespeare’s Hamlet and interpretations of the title character. We found that when given a structure and real questions, students dug in and found strong information.

Theatre Arts / Library Lesson Study: Researching Hamlet’s Madness (Final Report)

Theatre Arts: Active, Collaborative, Creative Processes

Title: Introduction to Active Collaborative Creative Processes in the Theatre Appreciation Classroom
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Theatre Arts
Authors: Beth Cherne, William T. Clow, Ron Stoffregen, Joe Anderson, Mary Leonard Anderson, Walter Elder, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Submission Date: June 25, 2008

Executive Summary:  The lesson’s principal purposes were to initiate an interactive environment in the classroom; to involve students actively in collaborative work; to introduce basic concepts in theatre production and performance. The instructional pattern took the form of an activity: small groups of about five students wrote, rehearsed and performed a one-two minute play for the class; we then discussed the theatrical concepts that arose. We found that the lesson accomplished all of these things, but that it worked better taught at the second class meeting of the semester, rather than the first, because the first class meeting required so many “house keeping” details, leaving little time for discussion.

Modern Languages: How Students Learn Object Pronouns in Spanish

Title: How Students Learn Object Pronouns in Spanish
Field(s) or Discipline(s): Spanish, Second Language Acquisition, Modern Languages
Authors: Ester Suarez-Felipe, Kathleen Wheatley, Magaly Zeise, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
Submission Date: February 29, 2008

Executive Summary:
The lesson topic was one introduced always in first semester Spanish courses. The pronominal paradigm in Spanish presents unique challenges to Anglo speakers due to the many differences between both languages.

Learning goals: The broad goal of this lesson study project was to get a better understanding of how our students develop their understanding of grammatical concepts in Spanish that do not correlate with English, in particular the use of object pronouns. We hoped to come out of the lesson study project with better teaching strategies to help students learn in a more effective manner.

The specific academic learning goal for the lesson was for students to develop an awareness of the object pronoun structure in Spanish and to acquire proficiency in using them correctly in controlled authentic situations.

Lesson design: The lesson involved a progressive set of activities in which students were guided from recognition and choral repetition of the structure to the spontaneous use of the object pronouns in conversation. Students were first guided by the instructor to identify the verb, subject, direct and indirect object in Spanish sentences, and to identify the corresponding object pronouns. In the second step, students were asked to answer questions using the object pronouns in their response. The instructor used transparencies for these activities, providing answers as needed and asking for choral repetition of the answers. In the following step, student pairs were asked to match a set of questions and answers, in which object pronouns were used. An oral activity using props followed to trigger students’ automatic responses using object pronouns. Students were paired for the next activity, an information-gap that required them to produce meaningful questions and answers using object pronouns. The closing activity integrated vocabulary review with spontaneous production of the structure at hand using props.

Throughout the lesson, observers took detailed notes of students’ interactions, comments and discussions among themselves as they performed the activities.

Major findings about student learning: The main finding of our team was to observe that students relied on words that they already knew, rather than on the particular object pronoun structure, to derive meaning and complete the tasks. Little attention was paid to the direct and indirect object pronouns; instead, they gravitated towards the verb as the main, and often only, cue to the right answer. We learned that for students to acquire this complex structure, input has to be extremely controlled so that they have no choice but to focus on the object pronouns as their clues.

We also gathered insight into the importance of students being engaged in all the activities as active learners. Adding choral repetition and not providing the students with paper copies of the transparency increased student engagement to 100%.

The third main finding was not unexpected: cooperative work is fundamental for students to acquire complex structures in a foreign language. Students are predisposed to rely on each other to ascertain meaning and, when offered the opportunity to do so by design, perform the tasks much more accurately and at ease.

Philosophy: Phenomenology and Logical Forms

Title: Doing Phenomenology
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Philosophy
Authors: Eric Kraemer, Ken Maly, Sheri Ross, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Submission Date: January 24, 2006

Objective: Introduce Phenomenology as a Philosophical Method

Student Learning Outcomes:

a) students will have noticed the perspectival nature of attention/perception
b) students will become aware of how language and words bring something to the perception and how lived experience is historical and part of what we bring to perception.
c) students will note how structured absence makes us aware of the objects as perceived and aware of meaningful engagement in the world.


We found a great benefit to the discussing the lesson and revising it. The students were very able to grasp the perspectival nature of attention. More examples would have helped the students understand that lived experience is historical and part of what we bring to perception, and that language and words bring something to the perception. It is not clear exactly how this exercise could be modified in our to show the social constructed-ness of parts of our experience and the concepts we use to describe our experience. The final section of the class, where the students had to draw what they took to be the relation between their “mind” and the “object perceived” helped students understand a key sub-discipline of philosophy, i.e., philosophy of mind. The last observation we had was that it is difficult to quantify for the purposes of rigorous study the understanding of this feature of philosophy.

Philosophy Lesson Study: Doing Phenomenology