The Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs’ Andrew C. Comrie Doctoral Fellowship honors Dr. Comrie’s strong commitment to interdisciplinary research and study as witnessed by the many years Dr. Comrie has dedicated to research as an interdisciplinary climate scientist and geographer. In addition, he has participated in the GIDPs from the time he first arrived at The University of Arizona and through the years of his university leadership roles as former Provost, Associate Vice-President for Research and Dean of the Graduate College.
Natalie Amgott is a doctoral candidate in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching. She has taught French for the University of Arizona, and French and English for Pima Community College. Her passion for language teaching aligns with her research interests on curriculum design and program evaluation. Throughout her graduate career, she has enjoyed the opportunity to teach French in Paris and to coordinate the SLAT Roundtable Conference as SLATSA President. In her free time, Natalie enjoys leading a weekly virtual Francophone Table, cooking, learning to dance bachata, and being involved in local running and yoga communities.
Multimodal Composing, Curriculum Design, Program Evaluation, Multiliteracies, Second Language Teaching
My dissertation is entitled “Implementing and evaluating multiliteracies in college French: A nested case study.” The purpose is to understand how an undergraduate French program implemented a new curriculum for fourth semester, intermediate French. The curriculum leverages French-language resources like news articles, films, music, and social media as the central texts. Students engage with these resources to learn French and design projects, such as satirical articles and animated poetry in French. The dissertation consists of three studies of an undergraduate French program. This study contributes to the fields of language program evaluation by examining the perspectives of all involved parties when implementing new curriculum.
My dissertation situates the three studies in the overarching theoretical framework of an “ecological theory” of language development. An ecological framework is valuable for creating a multidimensional understanding of how sociocultural experiences shape the implementation of new curriculum.
In the first study, I explored the French undergraduate study abroad program in Paris. I examine how seven students learned French in Paris through blogs and vlogs (video blogs) while leveraging voice, languages, images, music, and text to convey meaning. I qualitatively analyzed students’ projects and interviewed each student about their experiences designing the course projects. Emerging findings illustrate how students learned French by using multiple modes (photos, videos, music, text, voice, etc.) that allowed them to improve their French vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Further, when designing vlogs and blogs, students developed their identities as legitimate speakers of multiple languages.
In the second study, I will research how students learn French from the new curriculum in fourth-semester French from Spring 2018 through Spring 2020. Students designed a variety of digital multimodal compositions, such as a presidential campaign for a fictional character and a debate on Quebec’s language policies, as their main course assessments. I will analyze video reflections and projects from over 150 students, as well as in-depth interviews with 10 students. I hypothesize that students feel motivated by the opportunities to create critical social justice connections in French, which in turn makes learning French more applicable to their majors and career paths.
The third study consists of a program evaluation of the undergraduate French program, particularly regarding the implementation of the new curriculum. I will qualitatively analyze 26 interviews from faculty, instructors, and students. I also investigate program documents including syllabi, enrollment numbers, and the most recent academic program review. By zooming in and out across the data, I identify tensions and opportunities for implementing new curricula. I anticipate findings to indicate time constraints as a major tension when integrating the new curriculum. Further, I expect analysis to reveal how the curriculum has fostered collaboration and communication within the program.
My dissertation will have implications for how to evaluate language programs and implement new curriculum during times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, the findings will be helpful to language program administrators for identifying opportunities to increase communication and collaboration across stakeholder groups in order to promote more innovation through horizontal leadership. Lastly, my dissertation will provide pedagogical practices to language educators for incorporating multimodal projects into their courses.
"I am honored to represent the SLAT GIDP and the Department of French & Italian in receiving the Andrew C. Comrie fellowship. In my experience as a researcher and curriculum designer, the separations in between "language," "literature," "education," "literacy," and "linguistics" domains have become pleasantly faded. I appreciate the concept of the graduate interdisciplinary programs and the possibilities to build our own unique research pathways through transdisciplinary teaching, coursework, and research. I am thrilled to be recognized by an award that aligns with my passion for breaking down subject matter silos and forging collaborative pathways to learn from other researchers and educators." -Natalie Amgott