Competency and Collaboration: An Approach to the Second-Semester Latin Course

Kristina Meinking
Abstract of Article: 

This essay explains and explores how the author designed a second semester elementary Latin course in order to meet the diverse needs and preparation of students. The approach features a combination of stepped learning, which emphasizes student mastery of the material before proceeding to a new content set, and collaborative learning techniques inspired by Student-Centered Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs (SCALE-UP), a method most often found in STEM disciplines. By moving away from a teacher-centered classroom and toward an individually paced, peer-supported model of engaged learning, the author found that students better retained information, deepened the questions they asked of the instructor and one another, began to see errors and small-scale failure as formative rather than ruinous, and became more nuanced, confident evaluators of their work and comprehension. Although this approach does present some challenges, for example those of fast and frequent grading and difficulties of student motivation, on the whole the course-specific as well as the lifetime skills (time management, self-discipline, responsibility for one’s learning) that students took away from the course merit its expansion and further development.