Post by Professor Monserrat Bores Martinez with contributions from Professor Nadia Cervantes Perez

On March 7th, sixty-three students in Spanish 108, taught by Professors Monserrat Bores Martinez and Nadia Cervantes Perez, used a combination of Piazza, a popular Q&A platform, and Blackboard, Princeton’s Learning Management System, to have a discussion forum about sexual violence and microagressions against women.

At the beginning of their class, each student was assigned a short animation or visualization exploring the attitudes and social behaviors surrounding sexual violence in Mexico, “micromachismos”, catcalling and sexist attitudes toward female athletes in the U.S.  After watching this visual material, students posted their reactions on a discussion board in Piazza, and initiated a 30-minute written dialog in Spanish with students from other SPA108 sections.

Since comments were visible to all students enrolled in any of the six SPA108 sections, discussion threads were picked up, and continued at different class times. The first virtual forum on “Machismo” ran from 9 am to 1:30 pm.

By using Piazza, students were capable of posting anonymous comments and expressing themselves more freely and without fear of being judged –either because of their grammar or their ideas on “machismo”.

The exercise was in support of one of the main teaching goals of the course: to develop intercultural competencies in communication and to make students more aware of their own implicit prejudices. The participation of the students and instructors raised cultural awareness of these issues that cross geographical boundaries.

After the success of the First Virtual Forum on “Machismo”, Professors Bores and Cervantes are planning to open this dialog to other intermediate-level Spanish students from universities that currently use Piazza as a learning tool in their classrooms.