The Department of History seeks to facilitate student understanding of historical and historiographical context by offering broad and deep course offerings that challenge students in research, analysis and synthesis through intensive writing and ample discussion opportunities. The Department's curriculum teaches about the American and global past in all its diversity. American citizens today must understand not only their own past but about the entire world. Our classes therefore lay an intellectual foundation for a lifetime of thoughtful and informed civic engagement. We encourage our students to be actively engaged in their own learning and to formulate and present their own interpretations of the historical record. History majors cap their educational experience by writing an original research paper most often in their chosen specialty within the program.
Programmatic Learning Objectives
As students progress through the major or minor they learn to master the following objectives that are based on B.S. Bloom's taxonomy for categorizing different intellectual skills and abilities.
- Students can identify elementary concepts in history such as theories of causation, issues of agency, and periodization.
- Students understand the basic content or information relevant to the subject at hand.
- Students will be able to place in time key historical events and actors.
- Students will be able to create a proper foot/endnote.
- Students will be able to distinguish between a primary and secondary source.
- Students will be able to summarize and paraphrase the arguments and interpretations of historians, social scientists, and cultural theorists relevant to the subject at hand.
- Students will be able to summarize and describe key items and issues presented in individual courses.
- Students will be able to explain changes over time.
Analysis and Application
- Students will be able to locate and interpret different types of evidence.
- Students will be able to detect and evaluate biases, points of view, frames of references and cultural differences, primary and secondary sources.
- Students will be able to draw conclusions and inferences from historical evidence.
- Students will be able to formulate historical questions.
- Students will be able to create, organize and support an historical argument in written and oral presentations.
- Students will be able to assess and prioritize multiple historical causes.
- Students will be able to develop a clear, precise thesis that is supported by primary evidence.
- Students will be able to compare and evaluate the arguments of historians.
As students move through the program they are assessed on their reading, oral and writing skills. The following tools are examples of those used by members of the History Department to assess student learning.
- Geography quizzes that ask students to master the geography of particular regions at specific moments in history.
- Midterm and Final exams in which students identify and explain the significance of key historical concepts, actors and events.
Analysis and Comprehension
- Midterms and Final exams in which students identify and explain the significance of key historical concepts, actors and events.
- Book reviews in which students summarize arguments made by historians.
- Short papers in which students summarize primary sources.
- In class writing assignments in which students summarize and ask questions about the lecture presented.
Analysis and Application
- Expository and persuasive papers in which students analyze and make arguments about particular historical sources.
- Oral Presentations in which students report on assigned readings and develop historical questions for the class to address.
- Book reviews in which students analyze the argument made by historians.
- Group papers and presentations in which students analyze and make historical arguments.
- Original research papers in which students conduct original research and draw conclusions from that research.
- Historiographical papers in which students compare and analyze the work of historians.
- Oral presentations in which students report and defend their original research.
- Peer editing in which students offer critical feedback to their colleagues on their original research.
- Portfolios in which students present and continuously revise and often self-evaluate their work throughout the course.