Teaching and Learning Narrative--shcu history 132: The American Revolution and the Early Republic Carl Guarneri, History Department

Assessment Artifacts for Learning Outcomes

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Assessment Artifacts for Learning Outcomes

In History 132 student learning in each of the core outcomes will be assessed through a variety of tools. Please see the detailed list of writing and research assignments on pp. 2-3 of the course syllabus as well as the description of the Document Report assignment appended to the syllabus.

The course’s three exams consist of two parts. The first part asks students to identify, describe, and relate the significance of key events, terms, laws, or people in the Revolutionary and early national period. By relating each identification term to its period and discussing its significance for a key issue of that era, these ID questions are designed especially to assess Learning Outcome #1 of the Social, Historical, and Cultural Understanding learning goal. The second part of each exam is an essay question that asks students to construct a coherent and persuasive historical interpretation of an event or development, such as the social sources of the American Revolution, the implication of the Revolution for various groups, drafting of the federal constitution, the emergence of political parties, or early U.S. foreign policy, by using supporting factual evidence and by comparing or assessing alternative explanations. These essays are addressed to Learning Outcome #2 of the Social, Historical, and Cultural Understanding learning goal.

The three papers required in History 132 (see syllabus) require students to use documentary sources to develop and/or evaluate historical generalizations and interpretations. The paper on Thomas Paine’s Common Sense engages students in a first-hand look at the arguments and ideologies involved in the colonists’ revolt and their declaration of independence (Learning Outcomes #3a and 3b). The paper on Ordinary Courage illuminates how history looks and is made “from the bottom up” by examining the experience of a common soldier in George Washington’s Continental Army (Learning Outcomes #2, 3a and 3b). Finally, the paper on Cherokee Removal uses both documents and historical accounts to have students understand the complexity of historical explanation and construct a consistent and persuasive interpretation of their own regarding one dimension of this controversy (Learning Outcomes #2, #3a and 3b). These paper assignments all use documentary sources, but they are “scaffolded” to progress from foundational skills of historical analysis (selection, comprehension, contextualization, and generalization) to more sophisticated tasks of analysis, argument, and interpretation.

In addition to these document assignments, the Supreme Court Decision Presentation and Report, for which students locate and discuss a relevant historical document, addresses Learning Outcome #3a (collection of evidence) as well as its analysis. Students’ written and oral Document Reports, in which they choose, assess, and interpret documents relating to an episode in this time period, provide another opportunity for students to select evidence and use it to interpret history, which is addressed in Learning Outcomes #3a and #3b. The student presentations are scheduled for the day when the class discusses the larger topic that their document illuminates, and their oral report contributes a case study to our discussion. (See the History 132 Document Presentations schedule, which is appended to the course syllabus.) The Document Essay assignment prompt, which is appended to the syllabus, asks students to interpret their document through a series of questions about its author, audience, occasion, intent, argument, and connotative meaning.

Finally, the class participation component of the course grade, which includes workbook exercises and reading-response homework as well as in-class discussion, encompasses all the above learning objectives, alternating among them according to the topic of the day.

Department’s disciplinary expertise

This course is taught in the History department, which is the disciplinary home of the “historical” part of “Social, Historical, and Cultural Understanding.” All faculty members of the History department have doctoral degrees in history and have produced substantial scholarly writings in their fields. Two are authors or editors of the textbooks they use in some of their courses.

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