Department of History
Curricular/Major Change for Fall 2008

Section I: Rationale for Changes

Section II: Summary of Changes

Section III: Skills, Content, and Requirements Guidelines

Section IV: What Do Changes Mean for Students?

Section V: Major and Minor Slips for Each Major

SECTION I: Rationale for Changes

The Department of History began several years ago, as part of a regular assessment, a review of its curricular offerings and requirements for each of its majors and minors: Liberal Education, Public History, and Secondary Education. Anecdotal evidence and our assessment process revealed numerous problems which included delays in timely completion of the degree, inadequate historical skills development, and incomplete content knowledge. The faculty determined that it wanted to enhance the academic rigor of its programs, offer a more coherent progression of courses to help students develop necessary skills and knowledge, and eliminate roadblocks to timely graduation by enhancing the choice of courses to meet requirements. Program reform also aimed at increased symmetry between the history tracks to facilitate change across history majors and minors. The proposed changes will, it is anticipated, provide a more satisfactory and fruitful educational experience for undergraduates and, in addition, fit with the university’s recruitment and retention plans by improving the quality of the program and its offerings. The required number of hours for each major and minor remains unchanged.

SECTION II: Summary of Changes

Changes in the major and minor tracks and in the content of required courses were derived from the Department of History Assessment Plan Desired Outcomes:

1. All students will demonstrate their ability to critically read, analyze, interpret, compare, and evaluate the original documents and artifacts and secondary interpretive materials relevant to the discipline of history.

2. Students will demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively information, ideas, and interpretations relevant to the discipline of history in written, oral and visual forms.

To achieve these goals, the Department will combine History 1900 and 3900 into a new History 2900, introduce 3000-level writing-intensive courses covering relatively broad geographic or chronological topics, and develop 4000-level topical courses that meet the university’s baccalaureate writing requirement. These changes are summarized below. Full descriptions of content/skill expectations, course materials, and evaluation process for all levels of history courses (1000, 2000, etc.) are provided in Section III. The specific requirements including number of hours, geographic distribution, required number of courses at the introductory, intermediate and advanced levels for each major and minor are detailed on the respective Major or Minor Slips in Section V. The implications for students of these changes are outlined in Section IV.

Combine History 1900 and 3900 into a new History 2900.  History 2900 is intended as a general introduction to the discipline of History. It aims to help history majors learn to “think” like historians with explicit attention paid to 1) basic research and methodological skills; 2) general and discipline-specific writing skills; 3) basic historiographic knowledge. The course will be capped at 45 students and will have no prerequisite requirements.

3000-Level Writing Intensive (WI) Courses address relatively broad chronological or geographic content, and will assume some basic knowledge of the subject. These courses will be capped at 30 students and will NOT fulfill General Education Requirements. Skills are assumed based on a prerequisite requirement of History 2900. As Writing Intensive courses, they will meet the university definition of such courses: a significant portion of the evaluation will be based upon written work in the form of essay exams, research/essay assignments, etc.

In order to meet the needs of non-majors for General Education courses, the Department will retain its 3000-level General Education courses, and will move some current 4000-level courses to this category.

ALL 4000-level courses (except 4010, 4040, 4060, 4080, 4940, 4950, 4980 and 4990) will meet criteria for the Baccalaureate Writing requirement as defined by WMU’s General Education regulations: a significant portion of the evaluation will be based upon written work and students will be required to rewrite work to learn from, and improve, upon their initial written performance. These courses will be primarily topical or thematic. Content will build on broad or introductory knowledge established at the introductory or intermediate levels, and will involve more advanced and specialized study of a historical issue. A student is required to take only TWO courses at this level, one in US and one in either European, African, Asian, Middle Eastern or Latin American or history. The classes will be capped at 25 students.

SECTION III: Skills, Content, and Requirements Guidelines

1000/2000 Level (Including General Education Courses)
No prerequisites.
General:

  • Broad survey courses with 60-120 students
  • No pre-knowledge assumed, majors and non-majors encouraged

Content and Skills:

  • Emphasis on presenting basic information
  • Basic historical terminology
  • Basic periodization
  • Key events and individuals
  • Key themes and issues
  • Introduce concept of history as interpretation, and present competing historical interpretations
  • Basic library skills might be introduced

Course Materials:

  • Textbooks and supplements are usually appropriate
  • Monographs, scholarly articles, autobiographies, or works of historical fiction may be appropriate in moderation
  • Should include some written, visual, or primary sources as maybe appropriate to the subject

Evaluation:

  • Exams or quizzes may be partly or even primarily “objective,” but exams should include some writing component (e.g.: identifications and/or essay questions)
  • Some short writing assignment(s) should be required in a form appropriate to the discipline of History (e.g.: summary, analytical essay, exhibition review, book review, etc.) Major research papers are not appropriate at this level

History 2900: Introduction to the Study of History

Prerequisite: minimum of one Introductory or higher level History course, or permission of History department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies

Specific course materials, assignments, etc., may vary considerably depending on the instructor, but the course must be generally consistent in the kinds of introductory knowledge and skills introduced to the students.

General:

  • Enrollment  capped at 45
  • Introduction to the discipline of History, with the general goal of helping students learn to “think like historians,” and with explicit attention to 1) basic research and methodological skills, 2) both general and discipline-specific writing skills, and 3) basic historiographic knowledge
  • Introduction to the range of professional career choices, practices, and opportunities available to History majors
  • Majors-only anticipated.
  • Should usually be taken during the student’s second or third semester of study (for transfer students or those changing from another major, the first semester possible)

Introducing students to a particular historical content is not a central goal of this course.  Some “content,” of course, will necessarily be a part of students’ reading and research.  Instructors may choose to organize the course around a particular subject area, or they may choose to draw upon a broad range of chronological and geographical areas.

Content and skills:

  • basic historical concepts and terminologies (e.g., primary/secondary sources; historiography; monograph, context; objectivity; change over time; etc.)
  • historical periodization, as a general concept and perhaps pertinent to a subject area (e.g., ancient, medieval, early modern, antebellum, etc.)
  • basic historiography, especially developments from the 18th century to the present
  • modern (especially 20th-21st century) methods/approaches to historical study (e.g., political, social, transnational, comparative, quantitative, gender, etc.)
  • concept of history as interpretation and argument; evaluating competing historical interpretations
  • library skills, especially those pertinent to locating historical sources; differentiating between “popular” and “scholarly” sources
  • note-taking, exam preparation, exam taking, and other basic classroom skills
  • maps and graphs as they pertain to historical study
  • departmental advising procedures; planning a program of study at WMU
  • introduction to the range of professional historical career choices, practices, and opportunities
  • proper use of University of Chicago/Turabian style
  • academic integrity policies and practices
  • basic forms of student historical writing (e.g., summary, analysis, review, essay exam, research paper)
  • basic research skills in History, including how to develop a research question, how to develop a thesis, how to support an argument, etc.
  • critical reading and evaluation of secondary sources, including identification and evaluation of thesis, and placing in historiographical context
  • basic evaluation of primary sources, emphasizing attention to basic concerns like: Who produced the document/artifact? When?  What is the basic information presented in the document/artifact?  For what purpose was it produced?  For what audience was it intended?
  • Comparison of perspectives gained from primary sources and secondary sources

Course materials:

  • Should include some content-based readings in secondary sources
  • Should include written, visual, and/or material primary sources
  • Should include materials introducing practical skills for students studying and writing in History (e.g., Benjamin, A Student’s Guide to History; Berkin and Anderson, The History Handbook; Kelleher, Writing History)
  • Should include materials dealing explicitly with historiography and the range of modern historical methodologies (e.g., Lambert and Schofield, Making History: An Introduction to the Practices of History; Appleby, et al., Telling the Truth about History; Arnold, History: A Very Short Introduction)
  • A writing guide introducing basic Chicago/Turabian format (e.g., Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History; various online Chicago/Turabian guides)

Evaluation:

  • Exams or quizzes should use both “objective” and written components (e.g., identifications and/or essay), as would be encountered in most History courses
  • Some short writing assignments should be required in a form appropriate to the discipline of History (e.g., summary, analysis, book review, research proposal; annotated bibliography, etc.).  A research paper is not appropriate for this course.
  • The annotated bibliography assignment has been extremely successful for those who have taught 1900 in recent years, and we strongly recommend this assignment for 2900

3000 Level General Education Courses

General:

  • Survey courses in a subfield, usually with 60-120 students
  • No pre-knowledge assumed, majors and non-majors encouraged

Content and Skills:

  • Same content and skills as 1000/2000 level PLUS
  • Greater attention to critical reading of primary and secondary sources than in 1000/2000 level
  • Introduce historiography of subject area
  • Introduce research methods and critical reading of sources
  • Development of library research skills

Course Materials:

  • Textbook on the subject may be useful and appropriate
  • Accessible monographs, scholarly articles, autobiographies or works of historical fiction are encouraged
  • Engagement with primary sources—either written or material culture—as may be appropriate to the subject, above that at 1000/2000 level

Evaluation:

  • Exams or quizzes may be partly “objective,” but exams should be based primarily on written expression (e.g.: identifications and/or essay questions)
  • Writing assignment(s) should be required in a form appropriate to the discipline of History (e.g.: summary, analytical essay, exhibition review, book review, etc.), beyond that at 1000/2000 level
  • Some aspect of the written work could be based on interpretation of written, visual, or material primary sources, though major research papers are not recommended.

Intermediate (3000 level) writing intensive courses (3000WI)
Prerequisite: HIST 2900 or permission of instructor (“permission” option permits enrollment of History minors and selected non-majors)

General:

  • Enrollment capped at 30
  • Will NOT fulfill General Education requirements
  • Some preknowledge assumed, based on prerequisite requiring 2900.
  • Usually will have relatively broad thematic focus within a clear geographical focus and a narrower chronology than Introductory or 3000 level General Education courses (e.g., US since 1945; Europe 1815-1914)

Content and skills (particular to the subject area):

  • Minimal introductory content comparable to Introductory or non-WI Intermediate level
  • Specialized content, themes, methodologies, and applications particular to topic area
  • Development of verbal presentation skills and integrative learning approaches may be appropriate
  • specific discussion of historiography of the topic area is essential
  • Develop familiarity with research methods, sources, and library skills particular to the topic
  • A special emphasis on locating and analyzing primary sources appropriate to the topic
  • Develop analytical/interpretive skills particular to the topic, beyond those introduced in 2900
  • Develop historical writing skills beyond those introduced in 2900

Reading:

  • Textbook usually not required (though placing one on reserve may be useful)
  • Significant reading in scholarly articles, monographs, and/or presentation of other materials (e.g., visual art, material artifacts, museum exhibits, etc.) appropriate to the topic
  • Significant engagement with written, visual, or material primary sources, as appropriate to topic, beyond what is typical in 2900 or in Introductory and non-WI Intermediate courses

Evaluation:

  • Exams should be based primarily (preferably exclusively) on written expression, either as in-class “blue book” exams or as take-home exams
  • A significant amount of written work should be required, well beyond that required in 2900 or in Introductory and non-WI Intermediate level courses
  • Paper assignments should involve application and extension of research, interpretive, analytical, and historiographical skills that were introduced in 2900
  • A series of short (4-6 page) papers may be the most effective in developing these skills, with the expectation that work in the 3000WI courses will provide students with the skills and experience to prepare a longer (12-20 page) research paper in Advanced (4000 level) courses.  The longer research paper is not recommended for 3000WI courses.
  • It may be appropriate at this level to evaluate students in part on the basis of group work, verbal presentation skills, or other integrative learning activities appropriate to the topic

Advanced (4000 level) courses (all must fulfill requirements for Baccalaureate Writing courses)
Prerequisite: minimum of one 3000WI course or permission of instructor (“permission” option intended to permit minors and selected non-majors to enroll).

General:

  • Enrollment capped at 25 students
  • Usually more specialized thematic courses, perhaps with a methodological or theoretical focus
  • preknowledge of the discipline and general topic area assumed, based on prerequisite and accumulated coursework at 1000-3000 level
  • course must adhere to WMU requirements for Baccalaureate Writing courses (details available, but the primary emphasis is on multiple writing assignments and a significant amount of required revision of written work)

Content and skills (particular to the subject area):

  • No introductory content comparable to Introductory or non-WI Intermediate level
  • Specialized content, themes, methodologies, and applications particular to topic area
  • Development of verbal presentation skills and integrative learning approaches may be appropriate
  • Advanced discussion of historiography of the topic is essential, perhaps addressing more sophisticated issues than in 3000WI courses
  • Advanced work with research methods, sources, and library skills particular to the topic
  • Advanced work with analytical/interpretive skills particular to the topic, beyond those introduced in 2900 and developed in 3000WI courses
  • Advanced development of historical writing skills, usually involving longer and more comprehensive assignments requiring the integration of skills introduced in 2900 and developed in 3000WI courses

Course Materials:

  • Textbook usually not required (though placing one on reserve may be useful)
  • Significant reading in scholarly articles, monographs, and/or presentation of other materials (e.g., visual art, material artifacts, museum exhibits, etc.) appropriate to the topic
  • Significant engagement with written, visual, or material primary sources, as appropriate to topic, beyond what is typical in 2900 or in Introductory and General Education courses

Evaluation:

  • Exams (if used) should be based primarily (preferably exclusively) on written expression, either as in-class “blue book” exams or as take-home exams
  • A significant amount of written work must be required, well beyond that required in Introductory and non-WI Intermediate level courses
  • Paper assignments should involve application and extension of research, interpretive, analytical, and historiographical skills that were introduced in 2900 and developed in 3000WI
  • Usually will involve a major writing assignment (research paper, historiographical or analytical essay, etc.) that involves closely monitored development of the topic and argument, and multiple revisions consistent with Baccalaureate Writing requirements

It may be appropriate at this level to evaluate students in part on the basis of group work, verbal presentation skills, or other integrative learning activities appropriate to the topic

SECTION IV: What Do Changes Mean for Students?

Beginning in Fall 2008, newly revised History Majors and Minors will be available to students in all three history tracks, Secondary Education, Public History, and the Liberal Education Curriculum.  In addition, the Department of History is introducing a new Social Studies Major/History Minor for secondary education students interested in a social studies teaching credential. (See Section V for examples of these forms.) Students currently enrolled as History majors and minors may continue with their current curriculum or elect to change to the revised curriculum. Students who begin their History program in Fall 2008 will be required to follow the revised curriculum. While these changes (detailed on this website) involve a major restructuring of the History curriculum, they will not add courses or additional requirements for students who elect to remain with their current curriculum.  IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU VISIT THE DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY ADVISING OFFICE SO THAT YOU UNDERSTAND HOW THE CURRICULUM CHANGES WILL AFFECT YOUR COURSE OF STUDY. The new course offerings will be translated into existing majors and minors as follows:

  • The current requirement for History 1900 can be met by taking the new History 2900.
  • The current requirement for History 3900 (the Department’s current baccalaureate writing course) can be met by taking a new 4000-level baccalaureate writing course in a topical area of the student’s choice.
  • Current requirements in all History majors and minors for 4000-level courses may be met by taking both the new 3000-level writing intensive courses (listed on all major and minor slips and in the revised catalog) in the appropriate geographic region and in the new 4000-level U.S., European, Asian, African, Middle East or Latin American history courses.  Because these courses have new prerequisites, you may need to visit the Advising Office to register.

In the Liberal Education Curriculum, the current requirement for a capstone experience (either a senior thesis or senior seminar) may be met by doing a senior thesis, a 5000-level seminar, or an additional 4000-level baccalaureate course in an area of emphasis chosen by the student.

SECTION V: Major and Minor Slips for Each Major

Liberal Education Major Slip

Liberal Education Minor Slip

Public History Major Slip

Public History Minor Slip

Secondary Education Major Slip

Secondary Education Minor Slip

Social Studies Major/History Minor

 

 

Department of History
4301 Friedmann Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5334 USA
(269) 387-4650 | (269) 387-4651 Fax
dorilee.schieble@wmich.edu