II. Framing Statement
III. Thesis Statement.
V. Course Narrative
VI. Final Comment
VII. Spring Semester 1997 Instructor's Statement & Syllabus
A. T.A.'s Pedagogical Diary, Fall 1996 & spring 1997
B. Discussion Prompts, Fall, 1996 & Spring 1997
C. Mid Term Exminations, Fall, 1996 and Spring, 1997
Jennifer Coleman, my teaching assistant for this class, came to me with much less teaching experience than Martin Wilson. However, she made up for her lack of experience with large quantities of enthusiasm, energy, and effort. I gave her my instructor's diary from the previous semester to orient her to the course, and she reported finding it helpful. During the term she prepared discussion questions each week for the two discussion groups and taught one group every Thursday. She gave a lecture on the Civil War and helped me grade the mid terms, book reports, and final examination. We met at least once each week and often twice to discuss our instructional strategies and objectives for the Thursday discussion groups.
In assembling documentation for this class, I chose not to write another instructor's diary because the course content in the spring was similar to that accounted for in the diary that I prepared in the fall. Instead, I focused on assessment, using the comments that we wrote on student exams and papers as well as the students' own final examination questions as evidence of what and how well the students were learning. The reader might want to compare these materials with their counterparts from the fall. The final examination questions that the students wrote in both semesters are especially revealing. In both classes, the students questions show a very good understanding of what the teachers considered to be important. They include many references to the three themes of the class -- migration, diversity, and freedom -- as well as a special interest in the historical experience of minorities and women. Put another way, most students realized what they were supposed to be learning even if some did a better job than others actually writing their final exams.
In both the spring and fall renditions of this class students were expected to write a weekly journal based on the assigned reading. Students find this task onerous, and many complained about it in their course evaluations. More than a few had difficulty keeping up and were forced to submit several journal entries at once or take a deduction in their final grade because they failed to submit the requisite number. The journal is designed to make students do the reading and think about what it means. It is also supposed to help them improve their writing. I have found that students don't seem to be able to translate their journal entries each week into classroom participation. Insights put on paper often don't get introduced into classroom discussion. Perhaps this argues for having the students share their journals with one another as part of classroom participation.
Mission and MethodThis course will introduce you to the history of the United States from pre colonial times to 1877. It will cover basic facts, concepts, and themes, concentrating on migration, diversity, and individual freedom as special features of the early American experience. It will teach you what it means to study history and why history is an important subject in modern times. At the end of the course students should be able to recognize a historical argument when they see one, be familiar with the most important people, ideas, and events of early American history, and understand their significance for today.
Students in this course will participate actively in their education. They will engage the instructor and each other in classroom discussion and write regularly about what they are studying.
Requirements1) Reading: A textbook and an introductory reader will comprise the common readings for this course. The instructors may also distribute handouts from time to time.
Students will be expected to complete the assigned chapter or chapters in the textbook by Tuesday of each week. Students should come to class on Tuesday ready to answer questions about the assigned material in the text. Handouts and chapters from the introductory reader must be prepared by Thursday, and students should come to class on Thursday prepared to discuss the text, the assignments in the reader, and any handouts for the week.
2) Short Paper: Each student will read at least one other book chosen from a short list of relevant selections. S/he will write a brief paper (4-6 pages) about it. The paper should summarize the main theme(s) in the book and comment on their importance to our understanding of American history and contemporary affairs. In writing this paper you should ask yourself:
a) why did the author write this book;
b) what generalizations did the author hope his readers would remember after the details had been forgotten;
c) how successful was the author in convincing you that these generalizations are worth remembering. Be sure to comment here on the reasons the author gave for making his/her generalizations and the ways s/he used historical evidence to support his/her reasons and generalizations. A preliminary draft may be submitted on or before April 3, 1997. The final draft will be due on April 17, 1997.
3) Journal: Every student will keep a weekly journal on the class. Entries in the journal are to take one of two forms:
Form One: Students may choose to write in response to one or more of the questions about course themes and content that appear in the Schedule of Classes below. These questions are geared to the material in the textbook, America Past and Present, that will be covered in class that week.
Form Two: Students may choose to write a summary and critique of a chapter assigned in the introductory reader or, when applicable, the handout for the week. In writing such an entry students should answer two or more of the following questions: (1) What is the reading about (2) What is the author's thesis or main point? (3) What kinds of materials does the author use to make his/her point? (4) How does the reading speak to us today? Journal entries of this kind may serve as practice for the short paper due in April.
Each journal entry should be about 200-250 words in length (the equivalent of one double-spaced, typewritten page). Journal entries will be due each week on Thursday,and the first journal entry will be due on Thursday, January 23, 1997. Your final grade on your journal will be computed from the twelve highest grades you receive on your weekly submissions. You may not do all your journal entries in the same form. At least five of your entries must be in one form or the other. In other words, you may not do more than nine journal entries in any one form.
Students are encouraged to connect journal entries to contemporary events. Try to reflect on the relevance of the past for the present in a concluding paragraph.
4) Examinations: There will two examinations, a mid-term on March 25, 1997 and a final examination on a date to be announced.
GRADINGTo pass the course students must complete all of the assignments and attend class regularly. For purposes of grading, assignments will be weighted as follows: general classroom participation, 10%; journal, 20%; written book report, 25%; mid-term examination, 15%; final examination, 30%. Assignments that are handed in late will be marked down one third of a grade for each class meeting. After two weeks (six class meetings), the grade for any late submission will automatically be F.
REQUIRED BOOKSRobert A. Divine, et al. America: Past and Present. Volume One to 1877. Fourth edition.
Leonard Dinnerstein & Kenneth T. Jackson, American Vistas: 1607-1877. Seventh edition.
SELECTED READING FOR SHORT PAPERSCharles Akers, Abigail Adams: An American Woman. (1980)
James Axtell, The Invasion from Within: The Contest of Cultures in Colonial North America. (1986)
Bernard Bailyn, The Origins of American Politics. (1968)
John W. Blassingame, The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South. (1972)
Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissembaum, Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft. (1974)
James C. Curtis, Andrew Jackson and the Search for Vindication. (1976)
John Demos. A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony. (1970)
Thomas Dublin, Women at Work: The Transformation of Work and Community in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1826-1860. (1979)
John M. Farragher, Daniel Boone, The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer. (1992)
David Hackett Fischer, Paul Revere's Ride. (1994)
Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War. (1970)
Winthrop Jordan, The White Man's Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States. (1974)
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. (1988)
Stephen B. Oates, The Forces of Jubilee: Nat Turner's Fierce Rebellion. (1975)
David M. Potter, The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861. (1976)
David Rothman, The Discovery of the Asylum: Social Order and Disorder in the New Republic. (1971)
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. (1982)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
Reading: Divine, ch. 1: 1/23
Special Topic: Is the Past a "Foreign Country"?
Reading: Divine, ch. 2: 1/28
Dinnerstein & Jackson, ch. 2: 1/30
Reading: Divine, ch. 3: 2/4
Dinnerstein & Jackson, ch. 3 & 5: 2/6
Reading: Divine, ch. 4: 2/11
Dinnerstein & Jackson, ch. 6 & 7: 2/13
Reading: Divine, ch. 5: 2/18
Dinnerstein & Jackson, ch. 8: 2/20
Reading: Divine, ch. 6: 2/25
Dinnerstein & Jackson, ch. 10: 2/27
Reading: Divine, ch. 7 & 8: 3/4
Reading: Divine, ch. 9: 3/18
Dinnerstein & Jackson, ch. 13: 3/20
3/27 Jacksonian Democracy
Reading: Divine, ch. 11: 4/1
Dinnerstein & Jackson, ch. 9 or 12: 4/3
Reading: Divine, ch. 12: 4/8
Dinnerstein & Jackson, ch. 14: 4/10
Reading: Divine, ch. 13 & 14: 4/15
Dinnerstein & Jackson, ch. 15 or 17: 4/17
Reading: Divine, ch. 15: 4/22
Dinnerstein & Jackson, ch. 18: 4/24
Special Topics: The Republican Party and the South
Reading: Divine, ch. 16: 4/29
Dinnerstein & Jackson, ch. 19: 5/1
Special Assignment: Write a question for the final examination. The class will review submissions for their suitability as determined such criteria as: clarity, scope, relevance, and creativity.
VIII. AppendixiesA. T.A.'s Pedagogical Diary, Fall 1996 & spring 1997
B. Discussion Prompts, Fall, 1996 & Spring 1997
C. Mid Term Exminations, Fall, 1996 and Spring, 1997