History Discipline Assessment 2006-2007


Scope of assessment activities

         ___√__Course-embedded assessment

                     ___√___ Pre- and post-testing

         ______ Outside the classroom

         ______ Across the discipline

Direct measures of student learning

         ___√__ Capstone experience

         ______ Portfolio assessment

         ______ Standardized tests

         ______ Performance on national licensure, certification or

                     preprofessional exams

         ______ Qualitative internal and external juried review

                     of comprehensive senior projects

         ______ Externally reviewed exhibitions and performances in

                     the arts

         ______ External evaluation of performance during internships


Discussion and Description

Discipline goals, direct measures, and improved student learning


         1. History discipline goals. Students will

Š      approach individual and group decision-making with an awareness of a broad range of choices, demonstrating an empathy to alternative responses to life’s questions.

Š      be able to think critically and communicate their ideas effectively.

Š      integrate their academic study with their intellectual and moral maturation.

Š      understand the construction of historical knowledge.

Š      have learned how to learn.


         2. History capstone experience

         The capstone is a two-semester tutorial in a culminating historical research project. Assessment revealed two problems in earlier versions of the course. Not all students

Š      chose a research topic in a timely way.

Š      chose a research adviser in a timely way.

The discipline response has been a two-fold revision of course procedures.

Š      Students must submit three possible research topics to the discipline coordinator by a specified date.

Š      The discipline faculty as a group assigns research advisers from its ranks.

The new procedures will be assessed.


         3. Assessment in the adviser/advisee relationship

         A close working relationship between adviser and advisee is essential for meeting disciplinary goals because the major has few specifically required courses. Adviser and advisee meet to plan a curriculum of proper breadth and depth. When the student applies for graduation, the student and adviser meet to

Š      document that the student has successfully demonstrated breadth across regions and time periods in the major.

Š      discuss ways in which the student perceives history and historical questions as a result of thinking about history at UMM.

Š      evaluate what historical skills and knowledge the student has gained while studying history at UMM. Supporting evidence of such skills and knowledge may include successful papers, tutorials, student initiated studies, etc.

The adviser must keep a record of this meeting.


         4. Course-embedded assessments

         During the 2006-2007 academic year, history faculty members assessed student learning in six courses, three of them introductory and three of them specialized courses.

         4.1 Pre-test/post-test methods. This was the first time that several instructors used this method. It will be refined and used again.

         World History to 1500. The pre- and post-test for different topics showed different degrees of factual recall by students for different parts of the course. Apparently pedagogical techniques influenced the degree of retention. Through this assessment, the instructor sees the necessity of clarifying the conceptual framework of the second part of the course.

         Introduction to U. S. History. The pre- and post-test, administered on the first and last day of class, sought to measure both student thinking about history as well as factual recall. Results for the latter were mixed, students doing less well identifying a single-theme approach to U. S. history, but quite well on questions about primary and secondary sources, and on the notion of public memory. They did fairly well on the former, viz., on open-ended questions addressing central themes from various books read for the course. The instructor infers from assessment that more in-class interaction between students and instructor may enhance student learning.

         Latin American History: A Basic Introduction. The pre-test did not work well, so the post-test was not used. The pre-test/post-test model will be redesigned for the next offering of the course.

         Modern Europe. Multiple choice, open answer, yes/no and chronological ordering questions were used on the pre-test/post-test. Yes/no was not an effective tool. Students showed great improvement in the chronological ordering section. The assessment indicated which topics required additional instructional time. The instructor has decided to use a different assessment model for her Nazi Germany course, one with special attention paid to different learning styles.

         Ancient Maya Civilization. The average pre- and post-test scores were 10 % and 77 %, resp. In the post-test, no student scored less than 50 %.

         4.2 Use of student assessment in conjunction with written work and class discussion

         Red, White, and Black: Race/Culture in Early America. Students assessed how well the course met the four substantive and six process goals of the course. Overall they expressed the opinion that greater success was achieved with the former than the latter. These opinions coupled to written work and class discussions led to a strategy for improving student learning. “Since the written work and discussion had demonstrated, for example, students’ increased critical stance toward the sources and greater sensitivity to the making of historical ‘truth,’ the instructor concluded that he needs to make more explicit connection between the stated goals and substantive discussions as the course progresses.”[1]


General education categories spanned by the discipline


            Almost every history course carries one of four general education designators: Hist, historical perspectives; IP, international perspective; HDiv, human diversity; and SS, human behavior, social processes, and institutions. Directed study and the capstone course carry no general education designator.



[1] Quoted from the discipline assessment report of May 22 2007, which is in the appendices.