Teaching and Learning History

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  • 1.  History in General Education Curricula?

    Posted 01-27-2014 04:27:00 PM


    After organizing the Undergraduate Teaching Workshop on a general-education theme, attending the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) meeting in DC last week, and reading this article on the new trend in "pathways" for general-education curricula, I have a few questions for history students and teachers:

    Does your institution have thematic general education pathways?

    If so, what role does history or study of the past play in those pathways?

    For those without such pathways, how does history play into the general education requirements?  Are requirements based on a subset of "core" courses, or are there "distribution" requirements for non-majors to take a certain number of history courses?

    How do these courses or pathways curricula affect the history discipline at your institution?

    Please click "reply to discussion," and let me know what the situation looks like where you are.


    Julia Brookins
    American Historical Assoc.
    Washington DC

  • 2.  RE:History in General Education Curricula?

    Posted 01-27-2014 06:02:00 PM
    Hi Julia,

    In Texas the state mandates six hours of U.S. History for all majors in public institutions of education. The six hours could be U.S. Hist. 1301 and 1302 or Mexican American History 2327 and 2328 or a combination of these four class. Also, Texas History can count for three hours of the U.S. history requirement.

    Concerning pathways, my college certainly does engage in creating such pathways in order to help students graduate on time, but also to avoid the Excess Undergraduate Hour penalty. Students are allowed up to 30 attempted hours that do not fulfill an undergraduate degree. Once these hours are utilized the student then is charged out-of-state tuition for the remainder of their classes. These 30 attempted hours could be failures, drops or when students change majors and classes attempted for the previous major does not fulfill the new major. While 30 hours seems like a lot in reality it is 10 classes of students being misadvised on classes, a crisis in a semester when they have to drop their courses, or simply some failures. There are other issues but I do not want to make this long.

    Trinidad Gonzales
    South Texas Coll.
    McAllen TX

  • 3.  RE:History in General Education Curricula?

    Posted 01-28-2014 09:57:00 AM
    We have general education requirements here in Florida that call for, among other things, "historical understanding," but there are no state-mandated history courses at the college level.  Our institution has a "bucket" of gen ed courses that the student must choose two from.  Both U.S. surveys and both European surveys are included, with a preference for U.S. since 1877.  Students can skip history entirely and choose sociology, psychology, political science, anthropology, or economics. 

    The history courses themselves all have Common Course Outcomes.  The debate arises about the balance of "content" and skills.  Some faculty seem to want "coverage" of the content, while others focus more on history as an intellectual discipline.  It was a fairly contentious debate over this issue late last year.

    We are also seeing increased pressure to cover, or even celebrate, U.S. history.  There are calls for our history classes to spend more time on "ethical reasoning."  Faculty have also been told that they should try to give our U.S. courses a more "global perspective." 

    I'd like to see a roundtable or panel at the 2015 AHA that addresses the course outcomes question.  What state or institutional pressures are on history faculty to address certain issues or give courses more of a particular perspective?

    Is anyone interested in developing such a roundtable?

    Mark Smith
    Valencia Coll.
    Orlando FL