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Course Information


TSI satisfied in Reading and Writing

General Education Core Objectives:

·         Critical Thinking Skills (CT) - creative thinking, innovation, inquiry, and analysis, evaluation and synthesis of information

·         Communication Skills (COM) - effective development, interpretation and expression of ideas through written, oral and visual communication

·         Social Responsibility (SR) - intercultural competence, knowledge of civic responsibility, and the ability to engage effectively in regional, national, and global communities

·         Personal Responsibility (PR) - ability to connect choices, actions and consequences to ethical decision-making

History Department Student Learner Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

1.       Create an argument through the use of historical evidence.

2.       Analyze and interpret primary and secondary sources.

3.       Analyze the effects of historical, social, political, economic, cultural, and global forces on this period of United States history.

For definitions of the terms above, use the Syllabus & Success Assignment.

Required Course Materials:

This textbook is required for all written assignments: David M. Kennedy, Lizabeth Cohen, and Mel Piehl, The Brief American Pageant: A History of the Republic, 9th edition. It is the one-volume edition containing 41 chapters and is used for both History 1301 and History 1302. The ISBN is 9781337124645; however, that ISBN is a “bundle” and includes both the textbook and an online program called Mindtap. In this course, we will not use Mindtap.

Method of Instruction:

This course uses Learning Quizzes, Lessons, writing assignments, and other course work to help you learn the essentials of history, but also to prepare you for the world of work or, if that is your goal, for further academic study. You can:

·         Master basic concepts and content that help you figure out what is happening in the world you live in

·         Practice skills at learning new and varied things, something essential in a rapidly changing world where workers may have to retrain many times

·         Develop skills necessary as a successful decision maker about your own life and about your own vote

·         Strengthen practical skills in reading, problem-solving, and writing that are necessary for all those roles.

Organization of the Course for US History I (HIST 1301)

United States History I covers from the 1500s to 1877. The course is split into three Units, or major time periods, that reveal shifts in our history. The three time periods are:

Organization of the Course for US History II (HIST 1302)

United States History II covers from 1877 to the 21st Century. The course is split into three Units, or major time periods, that reveal shifts in our history. The three time periods are:

·         Unit 1: Creating a New America from 1860 to 1900 

·         Unit 2: Moving to the World Stage –  America from 1900 to 1945

·         Unit 3: Transformations – America from 1945 to the Near Present

Blackboard and Its Use in This Class:

In this course, you need to use Blackboard for five things:

1.       Using resources including links, maps, and primary sources (sources created during the period we are studying)

2.       Taking required Learning Quizzes

3.       Taking required quizzes on the basics of evidence and using resources with those quizzes

4.       Submitting written assignments to Turnitin within Blackboard. Caution: You must be in Blackboard to submit.

5.       Using Blackboard’s My Grades to see your grades throughout the course and, if needed, your instructor’s Comment to you about that grade as guidance on what you need to do.

Blackboard and different student situations:

·         If you have limited Internet or computer access, see me for ways to work with less time online. Glad to help.

·         If you use WCJC’s computers in a student lab, you do not have to prepare your computer to work with Blackboard. On the other hand, if you want to use your own computer, you do have to prepare it for Blackboard.
Tips for that preparation of your computer are at Blackboard’s Help & Resources. The two main Resources to use are:

o   Computer Requirements – Tells you any you need to prepare  common computers

o   Browser Check for Blackboard – Tells you what is OK and not OK (and you need to change) about your current browser

·         If you use Blackboard anywhere (even in WCJC’s computers), you may need this basic Tip: If you are not seeing something in the course that you were shown in class or that you saw on a previous day, you may solve your problem just by changing the browser you are using today. For example, if you were using Firefox, try Chrome or even Internet Explorer.

Getting Started Activities

The Getting Started activities are:

·         Complete your course plan so you (and I) know the grade you plan to earn and exactly what assignments you know you must do to earn that grade

·         Do the Syllabus and Success Assignment form and bring it to class for the Q&A on the due date

·         Take the Departmental Pre-Test to determine how much you already know about this period of history

To help you, you attend a course lab, and the instructor provides a quick demonstration. You log into Blackboard and do the first Learning Quiz (both its Self-Test and its Full-Test) and as many Self-Tests as you can.

Assignments That Help You Learn Efficiently and Prepare for Exams and for Writing Assignments:

How Quizzes Work in This Course for Both Self-Testing and to Earn Full Points

Whether Learning Quizzes or ones on the basics of evidence, quizzes always consist of:

·         A self-test so you find out what you know and you do not know. The name is self-test because you are testing yourself so you know what you need to do.) The goal is positive so no points are lost. Self-Tests are extra credit and have questions that are only worth .01. (A .01 is so small that it is equivalent to a penny compared to a dollar.)
Tip: On the other hand, it is in your interest to answer Self-Tests accurately so measure your own brain accurately for 2 reasons.  

1.       You want to know what you know and do not know so you can work efficiently and correct or complete what you do not know.

2.       If you already know the content in the Self-Test and prove that by being correct on over 80% of the questions on that Self-Test, you earn the points for its Full-Test without taking it.
The instructor enters those points at the end of each Unit after the Learning Quizzes close.

·         Once you submit the self-test, Blackboard automatically displays additional content (if needed) and a Full-Test that has so that you can earn full points while teaching yourself the vocabulary and map locations you do not know. You may repeat as many times as you wish, and your highest score counts.


A Visual to Help You: How a Self-Test and its Full-Test works.

You take a Self-Test

You are right 80% or more of the questions.

Notice what you missed.

You are right 79% or fewer of the questions.

Jot down what you missed—not the whole question but brief words. Tip: You can always go back to look at the Self-Test again.

Blackboard sometimes displays resources, such as dictionary definitions.
If you made more than a 0, Blackboard always displays the Full-Test.

Blackboard sometimes displays resources, such as dictionary definitions. If it does, use Ctrl-F (Find) to search the resources for what you missed. (Ask if you need help.)

If Blackboard does not display the Full-Test, you made a 0 on the Self-Test. Email with your name, class, and the exact name of the Self-Test.

If you want to, you may take the Full-Test.

You take its Full-Test until you understand.

When the Unit tests close,
your instructor enters Full points for you.

Your highest score counts.

You have the Full points
because you already knew it.

You have the Full points
because you taught yourself.





There is an incentive for persisting explained before the List of Due Dates at the end of the syllabus.

Evidence Quizzes as a Key to Understanding Historical Writing and Basics That You Must Apply When You Write

The main purpose of the Evidence Quizzes are to help you recognize the IF and the WHEN below:

·         IF you know or do not know the basic rules for evidence that you need for this class. Tip: If you miss a lot of questions, you do not need to memorize a lot of words to get the right answers on the quiz. Instead, you need to realize that you are going to have to follow instructions carefully because this work is different from your prior work.

·         WHEN you need to check the rules to be sure or—if you are not sure—to ask your instructor for help.

Learning Quizzes as a Key to Understanding Concepts

Learning Quizzes let students focus on concepts, such as the meaning of words, the location and traits of places, and parts of essential documents. Understanding concepts helps you understand accurately the facts you encounter. Questions from these quizzes are also 8 (about a third) exam questions of the 25 questions on each Unit exam.

3 Unit Exams and the Goal of Exam Questions (Questions are easier—and more useful.)

There are 25 questions in sets (so students in the classroom sitting side by side have different questions). Eight of the 25 sets (about a third) in the Unit Exam are pulled from Learning Quizzes so you not only pre-earn points for the quizzes, but you also pre-learn 8 of the 25 unit questions.

The goal of the exam questions determines the remaining seventeen (about two-thirds) of the 25 sets of exam questions. In this class, questions do not require that you show you know everything, but you show that you know something. The questions focus on your recognizing significant traits of such things as regions, time periods and their dominant beliefs or events, and representative historical figures. Tip 1: The best way to recognize and learn these is in the instructor’s Lessons in each Unit, not in turning the pages of the textbook. Tip 2: The best way to use the Lesson links efficiently is to use the Unit’s Study Guide (at the top of each Unit’s folder).

The Syllabus & Success Assignment provides a link with examples of these types of questions.

Departmental Final Exam—F for the Course If Not Taken

There is a review for the Final Exam provided in the course in a folder at the bottom of Learning Modules. The Final Exam has 50 questions, at 2 points each. The questions in the Departmental Final Exam were written directly or chosen by the History Department. Caution: Departmental policy is an F for the course if you do not take the Final. In other words, if you have an A average for all of the prior work in the course and if you do not take the Final Exam, I am required to enter an F for your final Letter grade for the course.

3-Part Writing Assignments:

Your Instructor’s Perspective

Throughout the 3 parts, your instructor is glad to spend time with you to help you. (Caution: do not start the day before the part is due.) Also, if you think I have marked your evidence incorrectly, double check the evidence with your source page and then come see me. If I am wrong and you can show me the evidence, I am glad to change the grade. I try hard to grade your papers with your sources side by side, but everyone can make a mistake.

How All Writing Assignments Work in This Course

Writing assignments are freshman level, brief, and use only the textbook and resources in the course. You focus on a specific historical question as though you were teaching another student. You follow rules for citation provided in the course. Every part of the writing is to be based on the 5 Good Habits for Evidence.  Grading is not about your style or your opinion or your memories—or mine. It requires you practice skills essential to get and keep a good job. 

Location of the Written Work and the Evidence Requirements

Your writing assignments are located in 3-Part Writing and Evidence Requirements in Blackboard. Instructions, the required file you are to use (without changes to format or heading), primaries and any materials you need, and the Turnitin Assignment that you use are there.

To reduce the odds that you work contrary to instructions and fail an assignment, some actions require you do something first. Examples are:

·         You see the first 3-Part Writing only after you complete the instructions in Evidence Requirements.

·         I enter points for your work only after you respond to my feedback following instructions provided in class.

3-Part Writing Assignment – Visual Paper, Revised Paper, and Paper with Additional Content

Doing the 3-Part Writing Assignment with on-campus students is an experiment to try to help students with permission of the History Department. My hope is that it will help many of you a lot.

You are required to keep in a folder (cheap, ugly, orange) that I provide: all of your marked papers and all of your feedback from me. With the 2nd and 3rd Parts, you always return my orange folder not only the new work but the folder with all prior work and all prior feedback. You will be stronger if you should use them to improve, but at least you must keep all of them in the folder or you lose 20% of the grade for your new work.

·         1st Part: For the visual paper, your requirement is to follow a Visual Checklist of how the heading, paragraphing, footnotes, bibliography should look. You also do a first pass at following the instructions to answer the question provided, but on this pass you not worried about your best words but content and citation. You use primaries. The paper and the footnotes must no more than 1 page, with the bibliography on the second.
Feedback: Your marked paper and the marked Visual Checklist (The Visual Checklist has a section where you can respond to feedback.)

·         2nd Part: You use the marked paper and your marked Visual Checklist to determine how you need to work differently. Look at your paper and ask yourself if you met the goal of teaching another student this content—should something come out or be added. Compare your first pass of your paper with the exact page of every citation to make sure are accurate. Revise and proof (double check everything).
Feedback: Your marked paper and the marked Good Habits for Evidence rubric. (The Good Habits for Evidence rubric has a section where you can respond to feedback.)

·         3rd Part: You use the marked paper and your marked Good Habits for Evidence rubric to determine how you need to work differently. If I point out that you are making the same mistake that you made in the 1st Part, then check that carefully as well. See me if you do not understand.  The question, primaries, and content are related to the prior paper, but all are expanded to a larger time period. In other words, you are still teaching another student this content but you will probably have to remove or reduce content that you thought was important before. Before you submit make sure you compare the 3rd Part paper with the feedback on the Visual Checklist and the Good Habits for Evidence rubric that I marked before.
Feedback: Your marked paper and the marked Good Habits for Evidence rubric. (The Good Habits for Evidence rubric has a section where you can respond to feedback.)

Writing Assignments and Requirements about Using in Turnitin in Blackboard

With Turnitin assignments in this class, you:

·         Submit your file to Turnitin in Blackboard. (We do not use Turnitin at a separate website.)

·         May resubmit your file many times until the Due Date. For example, you may submit to Turnitin for feedback on grammar and plagiarism, then correct the file, and resubmit it. Submit early so you can ask questions on such things as what Turnitin has identified in its originality report. Ask if you need help.


In this class, you are submitting two things—the file to Turnitin and the print of the paper to your instructor. You must do these 2 things for your work to be graded.

1.       Submit your file before 11:59 PM on the Due Date.

·         Do not wait until the last minute. The Turnitin settings in this course will automatically close Turnitin at 11:59 PM. Caution: The file is not accepted late.

·         If Turnitin seems to be taking an unusually long time to submit your file, it is usually safest to exit and resubmit.

·         Before you exit, be sure you see what Turnitin says is its digital receipt. You do not turn in the digital receipt. With all software, it is safest to save a “Snippet” of a receipt in case there is a problem. If you need help, ask.

2.       Bring a single-sided print of the paper to your instructor before the seating chart is complete on your next class day after the Due Date in Turnitin. Caution: The print and its folder (once you have that) are not accepted late.

Course Evaluation

Grading Scale:

This is a 1000-point course, with points added as you earn them. You can see your current total in Blackboard.  At the end of each Unit, I post an Announcement in Blackboard to help you determine your current letter grade. If the grade is lower than you want, please ask for help. The Final Letter Grade is determined by this scale:

Point Range

Final Letter Grade

895 – 1000

A (exceptional)

795 – 894

B (above average)

695 – 794

C (average)

595 – 694

D (below average)

Below 595

F (failing)

Grading Formula:

The 1000-point course consists of these points, with the first 2 being general assignments, the middle 4 being objective assignments (gradable by computer or a Scan-Tron), and the last being related written assignments:

·         40 – Getting Started activities (How you start frequently determines your success at the end)

·         90 – Participation and Self-Management to Help Both Objective and Written Work

·         200 – Learning Quizzes

·         300 – 3 Unit Exams @ 100 points each

·         100 – Comprehensive Final Exam– Departmental policy is an F for the course if you do not take it.

·         50 – 4 Quizzes on the basics of evidence in history and preparing for and participating in a Q&A (question-and-answer) session on evidence and on the 1st Part of the 3-Part Writing  (10 points)

·         220—3-part writing assignment to develop your skills by using prior feedback and working with evidence and primaries

Your Course and Incentives for How You Work and Opportunities to Improve a Weak Grade

This course does not offer extra credit at the end of the class to help a few people make a higher grade. It does offer incentives (defined below) to all students for doing things that will make them better students.

·         It offers grading using the 5 Good Habits for Evidence (explained below) which can raise your written work by a letter grade if you just follow those Habits. If you already have the Habits and consistently follow them, your grade will be fine. If you did not have these Habits initially but improve consistently and do follow the Habits by the 3rd assignment, your Good Habits for Evidence points for the 3rd assignment can overwrite the points for the 2nd assignment.

·         It offers incentives for persistence with quizzes.

Caution about the History Department’s Course Objectives and the Requirement for 25% Writing

The History Department has student learner outcomes that require writing based on evidence and that require that you use primaries as well as secondaries. The Syllabus and Success Assignment form you submit provides a link to explain those objectives and the meaning of the terms primary and secondary.

The written work must be over 25 percent of your final grade, a requirement for all history instructors. That minimum means formal writing assignments are essential to pass. For math examples so you can see how that 25% writing requirements makes success in writing essential, use the Syllabus & Success Assignment. To pass, everyone must do all parts of the 3-Part Writing Assignment.

How This Course Tries to Help Different Types of Students Succeed in Writing about History

For many students, a United States history course is the first time they have had to write about something that is real—not just opinion—and therefore requires verifiable evidence from a reliable source. Some students never had United States history before. Some students are very uncomfortable and inexperienced with writing.

Also, history is cognitively like biology: both disciplines are real and both are also detailed, complex, and interconnected. That means you have plenty of ways to be wrong about those realities. Many students seem to have problems with both of these disciplines.

To try to help students with the issues above, this course does four things:

1.       It provides information and quizzes on these basic rules of evidence so you can find out what you do not know about evidence before you write.

2.       The instructor initially reviews your paper using a visual checklist so you can find out if you do not understand an instruction or footnotes or something basic and correct it before your instructor grades the words you wrote.

3.       It uses one rubric for grading of papers and your feedback on that rubric tells you which of the 5 Good Habits for Evidence—which way of working—you may need to change.

4.       With permission of the History Department to do this experiment to try to help students, it divides a grade for a written assignment in two grades:

·         One part of the grade for the content of the written assignment itself

·         One part for following the 5 Good Habits for Evidence (covered at the top of Required Writing and Evidence Requirements).

For a link to showing you how dividing written grades in those two parts can help your grade (and your skills), use the Syllabus & Success Assignment.

How This Course Tries to Help Different Types of Students Persist by Using  Incentives

Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines the word incentive as:

“something that makes a person try or work hard or harder.”

With Learning Quizzes and Evidence Quizzes, you earn 1 incentive point for each quiz if you:

·         Either already knew the content in the Self-Test and were correct on over 80% of the questions on that Self-Test, you earn the points for its Full-Test without taking it.
At the end of each Unit after the Learning Quizzes close, the instructor not only enters the points for the Full-Test but also the 1 point incentive.

·         Or complete both Self-Test and Full-Test parts 3 days before the Unit Exam.
Why Do the Full-Tests? 1) Its Full-Test lets you teach yourself any missed concepts by taking the test as many times as you want and you pre-learn about one-third of the Unit Exam questions. 2) Completing both tests results in the 1 point incentive. 3) That the highest score counts is also an incentive to persist—what Duckworth calls “grit,” something everyone needs.)

For a link to Duckworth’s Ted Talk, use the Syllabus & Success Assignment. She is very impressive.

How This Course Tries to Help Different Types of Students Succeed with Self-Management

Factual accuracy is a key to success with assignments based on evidence, not opinion. Being able to focus on factual accuracy in class requires self-management by the class. To encourage self-management, the seating chart is a way to record distracted or distracting behavior and—the ideal—focused behavior.

If you use the Lesson links and Learning Quizzes before class, your focused participation can help the class dialog as part of the lecture. Good participation is useful to others and means such behaviors as:

1)      No guessing and no use of information other than from the textbook or sources within the course

2)      No answers that are off topic

3)      Asking questions that are on topic (You can always ask general questions at the beginning of class.)

4)      No hogging or bullying (examples available)

5)      No use of electronics, including no attempts to hide them while using them



Each Unit has a Self-Management grade @ 30 points for a total of 90 points (9%) of your final grade. A mark on the seating chart in orange means no points for the Unit. The chart shows the other possible grades.


Letter Grade

What Do You Do to Earn It?

How Is It Measured?

Quantity Required


C++ averaging as a B-

In class, no distracted or distracting behaviors

No orange dots in your seating chart for the Unit.

0 (Absolutely not 1 time during the Unit)


Averages as a mid-B

Does the above and also does focused participation in class dialog within lecture

1 blue dot in your seating chart for the Unit

At least 1 time


Averages as an A-

Does both things above

2 blue dots

At least 2 times



Does both things above

3 or more blue dots

At least 3 times

Course Policies

Class Behavior Policy:

Disruptive behavior that is a consistent problem will result in the student’s dismissal from this course. The term “classroom disruption” means behavior a reasonable person would view as substantially or repeatedly interfering with the conduct, instruction, and education of a class. Examples include resorting to physical threats or personal insults, coming to class under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance other than prescriptions, or abusing students or instructors with offensive remarks. They also include repeatedly leaving and entering the classroom without authorization, making loud or distracting noises, persisting in speaking without being recognized. (See WCJC’s Student Handbook.)

Attendance Policy:

WCJC’s Student Handbook explains responsibilities for attendance and when a student should withdraw from the course. I will consider active attendance throughout the course favorably when computing final grades that are borderline. (Details provided in class.) Active attendance means 3 things: 1) using the upcoming Lesson’s Learning Quizzes before class, 2) using that preparation to participate positively in problem solving in class, 3) taking notes, and 4) removing all distractions. Using a cell phone, smartwatch, computer, or other device during class makes active attendance improbable. Put up all of these devices before class starts. Your self-management in class during each of the 3 Units is measured for a grade. (Covered above.) If you cannot resist using your cell phone—for example—during class, then you will not only lose the points for the Unit, but also before the beginning of the next class you will need to place the device in a safe location provided by the instructor and then pick up your device at the end of class.


·         If you have a family emergency or equivalent event that requires your being able to respond to cell phone messages during a class, then see me before class.

·         If counseling has confirmed that you need to use a computer during class and if you use it only for work going on in this class, then provide their form to me and talk with me privately.

Attendance Policy, Locking of the Door, the Seating Chart, and Days When Papers Are Due

For security reasons, the door will be locked 5 minutes after the beginning of the class and remain locked until the end of class. (I have an alarm set on my phone for 5 minutes after the start of class.)

Attendance will be taken once daily at the beginning of the class. If you come into class after the seating chart is complete but before the door is locked, you are not marked as attending for the day. Students who frequently come to class after the seating chart is complete tend to make very low grades for the course. For example, they miss announcements about topics for the day and they do not hear other students’ questions about upcoming assignments.

With papers, work is due at the beginning of class. For example, if you arrive after the seating chart is complete, you cannot hand in your paper copy of a Turnitin Assignment. Tip: If you cannot come to class or be there before the seating chart is completed, have the printed copy timestamped at the reception area before the class starts. Then follow their instructions for putting the paper in my mailbox. Also email me at before the class telling me to check my mail box.

On the date in the List of Due Dates (at the end of this syllabus), you choose your preferred seat; however, students who chat after class starts will be moved to another seat on the next class day. If this occurs, I will mark the problem on the seating chart and, on the next class day, move you on the seating chart and in the room.

Academic Honesty Policy:

WCJC’s Student Handbook explains student responsibilities and provides examples of misconduct. It states “plagiarism and cheating refer to the use of unauthorized books, notes, or otherwise securing help during a test; copying tests [or] assignments….” The Handbook provides details on college-level policies. In this course, copying any part of an assignment from the Internet or another source is a zero (0) on the assignment.

Six Drop Rule:

Under section 51.907 of the Texas Education Code, “an institution of higher education may not permit a student to drop more than six courses, including any course a transfer student has dropped at another institution of higher education.” This statute was enacted by the State of Texas in spring 2007 and applies to students who enroll in a public institution of higher education as a first-time freshman in fall 2007 or later. There are many exceptions to this rule. Please refer to the current WCJC catalog for information.

Dropping a Course with a Grade of “W:

In the History Department, instructors may not drop students. Students must drop their course. WCJC sets the last date for a student to drop a course. That date is on the second page of this syllabus and on the List of Due Dates at the end.

List of Due Dates (at the end of this syllabus) and Your Responsibilities:

It is your responsibility:

·         To talk to me if you do not know what to do or need help. I am glad to help you, but let me stress this: The earlier we talk, the better your chances of success.

·         To use the List of Due Dates to determine:

·         What Lessons we are covering in the coming week and therefore specific Learning Quizzes you should do

·         What is DUE and when—including preparation that you need to do before class and what you print and bring to class before the seating chart is completed.

·         To understand the Late Work Policy (below) so you can understand the consequences of your decisions.


Late Work Policy:

With due dates for any assignment, including exams and required writing, there are no extensions unless it is appropriate to make an extension available to all of you. You have these responsibilities:

1.       At the beginning of the term, compare all of the Due Dates with your personal schedule. If you cannot do an assignment on a Due Date, tell your instructor immediately and suggest an earlier date. Example: If you previously scheduled a trip on the date of a Unit Exam, suggest an earlier date to do the exam.

2.       If something happens that no one could plan for, such as suddenly becoming very ill (doctor’s note required) or having a death in the family, tell your instructor immediately and provide a valid, written excuse.
What happens depends on whether you have a valid, written excuse for this event:

·         With a valid, written excuse provided immediately, these rules apply.

·         If you miss an exam, your make-up exam is taken on the date of the Final Exam.

·         If you miss one of the 3-Part Writings, you receive an extension, set by me, with no penalty.

·         Without a valid, written excuse, you receive a 0.
Tip: Remember a low grade is better than a 0 so do the assignment as best you can and submit it on time.


Monday, Wednesday, Friday / 12:00 PM-12:50 PM / Richmond 211



I reserve the right to modify the syllabus during the semester.