Searchable Syllabus for US History I and US History II

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Course Information: 2

Prerequisites: 2

General Education Core Objectives: 2

History Department Student Learner Outcomes: 2

Required Course Materials: 2

Method of Instruction: 2

For US History I, Organization of the Course: 2

For US History II, Organization of the Course: 3

Blackboard and Its Use in This Class: 3

Blackboard and Different Student Situations: 3

Assignments: 3

Getting Started Activities: 3

How Both Learning Quizzes and Evidence Quizzes Work and Can Help You: 3

Learning Quizzes on Concepts and Map Locations: 4

3 Unit Exams and the Course Goal of Exam Questions Being Useful for Your Life: 4

Departmental Final Exam—F for the Course If Not Taken: 4

3-Part Writing Assignments: 4

Course Evaluation: 6

Grading Scale: 6

Grading Formula: 6

Caution about the History Department’s Course Objectives and the Requirement for 25% Writing: 6

Your Course and Incentives for How You Work and Opportunities to Become Stronger: 7

Helping Varied Students Succeed with Self-Management and Participation. 7

Course Policies: 8

Class Behavior Policy: 8

Attendance Policy: 8

Attendance Policy, Locking of the Door, the Seating Chart, and Days When Papers Are Due: 9

Academic Honesty Policy: 9

Six Drop Rule: 9

Dropping a Course with a Grade of “W: 9

List of Due Dates (at the end of this syllabus) and Your Responsibilities: 9

Late Work Policy: 10

Course Information:


TSI satisfied in Reading and Writing

General Education Core Objectives:

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.

Tip: 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 tries to help students with varied backgrounds so everyone can succeed. You test your own knowledge of basic concepts and map locations and of the basics of evidence for history (and jobs). If you already know the content, you earn full points. If you do not, you use quizzes to teach yourself—and you then earn full points. Each unit provides online lessons. The History Department requires that 25 per cent of graded work consists of writing and that you use primaries (documents written during the period covered by the question). Except for the textbook, the Blackboard course provides everything you need to do the writing.

For US History I, Organization of the Course:

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:


For US History II, Organization of the Course:

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 required resources (such as each Unit’s study guide and Lessons) and required primary sources (sources created during the period we are studying) and, if needed, optional resources (such as maps and links)
  2. Taking required Learning Quizzes (on concepts and maps) and Evidence Quizzes (on the basics of evidence)
  3. Submitting written assignments to Turnitin. Caution: You must be in Blackboard to submit.
  4. 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. 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 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 & Success Assignment 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, the instructor provides a quick demonstration of how Blackboard works. You may either come to a computer lab where you can get help or log into Blackboard and do the work on your own. The instructions tell you what to do in either location

How Both Learning Quizzes and Evidence Quizzes Work and Can Help You:

Whether Learning Quizzes (concepts and map locations) or Evidence Quizzes (basics of evidence), quizzes 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 weaknesses.

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.

Tips: The Syllabus & Success Assignment provides a visual of how Self-Tests and Full-Tests work and also provides a link to how knowing what you know and do not know can support more successful thinking (“metacognition”).

Learning Quizzes on Concepts and Map Locations:

Learning Quizzes are 20% of the course. You must take them to pass. Eight of the 25 sets (about a third) in the Unit Exam are from Learning Quizzes so you both pre-earn points for the quizzes and pre-learn 8 of the 25 unit questions.

3 Unit Exams and the Course Goal of Exam Questions Being Useful for Your Life:

There are 25 questions in sets (so students in the classroom sitting side by side have different questions). In addition to the 8 questions from the Learning Quizzes, there are 17 from the Study Guide (and class lectures). The goal of the exam questions determines those 17 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. Tips:

·         The best way to recognize and learn these things is in your instructor’s Lessons in each Unit, not in a textbook.

·         The best way to use the Lessons efficiently is to use them with the Unit’s Study Guide (top of each Unit’s folder).

·         The Lessons are like a textbook that has bullets and that you can search. Example: if you need more about something in the Study Guide about Lesson 2, click on that Lesson, press Ctrl-F (for Find), and type a key word in the Find box. Click through all uses of that word in that Lesson.

Tip: The Syllabus & Success Assignment in Getting Started 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:

2 Ways Your 3-Part Writing Can Help You

With permission of the History Department, you do not have to know all of this at the beginning but by the end. For example, if you did not follow all of the basic 5 rules for evidence on the 1st Part but did by the 3rd Part, the grade for the 3rd Part replaces the 1st Part. Tip: The Syllabus & Success Assignment provides a visual of how this works.

To help you learn efficiently, the 3-Part Writing also lets you look at related content (what you have to learn) and use the same focus on evidence (what you have to do with evidence) in 3 assignments:

·         1st Part on the Basics of Evidence (with your creating your own cheatsheet for how to do footnotes and doing a hand-written, very brief in-class writing using content from the textbook to show that you can cite).

·         2nd Part on the Basics of Footnotes (with your doing footnotes and all formatting issues in a file that you submit in Turnitin and will later use to complete the 3rd Part writing).

·         3rd Part on Bringing It All Together (with your writing a short paper using the textbook and primaries provided in the Blackboard course and submitting it to Turnitin).

How 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. 5 very basic rules for evidence—rules essential not just for history but keeping a job. 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.

How Evidence Quizzes Help You Succeed with Writing Assignments

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 many 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 must 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.

Location of Your Work and Why You Have to Act Before You See All the Content

Instructions and everything you need for the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Part of the writing are in the folder:
Evidence Quizzes & 3-Part Writing.

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

·         You see the 2nd Part only after you complete the required Quizzes.

·         You see points entered for work only after you respond to my feedback following instructions provided in class.

3-Part Writing Assignment and the Orange Folder Used to Hold Your Work and Your Instructor’s Feedback

I “lend” you a folder (cheap, ugly, orange) for all of your marked papers and all of your feedback from me. With the 2nd and 3rd Parts, you always return my orange folder with not only the new work but also 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. I cannot grade without those prior papers and they must be there for part of your points.

2nd Part and the 3rd Part and the 2 Items to Submit (Turnitin and of Your Paper) On-Time:

With both the 2nd Part and the 3rd Part, you use Turnitin. With Turnitin in this class, you:

·         Submit your file to Turnitin in Blackboard. (The History Department does 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 and you know how long it takes you to submit with your Internet and computer.


With the 2nd and 3rd Part, 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.

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 –Self-Management and Participation to help you

·         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.

·           40 – 4 Quizzes on the basics of evidence in history 

·         230 – 3-part writing to develop your skills by using prior feedback and working with evidence and primaries

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. Tip: The Syllabus & Success Assignment that 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. Tip: 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 try to do the 3-Part Writing Assignment.

Your Course and Incentives for How You Work and Opportunities to Become Stronger:

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) and opportunities to all students for doing things that will make them better students.

Helping Varied Students Persist by Using Incentives with Quizzes

Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines the word incentive as “something that makes a person try or work hard or harder.” With quizzes, you earn 1 point for each quiz if by the date in the announcement 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 enters the points for the Full-Test.)

·         Or did not make 80% or more on the Self-Test, but were correct on over 80% of the questions on the Full-Test.
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 the highest score counts. 2) Completing either Self-Test or Full-Test to over 80% 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.)
Tip: For a link to Duckworth’s Ted Talk, use the Syllabus & Success Assignment. She is very impressive. You can also see a visual showing how Self-Tests and Full-Tests work.

Helping Varied Students Succeed in Writing about History

For many students, a United States history course is the first time they must 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. Others are very uncomfortable and inexperienced with writing. 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 parts:

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

·         One part for following the 5 Good Habits for Evidence (provided at the top Evidence Quizzes & 3-Part Writing

Tip: 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.

The course also offers the 3-Part Writing Assignment which not only use the 5 Good Habits for Evidence for 3 related assignments but also uses the same content. 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 successfully follow the Habits by the 3rd assignment, your Good Habits for Evidence points for the 3rd assignment can overwrite the points for the earlier assignment.

Helping Varied Students Succeed with Self-Management and Participation

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 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 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 repeated behavior means 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. Exceptions:

·         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.) If you need to leave the classroom:

·         Before it ends, pack your things quietly and leave quietly and quickly.

·         Before it ends and you want to stay in the class until you have to leave, talk with me before class. If possible, I place you near the door to make your leaving less disruptive.


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. 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 class starts. Then follow their instructions for putting the paper in my mailbox and 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 (below).

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. The earlier we talk, the better your chances of success.

·         To use the List of Due Dates to determine 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. (For when you should do Learning Quizzes for specific Lessons in a Unit, see the Announcement in Blackboard.)

·         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.

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