1.  Syllabus & Success – What you do

This covers things that can help avoid problems and gain success. It is not meant to be negative, but to encourage you to be “intentional” about decisions so you succeed. Success is possible but it—in my experience—has to be “intentional” and thinking about Risk and Reward has saved me many times.


Students fail not because they are incompetent but because they do not understand:

·         That college is different from high school – The rules are different and the risk shifts to the student. (With each of these bullets I am trying to make sure you understand because I want you to be OK.)

·         That history is different from other classes—The History Department has rules that all history instructors must follow. I believe in these rules and support them, but you have to know about them to succeed.

·         That this history class is different from other classes—I have done things to try to help different kinds of students both learn what the History Department requires AND be able to earn a decent grade. The differences are to help you.


So what do you do? Make your life easy and joyful. Do these 3 things seriously.

1.     Use this web link. Read every section and every row.

·         If you do not understand, click on the link in the row.

·         If it says to search your syllabus, it is easy. Control F (Ctrl-F) is a wonderful key. Click on the syllabus. Copy the search word or phrase from this link and paste it in the Find box. (Some words show up multiple times, but you can click on the Find box to see all of them.)

2.     If you have questions, ask. The Discussion named 2. Syllabus & Success Discussion is just below this link. If you do not have a question, you might want to look to see if others do. Answer if you know.

3.     When you are done, click on the assignment named 3. Syllabus & Success Assignment.  You download the small file and state you agree and then submit it to the Assignment. Do not just get it done. Do you can have a higher grade and less misery, OK?



To repeat, success is possible but it has to be “intentional” and thinking through Risk and Reward has saved me many times.

The Risk-Reward Continuum (As Taught by an Old Prof of Mine)

Balancing Risk and Reward  (Click here for the 5 Big Rewards of College, including joy)


What I say in an on-campus class: I was taught the importance of thinking about Risk-Reward from my dad and from several profs when I was your age. I ask the people in the classroom the meanings of the words Risk and of Reward. If you do not know either one, click on https://www.merriam-webster.com/


I then try to stress that I am not trying to be negative but get you all to notice the risk in college today shown in all those rows in Section 1.  I use the example if you had to finish a major paper and a buddy called for a beer (or ice cream) and you decided not to do the paper and go out. You need to make yourself notice the risks and they are hard to see. Section 1 tries to help you see them.


I then go over these briefly and try to get questions if there are any.


If you have questions, ask in the Syllabus & Success Discussion or talk to me in person or by phone.


Section 1. Risk & Reward: What does WCJC’s Orientation for Students Say?

Make sure you click the links if you are not positive that you understand every row.


“Estimate 2 -3 hours of study time outside of each classroom hour (more may be needed for certain classes).” Example: if you are taking 12 credit hours each week, you need to spend 24 (12 X 2) hours in study. That means 12 + 24 = 36 per week on college.  If you need 3 hours of study, 12 +36 = 48.  For the source, click here.


“The more hours you work, the less classes you may want to take.” Example: if you are taking 12 credit hours each week, the “Maximum Hours Outside Employment” is “20-hours/week or less.” For the source, click here.
Adding your 12 credit hours each week + 24 hours in study + 20 of “outside employment” = 56 hours a week


“NOTE: You must maintain 15 credit hours every semester (or attend in the summer) in order to complete an Associate’s degree within two years.” For the source, click here.


“Do not take more than you can be successful in or you will risk lowering your GPA or losing financial aid. Manage your time wisely.” For source, click here.


College and high school are different in many ways, including who pays for it and who manages your time. “High School is mandatory and free.” “College is voluntary and you pay for it.” In high school, “your time is structured by others”; in college, you manage your own time.” For the source, click here and look at the 1st table.


‘You can graduate only if your final average for all classes is at least a 2.0 or C. Next semester registration or transferring to a university may be prevented if your grade point average (GPA) is below a 2.0. Classes with a grade of D often won't transfer.” For the source, click here and look at the bottom of the last table.


Student loans (FYI: Bankruptcy is not an easy solution.) For a Department of Education source, click here.


Six Drop Rule – a Texas requirement about the maximum number of drops.       Syllabus Search Word: Six

URL for 1st 4 rows: http://www.cjbibus.com/College_orientation_hours_taken_of_study_of_outside_work.PNG)

URL for 5th -6th row: http://www.cjbibus.com/College_orientation_differences_high_school_and_college_4tables.htm

URL for 7th row: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/bankruptcy



What I say in class: I stress that I have done what I have done so you can earn 240 points with no risk. And I have set up things to reduce your risk and to mentor you (next page).

I have permission of the department to do these experiments to help you:

  • They do no harm to those who already know the history and require no busy work from them
  • They match the research in what should be able to help you.



Section 2: No Risk on 240 Points and Lowered Risk on 430 Points

Although there are points with No Risk and Lowered Risk, you will need “Grit,” Good Habits, and Self-Management.

Make sure you click the links if you are not positive that you understand every row.


You can pre-earn 240 points—200 with Learning Quizzes on history concepts and 40 Evidence Quizzes. If you just click, it will not make a big difference in your life, but, if you try to understand, it can.
Syllabus Search Words: pre-earn and incentive.  Click here for a visual showing how Self-Tests work


You can pre-learn about 30% of the Exam questions (3 exams at 100 points each). Click here for a definition of concepts and 2 examples.  Syllabus Search Word: pre-learn


You have useful exam questions to help you understand history as whole rather than repeat bits of stories. 

Syllabus Search Word: Goal of Exam Questions Click here for the type of questions on the exams.


You have a review for the Final Exam. Syllabus Search Word: Final Exam


Learning Discussions – 30 points (20 for the discussion and 10 as an incentive) for each Unit or 90 of the total 1000 points (nearly 10% of your grade) Directions for the assignment, examples, and how to use what Blackboard calls a “moderated” discussion are in the 1st post for each of these discussions.

Syllabus Search Word: the phrase With the 3 Learning Discussions


Thinkers who may help you think about success with grit and with 5 abilities to think well:

·         What’s “grit”?: Click on this video of a Ted Talk by Angela Duckworth (URL: https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverance)

·         "Teach Students How to Learn: Metacognition is the Key!" by Saundra McGuire. Click here for 5 abilities you need to think well, with the last being “know what you know and know what you don’t know


Section 3: Before We Look at the Writing Part of History Classes and the Writing Part of Your Grade

Make sure you click the links if you are not positive that you understand every row.


“Why Historical Thinking Matters”-Click on this “interactive presentation where Professor Sam Wineburg discusses how historians investigate what happened in the past.” (URL: http://historicalthinkingmatters.org/why/) Wineburg researches how thinking works.

He explains what history is:  Boring names, facts, dates - this is history for a lot of people. But historians think about history differently. They see themselves as detectives, often unsure about what happened, what it means, and rarely able to agree amongst themselves. This process of trying to figure out things you don't already know is as different from mindless memorization as you can get.”


Figuring out things is the hard part of writing (and earning a living). For example, over 60% of students since 2011 usually did not know basics such as being factually accurate when writing about real things until this course. Click here to see what past students said they did not know before. 


Section 4: What Is the History Department Supposed to Help You Accomplish? History is a “gateway course,” not a gatekeeper.

Make sure you click the links if you are not positive that you understand every row.


Student Learner Outcomes for the History Department – including requiring that students use primaries and “historical evidence” and they analyze (not just repeat). Click here for details about those terms.

Syllabus Search Word: Outcomes                         


The Department requires that instructors’ courses consist of a minimum of 25% written assignments. With 25% specific written work, you must do some written assignments—or—only want a C for the course and always make 100% on each objective assignment (a risky plan).

Syllabus Search Word: 25 percent                    If you don’t understand, click here to see examples of the math


Section 5: What Your History Instructor Is Trying to Do to Help Varied Students Succeed at Accomplishing History Requirements

Make sure you click the links if you are not positive that you understand every row.


College and high school are different in many ways, including in how teaching works and office hours as times instructors want students to come, and what passing is. For the source, click here.


Heading in the Syllabus: How This Course Tries to Help Different Types of Students Succeed in Writing about History—an experiment to help students    Syllabus Search Word:  Writing about History

Click here for how the separate Good Habits for Evidence grade can raise your grade a letter and help you practice skills you need. What are the 5 Good Habits for Evidence? Click here for Practical Examples How the World Would Not Pay You If You Do Not Have These Basic Habits.


Heading in the Syllabus: 3-Part Writing Assignments—another experiment to help students 
Syllabus Search Phrase:  A
3-Part Writing Assignment  - You will need the A to go to the right place.


Section 6: Policies can be restrictions, but they are also guidance on how to succeed.

Make sure you click the links if you are not positive that you understand every row.


Academic Honesty Policy. Syllabus Search Word: Honesty - copying any part of an assignment from the Internet or another source is a zero (0) on the assignment.


Attendance Policy

Syllabus Search Word: Attendance


Class Behavior Policy
Syllabus Search Word: Behavior


Dropping a Course with a Grade of “W” – including how instructors in the History Department cannot drop students. Syllabus Search Word: Dropping


Late Work Policy – including no make-ups and having to have valid written excuses (such as a doctor’s note) Syllabus Search Phrase Late Work Policy - Caution: Make-ups are on the date of the Final Exam.
With no written excuse, the score is 0. In this class, late is not a choice: do your best and submit on time (even if it is 11:59 PM).


If there is a problem with a grade or with anything incomplete about an assignment, your instructor enters 1.11 as a temporary placeholder for the grade and posts a comment with that grade telling you what you need to do. You must check Blackboard for your grades.

Syllabus Search Word: 1.11 - It shows up in 2 places.

What Are the 5 Big Rewards of College?

Section 1 on page 1 is full of the risks of college—but only if you do not make your work “intentional” and plan for it. But what are the rewards of college?


1.     Some employers require specific courses or programs for specific jobs.


2.     Some employers want to know that you have been able to teach yourself enough to pass college courses.

Think of it this way. If you were paying someone money for work, you would want proof that person had all of these traits that you will be practicing if you do the work in Section 2:

·         “Grit”

·         Good Habits

·         Self-Management

3.     With a history course requiring primaries and evidence, you can gain from mentored practice in figuring something out. (See the phrase with Wineburg in Section 3.)

Mentor: “a trusted counselor or guide                                        https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mentor


Practice in figuring something out matters for your success:

·         To be able to figure something out is a survival skill now that you are the manager of your own life.

·         To be able to figure something out is a skill employers will pay for—and employers will keep you in a job when they have to layoff others.

·         To figure something out is to experience joy. If you have not had that feeling yet, it is time to try it.

4.     College provides the general knowledge to protect your future.

The required courses for a freshman program are based on the establishment of a curriculum called the liberal arts. Notice the meaning. You want to be a free person.

Meaning of liberal arts in "[1745-1755; trans. of L artes liberals - works befitting a free man]” [bold mine -  in other words, for a person who was not a slave or serf.]


Note: in the late 1700s (think about that famous date of 1776) 3/4s of world population was in servitude (slavery or serfdom). Only 1/4 profited from their own labor--and learning. 


Root word of liberal: "1325-75; ME < L liberalis of freedom; befitting the free, equiv. to liber free + alis A]


“liberalis of freedom, befitting the free”                                          From  Merriam Webster ‘s Unabridged Dictionary.


5.     As part of your college experience, history can help you because it is the vocabulary of our nation. As Wineburg says, history is not “boring names, facts, dates.” Instead, history introduces you to the basics of:

·         Demographics

·         Economics

·         Government

·         Knowledge, including science, technology, culture, arts, and how we transfer knowledge to the next generation

·         Religion

·         Sociology

The more you learn, the more you can learn.   Click here for vocabulary and the “Mathew effect” on learning.

FYI: When I say the word college, I do not just mean a 4-year degree. In this economy and for you as an individual any of these paths could be fine: