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Professor Al Smith: Learning Outcomes in History & Social Science: Assignment Basics

A guide to help students navigate successfully through Professor Smith's Assessment Project

Steps for Success

STEP ONE: Pick a theme that engages you.

Think back over the course. What lectures, readings, videos discussions did you find most interesting? Were there events, people, and/or concepts that you found particularly engaging? Why?

SCHOLARSHIP AS CONVERSATION: Scholarship is a conversation that you enter into because you yourself actually have something to say. In the real world you enter into a conversations that you find it genuinely interesting, right? If a conversation is boring, why bother? Your academic world is no different.

RESEARCH AS INQUIRY : Research itself is all about inquiry. By choosing a topic that engages you -- by entering into a conversation that you actually want to be a part of-- it will be easy to ask questions (and find answers) that confirm, expand, and even sometimes challenge what you already know and believe. 

STEP TWO: Find, read, and reflect upon your sources before you start writing.
STEP THREE: Seek out different types of sources  (scholarly journals vs magazines vs. personal narratives)

 A big part of this task is comparing how different authors/sources examine your subject. Accessing and reading all three sources before you being writing is really the only way to carry out such a comparison. By finding different types of sources you will have more to think about in terms of differences. For instance, is the author a historian or a sociologist or a journalist? Is the writing geared toward scholars, or toward a general readership? Does the source provide a broad overview of your topic, or go into detail on some specific aspect? Are their footnotes or a bibliography that points you toward more knowledge on your topic? What seems to be the point of view or bias expressed in the source?

STEP FOUR: Make sure your format conforms to the example Professor Smith has provided.