History Department Response to Student Feedback
HSTY1045 - Modern European History (2007)
Unit Coordinator: Professor Robert Aldrich
This unit provides an introduction to the study of modern European history, looks at the major political, social, economic and cultural developments from the Enlightenment to the First World War, and highlights various issues of interpretation. The tutorials and assessments aim to develop students’ skills at university work, particularly independent research, analysis and communication. The assessments include several tutorial assignments, a short paper and a research essay, as well as an exam.
In 2007, the class included 350 students. Professor Aldrich gave the lectures and the tutorials were taken by Ms Elizabeth Roberts (who was also the tutorial coordinator), Ms Julie McIntyre, Ms Briony Neilson and Dr Burkhard Jaehnicke.
Student response to the unit was extremely positive, as shown by the ratings to the following statements out of maximum of 5.0:
- The learning outcomes and expected standards of this unit were clear to me: 4.29.
- This unit helped me develop valuable graduate attributes: 4.00.
- I can see the relevance of this unit of study to my degree: 4.57.
- It was clear that the staff were responsive to student feedback: 4.29.
- This unit encouraged/stimulated my thinking and helped to develop an enhanced diversity of ideas, attitudes and approaches to and beyond the subject matter: 4.57.
- Overall I was satisfied with the quality of this unit of study: 4.14.
Some students did feel that the reading was too extensive, though others remarked that it was interesting and useful. The breadth of material covered also posed a challenge to some students.
For the first time in 2007, the recorded lectures and the lecture outlines for HSTY 1045 were placed on the web, and this proved popular with students. Another innovation was the use of PowerPoint illustrations for almost all lectures. Yet another change was that the tutorials were completely redesigned as skills-based workshops: how to read history, how to write an essay, how to do research, how to use such materials as maps, illustrations and creative literature.
This unit is taught each year and forms the introductory unit for further studies in modern European history.
Some USE comments from students in 2007:
- ‘I think [it] is very important to learn about History [to] tell us where we are and how we got there.’
- ‘The lectures were really good and easy to follow and the tutorials continued to expand my knowledge. My final essay made me begin to develop research & inquiry skills. The tutorials began to develop in me communication skills as I grew in confidence when talking within them. The form of an essay for both the assessments allowed me to show what I had understood from the lectures combined with my own research. [The staff] were happy to stay and listen to students and they really did seem to try and help us whenever they could.’
- ‘The assessment allowed us to choose an area in history that we were interested in, allowing us to research it and demonstrate what we knew on the topic in our essay.’
- ‘I really enjoyed this course and our lectures were always the highlight of my week.’
- ‘Support sources were available at all times. Robert Aldrich was fantastic as were the tutors. The research skills are invaluable not only for history, but for all other subjects as well.’
- ‘The teaching standard of this course was very high. This course was substantially the best structured and organised course I have attended this semester. This structure helped me to understand the content. The teachers (tutor/lecturer) were also the best I have had at university.’
- ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed this unit of study. I would highly recommend it to any future history students. I hope to continue in my studies of history.’
- ‘It was diverse, dynamic and challenged previous ideas we had about certain historical events and provided a good basis for the examination of other periods in history and future events.’
- ‘It definitely challenged me and developed my thinking.’
- ‘Definitely learned great research skills and inquiry skills.’
- ‘The unit is a building block that provides a general overview of the era discussed that allows more detailed exploration in later units of study.’
- ‘The essay made me realise I do actually know things! The tutorials were great and really helped me to understand the concepts. The essays and assessments were always returned when the staff said they would be. It was a great unit and I can’t wait to study more history!’
- ‘Awesome course, cheers.’