History Department Response to Student Feedback
HSTY1045 - Modern European History (2009)
Unit Coordinator: Professor Robert Aldrich
This was a large unit (with an enrolment of 335), the aim of which is to give an introduction to European history from the Enlightenment to the First World War and to provide the skills to carry out historical research using a variety of sources (primary documents, secondary works, maps, creative literature, images, etc.).
The unit consisted of two lectures, plus a skills-based tutorial, and the assessments of a 500 word short piece of writing early in the semester, a 2000 word essay, and a two-hour exam (plus tutorial participation). PowerPoints were used to illustrate the lectures; the audio lectures were recorded and placed, along with a brief outline of each lecture, on a Sydney eLearning site. 61% of students in the unit received a result of Credit or above.
Students’ overall appraisal of the unit was rewardingly high – 4.03 out of 5.00, and the unit scored above average in all areas, especially in students’ estimation that it ‘helped me to learn effectively’.
In qualitative terms, one student wrote on the USE form: ‘Good subject. Good teacher. Good material. That’s a winning combination’. Another wrote: ‘I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures. I thought they encapsulated the broad material well so that when entering tutorials and doing the readings my understanding was bettered and I had a sound background knowledge’. ‘Even though I have studied lots of history at high school, I still found the skills and content original and interesting’, yet another student remarked.
As a introductory unit covering number of countries, themes and periods, HSTY 1045 presents a ‘big picture’, and this is reflected in the amount of reading and the very breadth of the subject, which some students found challenging. But students also appreciated being given a choice of more than 40 questions for their research essays. (‘The wide choice of essay topics was fantastic – choosing a topic myself allowed me to research something I was really interested in’.) Although tutorials were large – the SOPHI standard is 25 students per tutorial – most students found them helpful, and complimented the skill and dedication of the tutors.
This unit is taught every year, though with different lecturers and tutors, so the focus and content do vary slightly from year to year.