History Department Response to Student Feedback
HSTY2034: A History of the United States to 1865 (2003)
Unit Coordinator: Dr Frances Clarke
The majority of students who participated in this unit of study expressed satisfaction with the unit’s overall structure and content (with only 1% of students expressing dissatisfaction).
A large number of students noted that they “thoroughly enjoyed the course,” or that it was their “favourite course this semester.” Others said that the unit had provided them with “a good understanding of the history of a major world power.” I will definitely strive to maintain this high level of student satisfaction in future.
There were, however, a number of areas in which students thought this unit could be improved. A minority of students noted that the “tutorial readings were too long.”
On the whole, I think the number and length of the tutorial readings were fair, although I intend to cut back on several of the longer readings as well as setting shorter readings for weeks when assignments are due in response to this feedback.
More importantly, at least half a dozen students stated that this unit of study covered too much material. The next time I teach the unit I intend to focus more closely next semester on a set of themes that run through the entire period we study, so that students feel less compelled to remember dates and events.
I also plan to post timelines on a website for each week so students can focus their attention on these themes and still have a list of major events to orient them in the period.
Given that several students also suggested that it would be helpful if lecture outlines could be provided at least 24 hours prior to the lectures, I will also do this next semester.
The final area of student concern was the nature of the first assignment, which I intend to remedy by offering a completely different assignment next year.
On the other hand, many students said that their favourite part of this unit was the final assignment, which involved working closely with primary sources and conducting independent research. I intend to modify this assignment to provide a wider range of topics, but leave the nature of the assignment unchanged.