History Department Response to Student Feedback
HSTY2067 - U.S. Imperialism in the 20th Century? (2005)
Unit Coordinator: Dr Clare Corbould
I always expected that this course would generate strong opinions. A few students mentioned in their surveys that they would like to see more focus on economic, political and social history. In future I will make sure that it is very clear that the course focuses on cultures of United States imperialism.
92% of students agreed or strongly agreed with the proposition "Overall I was satisfied with the quality of this unit of study." Only 3.3% disagreed or strongly disagreed. Some said:
- "Definitely offer this course again, it was ace."
- "Fantastic, interesting, and informative course!"
- "This course needs to stay!"
- "This always felt relaxed and conducive to learning, while being intellectually rigorous. I will recommend it to others."
Several students said explicitly that it was the best unit that they had taken at university. For example:
"Best history course I have done in six semesters. Clare is a great lecturer and made things interesting."
Generally students were very positive about the lectures, particularly the use of powerpoint, images, film and music.
- "Clare is an excellent lecturer and her lectures are consistently interesting and informative."
- "Course content was good and extremely relevant and Clare is a brilliant, questioning lecturer."
- "…the lectures were awesome."
Other students said that the lectures covered too much ground and failed to link the detail to the broader themes of the course. I will endeavour to make these links more clearly in future.
"The website was an excellent resource." http://teaching.arts.usyd.edu.au/history/hsty2067
There were mixed responses on tutorials. While some students said that in this unit, they felt more than in any other part of a group committed to learning, others found the discussions too diffuse. There will be more pointed tutorial questions and clearer guidelines for short presentations in the future.
Many students stated that the readings set for tutorials were too long. In future I will reduce the length of the set reading. I will also place more emphasis on the analysis of primary sources in tutorials, in order to match that in the lectures and assessment tasks and because the tutorials in which we talked about primary sources seemed to work the best.
Many students enjoyed picking their own essay topic, finding primary sources to use and formulating a question to answer. They also appreciated the feedback on the essay proposal, due in Week Five, and the opportunity to spend several weeks researching a single topic. Others found it difficult to come up with an appropriate topic and question so early in the course, and felt that they strayed too far from the course’s themes. In future I will either write essay questions or provide clearer direction on how to develop a research proposal that coheres with the aims of the course.
Students would like to receive their essays back before the final lecture, so that they have time to reflect on the comments before sitting their exam. Ideally I would like to return them earlier but the demands of the 13 week semester make this difficult to achieve. I have to balance the demand for a long research essay (3000 words), which should be due as late as possible in order to enable students to have a better understanding of the subject area, with the need to return the essay prior to the exam. In future I will try to get the essays back earlier so as to leave at least a few days before the exam.