History Department Response to Student Feedback
HSTY6989 - National Socialist Extermination Policies (2005)
Unit Coordinator: Dr Dirk Moses
This unit received a 100% satisfaction rating, and all the students said that the teaching helped them learn effectively, even though half to of them felt the workload was too high. In their written comments on this final point, one wrote: "[The workload is] too high, but I wouldn't have it any other way." Another student agreed that "There was a lot of reading, but this is to be expected of a postgraduate unit." I have no plans to change the amount of reading.
Students made some interesting suggestions:
"The amount of current and challenging scholarship was excellent and engaging. My only suggestion would perhaps be some 'guiding questions' to help navigate some of the more difficult and dense texts. Also having to 'present' at least once a semester, while nerve wracking, is also useful."
I put the question of presentations to the seminar in the first meeting, and it was decided not to have them. I will proceed in this democratic manner in the future. Those who want to make a presentation may do so, of course. In relation to guiding questions, I am reluctant to lay out the historiographical complexities in the unit outline. Part of the skill of reading with postgraduates in particular is for them to elicit the central questions of each text on their own. The point of the subsequent seminar discussion is to clarify and augment individually-won acts of analysis and synthesis.
Other students seemed happy with the approach. One wrote, "This is an excellent unit and I am very happy with the way things have workd. It would be difficult to improve on this unit for future students. Dirk has a commendable attitude to research and teaching." Another reported, "Overall, this is a highly useful and informative course, dealing sensitively and intimately with very challenging subject matter. It is important that it remain part of teriary study options at USyd." Similary, one student concluded, "Excellent, demanding and rigorous unit which led to a great sense of understanding and achievement at its conclusion."