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What to expect from History courses in Fall 2020

The Department of History has been working hard this summer to reinvent its curriculum in a form that offers students an engaging and enhanced learning experience, while respecting the challenges and constraints of the COVID era. Our courses this fall will employ a variety of approaches and technologies to ensure that students receive the engagement and support they need in order to succeed.

In particular, introductory courses are being led by some of our most experienced and successful faculty, several of whom have won awards for their teaching. These instructors have been striving for many years to make our large-lecture courses as engaging to all students as possible, and many of the pedagogical techniques they have developed can be readily adapted to an online or hybrid format. While the details will differ from instructor to instructor, all lecture courses will offer students a stimulating learning environment with opportunities for interaction, discussion, and individual attention. Some classes will be offered synchronously, closely replicating the traditional classroom environment, with in-class exercises, and frequent opportunities to ask questions. Other instructors plan to offer a "flipped classroom," where students view recorded lectures in advance and meet in-person or online during discussion-section hours to review and discuss lectures and readings with highly-trained TAs (and at times the supervising professor as well), and engage in activities that reinforce concepts.

All sections of our large, multi-section 100-level courses (whether these are labeled in the course catalogue as “in-person,” “hybrid” – i.e. some mix of in-person and online – or all online) cover the same material, and are designed to address the same learning outcomes. TA-led discussion sections are closely coordinated by the supervising professor, who meets regularly with TAs to ensure a common approach to daily and weekly instruction, and a common approach to the assessment of assignments that are the same across all sections of a given course. In other words, while teaching modalities will vary somewhat within and between 100-level lectures and recitation sections, instruction will be coordinated in ways that help ensure student success across all modalities.

Recognizing that students' needs for personalized support may be greater than usual this fall, all our multi-section 100-level courses will offer students opportunities to Zoom in for synchronous office hours on a weekly basis. TA support will be continuous and ongoing, and supervising professors will coordinate and add to that support.

In summary, all of us in the Department of History will strive to be more available than ever to our students, and to continue to earn our reputation as a department that provides instruction and student support of the highest quality.