Spring 2001
Mr. Schwartz

 

 

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HISTORY 255
Spring 2001
Mr. Schwartz

“Freedom is the duty to obey laws that one has helped to make.”

                              --Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (1762)

 

COURSE COMPACT

 

            As members of this course, we agree to constitute ourselves as a learning community devoted to improving, for each and for all, the qualities of historical and critical thinking needed to produce collectively a rich, varied, and well-informed history of France from roughly 1750 to 1870—a history we shall associate chiefly with the Age of Victor Hugo and his epic work, Les Misérables (1862).  To that end we embrace the principles and goals of Participation and Collaboration as set forth below.

 

ˇ        Everyone will attend all classes, team meetings, and required films and will arrive on time.  In the event that attendance is prevented by illness or emergency, the person in question will do her best to give advance notice to the instructor or to her team members, depending upon the situation.

 

ˇ        Everyone will do their best to do the assigned reading before coming to class.

 

ˇ        Everyone will participate in each class and show respect and encouragement for the participation of others.  Participation may take a variety of forms but successful contributions to class and small group discussions include:

 

a)      listening attentively;

b)      raising a question about the topic or issues at hand [this can often clarify a murky point or a misunderstanding];

c)      summarizing the ideas of others to confirm understanding;

d)      providing reasoning or evidence to support an idea mentioned by you or someone else;

e)      suggesting connections between several contributions or previous class or group discussions.

 

ˇ        Everyone agrees to collaborate in several ways:

 

a)      As a member of a Team, to share the responsibility and work involved in producing a multimedia history component and several team presentations in class. In our work together, we agree to rotate through various roles, including convener, reporter, elaborator, and summarizer[1].

b)      As a member of a Project Group, to contribute to the production of a collective web site, composed of interconnected team components. 

c)      As a member of a Network, to exchange ideas of mutual benefit and to identify the interconnections among specific team components so that appropriate hypertext links can be created to enhance our web of historical knowledge and make it more useful to readers.

d)       If interpersonal problems arise, everyone agrees to work to resolve them in a fair and open manner so that cooperation is quickly re-established.

e)      As a member of the course, everyone agrees to cooperate with the Instructor, the Speaking Mentor, and the Teaching Assistants for the purpose of ironing-out problems and facilitating the intellectual and collective progress of all.

 

ˇ        Everyone will strive to achieve an improved understanding of history as a method of inquiry, analysis, and interpretation, key aspects of which include an appreciation of historical change and continuity, the differences in outlook and assumptions held by people in the past, and the insights to be gained by trying to understand the way the world looked to the people we’re studying.  In short, change, continuity, and empathetic understanding—three fundamental elements of historical thinking that your instructor expects you to grasp and demonstrate.

 

ˇ        More broadly, everyone will work to improve our writing, our oral communication, the precision and clarity of our language, and the skills of research, which include:

 

a)      Defining the topic or problem to investigate;

b)      Identifying and collection pertinent information;

c)      Breaking down the information into constituent parts and sorting out the relevant from the less relevant;

d)      Pulling together the parts that reveal common features or a pattern so as to get the Big Picture;

e)      Distilling from a pile of information a meaningful summary of the essentials;

f)        Effectively and succinctly communicating the findings in 3-4 minute oral presentations and written work for our web site.

 

ˇ        Everyone will evaluated as follows for the final course grade:

 

60 percent for individual performance

30 percent for the team’s performance

10 percent for self and peer evaluation (peer evaluations will be done by one’s fellow team members)

 

 

Further, we agree to abide by the following ground rules to maximize our collaborative learning:

 

1. Without exception, all will be treated with courtesy and respect.

 

2. We shall try to stay focused on one topic before moving on to another.

 

3. We shall not “hog the microphone” or interrupt each other, except to ask for clarification.

 

4. We shall express respect and encouragement by listening attentively, building on others’ ideas, appreciating differences in our thinking, and explaining how our ideas—and not our personalities—conflict and differ.

 

5. We shall not distract others by making gestures or carrying on unrelated side conversations.

 

6. We shall try to make our interpretations of course materials and our personal judgments clear, specific, and supported with evidence and sound reasoning.

 

7. We shall do our best to be constructive; if we dislike the readings, we shall not shoot the instructor but explain our reservations or difficulties.

 

 

 

 

Signed________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1]  

ˇ         Convener: opens the meeting and lays out the agenda and the major tasks to be accomplished; helps keep the discussion on target; helps regulate the participation of members, asking for opinions and suggestions from those who haven’t contributed.

ˇ         Reporter: helps define the nature of the task or problem at hand; presents ideas and information related it; and suggests further steps that may need to be taken

ˇ         Elaborator: supports an idea by providing examples or illustrations; extends the meaning or complexity of an idea; helps the group consider how an idea may work or may not.

ˇ         Summarizer: helps bring together ideas and contributions; helps the team understand what it has accomplished and what remains to be done.