History Practicum

“Approaching today’s problems through

a study of the past is one way to ensure

 that we do not become trapped within

the limits of our own experience.”

Stansfield Turner




The Chicago Manual of Style (available through Simpson library on line, though you might want to purchase your own hard copy through Amazon.), plus materials located through Simpson Library databases and on Canvas.




            HIST 298 is part two of the required research-methods sequence for history majors.  In it students learn how historians conduct thorough research and clearly communicate their findings.


            In HIST 298 students practice the essential skills of historians as they undertake the research and writing of a history research paper and its related projects.  Building off of HIST 297 (History Colloquium), HIST 298 is a “starter course” designed to continue preparing students for the research, writing, and thinking required in upper-division history courses. Logically, therefore, emphasis is on the learning process: in research, writing, and speaking.

Students in HIST 298 learn about, discuss, and complete assignments that build and fine-tune skills in


  • critical and effective reading of historical sources
  • finding and using written and non-written sources as historical evidence
  • locating, evaluating, and working with digital sources
  • solving problems in interpretation of evidence
  • using sources precisely and effectively
  • avoiding plagiarism
  • using proper format and documentation
  • presenting findings in different types of writing, in discussions, and in oral presentations of various lengths and focuses

The semester research project—which culminates in a paper highlighting primary sources, a digital-based project, and a ten-minute formal presentation—involves


  • selecting a topic
  • proposing a focused project
  • locating and clarifying relevant secondary literature
  • finding and analyzing relevant primary and digital sources
  • presenting conclusions

Students accomplish these tasks through the use of class discussions, drafts, peer reviews, out-of-class meetings, and rewrites, taking advantage of the aid provided by Simpson librarians, DTLT experts, classmates, the Writing and Speaking Centers, and the history faculty.





  • Understanding of the discipline’s methods and processes
  • Ability to synthesize research findings
  • Ability to utilize technological resources in research, data analysis and presentations
  • Ability to define a project of investigative study and write a project proposal, literature review and research paper
  • Ability to make discipline-specific oral presentations to groups



Writing Intensive Goals and Objectives

  • satisfactory knowledge of the varying strategies to convey arguments, main ideas and support/evidence.
  • satisfactory knowledge of the varying patterns of composition organization and development.
  • satisfactory knowledge of the audience, the role of the writer, and rhetorical strategies.
  • satisfactory knowledge of writing conventions and correctness.

Speaking Intensive Goals and Objectives


  • understand and be able to explain the conventions and expectations of oral communication as practiced within the discipline of history.
  • apply theories and strategies for crafting messages (verbal, nonverbal, and visual) for particular audiences and purposes.
  • craft oral messages after a conscious process in which various options are reviewed and be able to explain and support choices.
  • plan, research, organize, support, and deliver ideas and arguments in a public speaking setting.




            Your final grade in this course will be a composite of the following assignment values:


20% – Participation (Discussion, Peer Critiques, Attendance and Miscellaneous                                       Exercises and Assignments)

5%   – Primary Source Analysis

10% – Proposal and Bibliography

15% – Literature Review

30% – Oral Presentations (1st = 5%; 2nd = 10%; 3d = 15%)

20% – Research Paper


The course will have the following grading scale:  93 – 100 = A, 91 – 92 = A-, 88 – 90 =           B+, 84 – 87 = B, 81 – 83 = B-, 78 – 80 = C+, 74 – 77 = C, 71 – 73 = C-, 68 – 70 = D+,             61 – 67 = D, 60 and below = F.  






See separate calendar.   While every effort will be made to stick to the calendar, consider it tentative.


It is critical that students pay close attention to the calendar and instruction sheets for due dates, times and questions of formatting, etc.

Various Stages of Researching/Writing a Research Paper


The primary goal of History 298 is to help students, through working on a research topic, to learn how to think, research, and write like historians.  Therefore, the research paper is “just another exercise” (but like a final exam) that demonstrates how well students have learned to be good historians; its grade reflects a student’s overall demonstrated ability as a historian.



Writing Assignments During the Semester:


Primary Source Analysis (4 pages) 


Research paper Proposal (2 pages plus comprehensive bibliography) – Graded only after a peer review, a meeting with the instructor, and a rewrite.

Literature Review (4 pages) – Graded only after a peer review, a meeting with the instructor, and a rewrite.


Research Paper (8 pages, plus foot & works-cited bibliography.  Your first draft of this paper must have a works-consulted bibliography).  The quality and form of notes and bibliography and of the mechanics, presented in The Chicago Manual and in class, carry over from the first draft and constitute 25% of the grade on the final paper. The final paper must cite in its bibliography at least three scholarly articles that you used and must also contain at least two content/explanatory notes.  The final submitted paper will be completed after two peer reviews and a meeting with the instructor.


Requirement: each student is required to use the Writing Center at least once this semester.



Oral Presentations on Research


2-Minute graded presentation (on your primary sources)


4-minute graded presentation (on historical debate over topic revealed by research to date).


10-minute graded presentation (near completion of final research project).


Requirement: use of Speaking Center for the 4-minute presentation or the 10-minute presentation.





Final Drafts: All such “drafts” must be complete, finished papers.  THEY ARE NOT “ROUGH DRAFTS.” Those that are not in finished form will be penalized at the instructor’s


discretion; the deduction will be taken from the grade for the rewritten paper.


Peer Reviews: Written peer reviews that are clearly not serious efforts will affect the reviewer’s participation grade. Students who do not participate in providing oral feedback after classmates’ presentations will face deductions in their “participation” grade.


Late Papers: Assignments that are late – original and rewrite – will be penalized 5 points per 12 hours.


NOTE: Because of their peer reviews, late original papers have an impact on classmates. The instructor reserves the right not to allow a late peer review if doing it will negatively impact another student’s time.


Meetings: Meetings to discuss papers and presentations are required; failure to attend will directly affect both the paper’s grade and the participation grade.





This course is a workshop for building skills in research, analysis, and speaking. As such, consistent attendance is essential to a successful semester.


Each student may miss three classes without penalty. After three classes, the discussion/participation/ contribution grade will drop by a half-letter grade for each additional absence. Consistent absence from the course will also risk failure of the course itself.


Note: this policy does not distinguish “excused” from “unexcused” absences. Rather than your professor’s having to rule in each case between the two, you may use your own discretion for missing class.


            Note: in-class exercises cannot be “made up” later; while the first three absences will not be penalized, absentees still will be missing out on critical course content, most of which is linked to graded assignments, participation, and work with peers.


            Note: a student dealing with a fundamentally serious situation or crisis (e.g., a significant health problem) should inform the instructor as soon as possible so that a solution regarding continuing or completing the course can be discussed.


Please Note:  The failure to complete an assignment = failure to meet

course requirements = failure of the course



CLASSROOM ETIQUETTE:  Please follow these rules for this class at all times:


  • No cell phone use is allowed in my classroom, including text messaging.  If you must write or reply to a message, please leave the classroom and do not return for the rest of the class session.  All instances of cell phone use will materially affect your class participation grade.  I am really serious about this. If I see your phone out, your class participation grade will plummet.  And don’t try using them in your lap or behind your book, either.  I can tell.  Trust me.
  • Laptop computers are certainly welcome in the classroom.  However, you can only use one for class related matters.  Using it for any other reason (i.e., email) will kill your class participation grade.
  • There is no sleeping or extraneous talking in my classroom.  If you have a conversation that cannot wait, then please leave the classroom to have it, and do not come back.  If you are too tired to stay awake in class, then stay home, get some sleep, and accept the absence.
  • Do not come to class late. If you arrive late and the door to the classroom is closed, do not come in because you will interrupt the flow of the session and I will ask you to leave.



The Honor System at the university represents a long-standing and integral part of our campus culture and sense of community.  Therefore, if I discover that you have cheated on an assignment or plagiarized a paper, you most certainly will fail this course and I will report you to the Honor Council.



            One final note:  The University has designated the Office of Disability Services as the   primary office to guide, counsel, and assist students with disabilities.  If you receive services through that office and require accommodations for this class, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible to discuss your approved accommodation needs.  Bring your accommodation letter with you to the appointment.  I will hold any information you share with me in the strictest confidence unless you give me permission to do otherwise.  If you believe you need accommodations, (note taking assistance, extended time for tests, etc.) and have not visited the office, I would be happy to refer you.  They will require appropriate documentation of a disability.  Their phone number is (540) 654-1266.





Each student must go to the Writing Center at least once during the semester.


A student may go before writing an assignment, before rewriting an assignment, or after the instructor returns a graded paper.


A student may go, for example, to get clarification of an assignment (be sure to take the assignment sheet along) or to work on organization, a particular grammatical problem, introductions, or transitions.


Since the Writing Center is often busy, it is best to make an appointment.  Sessions must be full ones, not a quick in-and-out effort.


Note:  Failure to go to the Writing Center reduces the participation grade by 10 points.



Each student must go to the Speaking Center at least once in preparation for the First or Second oral presentation.


Note:  Failure to go to the Speaking Center reduces the grade on the final presentation by 10 points.



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