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History Dept. To Overhaul Its Tutorials

By Douglas M. Pravda

In an effort to revamp its much-criticized undergraduate curriculum, the history department announced yesterday that it will significantly revise its tutorial program beginning with the class of '98.

The overhaul comes after several years of student criticism of the tutorial system and of undergraduate education in the department.

"We think that this will substantially improve undergraduate education in our concentration and we are devoting an extraordinary amount of our resources to this new program," Professor of History Mark A. Kishlansky said yesterday.

The new faculty-led tutorial program will emphasize reading, writing and research skills, according to Professor of History James Hankins, the department's head tutor.

The new sophomore tutorial will go into effect next year, and the new junior tutorial the year after that. Thus, the system will have no effect on current history concentrators, Hankins said.

Kishlansky said the department hopes that the changes will convince more first-years to choose the history con- centration.

"We just want to make the best program we canmake," Hankins said. "If students take it, fine.If they don't, we will have to rethink it."

The number of history concentrators droppedfrom 488 in 1986 to 386 in 1989, declining to 251in 1993.

Concentrators will receive detailed informationabout the new program later this year, Hankinssaid.

The program is part of a new move torestructure undergraduate education in the historydepartment. This fall, several faculty members inthe department proposed moving the History 10sequence into the Core Curriculum.

The Program

The first semester sophomore tutorial willserve as an introduction to broad types ofhistorical reading and writing, Hankins said in aninterview yesterday in which he described the newprogram.

It will replace a current system that Hankinsdescribed as a "grab bag of topics [that] don'thave a rational relationship with each other."

The first semester sophomore tutorial will betaught by Kishlansky and Laurel Ulrich, a recentlytenured professor, who will be leading students inreading different types of historical sources.

Students will work in large sections withsenior faculty, and then break into smallersections of five people, working intensely with atutor, according to Kishlansky.

"I'm really looking forward to doing it," hesaid. "I have already begun the course planningeven though it won't be taught until next fall."

During the second semester, students will havethe option of working in a small study group or inan individual tutorial.

Students will have many topics to choose fromfor this semester, Hankins said. Topics willinclude courses in women's history, ethnicstudies, American Constitutional history andAmerican social history.

The junior tutorial, required for the honorsprogram, will be led by Professor of HistoryMichael McCormick and will emphasize researchskills.

The first semester of junior tutorial willteach undergraduates how to organize, research andwrite research papers.

Students will put these skills to the testduring the second semester, as they work in smallstudy groups to prepare a junior paper on a topicof their choice.

The emphasis on research and writing willreplace the current system of a year-long courseon a specific field led by a graduate student.

The senior year tutorial will largely remainthe same with students using their newly acquiredresearch skills to write their thesis.

The Process

The tutorial process was revamped for severalreasons, Hankins said.

A document from the educational policycommittee, chaired by Dean of the Faculty JeremyR. Knowles, that recommended increased facultyinvolvement in the tutorial system prompted a newlook at the existing program, Hankins said.

"We have new staff and people interested inbecoming more involved in the tutorial program,"Hankins said.

The department took advantage of facultymembers' willingness to participate in the programby deciding to review it.

The reassessment was also prompted by a feelingin the history department that the tutorial systemneeded to be looked at, Hankins said, because "ithad not been reviewed in five years."

According to history concentrator Cristian S.Torres '95, the department used to offer History90 classes like the tutorials in the governmentdepartment, but they were eliminated several yearsago.

The department created a number of groups toexamine different elements of the tutorial system,Hankins said.

A high proportion of the department wasinvolved and the various elements were approved atdepartment meetings.

Hankins said the faculty took four separatevotes on different parts of the program. The finalpiece of the new program--the second half of thesophomore tutorial--was passed just last week.

The department has not yet had a meeting tofinalize the program, Hankins said, but theyalready "have people to teach and design thecourses so basically it will be on the books nextyear."

Student Input

The department sought student input for thechanges in two ways.

An undergraduate curriculum committeeconsisting of students in the department providedinput on what they liked and didn't like about theexisting tutorial system and then on how theyliked the new proposals.

Torres, a member of the committee, said thatthe committee did not help create the new tutorialprogram but commented on the proposals coming outof faculty meetings.

"I think the administration in the historydepartment honestly values student's inputand...have developed an effective yet enjoyabletutorial program," Torres said.

"The new tutorial program is a vast improvementover the old," he said.

Hankins, who teaches History 10a, "Introductionto History," said he asked first-years in hisclass last semester what they wanted in a historyprogram.

"We discussed and asked their opinions on whatthey wanted in a history department if they wereinterested in continuing in a history major, so wehave a handle, I think, on what the studentswanted," Hankins said

"We just want to make the best program we canmake," Hankins said. "If students take it, fine.If they don't, we will have to rethink it."

The number of history concentrators droppedfrom 488 in 1986 to 386 in 1989, declining to 251in 1993.

Concentrators will receive detailed informationabout the new program later this year, Hankinssaid.

The program is part of a new move torestructure undergraduate education in the historydepartment. This fall, several faculty members inthe department proposed moving the History 10sequence into the Core Curriculum.

The Program

The first semester sophomore tutorial willserve as an introduction to broad types ofhistorical reading and writing, Hankins said in aninterview yesterday in which he described the newprogram.

It will replace a current system that Hankinsdescribed as a "grab bag of topics [that] don'thave a rational relationship with each other."

The first semester sophomore tutorial will betaught by Kishlansky and Laurel Ulrich, a recentlytenured professor, who will be leading students inreading different types of historical sources.

Students will work in large sections withsenior faculty, and then break into smallersections of five people, working intensely with atutor, according to Kishlansky.

"I'm really looking forward to doing it," hesaid. "I have already begun the course planningeven though it won't be taught until next fall."

During the second semester, students will havethe option of working in a small study group or inan individual tutorial.

Students will have many topics to choose fromfor this semester, Hankins said. Topics willinclude courses in women's history, ethnicstudies, American Constitutional history andAmerican social history.

The junior tutorial, required for the honorsprogram, will be led by Professor of HistoryMichael McCormick and will emphasize researchskills.

The first semester of junior tutorial willteach undergraduates how to organize, research andwrite research papers.

Students will put these skills to the testduring the second semester, as they work in smallstudy groups to prepare a junior paper on a topicof their choice.

The emphasis on research and writing willreplace the current system of a year-long courseon a specific field led by a graduate student.

The senior year tutorial will largely remainthe same with students using their newly acquiredresearch skills to write their thesis.

The Process

The tutorial process was revamped for severalreasons, Hankins said.

A document from the educational policycommittee, chaired by Dean of the Faculty JeremyR. Knowles, that recommended increased facultyinvolvement in the tutorial system prompted a newlook at the existing program, Hankins said.

"We have new staff and people interested inbecoming more involved in the tutorial program,"Hankins said.

The department took advantage of facultymembers' willingness to participate in the programby deciding to review it.

The reassessment was also prompted by a feelingin the history department that the tutorial systemneeded to be looked at, Hankins said, because "ithad not been reviewed in five years."

According to history concentrator Cristian S.Torres '95, the department used to offer History90 classes like the tutorials in the governmentdepartment, but they were eliminated several yearsago.

The department created a number of groups toexamine different elements of the tutorial system,Hankins said.

A high proportion of the department wasinvolved and the various elements were approved atdepartment meetings.

Hankins said the faculty took four separatevotes on different parts of the program. The finalpiece of the new program--the second half of thesophomore tutorial--was passed just last week.

The department has not yet had a meeting tofinalize the program, Hankins said, but theyalready "have people to teach and design thecourses so basically it will be on the books nextyear."

Student Input

The department sought student input for thechanges in two ways.

An undergraduate curriculum committeeconsisting of students in the department providedinput on what they liked and didn't like about theexisting tutorial system and then on how theyliked the new proposals.

Torres, a member of the committee, said thatthe committee did not help create the new tutorialprogram but commented on the proposals coming outof faculty meetings.

"I think the administration in the historydepartment honestly values student's inputand...have developed an effective yet enjoyabletutorial program," Torres said.

"The new tutorial program is a vast improvementover the old," he said.

Hankins, who teaches History 10a, "Introductionto History," said he asked first-years in hisclass last semester what they wanted in a historyprogram.

"We discussed and asked their opinions on whatthey wanted in a history department if they wereinterested in continuing in a history major, so wehave a handle, I think, on what the studentswanted," Hankins said

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