American History Curriculum Changes at Example Community College

Description and Rationale

ExampleCommunity College has a very diverse student population. They also have a very healthy attitude and desire to be a multicultural/diverse-friendly institution. In fact, they publicly acknowledge and display the following diversity statement on their college website, “The college believes that diversity should be embraced and should be a vital part of enhancing the educational process.” Being an employee of the college, and a former student, the one area of the college that I feel does not reflect this statement is the curriculum content of the American History courses. The course, while I enjoyed it very much and learned a great deal from it, does not study historical or present figures/happenings of history outside of the Caucasian point of view. While that may have been acceptable or considered the norm many years ago, today that is no longer so, and as can be seen in ECC’s diversity statement, should not be soâÂ?¦at least not specific to ECC. As such, my proposal is for a curriculum intervention that will allow for inclusion of values outside of the traditional curriculum regarding American History to be embraced, and will offer more than one point of view from which it is being taught.

It is a given that the faculty of the Social Sciences Department as well as the Department Head and Associate Dean should be included in the curriculum change process. Necessary changes to bring the course up to college diversity standards should include keeping relevant material in place, eliminating outdated material being taught, introduction of new teaching methods to better meet diversity content, evaluation measures, and consensus among those involved that the curriculum changes must be an ongoing process.

Learning Objectives

Quality of Learning:
One learning objective that must be adhered to, for effective curriculum change, is as Buxton noted (p. 239) creating curriculum change that will improve the quality of the learning environment for the student. The importance of this cannot be overlooked as students are becoming more accustomed to a learning environment that pulls them away from memorization of facts (such is the current format of the history classes in question) and instead offers them a learning process in which they can relate what is being taught to their everyday lives. The quality of the current curriculum can easily be improved by gearing the teaching more towards the interrelationships, attitudes, or individual student reactions to the history content, such as Anderson (p.117) suggests rather than gearing it towards the viewpoint of the textbook author and professors teaching the class, as is currently being done.

Values:
The second learning objective is to actively engage students in critical thinking and allow them to realize their own views of American History as it relates to the rest of the world, as Murnik, Pilgrim, and Thorp noted (p.3) may very well vary drastically from the points of view of others. Teaching them to accept these differences and to critically assess how different opinions and feelings are relevant to the understanding of American History and how they can utilize both for practical application in understanding diversity and values should be key in the pedagogical formatting of the class. Students will be encouraged to develop an appreciation of the values of others in regards to others in the American History context and to critically analyze how their opinions along with others apply to what they are learning. As noted by Withrow (p.4) perception of a topic plays an important role in how any given topic is processed by a student. Increasing the perceptions of the students will exponentially help them to increase their value of what is being taught by allowing for and exploring new ways of thinking.

Comprehension:
Students should complete the class with a broad but thorough understanding of the concepts of American History and the Constitution. They should also gain understanding of how the culturally diverse population of the has helped shape these concepts in the past and how the concepts themselves will continue to shape their country in the future.

Skills:
A technology approach to the course will be introduced to help students learn to better apply modern-day technology to their every day learning processes. The importance of technology can not be dismissed in a society that leans more and more towards this approach for the pedagogical experience. An internet-based research paper will be added to the course curriculum to not only further student skills in the technology-based research area, but also to further enhance their creative thinking skills in learning how to take their learning efforts past the typical learning mode of singularly using textbook-based learning. Not only will students be able to delve into deeper areas of understanding, as Bates and Poole suggest technology-based learning provides (p. 50), but they will also obtain the skills of learning to recognize the difference between reputable and non-reputable sources of information.

Writing skills are important in any general education course, and this course is no exception in that it has a 2000 word minimum writing requirement. Ways to integrate and improve upon writing skills will be considered in a great number of the assignments given in these classes.

Interpersonal, communication, and social skills will also be focused on as a well-rounded educational experience is focused on in the classroom, allowing students to take with them more than just textbook content as they leave the classroom and go into their next one, or even into their everyday lives.

Course Lessons

Example: Lesson 1
The first example of a lesson plan would be to provide a basic learning experience for the student via the first assigned chapter of the textbook.

Step 1: A discussion of what is to be read will take place in the classroom. The foundations will be discussed in a teacher-to-student lecture format, and notes will be encouraged. The assigned reading will take place via homework. Upon completion of the assigned reading, the class will be divided into small groups with the teacher to take his/her place among the students to create a sense of inclusion vs. a lecture/recipient environment. The reading that was assigned will be the format of small group discussion which is used to encourage complete class participation. Each small group will be assigned the task of writing two or three paragraphs on what they thought the key points of the assigned reading entailed. Each group will present a brief summary of their paper to the class and questions/answers will be encouraged from their classmates.

Step Two:
Groups will then be assigned the task of relating what they are learning to the multicultural concept by comparing/contrasting their own points of view to the points of view they surmise to be relevant of the historical characters involved in the assigned reading. Each group is to come up with their own way of presenting their conclusions, be it a group spokesperson, a skit, or even a Power Point presentation for those willing to do so. Using technology will be encouraged but not mandatory for this section of the course. Student will be required to mentally place themselves in the place of the subjects they are reading about, with half of the group taking the stance of the characters being read about from the textbook author’s perspective and the other half of the group will be assigned the task of being the characters on the opposite perspective of the author(s). For example, most Civil War analogies are written from the perspective of ‘we’ or ‘the people’ when discussing the Caucasian Americans, and a ‘they’ perspective when discussing the African American or supporters of the African American perspective. In this case, half of the group would be required to write from the perspective of those in favor of segregation and the other half would be required to write from the perspective of the segregated.

Step Three: The presentation of differing opinions will be given to the class from each small group. Class members not presenting will be expected to ask insightful questions from the assigned reading (remember all students read the entire chapter prior to the group interaction) and will be encouraged to offer their opinions on how the perspectives relate to current events that have been a direct result of the historical events being discussed. Depending on the size of the class, this could be a one-to-two day class event.

Note: Throughout the class the teacher will be sitting among the students and encouraging peer-to-peer discussion rather than leading the discussions him/herself.

Rules for Lesson:
All opinions are to be respected.
Debate is encouraged in a responsible manner.
Bias and bigotry, in any form, including slang terminology, will not be tolerated.
Multi-dimensional points of view are encouraged.
Students are expected to think beyond the scope of what is being read.

Objectives of this lesson related to curriculum:
To help students gain a better quality of understanding of an American History concept by being able to relate it to personal experience, hear the opinions and ideas of their fellow students and group members to further enhance their own understanding of a topic, and realize how it relates to them in a present day sense, and see how the concepts of an American History event have helped to shape the multicultural society of the United States. Their critical thinking will be reassessed and enhanced by classroom discussion and bouncing their ideas and values of what is learned through interpersonal communication. Their comprehension of the lesson will ideally be enriched by the combination of the individual reading and the writing produced in an individual and group setting. Their writing, speaking, and group interaction skills will all be exercised in this assignment.

Example: Lesson 2
Providing a hands-on approach to learning is as noted by Grant & Littlejohn (p.1) provides a great option for teaching in that it provides a method that is, “sensory-rich, emotionally engaging, and linked to the real world.” This lesson will expound on that finding by offering students a chance to interact with one another in the form of a classroom game.

Step One: The first step will be the teacher presenting the rules of the game to the class.
�· There will be one slip of paper in a hat, equal to the number of students in class.
�· The chalkboard will have a line drawn with one side of it representing a positive tally sheet for the students, and one representing incorrect answers given
�· Each slip of paper will have a fact written on it related to what the students have been learning in class.
�· The facts written may or may not be true.
�· The teacher will give the hat to a student to start the game, and the student will take out a slip of paper and read the fact out loud.
�· Student must say weather the fact is true or false, and if false, provide the correction of the written statement.
�· Student is encouraged to say how they relate to or remember the fact to be true or false.
�· If the student can relate the event to a cultural theme existent in the past or current related to the event, an additional tally point on the positive side will be noted for the students.
�· Student is then required to pass the hat to someone who has not yet received the hat. No one will get the hat twice.
�· The hat will be passed around until empty.
�· For every correct answer, a tally will be put on the board in favor of the class.
�· For every incorrect answer, a tally will be put on the board against the class.
�· If the class receives 2/3 of their tallies on the correct side of the board, a pre-designated, tangible reward chosen by the class (such as no homework for the night, permitting drinks/snacks in the class for one day, etc.) will be rewarded.

Objectives of this lesson related to curriculum:
Although the hands-on approach is used mostly in the lower-level grades, there is evidence to suggest it is conducive to learning for all ages, including in the post-secondary education environment (Distributed). The novelty of participating in a physical form of teaching, as noted by Schlechty, such as this one in the form of a game, provides a fun and fresh atmosphere to alleviate the sometimes repetitious environment that classrooms must have at one point or another (p. 124). This lesson is designed to improve the quality of education by providing an activity that will provide students an outlet for allowing them to relate the information to their day-to-day events through the communication of stating whether or not the facts on the slips of paper are true or false by noting how they may have remembered the statement to be true or false through their own relation of the topic. The value of the lesson is reinforced in the teacher’s willingness to create a game to reiterate the facts being taught, showing his/her interest in the topic to be true and the relevance he/she feels on the importance of the topics being taught to be high. The exercise will encourage critical thinking by allowing for facts as to why students did or did not relate to it to be verbalized if chosen to do so. The skills of the students will be enhanced in that physical activities help to concrete the memorization of facts into a student’s memory banks, as Ackermann suggested (1). As she also noted (1) social skills are also enhanced in games requiring verbal skills and group interaction. Comprehension seems to take a deeper level of understanding when presented to a student in physical form, as Schlechty also reiterates in his writing (124).

Example: Lesson 3
In this lesson children will again form into small groups and participate as a group. A current event article from a local newspaper, directly related to a historical event being taught in the class will be given to each group. Students will be given 15 minutes to read their article and come up with a paragraph or two to describe what events in history that they have been learning may somehow relate to the article they were given. A spokesperson for each group will recite the work to the class, going around the room until all writings have been read. The students will be encouraged to comment on one another’s work as the assignment progresses.

While the assignment is simplistic in nature, the learning effects from it will not be, as once again group interaction and verbalization of what is being learned from a peer-to-peer perspective are being experienced. Students will be able to bounce ideas off of one another based on the recitations of their articles and describe how the articles may be interrelated to their own, or describe how it somehow relates to a personal event or experience in their own lives. As Kalkowski notes in her article (1), peer-to-peer interaction helps the students to learn from one another in that they feel more comfortable in their environment because they can understand the language of each other and relate to what is being said, and how it is being said. They are given personal accountability for taking charge of their own learning process, and as Singh noted in her article (1) also help to create a higher level of citizenship when doing so in a group setting.

Objectives of the lesson related to curriculum:
Quality of education is improved in that a hands-on way to actually learning something vs. just committing it to short-term memory is being used for teaching. The value of critical thinking is in place as the simple yet relevant matter of peer interaction leaves students cognizant of not wanting to appear knowledgeable of a subject, and as Campbell noted this can drive a student to try and reach a better understanding of a topic before speaking out in class where their answers are subject to peer evaluation (1). More formative answers may also been given as students search to answer questions in a knowledgeable fashion in front of their classmates. Writing skills are focused on as students strive to come up with a meaningful assessment of what they would like to say regarding their article to their classmates, and comprehension is reinforced through the verbal and written interaction going on within the assignment.

Example: Lesson 4
The second lesson assignment will be the creation of a timeline or map that details the main events of history as learned in the class (Appendice 1). Students are required to create a map or timeline with no fewer than ten entries giving an accurate year, event, and specific date. Students may use their textbook or any other source to find the information, but events listed must represent lessons learned thus far in the class.

Students will each be given 3-5 minutes to explain their map to the class, and give their reasoning for choosing the events they chose to note. Students are encouraged to relate their reasoning to cultural preferences or historical experiences they have learned in or outside of the classroom.

Objectives of this lesson related to Curriculum:
The quality of Education will be improved as facts are not only learned via memorization but are reiterated through physical application by placing them on a timeline or map. The values being taught in the class will be noted in the explanation of the map given to the class from the student because as students explain their reasoning for choosing events for their project new perspectives of the events will be brought into play, especially if the student relates the reason for the event chosen to be a cultural preference they can relate to. Technology skills will be enhanced by internet research and the actual drawing of the maps. Comprehension of topic will be enhanced by verbal communication of the maps and the feedback given from it.

Example: Lesson 5
The fifth lesson example will involve the active use of technology in the classroom assignment.

Step 1: Students will engage in a brainstorming session of topics in American History they would like to learn more about. The teacher will write the suggestions down on the board until enough options are available for class dispersion.

Step 2: Students will be given a worksheet (Appendice 2) with the necessary guidelines required for completing their internet paper.

Objectives of this lesson related to curriculum:
This assignment is designed with the major view points of quality of education in mind as it encourages students to look to outside sources to better understand their learning of a concept. It will reiterate the values concepts as critical thinking is put into place during the writing of the assignment. It will better enhance the comprehension of a particular topic of choice for the student by repetition of facts and help them to gain a better understanding of outside points of view as they research their thoughts and ideas against those of other writers and researchers. It will enhance their skills of learning computer-based research and stress the importance of proper citation for the student.

Additional Learning Activities

In addition to the resources used in the example lesson plans, teachers will also encourage students to bring in any articles or artifacts they may have in their homes that relate to the topics being read about and expounded on in the class. One extra credit will be given for those who choose to bring something in to share with the class, and those who write a short presentation on the show-and-tell item to present will be given an additional two extra credit points that will be added to their final grade. Extra credit points are given up to two times for this activity, but students are encouraged to bring items in of their own free will once that quota has been reached.

Stories and accounts from students’ personal family/friend(s) lives will be encouraged in classroom sharing, if they relate to the topics that are being presented. This will be mentioned and encouraged each time a new major subject is broached in the class, in hopes that a higher cultural understanding can be taught via personal information given by the classmates that will help them better relate to the material being taught.

Assessment

As with major changes, especially within an educational environment, a documented assessment is critical in determining which parts of the plan are going smoothly and which ones may need to be fine-tuned, altered, or eliminated to reach the desired objectives. As Anderson notes evaluation should not be a one-time process, but rather, “a continuous part of the curriculum improvement process,” (219). He also ensures us that a comprehensive evaluation program put into place will make the process of tracking much easier to do than simply observation would. One way to do this is with the help of a diagram or flow chart. The assessment facts in these drawings can be kept simple to keep focus on main objectives (Appendice 3), semi-complex (Appendice 4), or very complex (Appendice 5) to show not only how initial program objectives are being met, but also how other changes are occurring as well.

It is important as Anderson notes (223) that a reference point for all measurement and growth be put into place. The evaluation type, to be effective must be done in a cross-sectional manner as all factors must be taken into consideration in determining what is and is not working. Future assessment values must be put into place as well. Curriculum changes are not cut-and-dried, they must adapt to the times and the changes in society to keep course content and relevance up to date, even in a class that deals with historical matters, such as American History. The evaluation process can not be an afterthought of a curriculum intervention, it must be a built-in mechanism taken as seriously as the changes themselves (Anderson, 225). This is especially important in an educational setting where the standards set so greatly impact the community as college graduates become a part of the society. The evaluation of all parts of the curriculum must be taken into consideration, not excluding the social skills and adaptation to diversity/ multiculturalism in any way. While it may be easy to focus on the strictly academic outcomes resulting from curriculum changes, it is for the aforementioned reasons that all accounts of the implemented intervention need to be reviewed extensively and never discounted.

The evaluation must encompass more than just teachers and students alone. It must be an administrative and community collaborative effort as well. Care must be taken to ensure that evaluative measures are done in good faith (a checks and balances system is great for this), that misrepresentation of the results is not given to make a particular intervention look more successful than it is (thus having a good number of people to monitor without going overboard and being counterproductive must come into play). There are any number of reasons that misrepresentation would be done, either intentionally or inadvertently, so it is very important that the evaluation consist of numerous facets of the school, student body, and community. It also must be noted that evaluation cannot be regarded as the end product of the curriculum intervention (Anderson 230). Rather evaluation must be treated as a piece of the puzzle and not the final one that fits.

Another mention from Carr and Harris (15) that deserves mention, is in wondering if there is an assessment to back the assessment? What this means is: are there measures in place to allow for the revision of the plan if it is not in fact running as proposed? Are there professional development and support systems being put into place to help ensure the success of the intervention? Is there quality control for technical issues put into place, if that applies in any way to the plan? Is there a response team in place for any ethical issues that might arise from the implementation of the plan? There are so many factors to take into consideration when creating an assessment/evaluation plan that it could be quite easy to go overboard. One must note, however, that no amount of planning can ever foresee future issues that arise unplanned or not considered in the implementation of any kind of change. Being certain that as many areas of contention, challenge, or in any other way detrimental factors have been considered can go a very long way in saving the college from embarrassment or further negative implications. On the flip side of the coin, it also goes a long way in proving you have considered all options of your plan and put measures into place to make sure it runs according to legislation (if in place), state mandates, etc. as needed and yet still allows for the necessary components to be put into place to foster and implement change.

Factors to Consider in Implementing Curriculum Intervention

There are many political, economic, and structural factors that come into play when considering a creation and implementation of curriculum intervention. The first, and perhaps most difficult to reach being economic. If budget is not in place to support necessary changes, such as teacher training, hiring of staff, or resources needed to achieve intervention success, the plan will never get off of the ground, so to speak. Care must be taken to ensure an ample amount of budget is in place and that those in charge of allocating the funds are in support of and included in the intervention planning process. These people, as well as all others involved must also be kept abreast of the changes taking place during the process, both positive and challenging. One thing that must be noted, as Anderson explains (201) is that not all people will be in favor of the change, especially when finances are involved, so a substantial and convincing plan and need for change need be created prior to selling the new curriculum intervention ideas.

A second area that needs to be addressed is the political affiliations that will go along with curriculum changes of any kind, but most especially those dealing with diversity or multicultural issues. Again, while some people may be in support of new and improved methods of teaching, there are also apt to being those who believe if the old way is not broken, there is no need to fix it, as is the advice given to us by Carr & Harris (146). Change scares some people, especially those who have been in a position or situation for a long time that has become rather stagnant, or what they might view as comfortable. Again, a well-thought out plan that encompasses all areas of change and convincing evaluative research must be put into place if the hope of consensual cooperation is to be obtained. Networking can work wonders in getting cooperation put into place as well, as it is human nature, whether right or wrong, to value the opinion of someone we know and trust over a plan put before us on paper.

Structural issues might come into play as well, in considering how to go about implementing a curriculum intervention. In the case of the American History courses at Example Community College, it was important to note that the person who created the courses that have been running for years was the associate dean for the Social Sciences department under which the course was categorized. It is also important to note the courses are general education courses, and thus have state mandates attached to them in how they should be run and what content they should include. Excluding any of these issues is a certain way to receive flat-out denial before the process could even begin. Accreditation is also a structural issue that must be addressed in considering a new plan. There are standards that are in place not necessarily by choice, but necessary to maintaining the standards that allow for the course accreditation. For the American History courses at ECC, a standard word requirement must be kept in place for the Gordon Rule requirement and the US Constitution must be covered thoroughly and extensively by order of state college mandates.

Time and resource allocation are other areas of consideration that must be taken when creating an intervention curriculum plan. Are the terms required balanced in so far as they have plausible time, resource, and capacity limits in place to go along with them? These are all questions asked by Carr and Harris (14) and they certainly deem mention and consideration.

Diversity and socio-political factors also should be taken into consideration when creating the plan. How does the plan fit into the existing views on diversity within the school system? Will the proposed changes, as Hartnett inquires (1), “show respect, sensitivity and appreciation for populations of diversity and their contributions to societal well-being. Populations include not only race, but also culture, age, gender, religion, disability, ethnicity, and maybe even sexual orientation.

Perspective is also an issue to consider when implementing curriculum change. To what extent will the curriculum intervention, if successful, change the perspective of those within, associated with, or monitoring the college? Another perspective issue to consider, as noted by Davis, is have you included everyone that will need to be included in your initialization process to avoid frustration in getting the process started (1)? So many times there are people among the ranks that are not even considered who are crucial to curriculum intervention success, but in the scope of things are overlooked.

In conclusion, although the current curriculum in place for ECC does not encompass diversity as well as it could in relation to the college’s diversity mission, we are very hopeful that our well-researched and thought out plan might create the desire and need for a new one to be put into place. The plan covers the objectives required for a successful curriculum intervention and addressed the issues that have been left out of the coursework in the past. The program, while undoubtedly a very good one, has as all things do, very much room for improvement. Improving the diversity content and relating the structure of the course, not just elements of it, to our ever changing, multicultural environment is the most positive change we think the college can do. It is with a sense of urgency this proposal is submitted for your formal review; as it is time for a positive change to take place in the ECC American History course curriculum, time for a change that will lead the course into the diversity structure already firmly in place with the college.

Appendix
Appendice 1, Creating a Timeline or Map Relevant to American History
In this assignment you will be creating a map or a timeline of the events we have learned about thus far in the class. The assignment will consist of one-page and must be formatted on the computer using Microsoft Word or some other computer software program.
The map or timeline must have a minimum of ten events or historical situation and must have the dates of each listed underneath. Examples of both an accepted timeline and map are included as follows, but the student is encouraged to create one of their own preference or format as he/she sees fit to.
Choices for font, graphics, and/or text will be left up to the student. Students can be as simplistic or creative as they so choose to.
Example of a simplistic timeline:
Year: Event (summarize into two sentences or less what the event was). Date (provide the actual dates the event took place).

Example (Avalon):
Ã?· 1632 – Charter of Maryland; June 20
Ã?· 1634 – Royal Commission for Regulating Plantations; April 28
Please note that the examples used in the above format are not indicative of our course content, but are rather only examples used to show how the timeline may be created. You are responsible for providing a timeline that is accurate of the course content we have learned thus far in the class.

Text can be entered onto the state noting the year, timeline event, and date. Again, this is just an example of a map that can be used. A map of the is not necessary, as any type map will do, perhaps just the states that have a timeline reference, or even a more simplistic version such as a text-box map created on Microsoft Word.

Appendice 2, Worksheet for Technology Assignment
American History: Internet Research Paper

In this assignment you will be expected to draw upon your knowledge from the class and create3-5 page research paper on what you have learned regarding a specific topic of choice derived from the textbook (to be approved by the teacher). What you write and how you write it will be based solely on your discretion.

Requirements of the paper:
�· Five factual topics must be presented with reputable internet references cited in typical ALA format.
�· Your opinion on the topics should be presented in a way that relates to not only history but to how you feel the fact relates to you and your classmates in an every day modern setting.
�· An element of diversity must be discussed in at least one of your fact choices, and how that topic relates to a specific culture in the textbook and how it relates to the same culture today must be noted.

Appendice 3, Simple Comprehension Evaluation Chart

A simple comprehensive chart that shows what the main objectives of a curriculum change were from inception will help focus to remain where it was intended. A broad pattern of noted changes, as Anderson is quoted saying (221) may be just what are needed to do this. More ideally a combination of the simple evaluation chart and the more comprehensive one will be needed to better see what changes are beneficial and which might need changes within themselves, or to give us a catalyst from which other ideas may form to better serve the learning objectives being created for the classroom. It should be remembered, Anderson says (223) that evaluation should not take place from the perspective of whether or not a goal has been met, but rather it should be assessed as to how far an individual idea or objective has progressed from the time the plan was put into effect to present. Great things do not always happen overnight, and curriculum changes are no exception to the rule. The following is an example of a simple evaluation chart that may be put into place to measure how far along the progress is or is not moving:

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