Historical Writing Project

Eastern Washington University: History Department Language on Writing in our Strategic Plan of 2007, followed by language of action plan of 2007-08:

Strategic Plan:

GOAL II.   The History department’s programs will foster a rigorous learning environment:  students will read, write and research intensively and extensively.  (SP:   Goal:  I: 1, 4)

First Objective:
Our curricula at the Bachelors and Masters levels will feature courses through which students will become familiar with library, archival and electronic resources.

Measurement:  The department will offer numerous elective courses in the B.A. and B.A.E curricula that require student research.

Strategy:  Undergraduate Curriculum committee will identify existing research-focussed courses and propose new ones.   Departmental core courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels (Hist. 290,  CSBS 331, Hist. 490, Hist. 550, SOST 390) will continue to improve quality of instruction in research methods.

Second Objective:∫
Our curricula at the Bachelors and Masters levels will feature courses that develop students' critical historical reading and thinking skills.

Measurement:  History courses at all levels will involve active learning (reading and discussion of historical sources).  Where appropriate, history instruction will include assignments in framing current problems in their historical contexts, and in light of historical/theoretical interpretations.

Strategy:  History faculty will share innovative teaching strategies.

Third Objective:
History curricula at Bachelors and Masters levels will instruct students toward writing proficiency and observation of disciplinary writing standards.

Measurement:   History students will become better writers.

Strategy:  Department will integrate writing exercises throughout the curriculum from 100-level GECRs to 500-level graduate reading seminars.

Fourth Objective:
History students at the Bachelors and Masters levels will present the results of their research work in the classroom and at professionally sponsored fora (i.e., Phi Alpha Theta, Classics Club, Student Creative Works Symposium).

Measurement:  History student participation in sponsored research fora will increase.
Strategy:  History department will support and encourage student membership and participation in professional organizations.


Action Plan, 2007-2008

I. Action Plan (as revised and re-posted to portal, May 2007)

Unit Goal: Department programs will foster a rigorous learning environment: students will read, write, and research intensively and extensively.
First Outcome: History curricula at Bachelors and Masters levels will instruct students toward writing proficiency and observation of disciplinary writing standards. History student participation in sponsored research fora will increase.
• A department committee, composed of faculty and students, will meet regularly to develop an exemplary writing program for the department. They will:
• Assemble a document consisting of existing writing assignments and practices in the department (based on collecting relevant handouts from each department member), and provide a summary of different approaches to common writing challenges, such as designing beginning essay assignments and suggesting good footnoting practices.
• Research practices recorded on the internet and in published works on developing graduate and undergraduate writing skills – develop these insights into a report to accompany the document mentioned above.
• Provide regular updates on the project in department meetings.
• “Publish” these the departmental resources in hard copy and create a web site, using the internet bookmarking wiki Del.icio.us consisting of links to key internet sites on writing, especially in history. (Department members are already using Del.icio.us and familiar with its behaviors.)
• Provide sample handouts on generic historical writing topics, such as a basic grammar for historians, for the use of department members. These resources will be made available to graduate Teaching Assistants as well as to faculty members.
• Write a proposal, for department consideration, a sequence of increasingly challenging writing assignments from introductory- to graduate-level classes.
• Using information on other action plans across the university, we will also explore ways to partner with other departments working on the “writing challenge.”
Responsible Person and Title:
• The department chair for 2007-08 (Bill Youngs) and immediate past chair (Ann Le Bar) will lead a committee consisting of student and faculty volunteers. The chairs of the Undergraduate and Graduate Curriculum Committees will be members.
Expected Date of Completion: 5/31/2008
Assessment Success Target: Complete two resource guides to historical writing, one based on departmental work in progress and the other based on an assessment of best practices at other institutions. Develop within the department a model for a sequence of “increasingly challenging writing assignments.” Discuss these activities with historians nation-wide involved in similar work. Begin revamping End-of-Program assessment for the History BA, to incorporate a portfolio system.
Measurement: (1) First draft of Resource guide to current historical writing practices in history will be distributed to each department member by December 15, 2007. Final draft will be completed by April 30, 2008. (2) Guide to best practices at other schools will be posted as a del.icio.us wiki with at least 10 entries by April 30, 2008.
With additional funding: (3) 2-day historical writing colloquium with invited expert will take place during Winter Quarter, 2008 OR two EWU faculty members will attend a writing conference during Winter/Spring 2008. (4) Research portfolio-based end-of-program

II. Resource Plan (as revised and re-posted to portal, May 2007)
Existing Budget: The initial research and development will be done using conventional department resources in the way of personnel, copying costs, and internet resources.
Internal/External Funds: We will seek work-study help in researching “best practices” at other schools – through internet study. We will also seek funds for bringing a teaching-historical-writing specialist to campus and / or visiting a campus or convention where such expertise can be accessed.
Further resources: To fully develop a sequence of writing assignments, incorporated into an undergraduate research portfolio program, and implemented as the Departmental End-of-Program Assessment tool, the department will require additional funding to hire a research assistant. With faculty guidance, this researcher would identify History program assessments nation-wide as models for study, and would assist in compiling the hard-copy and on-line versions of the departmental resource guide to historical writing.