HISTORY 371 - PROBLEMS IN AMERICAN HISTORY: 1865 TO PRESENT
SYLLABUS - Fall 2013
Dr. Brad Reynolds
Welcome to your course with Dr. Brad Reynolds called Problems in American History: 1865 to Present. (If you are viewing this online prior to the start of class, then please note that this syllabus does not become "official" until the first day of class and is subject to change until then. If you are seeing this as a hard copy, then you should know that your syllabus is available 24/7 online at bradleyreynolds.weebly.com. Please make a note of that Web site somewhere so you can check your syllabus if you lose your hard copy.)
Below is a description of this course where you will learn a little about Dr. Reynolds and get information on how to contact him. Further down you will find out about course texts, goals, assignments, meeting dates, policies, grading, and readings, and you will find a list of the essay exam questions. If at anytime you want to check on your grade, or have a question about the course, please contact Dr. Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not hear back from him within 48 hours, please try contacting him again, preferably via email, on the third day. (If the first email bounces back then you can try email@example.com, but please do not send the same email to both addresses at the same time. Thanks!)
COURSE DESCRIPTION AND LECTURE TOPICS
For a list of the major topics covered in this class, please consult the Table of Contents in your assigned text(s).
This course aims to acquaint you with the broad historical trends and the continuing controversies in American history since the end of the Civil War in 1865. It should help you realize that there are many ways to look at and respond to events. In so doing, the hope is that you will better understand the present so you can better shape the future. In order for you to understand and appreciate the course information more, you should stay current with the news of the day by regularly reading a newspaper or other news source and by attending class. You should also keep current with the reading assignments. By the end of this course it is expected that you will know why the United States failed to reconstruct the Union as a truly democratic republic following the Civil War, what the struggle has been for civil rights, why and how the West was settled during the four decades following the Civil War and what impact that had on the U.S. economy and on the people of the West (especially the Native Americans), why and how the U.S. expanded into various parts of the world in the latter half of the nineteenth century and fought a war with Spain, why and how the United States became an industrial giant at the turn of the twentieth century and the impact that has had on the American people and government, why and how the U.S. became the world’s leading military power in the early twentieth century and has retained that title, how the U.S. has dealt with rapid economic take-off and then economic depression, why the United States fought two world wars in less than twenty-five years during the first half of the twentieth century, how a hatred for communism dominated American foreign policy for over four decades, how important social changes over the last fifty years have (and are) creating forces that will either make America still stronger in the new century or will tear it asunder, and how the war on terrorism has affected American policy both at home and abroad.
This class will proceed as follows. You are expected to attend all lectures to learn about the main topics covered in this class. You are then expected to do the assigned reading to prepare for your exams which are discussed below. If at anytime you have a question, never hesitate to contact Dr. Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The contact information below is good 24/7, but email contact is preferred. An email message will also get you the fastest response. When you write, please leave a detailed message so we resolve your question(s) quickly, and please include your class name and your full name in the subject area of your email. If you do not get a response within 48 hours, then something happened to your email so please resend it on the third day.
Dr. Reynolds' scheduled office hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 2-3 in Sierra Tower (ST) 618. Otherwise, you are welcome to talk to him right after class. If that is not possible, then the best way to reach Dr. Reynolds is by one of the methods listed below, but preferably email. Don't forget to include your class name and your full name in the subject area of the email you send.
(OR email@example.com but please do not send the same email to both addresses at the same time. Thanks!)
Dr. Bradley Reynolds
Dr. Reynolds holds history degrees from UCLA and USC. He has taught American history for nearly forty years at three universities (University of Vienna, University of Southern California and, of course, California State University - Northridge) and at two community colleges (College of the Canyons and El Camino College). He enjoys teaching and looks forward to discussing history with you!
There is one required text for this course: A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen (New York: Sentinel, 2007). The ISBN is 9781595230324. This book will give you background to the material you will learn in this class and provide more depth to the lecture material.
There is also an optional book of lecture notes available called American History, An Overview Since 1865 Eighth Edition (McGraw-Hill, 2012) by Bradley Reynolds (ISBN 0078119499). It includes outlines of material you will learn in the lectures, a chronology of major events, and sample multiple choice questions to help you prepare for your exams (which are discussed below). You will likely find the American History book also helpful for retrieving lecture material you may have missed, so the book is highly recommended but it is an optional book and not required for you to earn an A in the class.
Your primary ongoing course assignment is to keep current with the readings. In A Patriot's History you should read Chapters 9-13 for Test One, Chapters 14-18 for Test Two, and Chapters 19-22 for Test Three. If you get the optional American History book you should read Chapters 1-9 for Test One, Chapters 10-17 for Test Two, and Chapters 18-28 for Test Three. You will be tested every month on the reading assignments whether we have covered that material in class or not, so be prepared! Test One covers the years 1865 to 1914, Test Two covers 1914 to 1953, and Test Three covers 1953 to the present.
The grading in this class break down as follows:
3 multiple choice tests worth 10 percent each or 30 percent of your class grade (The dates of the multiple choice exams are discussed below in the Calendar section. The multiple choice exams are discussed in more detail below under "More On the Multiple Choice Exams.")
2 essay tests, which include a midterm essay worth 30 percent of your class grade and a final exam essay worth 30 percent of your class grade (The dates of your essay exams are discussed below in the Calendar section. The exams are discussed in more detail below under "More On the Essay Exams.")
participation/attendance worth 10 percent of your class grade (This grade is discussed in more detail below under "Participation an Attendance.")
Optional book review(s) worth 10 percent of your class grade (This is discussed in more detail below under "Optional Work to Lower Your Essay Grade(s).")
Optional history news articles worth 10 percent of your class grade (These are discussed in more detail below under "Optional Work to Lower Your Essay Grade(s).")
Optional history projects worth 10 percent of your class grade (These are discussed in more detail below under "Optional Work to Lower Your Essay Grade(s).")
CALENDAR OF MOST IMPORTANT CLASS DATES
August 27: On this first day of your class you should read your class syllabus carefully and ask for clarification if there is anything about the class that you do not understand. Welcome to the class!
August 29: By today, your second lecture day, you should have read the course syllabus, purchased your text(s), and started your class reading. Do not hesitate to contact Dr. Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about the class!
September 3: By today, the start of your second week of class, you should have started to prepare for the first essay exam (if you are planning to take it) and you should have started to review the multiple choice questions in the American History text (if you purchased it).
October 1: Today you can take your first optional essay exam. You do not need to come to class if you are taking only the multiple choice exam for Test One.
October 3: Today everyone should be in class for the first multiple choice exam.
November 5: Today is the optional second essay exam, unless you did not take the first essay exam in which case you must take this essay test.
November 7: Today everyone should be in class for the second multiple choice exam.
November 28: Happy Thanksgiving! No Class!
December 10: Today is the last day of class lecture. All extra credit work is due by the start of class today!
December 11-17: This week everyone will take the third essay exam and third multiple choice exam. Check the final exam schedule for the date and of your final exam!! MORE ON THE MULTIPLE CHOICE EXAMS
There will be three multiple choice exams in this class. For each of your three exams you will do a 100 question multiple choice test. The multiple choice questions for each test will come primarily from the lecture material so review your class notes carefully, and if you purchased the optional American History book then also study the multiple choice questions listed in the back of each chapter and you should not have too many surprises on the test. In the American History book you should review the multiple choice questions in Chapters 1-9 for Test One, Chapters 10-17 for Test Two, and Chapters 18-28 for Test Three.
MORE ON THE ESSAY EXAMS
In addition, you will take two essays exams. You will have the option of taking essay exam one or two and then everyone will take essay exam three. If you opt to do both essay tests one and two, then your highest essay grade from those first two exams will count as your first essay grade which is 30 percent of your class grade. Therefore, you should consider doing essay exam one so you can improve your essay exam score on essay exam two if needed. Again, everyone will take the final essay exam which is also 30 percent of your class grade. (Please note that if you take both essay exams one and two and you are caught cheating on one of the essays, then that is the exam that will count as your first essay grade!)
The essays on your exams will come from the essay questions listed below. You will receive specific instructions on how to prepare for each essay in class prior to each exam, but before that you can and should check the "Tips on Writing Essays" at bradlereynolds.weebly.com. For now suffice it to say that you will receive at least three of the five essays listed for each test and you will select one to answer. (So if you study at least three of the questions listed for each test you are guaranteed to get at least one of the questions you studied on your exam!) Please note that when you take your essay tests you will need to write your essays in full sentences and paragraphs and that spelling, punctuation, grammar, and organization will count when determining your essay grades. So if you have a writing problem, see Dr. Reynolds for other ways you might improve your writing and wait and take this class after you have taken a writing class. Generally speaking, an essay that answers the question asked but in a broad general way emphasizing only lecture material and perhaps needing better writing and organization will probably earn a "C." (In other words, your essays are expected to include specific information from your required book.) A "B" essay is a very good essay but one that could perhaps use more specifics from the book or lectures and/or more analysis and/or tighter writing and organization. An "A" essay is one that is well written and organized, answers the question in full, and uses specific examples from the lectures and book. You will get a "D" if your essay has inaccurate information, and/or is poorly written and organized, and/or if it omits parts of the question asked. You will get an "F" if you fail to answer the question asked or if your writing is extremely poor or if you write very little. And you will get a "zero" if you fail to take the exam. A zero means an F for the test plus one lower class grade! And note that if you cheat on an exam you will get a Fail for the class!
Students sometimes wonder how much they should write to get an "A." While you will be graded more on content then on length, generally speaking an "A" exam tends to fill most of a small examination book, both sides of the page. In other words, don't expect to get a very good grade if you write only a few pages. In short, an "A" means outstanding, a "B" means very good, a "C" means satisfactory, a "D" means unsatisfactory, and an "F" means you failed to answer the question. To calculate your class grade, assign the following points for each 10 percent of your class grade: four points to an "A", three points to a "B", two points to a "C" and one point to a "D." (So an essay test for which you received a "B" would be worth nine points if the essay is 30 percent of your class grade.) At the end of the term add your total points and your grade will be as follows: 40-38 points A, 37-35 points A-, 34-32 B+, 31-29 B, 28-26 B-, 25-23 C+, 22-20 C, 19-17 C-, 16-14 D+, 13-11 D, 10-8 D-, and below 8 Fail.
Exam One Essay Questions
(Remember, these ARE the actual questions that will appear on your exams!)
1. Discuss the different plans to reconstruct the Union after the Civil War and why each worked or failed. Then discuss the attempts to extend civil rights from 1865 to 1877 and why the movement and era called Reconstruction came to an end.
2. Discuss the reasons for the rapid settlement of the West from 1865-1895 and the impact of that settlement on the U.S. economy and on the people of the West, especially native Americans.
3. Discuss the causes of the Industrial Revolution from 1865-1895. Be specific in explaining how each point you make affected the economy.
4. Discuss the problems associated with the Industrial Revolution and how the people reacted. Include in your discussion the Populists and the Progressives.
5. Discuss the reasons for America's rise as a world power from 1865-1895 and the events that led to the Spanish War of 1898. Then discuss the course of the war and its impact onUnited States foreign policy.
Exam Two Essay Questions
1. Discuss the causes of the First World War, why and how the U.S. got into the war, the general course of the war, and the war's impact on the U.S. at home and on U.S. foreign policy.
2. Discuss the causes of the Second World War, why and how the U.S. got into the war, the general course of the war, and the war's impact on the U.S. at home and on U.S. foreign policy.
3. Discuss the reasons for the economic prosperity of the 1920s and the causes of the Great Depression and why it was so severe.
4. Discuss how Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt reacted to the Great Depression and how their policies still affect America.
5. Discuss the origins of the Cold War, discuss the foreign and domestic problems President Truman faced as a result of the Cold War, and discuss how President Truman dealt with those problems.
Exam Three Essay Questions
1. Discuss when, why and how the Cold War began. Then cite at least one factor that perpetuated the Cold War in each decade from the 1950s-1980s and discuss how the item you selected affected America at home as well. Last, discuss when and why the Cold War ended.
2. Discuss the origins of the Vietnam War, the course of the war over thirty years from the 1940s to the 1970s, and the wars' impact on the United States, both at home and in terms of foreign policy.
3. Write an essay on the civil rights movement since 1953 in which you discuss the major factors that have contributed to its success and its major gains. Be sure to discuss more than one group and to cite examples from each decade of the 1950s through the 1990s.
4. Discuss the reasons for America's economic growth or decline in each decade from the 1950s through the 1990s. Then explain how various presidents have dealt with economic problems and why they succeeded or failed.
5. Write an essay about the impact of television on the history of the United States over the past fifty years in which you describe in detail at least one historical event of national importance from each decade of the 1950s - 1990s that was affected by TV.
For your test instruments you must bring for each essay test at least one small examination book and a blue or black pen, and for each multiple test a scan-tron 882 and a number 2 pencil. Your failure to use the proper test instruments will result in one lower test grade.
You will have to opportunity to make-up an exam you cannot take with the class, with the exception of the final exam. Make-up exams will occur at a time and place determined by Dr. Reynolds, but will probably be during his office hours. If you can arrange to take a make-up exam before the scheduled class test time, you will not be penalized. If you take a make-up test after the class exam was given, you will be penalized one grade on that test for each week or portion thereof that you wait to do the makeup! If you fail to make-up your midterm, you will get a zero which means an F for that test plus one lower class grade! Also, please note that if you miss the first essay you will not be permitted to make it up. You will simply take the second essay exam. Nor will you be permitted to do a make-up test for the second essay if you took the first essay. And you cannot make-up a missed final exam! If you miss the final you will get a zero for that test which means an F for that test plus one lower class grade!
CHEATING, COPYING, AND PLAGIARISM
Unfortunately, a note needs to be made here about cheating, copying, and plagiarism. If you are caught cheating an outside of class assignment, like you copy someone’s work (even if you are in a study group), or if you plagiarize, you will receive a failing grade for that set of assignments plus one lower class grade and you will be subject to further disciplinary action including suspension or expulsion. So make sure you obey the rules and do your own work when it comes to the extra credit! And if you cheat on exam, you will receive a Fail for the class and you will be reported to the dean as a cheater. So don't let this happen to you!
PARTICIPATION AND ATTENDANCE
As for your participation/attendance grade, you are responsible for any announcements or material covered in class! You are therefore expected to always be in class. So, starting with the third class you miss, your participation grade will be lowered by one for each class absence. Thus, if you miss six classes you will get an F for your participation grade. And if you miss seven classes you will get an F for your participation grade plus one lower grade for the course, while your missing eight classes you will get an F for your participation grade plus two lower grades for the class, and so on! So if you arrive to class late, make sure you let Dr. Reynolds know you are there at the end of the class or you will be marked absent for the day if your name was called. (And take note of the fact that two tardies will equal one absence!) You will also be marked absent for the day if you leave class, or you are asked to leave a class due to such things as talking, working on your computer (keep it put away unless you have permission to use it), or if your cell phone is out or rings, so keep your cell phone off and packed away while you are in class! NOTE TO ATHLETES: You will get excused absences for sports IF you maintain an A average in the class. If your class grade falls below an C, you will be subject to the same attendance rules as the other students!
OPTIONAL WORK TO RAISE YOUR ESSAY GRADE(S)
You have the opportunity to do some optional work to raise one or both of your essay grades. The optional work includes history projects and/or history news articles. If you do one optional assignment it will make 10 percent of your first essay grade an A. (If you get an A on your first essay exam then your first extra credit grade will be applied to your final exam essay grade). If you successfully do two optional assignments it will make 10 percent of your first essay grade and 10 percent of your second essay grade an A, unless you got an A on your first essay in which case it will give you 20 percent A for you final essay. (Note that if you are caught cheating on an optional assignment, you will get a zero applied to the entire test grade you were trying to change which means an F for the test plus one lower course grade!) Last, but not least, make sure you pay attention to the due date of the extra credit, which is by the start of the last lecture class. Any extra credit work turned in late will get a grade deduction for each day, or portion thereof, that it is late.
History News Articles Assignment
One of the options you have for raising your essay exam grade is to review ten history news articles (or five history news articles and five history projects) for one optional assignment grade. The purpose of the optional history news articles assignment is to show you that articles related to your class material appear in the news all the time. So if you do this assignment you will be looking for articles that specifically reference the primary history you are studying (which is U.S. history from 1865 to 2000). The articles must come from a current (meaning something published within the dates of you class term) newspaper, news Web site, or news magazine, and the articles must not come from a history magazine, or newspaper blog or magazine blog, or history publication or Web site. Nor should you use something like "This Day in History" which is more of an announcement than an article. Keep in mind that if you are looking for articles in a standard newspaper (like the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, New York Times, Daily Breeze, Wall Street Journal, or Daily News) you are most likely to find them in section A, but also check other sections, like the Obituary section and the Editorial page. When you find an appropriate article, clip it and attach it securely by staple or tape, to a standard sheet of paper, or, if you find your article online or want to scan the hard copy of your article, you can put it in an email with a link to it. Also put your name and class name, the date, and include the publication and page from which you got the article if you are submitting a hard copy. Then write a paragraph explaining what the article says and another paragraph explaining what parts of the article direcly relate to the primary content of your class, or require some knowledge of the primary material of your class to understand. Remember, you are expected to turn in ten news articles if you do this optional assignment (or five articles and five projects), so get started sooner than later even though the articles are not due until the start of the last class. The idea here is to learn the history behind the stories in the news today to enhance your appreciation of the fact that knowing the past is relevant for understanding the present and acting upon the future. So keep your eyes open for historical items and write about them if you want to complete this assignment! You can turn in your articles, either individually or in total, anytime you like during the course term, but you should try and turn things in sooner than later and preferably at least one week prior to the due date in case an article is rejected and you need to do another. If you complete your articles assignment by its due date and time, you will get an "A" for this assignment. If you do only eight articles you will get a B, if you do seven you will get a C and if you do only six you will get a D. And make sure you keep copies of what you submit until you are told by Dr. Reynolds that your article was graded and recorded! Then keep your graded work until you receive your class grade!
History Projects Assignment
Your other optional assignment involves you doing ten history projects (or you can do five projects and five articles and have it count as one assignment). The purpose of this assignment is to show you that there are many ways to learn and enjoy history. You can get a partial list of the history projects you can by going to bradleyreynolds.weebly.com and clicking on "Projects." Things you can do include attending a lecture on something related to the primary content of this class, writing a book review on a book related to the primary content of this class (but not one of the optional books assigned for the class), visiting a museum or library to see an exhibit related to the primary content of this class, critiquing a historical cartoon or poster or photograph of something related to the primary content of this class, interviewing someone who knows about information related to the primary content of this class, or even analyzing a song or video game about some aspect of the primary history related to this class. Whatever you decide to do, remember that you need to do ten projects to complete this assignment (or five projects and five articles), you must follow the directions for each project, and you may not do more than two of the same project (so, for example, you cannot do three movie reviews). Also, please keep in mind that your project should be something you do within the term dates of your class, if applicable. So, in other words, if you do a museum review or a lecture review, they must be something you do within the term dates of your class. If any of this is unclear, be sure to contact Dr. Reynolds for a further explanation. If you complete your projects assignment by its due date and time, you will get an "A" for this assignment. If you do only eight projects you will get a B, if you do seven you will get a C and if you do only six you will get a D. As with the news articles, you can turn in your history projects anytime during the class term, either individually or in total, but you should try to turn them in sooner than later and at least one week prior to their due date so if something is rejected you will have time to redo it. And make sure you keep a copy of each project until you know it has been accepted and recorded! Then hold onto to your graded project until you receive your class grade!
IF YOU DECIDE TO DROP THE CLASS
Please note that if you decide to drop this class it is your responsibility to file the class drop form before the drop date. If you remain in the class you should plan to attend all sessions, do the readings on time, and participate in class discussions. You are responsible for any material, assignments, or announcements that occur in class!