History 121

United States since Reconstruction • Spring 2019

View from the crowd at the Altamont Free Concert, 1969

Tips, Guides, and Other Resources

In this class we'll be covering several centuries of history in 15 short weeks, so don't be discouraged if you find yourself overwhelmed at times. Below you'll find a variety of tips for managing the workload.

Of course, I also serve as a resource in this course. Feel free to drop by office hours or email me with the questions or concerns that come up along the way. Please always allow at least 48 hours for a response. For additional academic counseling resources, please see the contact page.

Tips for Taking Notes

I urge everyone to take notes with pen and paper. Recent studies show that students who write lecture notes by hand retain more information and tend to outperform their laptop-using classmates on exams.

If you aren't practiced taking notes this way, I will provide some help. For each lecture, I'll provide an outline. I will also stress certain points by repeating them or drawing your attention to images on the screen. I may also jot down a list of big themes and key terms to serve as signposts. Besides that, it will be up to you to attend lectures regularly and to determine the best way to compile notes that are geared for your own learning style.

I encourage anyone concerned with the challenges of a lecture course to utilize tutoring services at the Learning Assistance Center. These tutors can provide you with note-taking tips as well as study strategies for the exam and help with writing.

Missed Lectures

You are responsible for attending lectues regularly and getting notes when you must miss. I do not provide notes for missed lectues, but you can always ask one of your classmates to kindly share or visit me in office hours to discuss missed topics.

Students With Disabilities

If you think you will need additional accommodations, I strongly encourage you to reach out to me and to contact the Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) in the Student Service Building. Contact them by phone: 415-338-2472; video phone: 415-335-7210; or email: dprc@sfsu.edu. You will be responsible for making arrangements with this office for special accommodations at least two weeks prior to any due date or test.

Tips for Reading Primary Texts

When tackling the assigned primary source reading, it may help to consider the following questions:

  • What story is the author telling?
  • What are the central ideas expressed?
  • What is the tone or attitude of the work?
  • Who do you imagine the author's audience to be?
  • When was this work written, and when was it first published?
  • How do you think historical events may have influenced the writing of this work?
  • How do you think historical events may have influenced the reception of this work?
  • What else does this book reveal to you about the historical period in which it was written?

Tips for Writing Essay Exams

The Midterm and Final are essay exams. For both those comfortable writing essay exams and for those who have never before taken this kind of a text, good planning will help. Mark Brilliant, a professor of American history at UC Berkeley, offers this fantastic resource for preparing for essay exams: Elements of an Effective History Essay Exam

Young Marine uses his helmet to mark his time on the Vietnam warfront, ca. 1968