History 450

California History • Fall 2017

Two women pose next to a poster showing Ronald Reagan during his campain for California State Govenor, 1967 (Arnold Del Carlo Photograph Collection)

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

Laptops and tablets are fine, but my advice is 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.

Once you've decided on a method, you will need to come up with an effective strategy for taking down the information. Try to produce a detailed outline for each lecture. I will help in some ways. You'll find, for instance, that I 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 an upper-division 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

As this is a large lecture course, I do not take attendance. With that said, 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.

Students With Disabilities

If you think you will need additional accommodations, I strongly encourage you to contact the Disability Programs and Resource Center in Student Services (phone: 415-338-2472; email: dprc@sfsu.edu). You will be responsible for making arrangements with this office for special accommodations at least two weeks prior to any assignment 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 each 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

Brown Beret and Black Panther at the Alameda County Courthouse in Downtown Oakland at a 'Free Huey Newton' Rally, 1968 (Oakland Museum of California)