We have compiled a database of syllabuses from introductory history courses taught at Purdue University. Although some scholars and educational experts argue that the lecture is dead, most history instructors would agree that it remains the most fundamental means of communicating historical knowledge and information to students. We want to encourage creative survey courses, classroom activities, reading choices, and teaching methods in order to keep the survey relevant and interesting. We may not be able to revolutionize the format of information delivery, but we can work to improve our survey courses to keep students engaged and interested in the material.
When you develop your syllabus, you'll need to make choices regarding exams, quizzes, papers, attendance, classroom policies, technology, textbooks, additional readings, discussion sections, multimedia presentations, films, Power Point, and many more issues. The best way to learn about these methods and make decisions is to consult with other graduate students, instructors, and professors. All students are also encouraged to complete HIST 650: Teaching the History Survey to learn about pedagogical decisions, discuss future course choices, and develop a mock syllabus. The simple text of a syllabus does not adequately communicate the successes or failures of a course. Therefore, we encourage you to contact the instructor directly to ask about positives, negatives, reading selections, future courses, and general advice. Creating a syllabus is not reinventing the wheel, but individual instructors offer a great deal of variety in teaching methods and classroom atmospheres. Also, do not hesitate to ask professors to sit in on their class to get a feel for different lectures styles. (History professors are all performers at heart, and they usually do not mind a bigger audience).
Additional Information and Resources
American Historical Association - Teaching Matters
The AHA offers excellent resources for history instructors. In addition to examining our syllabi for courses specifically taught at Purdue, please consult their website's teaching section to get more ideas for your course.
The American Social History Project, in connection with the Center for Media and Learning at CUNY and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University have also compiled a database of syllabi and primary sources focused on teaching the U.S. History Survey.