History Department

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the history major, students will have developed a broad range of analytical skills with which to approach the critical study of the past. Majors will be able to:

  1. Discuss, analyze and assess professional academic scholarship from the field of history:
    • Summarize and critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of works of historical scholarship
    • Identify, articulate, and assess historical arguments in such works
    • Analyze the use of primary and secondary sources in such works
    • Identify the scholarly significance of such works, including the contribution they seek to make to the field, the conversations they engage in, and the methodologies they use
  2. Execute and defend a significant independent research project in history:
    • Develop a topic of interest into a historical research question
    • Develop and pursue a methodology appropriate to addressing a historical research question, including the identification and evaluation source materials
    • Produce a coherent and significant historical argument supported by primary and secondary source evidence and place that argument within a larger scholarly conversation
    • Practice ethical and responsible historical scholarship, including proper and thorough citation following the conventions of historical scholarship
    • Undertake significant revisions based on their own critical reflection and feedback from advisors and other readers
    • Produce clear and coherent historical writing in pieces of different lengths and genres, including a coherent, long-form document based in original research that incorporates the best practices of historical scholarship
    • Orally present, discuss, and defend work done, both to experts and to scholars from outside the field

The primary assessment tool for learning in the major at Reed and the level of student achievement in the major area is the senior thesis; the junior qualifying examination and the Junior Seminar, which together assess a student's readiness for thesis, provide a second set of assessment tools. See more information on the thesis and the junior qualifying exam.