Beyond Big Data: Appendix

Collaboration is key. Over the past five years, we replaced our mostly solitary teaching habits with ideas developed through shared conversation and experimentation. We offer in this online Appendix some of the materials that we have developed while redesigning our courses and researching student learning together. We also provide more detail on how we conducted research and gathered data. We welcome readers to contact us at the addresses provided below for further information or questions.

Course Redesign Process

In 2015, the authors worked in a group of 29 historians from the California State University (CSU) system as part of the CSU Course Redesign with Technology program. Chris Endy and Carol Srole at Cal State LA developed backwards course redesign worksheets for our cohort of historians. These worksheets encourage faculty to start their course design by setting aside specific history content and focusing instead on broader learning goals. Worksheet 1 provides faculty with a series of broad questions to guide course design, based on identifying key historical questions, and the skills students will need to develop to meet these goals. Worksheet 2 provides a more detailed planning template.

Student Surveys

We conducted a pre-survey and post-survey with students across six CSU campuses, exploring their attitudes towards history and their experience taking a history course. The survey derived from an earlier survey at Cal State LA developed by Christopher Endy, Carole Srole, and Birte Pfleger. We refined the questions and survey response options with the assistance of Dr. Erika Kato at the Center for Evaluation and Educational Effectiveness at CSU Long Beach and Dr. Mark Smith at the Stanford History Education Group. We also drew on the expertise of colleagues to analyze the data from the survey. We grouped questions from the survey together into clusters to see if students demonstrated an “expert shift” over the course of the semester in terms of historical thinking and civic engagement. Cognitive psychologist Dr. Ji Y. Son developed a stepwise multiple regression methodology to analyze the results. The full methodology provides the details of the initial analyses of predictor variables, as well as the full regression model.  

Sample Syllabi and Assignments

Working on different campuses and trained in different subfields, we each developed our own syllabi. At the same time, our collection of syllabi shows a common focus on marrying history content with scaffolded assignments to help students develop academic skills. This teaching approach can also be seen in this selection of assignments from our courses.

Student Perspectives

To learn more about students’ experiences in our courses, we conducted focus group interviews with twelve students across four campuses using a semi-structured interview format. A graduate student from each campus conducted the interviews using this interview protocol. We also invited a couple students to share written reflections on their experiences taking introductory U.S. history.

Faculty Contact Details

Bridget Ford is a professor of history at California State University, East Bay.
Readers may contact Ford at

Katherine Chilton is a lecturer in history at San José State University.
Readers may contact Chilton at

Christopher Endy is a professor of history at California State University, Los Angeles.
Readers may contact Endy at

Michael Henderson is a lecturer in history at California State University, San Marcos.
Readers may contact Henderson at

Brad A. Jones is an associate professor of history at Fresno State University.
Readers may contact Jones at

Ji Son is an associate professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles.
Readers may contact Son at