American Civilization History:
Goals, Methods and Expectations

1.    To ask and help students formulate their own answers to the question "To what extent and in what respects has the United States been a land of opportunity?"

2.    To teach students to think critically about major issues in United States history.

3.    To teach students to distinguish between conclusions and supporting evidence and between well substantiated and poorly substantiated interpretation.

4.    To teach students to formulate their own historical interpretations and to marshal evidence in support of them.

5.    To help students learn how to use New Media, especially CD-ROMs and the World Wide Web, to acquire historical sources and sharpen their critical skills.


1.    The primary method of instruction is class discussion.

2.    It is repeatedly demonstrated in the course of class discussions that every work of history, even a textbook, is basically and inevitably interpretive.

3.    Students are shown how to locate historical interpretation and how to evaluate historical interpretation on the basis of evidence.


1.    Students will be able to demonstrate, orally and in writing, a clear understanding of each major issue in United States history emphasized in the course.

2.    Students will learn to find and state an author's interpretation.

3.    Students will learn to marshal evidence to demonstrate that an author does or does not substantiate his or her interpretation.

Evaluation of Student Progress

1.    Daily evaluation in class discussion of the student's ability to understand and analyze critically what he or she has read, seen or heard.

2.    Two four-to-six page papers each semester and occasional journal entries.

3.    Two mid-term examinations and a final examination each semester.

Required Texts

Mary Beth Norton, et. al., A People and A Nation.   Brief edition.   Seventh edition.
Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers.  The Revolutionary Generation.
Douglas Miller, The Birth of Modern America 1820-1850.
Margaret Walker, Jubilee   (excerpts and commentary).
David Katzman and William Tuttle, Plain Folk.
Francisco Jimenez, Breaking Through

Films, DVDs and Web Sites

Nine to Five (first eight minutes)
Founding Brothers (2 DVDs from The History Channel)
The Valley of the Shadow
Half Slave, Half Free
The Immigrant Experience: The Long, Long Journey
The Homefront

Test Return Policy

1.    All mid-term examinations will be returned to students within approximately one week of the test date.   However, no tests will be returned until every student in the course has taken the test.

2.    The essay portion of each mid-term examination, together with teacher comments and evaluation, will be returned permanently to the student.

3.    The results of the multiple-choice portion of each mid-term examination will be announced to the student, and each student will be invited to review the questions and answers individually with the instructor.   Although the multiple-choice question sheets will not be returned permanently to the student, they remain available for examination by the student upon request.

4.    The first semester examination will be returned to students in class on the first day of the second semester.   A significant portion of the class period will be devoted to going over the exam.   At the end of the class period, the exams will be collected and kept on file by the instructor for a period of at least six weeks.   Any student wishing to look over his or her exam a second time during that six week period is invited to do so.

5.    The final examination will be kept on file by the instructor for a period of at least six weeks following the exam.   Any student wishing to look over his or her exam during that six week period is encouraged to do so.

Contact Information

Office Hours: Semester I:    Daily: 9:20 - 10:25 a.m.;   1:00 - 3:05 p.m. Office Phone: 816 936-1408
Office: J206.Semester II:   Daily: 9:20 - 10:25 a.m.;   1:00 - 3:05 p.m. e-mail: