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Prof. Bennett's Research: Spring 2017 Content

The following Syllabus elements and Assessments/Assignments were used during the Spring 2017 semester. They formed the "activities" for Prof. Bennett's research and data collection. 

To Students: Please do not refer to these pages for current assessment information. You'll want the Syllabus, Assessments, and Classes pages (in the header) instead.

S17 Learning Outcomes

The following Learning Outcomes were available to students on Hello World Civ during the Spring 2017 semester:

General Skills

  • Researching with academic and scholarly databases and web resources
  • Writing in an organized and engaging manner for a public audience
  • Respecting other authors and creators through conscientious citations
  • Collaborating with team members to complete group activities and semester-long projects

Digital Fluency

  • Experience creating material on Squarespace, a blogging platform
  • Interactions with Twitter, a microblog and social media
  • Basic understanding of the role of tagging and categories (metadata)
  • Consideration of the ethical concerns surrounding social media and public writing

Historical Thinking

  • Historical knowledge - familiarity with societies, people, events, and ideas that developed between 3500 BCE and 1400 CE
  • Historical empathy - an ability to understand and respect the motivations, beliefs, and daily life of past peoples, without necessarily agreeing with every worldview
  • Historical critical thinking
    • discussing primary source material for the purpose of understanding what the material tells us about the past
    • constructing narratives about the past that are evidence based and interpretive
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There are four graded assessments in this course.

Attendance and Participation (125 points total): Points can be earned here through timely attendance, full presence, participation in class discussions, and some tweeting in class

Blogging Project (350 points total): Points are earned here through creating blog posts, providing comments to peers, giving feedback to group-mates, and being an excellent team member. This is the most complex and time consuming project in the semester. The 330 points includes both group (225 pts) and individually (125 pts) graded components.

Read/Tweet Primary Sources (36 points total): Points are earned by tweeting on time about the reading for class. You'll read a primary source (something written in the time/place we're studying) and then tweet out questions, comments, and responses the evening before class. Each student will complete nine of these assignments, worth 4 points each. 

Discussion Reflections (50 points total): Points are earned here through thoughtful, expansive reflection on the primary sources read for class. You'll complete two 500-word reflections about our discussions in class. Each essay is worth 25 points. The goal will be to answer the question, "Why is this source worth studying?"


Read on for more detailed descriptions of the assessments + rubrics for grading in each category!


ATtendance & Participation (125 Points)

Purpose of Assessment: 

Build content knowledge, social & academic community, and practical skills through presence in class and conversation with other students in person and via Twitter. 

Attendance and participation are graded together because the two reinforce each other. 


Attendance goals

You are expected to attend every class.

BUT! You may miss two regular classes. No penalties. No MCs needed. Because stuff happens. At the end of the semester, those two missed classes will be dropped.

Missing more than two classes may impact your grade. Arriving late to class on a regular basis will also affect your grade. 

I'll take an attendance photo near the start of each class (about 8:40 or 12:10) to see who is present. [This also lets me learn your names quickly!] 


Participation Options

Anything that might be defined as active engagement counts as participation in this course:

  • Active listening to ppl sharing ideas
  • Focusing on the quality of your statements, not just the quantity
  • Messaging or speaking with me about class content, assignments, and other topics of interest
  • Posing a question or sharing an idea in class or online
  • Sharing a website or article with the class
  • Speaking in class (small groups or large group)
  • Taking notes (paper or electronic)
  • Tweeting for entry and exit quizzes each class
  • Tweeting class-related material in general
  • Responsible use of technology
  • Other...

At the beginning of the semester, you will complete a "#participlan" - a short Twitter essay about how you will challenge yourself to participate this semester.

From me, you will receive mid-semester feedback regarding your participation and an end-of-semester grade.


HOw is this graded?

There are multiple paths to earning 125 pts for Attendance & Participation. You don't have to do everything; you just have to do some things really well. Think of it like a game where points are earned until a goal (125 points) is met. You may not score more than 125 points for Attendance & Participation.

The following rubric will be used to grade participation & attendance. You can download a PDF copy here or view as a spreadsheet in the HWC Shared folder on Google Drive.

Read/Tweet Primary Sources

For each class you will read one or two primary sources. (That is, a document created in the time period we're studying.) Once a week, you will also tweet two questions or comments related to the primary source reading(s) for class.

Purpose of Assessment: Familiarize students with historical texts related to course content. Help students grow ability to use primary documents as evidence of what a time or place was like. Facilitate in-class discussion through pre-class preparation.

Skills: Reading for content, context, and author's perspective. Collaborative reading with peers. Creating concise commentary through tweets. Increased digital fluency.

Primary Sources.png

Reading the Primary Sources

For each class, you will be asked to read one or two primary sources. The primary sources assigned for each class can be found on the individual class pages.

Most primary sources contains small yellow bubbles that annotate the text and attempt to clarify some unfamiliar words or ideas. I recommend reading them for added context.

Our discussions in each class depend on your familiarity with the primary sources, so do keep up with the reading. It's also helpful (to you, your peers, and your prof) to arrive in class with some notes or questions about the readings.


Tweeting the Primary Sources

When it is your group's turn to tweet, you should plan to provide at least TWO tweets that contain a question or comment about the source.

Your tweets should not try to summarize the text. Instead, you should aim to share questions, comments, or quotes:

Ask a "why" question - why does the author think this? why does a character take this action? why is this word or concept important?

Share a key quote that you think is interesting, fun, insightful, or confusing.

Say "I don't understand..." a portion of the text, a quote, a character's actions, etc.

Use the Retweet option to Quote a classmate's tweet and add an additional idea, quote, or question.

Connect or compare the text to others we've read in class.

Share a link to a resource - a video, summary, article, or other webpage that helps illuminate the text.

The focus for your responses should be quality rather than quantity. Do your best to add tweets that are honest, thoughtful, and further the discussion.

Be willing to risk saying, “I don’t understand.” Share things that are genuinely interesting to you. Comment on things you believe are important to history. 


Logistics: Details & Deadlines

The two tweets:

  • At least one tweet must be original (meaning, it is all your own content or ideas).
  • The second tweet may be:
    • Another original tweet OR
    • A retweet that "quote" a classmate's tweet OR
    • A reply to a classmate's tweet that adds new information or forwards a conversation

When tweeting: 

  • Use the class hashtag (#hwc111) plus the class number (e.g. - #c04 or #c15)


  • 9:00 pm the night before class (so I - your prof - have time to review the tweets and integrate them into class)
  • Divided by group - A or B
    • To be assigned during Class 3.


  • Tweets are graded for completion, not correctness.
  • Each student will complete 9 rounds of primary source tweets.
  • On-time tweets (posted by 9:00 pm) are worth two points each. (Total = 4 points)
  • Tweets posted between 10:00 pm and the start of class the next day will be worth 1 point each. (Total = 2 points)
  • Students who submit 8/9 rounds of tweets on time will receive a bonus of 4 points at the end of the semester.

Discussion Reflections  (60 Points)

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Group discussions of the primary sources in class are a collective, collaborative effort to make sense of and gain insights from the primary sources.

The rapid pace of a class meeting doesn't leave a lot of time for personal reflection, however. That's where this assessment comes in.

The discussion reflections are NOT a summary of the class or a comprehensive analysis of the source discussed. Instead, these short papers are intended to be thoughtful, deeper dives into themes of interest in the primary sources and in discussions of those sources. This assignment, ideally, will be driven by personal interests in the subject matter. 

Purpose of Assessment: To test student knowledge of the content and importance of the primary sources. To encourage personal connections to historical material.

Skills: Writing. Evidence-based critical thinking. Active listening.


  • 2 Discussion Reflections
    • Choose 2 classes this semester to write about.
    • You must write at least one of the reflections about a discussion in class between class 4 and class 14
    • You may choose to write both of the reflections about discussions between classes 4 and 14.
    • It is up to you to decide which two discussions you wish to reflect on.
  • 30 points each
  • 500 word maximum
  • Revisions will be allowed for DR 1
    • I will send back a grade and feedback on the DR and then you may choose to revise
  • No research required
  • Submit Discussion Reflections via Google Docs to helloworldciv111 AT
    • Submit by sharing - no need to email.
    • Include the class number (e.g., Class 12) or name of class in title
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Each Discussion Reflection should answer the question: 

Why is this source worth studying?

The question should be answered by referencing the primary source(s) discussed in class. Include specific examples and quotes from the text or detailed descriptions of the image or artifact. 

A bonus of 2 points will be added to a Discussion Reflection grade if you effectively include a specific reference to an idea or tweet contributed by a classmate during discussion

You may answer the question in whatever way makes the most sense to you. If you're not sure where to go with the reflection, you could start by considering one of the following questions:

  1. What does the source tell us about the time and place we studied in class? How does it connect to lecture or Crash Course material?
  2. How does this source compare to others we've read/viewed in the course? Does it address a common theme in the course? Or is it something new?
  3. Is the source valuable to you in a personal way? Are there passages that connect with your experience and worldview? Does the source challenge your worldview or push you to see things differently?

Deadlines & Grading:

Please consult the class calendar. Deadlines are typically about 3 days after a discussion, with a few exceptions to avoid conflicts with other assignments due. 

Grading will follow the rubric linked HERE. (Downloadable PDF file.) The file can also be found in the HWC Shared folder on Google Drive.


Blogging Project (300 Points)

Purpose of Assessment: 

Grow research and writing skills. Deepen knowledge of content and interpretation of history. Create public writing students can point to after the class. Foster teamwork. Increase comfort with new technology and social media.


Blogging Project Elements & Deadlines

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Two Blog Posts (200 pts): Quick Start Guide

This semester you will write two blog posts. For each blog post you will create a draft, receive comments from your prof and peers, and submit a revised final copy of the post.

I'm providing a (very) quick start guide here. You will need to read the "required further reading links" below for full details.

Blog Post 1 is text-based; it's sort of a traditional research project, sort of a Wikipedia page, sort of a blog post. 1000-1500 words max. Worth 75 pts.

Blog Post 2 is a creative post that should narrate history through the use of rich images, video, social media, or creative writing. Length/scope is negotiable. We'll work it out together depending on the project. Worth 75 pts.

There is a full list of resources available under the Blogging Project Resources link (in the footer) - including how to create a blog post, how to pull flash images from a museum website, and how to create the yellow bubble footnotes.

Groups & Topics (25 pts)

Blogging groups will be assigned. (This is different from previous semesters and based on feedback from last semester's students...)

I encourage you to get to know your group mates and work out a plan for division of labor early on. Ask each other some getting-to-know-you questions, check in about your work styles, take the 16 personalities quiz together... Whatever helps you bond as a team is great.

You may choose your topics from a list of potential topics provided [list will be available by Thursday].

  • Both topics must be from the same civilization. 
  • Only one group may cover any given topic. 

These guidelines are also new to this semester. With the list of topics, I'm hoping to direct you toward important and interesting things you might not stumble on by accident. By asking you to choose two topics from the same civ, I'm hoping you'll come away with a deeper understanding of how complex societies are. That's the goal anyway. We'll see how it works and may loosen up the rules for Post 2.

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Topic consultations are part of this project. During class 2, each group will have time to sign up to meet with me on Feb 9 or 10 to discuss your topics and first steps.

  • Sign Up Here 
  • View confirmed appointments in this spreadsheet
  • All consultations to be held in UB offices (Level 8, Block C)
  • Feb 9 - 10:15-11:45 am; 2:00-6:00 pm
  • Feb 10 - 10:00-11:45 am; 2:00-6:00 pm

To Bring to the Consultation: 

  • Preferred Civilizations (1-2) & Topics (4-6)
  • Preliminary research (a few articles, books, or websites that you think will be useful)
  • Questions about the Blogging Project

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Commenting on Blog Posts (60 pts)

Each student will provide at least 3 comments (worth 30 points total) on Post 1 drafts and 3 comments (worth 30 points total) on Post 2 drafts. Choose posts of interest to you and/or posts for which you feel you can offer constructive criticism.

To best assist your peers and receive full points for this portion of the assessment, comments should address both a positive element and something that could use improvement

The following questions may help guide your comments:

  • Does the post have a clear statement of purpose or a thesis statement?
  • Do I understand the main point of the post?
  • Is the topic's importance to history present and clear?
  • Are there clear, specific examples to support the significance and thesis?
  • Do transitions from one section to the next make sense?
  • Is the post easy to follow?
  • Is the writing or presentation engaging? If not, how could it be made more engaging or fun to read?
  • Are images Creative Commons/Public Domain and cited properly?
  • Are there hyperlinks to sources?
  • Is there a references list? If so, do the sources look scholarly/educational?

INDIVIDUAL FEEDBACK (15 points total)

Phew! This is the simplest part. In class, after the submission of each draft and at the end of the semester, you will fill out a brief survey telling me:

  • What did you find challenging?
  • What did you find rewarding?
  • Any tech issues?
  • What did you personally contribute to your group?
  • How satisfied are you with your group members' work?

You'll complete three individual feedback forms, worth 5 points each. Your feedback helps me (your prof) identify and assist with content, technical, or group issues as they arise.

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Promoting a culture of teamwork (50 points)

This is an individual grade based on my (Prof. Bennett's) observation + your peers' assessment of team dynamics and individual effort.

You can earn full points in this category by:

  • Contributing equally to the workload through brainstorming, research, writing, and work on the class blog.
  • Submitting your materials to group members in a timely manner.
  • Attending group meetings and making group deadlines.
  • Consistently staying in contact with group members.
  • Addressing group dynamic issues in a respectful way and working to resolve issues in the group.
  • Requesting assistance from Prof. Bennett for content, technical, or group dynamic issues.

If your peers and Prof. Bennett are satisfied - or, better yet, thrilled! - with your work in the group, you will receive full or close-to-full points.