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Information Literacy: History

Information Literacy Skills for History Majors

What skills do your majors need in order to conduct research in your discipline?

History majors should be able to:

  • Find and evaluate secondary sources, in print and online –monographs and peer-reviewed journal articles
  • Find and evaluate primary source material, in print and online
  • Accurately cite a variety of sources according to the professional standard in the field, the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)
  • Construct an argument that integrates primary and secondary material to support and explain the author’s position
  • Understand how different perspectives and sources cans shape one’s understanding of history

In which classes will these skills be taught?

Introductory Classes

  • HIST 103, 104, 113, 114, 210, 220, and 230 (students choose two of these last three)  introduce the types of sources and how to construct an argument using them

Methods classes

  • In HIST 290 Historical Methods and Theory, students learn how to search a variety of media to locate secondary and primary source material. Building on that foundation, they deepen their knowledge of source material as they develop their skills in understanding the differences in how historians work, studying source selections, historical training, geographic background, time of writing, and other factors

300 level classes

  • These junior-level classes center on a wide variety of history but all require students to build on the skills developed in 100 and 200-level classes by undertaking an extensive research project that draws on a wide source base

400-level classes

  • Students in these specialized seminars meet higher expectations in class discussions and their research and writing; students write a lengthy research paper, with a wide range of secondary sources and a greater emphasis on usage of primary sources

How will you know that the students have mastered these skills?

While students in all history courses are expected to demonstrate ongoing engagement with course materials, information literacy is primarily demonstrated through written work. These projects are then collected in each student’s ePortfolio, which provides both the student and department faculty with a compendium of work throughout the continuum of courses in the major.

  • HIST 290 Historical Methods and Theory
    • Historiographical paper that analyzes a specific  issue, focusing especially on finding a wide variety of secondary source material and then presenting those materials in a comparative study.
    • Research project that uses primary source material to better understand a dimension of local and/or national history.
  • 300 level courses—10-12 page research paper, with supporting evidence from a range of sources, correctly cited
  • 400 level courses—15-20 page paper with expanded source base, skillfully utilized to support the paper’s arguments, with appropriate citations