My time in HST110L: The American Experience

For my spring semester here at CMU, I knew that I would need to take a history class to fulfill one of the requirements for my LAS scholarship. Knowing this, I was eager to take a history class because the history curriculum at my high school was not the greatest. Although it took facing some obstacles to actually get enrolled in the course, I finally got into HST110L.

I wish I could say that I have grasped a lot in the course of the class, but unfortunately that is not the case. Our syllabus that outlines our daily assignments is unclear, leaving me wondering what I need to do for the class on a daily basis. We have two books that we have constant readings from which I find difficult to keep up with. I’m unsure what I should be taking notes on and what I should commit to memory because the exams are so far from what we cover in class. The notes are so unstructured in class that I have gotten used to just writing down what Ms. Tobin says and trying to differentiate what is important later on.

What really frustrates me is the lack of information and feedback on our grade. Our grades are not posted on BlackBoard so I have no tangible way of knowing my grade. Our exams are graded using a point system, and our papers are only given a letter grade. I’m unsure of how to convert this in figuring out my grade to make sure I’m keeping up in the class. I find it difficult to recieve a good grade in the class because information is so unclear. On our first paper, she gave a very general idea of what she wanted in the paper and did not give us a proper rubric to go off of. I was marked down for things I didn’t even know I needed to include.

Because of my lack of knowledge in history, I do find learning about certain topics intriguing. I find that because I am older and am relearning what I was taught in middle school and high school, I can better understand the timeline of events and how each event throughout history affected the next. I’ve become more knowledgeable about our presidents through time and how each man made an impact on America. It was interesting to see how certain presidents differed, such as Andrew Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. I’m looking forward to moving onto the civil rights era involving MLK and Malcolm X and looking at how each of their leadership styles influenced our nation.

Although I wish I could get more from this class, I am happy that I get to spend an hour with my LAS cohort every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. No matter what I am thrown at daily (like a class that I’m not especially fond of) I know I am getting something out of it, whether that is knowledge about history or knowledge about something I can take away from simply being in the class.



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