Mission and Assessment

Our Mission and Goals

The History program is devoted to understanding the past in global perspective. The aim of the department is to assist students in becoming:

  1. Better equipped to effectively do research on their own using various historical sources
  2. More effective citizens of the global community and more able to think critically and analytically by using the past as a model.

The program offers a major and minor by integrating categories of historical thought, diverse in both their geographic as well as chronological breadth.

The history major and minor provide a foundation for the liberal arts curriculum. They also contribute to a broad range of programs within education, business, social sciences, humanities and the fine arts. Our mission is to instruct students in the historical discipline in order to prepare them for citizenship in the future and to facilitate not only their university education but to make them life-long learners of the social and historical process and equip them with the tools they need to succeed after graduation.

Students awarded a Bachelor of Arts in History will have therefore attained competencies in the following areas as a result of successful completion of our program:

  1. A knowledge base in all five areas of specialization within the historical discipline which include Africa, E Asia, Europe and Russia, The Middle East and The U.S.
  2. A skill set to facilitate oral and written expression and independent research which includes the ability to: Utilize evidence and sources, construct a bibliography, develop a thesis, organize oral and written presentations and, employ correct grammar in all communications.
  3. Analytic skills of the historical discipline which include the ability to: Employ proper historical methodology, formulate a research question in the discipline, develop a narrative from oral and written primary and secondary sources, and to understand different historiographical perspectives and use them as a tool of analysis.


In order to maintain and further enhance the quality of our instruction, the program will compile, discuss, and assess data each year for the purposes of:

  • Modifications to the program
  • Position and funding requests
  • Faculty and programmatic development by utilizing the following direct and indirect measures

To that end, the History program has identified four Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) that map to the Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) identified as the core components of UMD's Assessment of Student Learning program. They are:

  1. Arguments (SLO 2): Students will accurately explain the causes and consequences of historical change and continuity.
  2. Evidence (SLO 3): Students will analyze and interpret primary sources in their historical context.
  3. Historiography (SLO 1): Students will know and apply current historical methods and theories in secondary scholarship.
  4. Research and Method (Integrates Writing; SLO 6): Students will write an original research paper that demonstrates proficiency in arguments, evidence, and historiography.

Measures for each PLO are determined according to an assessment rubric created for each category. All History majors are assessed in the required capstone seminar, HIST 5905: History Seminar, a course that is required as part of the major and open only to history majors. The specific assignments used to measure for student performance on each PLO are determined by individual faculty, but fall into the following broad categories:

PLO 1: Assignments that demonstrate mastery of the ability to explain historical processes (e.g., essay exams)

PLO 2: Assignments requiring the critical analysis of primary source evidence (e.g., reading quizzes, discussion board posts, analytic and response papers)

PLO 3: Assignments requiring a demonstration of information literacy, historical methodology, and current scholarly theories (e.g., annotated bibliographies, book reviews, historiography essays)

PLO 4: Written research papers that synthesize the elements of all three other learning outcomes.

We consider a PLO met by our program in the event that all students who have completed the assigned coursework are scored as “Proficient” or higher on the rubrics for each category. Faculty will have ongoing discussions regarding the standards for each assessment level. We will strengthen our standards in the event that too many students are judged as “Distinguished,” and will review our methods and measures in all 1xxx-5xxx courses in the event that students consistently fail to meet “Proficient” in the HIST 5905 course.

Please review the Undergraduate Curricular Program Assessment Plan for more details.