Teaching and Learning History: Teagle Foundation to Support a New AHA Initiative

What are the best practices for teaching history to undergrads? How can history departments better work with teaching and learning centers at their institutions? What does a graduate student in history need to know about the latest pedagogical theories, practices, and debates?

The American Historical Association, with the help of a grant from the Teagle Foundation, hopes to address these questions over the course of the next two years. Assembling a team of leading experts in history teaching and historical thinking, the AHA will explore ways to more effectively integrate the scholarship on teaching and learning into graduate history education.

The project will start with a look at the required pedagogy course for history doctoral students at the University of California, Berkeley. An advisory panel with expertise in the scholarship of teaching and learning will assist the Berkeley history faculty in focusing their course on giving graduate students a deeper understanding of how undergraduates learn history, and instilling an openness to developing their full potential as teachers through engagement with scholarship on teaching and learning history.  

The project will continue with the AHA Teaching Division developing activities for our 2014 and 2015 annual meetings in Washington, D.C. and New York with the help of an expert advisory panel.  We aim to create and implement a coherent and concentrated series of annual meeting sessions—presentations and hands-on workshops—that demonstrate the utility and benefits of teaching and learning research for graduate training, and subsequently for undergraduate teaching.  These sessions will be geared toward directors of graduate study and future faculty, with at least one joint session.

The advisory team members for this initiative will include Lendol Calder (Augustana College), Keith Erekson (Univ. of Texas El Paso), David Jaffee (Bard Graduate Center), Mills Kelly (George Mason Univ.), David Pace (Indiana Univ.), Leah Shopkow (Indiana Univ.), Sam Wineburg (Stanford Univ.), and Laura Westhoff (Univ. of Missouri-St. Louis).  At Berkeley, faculty member Maureen Miller, who serves as vice-chair for graduate affairs and head graduate advisor, will coordinate the history department’s part in the grant work.

The Teagle Foundation provides leadership for liberal education, mobilizing the intellectual and financial resources that are necessary if today’s students are to have access to a challenging and transformative liberal education. The foundation’s commitment to such education includes its grantmaking to institutions of higher education across the country, its long-established scholarship program for the children of employees of ExxonMobil, and its work helping economically disadvantaged young people in New York City—where the Foundation is based—gain admission to college and succeed once there.

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