University of Oklahoma courses invite students to dive into history, government

Destiny Crowley, 19, is enrolled in U.S. History, a survey course all OU students are required to take. But unlike a typical lower-level course, the class focuses less on names, dates and places and more on teaching students to do the work of historians.
by Silas Allen Modified: August 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm •  Published: August 28, 2013
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— Although she's only a few weeks into her sophomore year, University of Oklahoma student Destiny Crowley already feels like she's taking on the role of a researcher.

Crowley, 19, is enrolled in U.S. history, a survey course all OU students are required to take. But unlike a typical lower-level course, the class Crowley is taking focuses less on names, dates and places and more on teaching students to do the work of historians.

“They're trying to make it more well-rounded instead of just memorizing dates,” Crowley said.

Along with American federal government, a civics survey, the history course is one of two lower-level survey courses the university revamped to give students a chance to discover things for themselves. The university launched the redesigned versions of the two classes this semester.

One of the most drastic changes from the way the courses have been conducted in the past is the teachers themselves, said Kyle Harper, senior vice provost and director of OU's Institute for American Constitutional Heritage.

A typical freshman-level survey course is taught by a mix of faculty, adjunct instructors and graduate students, Harper said. But over the past several years, more senior, tenured professors have begun to see the importance of the classes. Under the new model, senior faculty members teach the courses, Harper said.

The format also is different, Harper said. Typically, those courses consist mostly of an instructor lecturing, he said. The redesigned courses will mix lecture with student involvement in a way that university officials hope will give students a better experience.

By exposing students to the excitement of discovering knowledge for themselves early on in their college careers, Harper said, he hopes to see students go on to be better scholars.


by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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