Teaching & Learning
Teaching Resources for Historians
Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age
The History of the Americas
The Conquest of Mexico
Last week, I had just asked for my faculty discount at the University Bookstore when I remembered that I did not have my faculty I.D. card with me. The student employee said it did not matter, then asked me what department I was in. When I said I was in the History Department, the student responded, “Oh, you must be a faculty member. Only a real faculty member would admit to being in the History Department.” She proceeded to explain that she somehow had survived the University’s history requirement and had graduated, so she never had to take any more history classes.
Unfortunately, this student’s attitude is all too common. Mass media and, in many cases, the California State University, Fullerton’s own publicity brochures and web presence emphasize the role of a college education in preparing students for specific vocations or careers. History and the other liberal arts are relegated to “General Education,” a category of classes that many professors in the professional schools dismiss as “useless” requirements that impede progress towards career goals. The overall result is that few students take more than the minimum survey requirements necessary for graduation.
Because students take so little history, enormous burdens are placed on the few history classes they take. History professors must do everything they can to keep students’ interest. They must also grapple with the particular set of study skills students bring to their classes. In January 2000, I was a commentator on a session that focused on the American Historical Association Teaching and Learning Project at the organization’s annual meeting. I was particularly taken by David Trask’s argument that we (faculty) often complain about the poor skills students have reading books, listening to lectures, and taking notes without reflecting on the relevance of books, lectures, and notes to their world and how they make sense of their world. Raised on the hypermedia of the Internet and MTV, our students have learned to expect information to be provided in brief chunks of text interspersed with multimedia-images, sounds, even videos. Trask’s argument, and I tend to agree with him, is that what we may think are “poor” skills, in fact, demonstrate the new student’s capacity for negotiating in his and her world, a world very different from the one we grew up in. The implication of Trask’s argument is that faculty are stuck in an old paradigm of education, while the world has become something we do not entirely understand. Trask and others have compared this moment in history with the dramatic change in communication and education that followed the invention of Johannes Gutenberg’s movable type printing press in the fifteenth century.
Working with the primary sources I digitized on the conquest of Mexico, I began to understand how different the world of writing, thinking, and knowing shifted with the development of the printing press. The codex or manuscript form of the pre-printing press book was linear like the book, but was much more likely than early books to be illustrated. Partly because the indigenous populations of the Americas wrote histories as pictorial texts and partly because the various Franciscan and Dominican friars were used to copying codices rather than producing books, most of the indigenous accounts of the conquest appeared as codices rather than printed books. They are so similar in form to printed books that it became easy to publish them as such. However, my work in verifying that copyright laws did not cover specific texts soon revealed some of the differences between codices and printed books. Most important, codices were copied over and over again. The manuscripts remained in private hands until they sometimes ended up in libraries. It was relatively easy to fabricate a codex, change it, include original illustrations, copy them, or redraw them. What printing did was fix a version of the text and standardize it. Hernán Cortés’s letters, published early in the sixteenth century, do not differ dramatically from one version to the next, whereas the various versions of the Florentine Codex, the primary Nahuatl source on the conquest, vary a lot from version to version. In translating from a nineteenth century Spanish version of the codex, I also came to appreciate the reality of the text as an oral history, the attempt to capture the story “told” not written by the Mexicas; hence, the many repetitions of phrases, the lack of clear sentence or paragraph structure, and so forth. One could complain that the Mexicas “lacked writing skills,” but that would be to misunderstand the nature of the text as an oral history. Similarly, it is not uncommon to find radical reconstructions of historical memory recounted in oral traditions in cultures where such traditions exclusively preserved historical memory. Footnotes, items that one of my professors explained were the “essence” of history, are very much a product of print culture. This is why even when charters of franchise were recorded in Medieval France, they included the names of the people who witnessed the act of franchise, since one could-at least in the short run–ask the people present if the charter was real or fabricated; merely seeing something in writing constituted no such “sure” evidence at that time.
The advent of hypermedia and the Internet in the late twentieth century has some interesting parallels to the knowledge/communication paradigm shift of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries as well as some provocative new challenges. Most important, hypermedia represents a radical departure from the linear form of the book. While one can reproduce the linear form of the book in hypermedia, studies have shown that people do not read Internet pages the same way they read books. They learn to scan pages quickly to see if there is something of interest on it; if not, they quickly go somewhere else. Thus, it is not uncommon for Web designers to recommend that pages written for the Internet be much shorter than writing produced for paper. They also recommend highlighting keywords, possibly as hyperlinks, and making use of bulleted lists that can be scanned quickly.
In short, Web readers do not like nor expect long linear texts like those found in printed books. This is evident in the summary Florence Baker of El Camino College provided on her students’ reactions to my web-based materials. Some complained that it was “too much text without images.” I have since incorporated more images, but the problem of the long unbroken text remains and, indeed, may be worse, as I tried to remain more faithful to the format of the nineteenth century source I translated. In reviewing on-line sources on using technology in teaching, I ran across an example of how to digitize effectively the Hippocratic Oath. Hyperlinks were used to break the document up into critical components, relegating background information to the background. The author also recommended using bullets to make the text more readable on the Web. But no one believes that Hippocratus. wrote with hyperlinks or bullets. Making a text more readable for the Web distorts it. Digitizing primary sources for online research and teaching, thus, immediately confronts the historian with the problem of preserving the full nature of the source while thinking about how different students are thinking and reading on-line1.
Moreover, since we are in the midst of a profound communications paradigm shift, texts written for hypermedia can be confusing to those who are new to it. Hyperlinks mimic critical thinking by linking to related material: a hyperlink between one word or phrase and another suggests a connection to the material that it is being hyperlinked to. However, a relationship that is obvious to a Web author may not be self-evident to the Web reader. My students found this aspect of hypermedia especially troubling. Comments included “if the connections you want to make are not validated by a hyperlink, this could actually undermine critical thinking by invalidating the student’s thought process,” and “the idea that a connection must be highlighted [hyperlinked] to be valid is odd.” While I would be the last one to argue that only hyperlinked connections are valid, I find it interesting that students brought up on the Internet consider this to be the case. Additionally, those comfortable reading printed books seriously found the multiple narratives possible in hypermedia disturbing or confusing and believed the modularity involved in presenting material to fit contemporary computer monitors to produce fragmented thinking. In the words of one student, “hypermedia allows you to write history for MTV, but do we really want ‘sound byte history’?”
Ultimately, reading hypermedia will have to be taught just as one teaches how to read linear texts, but few understand this at this time. Though officials in charge of faculty development at my university are proud of the fact that they have hundreds of courses on-line, very few of these courses make any use of hypermedia. Rather, they consist of a syllabus connected to a web-based discussion group and sometimes on-line quizzes or Power Point presentations, within the context of prepackaged software course delivery systems like WebCT and Blackboard/CoarseInfo. The emphasis here is on delivery that recapitulates what is done in very traditional classrooms not on the use of hypermedia to implement new pedagogies. The challenge for us will be to analyze the implications of what is meant by critical reading when one is reading material produced to be read in a certain fashion on a computer monitor as opposed to being read in a printed book.
Ironically, some of the other implications of using hypermedia on the Internet take us back to the codices and oral traditions of the Middle Ages. Hypermedia allows one easily to produce a twenty-first century version of an illuminated manuscript. When the images are well-chosen and optimized, this can only improve historical texts by providing students with some sense of how people visualized their worlds in the past. However, as with hypermedia, understanding how to read these images cannot be assumed to be self-evident. Bombarded with images everyday, students almost never encounter a visual literacy requirement as part of their general education. While we spend countless hours, weeks, and months teaching them how to read printed texts, it seems as though it has never occurred to us to teach students how to see or to help them understand how they see or to think about seeing critically. Finally, footnotes have to be totally rethought in a digital age because material moves, even disappears. What is up today may not be up tomorrow. As a consequence, one always includes the date viewed when citing an Internet source, since that was when one actually viewed it on-line. The date itself in the footnote underscores the ephemeral nature of Internet material, though many are creating digital archives that they presumably hope will last an eternity.
In other words, I believe there are many reasons for believing that the Internet is rapidly transforming how we communicate, how we produce texts, how we read texts, and what we expect texts to look like. It is also apparent that I believe this transformation will invariably transform how we teach; at the same time I recognize this transformation will not take place over night. As Anne Wynne of Orange Coast College and a member of our Los Angeles cluster explained, there is a difference between “early adapters” of the new technology and those who are just beginning to confront it in their professional lives. Without explanation, demonstration, and education, there is little reason to suppose that most history professors will understand what to do with hypermedia on the Internet even though their students have come to accept it as the conventional way in which information is presented and may, in fact, think in a non-linear hypermedia fashion as opposed to the linear thinking most of us, as historians, were trained to adopt and want them to develop.
My vision has been to develop hypermedia exercises based on primary sources to build a bridge between our contemporary students’ developed skills that they bring to the university and some of the skills that we believe are essential in developing historical habits of mind. We can draw students into our classes by using multimedia, particularly visual images, and, where possible, sound and video. Incorporating sound and video is technologically only slightly more difficult than bringing in images, but the files can be large and slow to download, and copyright laws cover most commercial sound and video sources. We cannot, however, simply use multimedia gratuitously. We must teach students to “read” it and to take it as seriously as written texts. Another grave danger with the use of hypermedia in history classes is that providing non-linear reading possibilities could undermine the development of students’ chronological thinking skills. The best sites make use of timelines along side of hypermedia presentations. Even so, we must make sure that even if we present material in a hypermedia format, students do not lose the ability to think in terms of causes and effects. They need to understand how events that occurred in the distant past may still be affecting our world today.
At the same time that hypermedia and the Internet have confronted us with a communications/knowledge revolution, educators have been challenged to think about better ways to teach. Most important, we have been encouraged to develop more “student-centered” approaches to learning. Though “student-centered learning” has become something of a fad in the last ten years, it is, by no means, entirely new. While corporate and political interests with their own agendas are now driving the emphasis on student-centered learning, much of what is being advocated comes out of the student radicalism of the 1960s. Behind various theories of student-centered learning is the belief that students will learn better if they are involved in their own education, if they take material from the class and use it in their own way to tie it to their own lives, past experiences, and knowledge already accumulated. The commonplace in the 1960s as in the year 2000 is that students really will not remember much of anything from a lecture very long after the test on it (if they have even remembered it at that point). There is also much evidence that even when students accurately answer multiple-choice questions on a principle, this does not mean that they understand it or will be able to use it in a new situation.
One kind of student-centered learning is the “mode of inquiry” approach to a discipline. The philosophy behind the “mode of inquiry” approach is that students cannot really understand the material typically presented in survey courses without already understanding how professionals in the discipline asked and answered questions. In other words, students need to understand how to ask and answer historical questions, that is, produce history, before they will intuitively understand the vast amounts of material presented in a history survey course. This philosophy of education basically asserts that we are teaching students backwards, that historical writing seminars should precede work in survey courses.
As someone who has thought seriously about history (I regularly teach our graduate level course on History and Theory) and how to teach it, there is a real logic behind the mode of inquiry approach. If a student takes a survey course based on a textbook and is then given objective tests on the material, the student will come away with the belief that history is a bunch of facts to be memorized. It is possible that the student will have no idea how much interpretation is present even in a textbook, nor is it likely that the student will develop a sense of historical controversies unless those controversies are deliberately presented. Having the student think about how to ask a historical question that can be researched, having the student research it then produce an interpretation or answer seems like a logical way to begin historical instruction in such a way that it will induce students to become more critical of what might be presented as history “facts” in the survey or the media. The “mode of inquiry” model is a student-centered approach that involves students in their own learning.
The “mode of inquiry” model of instruction also has been incorporated into various constructivist-learning theories that argue that students learn best when they participate in constructing their own knowledge within groups. Constructivist learning theory goes somewhat beyond simple “mode of inquiry” learning in emphasizing that students’ preconceived ideas need to be taken seriously and by insisting that knowledge should be constructed in collaborative groups where individual students can help to deconstruct each others’ preconceived ideas. As businesses demand employees capable of working in teams, educators in all disciplines have rushed to incorporate group learning as one of the skills developed in their classes. An assumption is made here that students can learn better by working with each other in groups than they can on their own, that they learn better on their own-even if they might be reinventing the wheel-than they do by listening and taking notes on professors’ lectures.
Constructivist learning theories have become linked in many minds with the use of technology in the classroom. There are some obvious and not so obvious reasons for this. Although some professors who have developed on-line courses offered exclusively through distance education have simply put their lecture notes on line, assigned a book, and used computerized multiple choice examinations to give students grades, most teachers seriously interested in educating students and in student learning question this practice. There is only one thing more boring than a professor reading his or her notes in class and that is having to read the notes on-line. The reported attrition rate in most distance education courses (unless they are very small) is extremely high, and one would expect it to be worse in this kind of course, which offers very little engagement and interaction except through email. Since providing on-line distance education is an extremely expensive proposition, administrators and proponents of on-line distance education reasonably want to make an argument that while it is expensive, the technology can enhance student learning. Having students work in groups, engaged in problem-solving related to the real world that result in professional papers that can be published on the Web and then critiqued by other students is a powerful student-centered approach to learning that seems to be especially well-suited to an on-line distance education course. The results can be very evident high quality learning that can be easily verified by looking at the papers posted on the Web. Indeed, I modeled my thinking in this project on an on-line physics course put together by my colleague Dr. Mark Shapiro. Mark divides his students into groups that work on four case studies throughout the course. They collaborate in writing a paper on each topic, which the other groups collaboratively critique. All the while, they engage in a lively debate over issues in environmental physics on the course bulletin board. It is the best demonstrated high quality learning I have personally viewed. The students are extremely involved with each other and the professor as they develop their own projects.
There are other reasons I used a physics class as a model for what I wanted to do with primary sources on the Internet. Most important, sciences have almost always been taught with an implied “mode of inquiry” component, the science laboratory class that students have to take along side their science lecture course. It has always been assumed that one must “do” science in order to learn science, thus, “hard” science has traditionally been differentiated from other the liberal arts and social sciences in the insistence that students apply, perform, and do science. My idea, as part of this project, was to develop a “mode of inquiry” project based on primary source research early in the semester that would ask students to ask a historical question and then answer it. I could do it as an early assignment in my “World Civilization since 1500” class, while I pursued other material. Students would have a laboratory approach and actually “do” history at the same time that I could use traditional means to both deliver and assess students later in the class. In other words, I would graft a “mode of inquiry” approach to the front-end of the class, with the assumption that students would acquire certain skills in completing the project that would create a better sense of history in the rest of the class.
I found the conquest of Mexico materials useful as such a core project for a number of reasons. First, I basically begin the class with 1492 and then jump into the conquest. It is the second topic treated in the class after Columbus goes across the ocean blue. The reality of enrollments at CSUF effectively means this is the first topic covered in class, since the first week of classes is generally wasted while students try to improve their class schedules and coordinate their work schedules with their classes. Intellectually, the Mexico materials are interesting because there are almost no “sure facts” in them. The lack of “sure facts” means there are no sure answers. Students are left to their own devices to explore, discover, interpret, and conclude. They must write their papers in clear prose by making an essay argument using historical evidence. There is no question that I want this assignment to encourage students to question sources and secondary interpretations (none of the traditional textbook interpretations of the conquest of Mexico can be supported by the primary sources I use). This project, thus, involves developing the skills emphasized so far in this project:
- Demonstrate command of basic organizational, reading, and writing skills
- Recognition of the difference between primary and secondary sources
- Recognition that secondary sources differ from each other
- Comprehend continuity and change over time
- Understand the difference between fact and interpretation and their interrelationships
- Appreciation of variety among historical perspectives, especially when they were produced by cultures which clashed with each other
- Acquire a knowledge of basic historical and social science concepts (e.g. social class, race, gender)
- Comprehension of what historians do, the kinds of questions they ask, and how they answer questions.
I otherwise teach the class the same way I always do (the evil lectures, the required textbook-for departmental reasons). While I would like to do the class differently all the way through, I typically teach 130 students each time I teach the survey. I have been grading all papers myself so that I can get a sense of whether students are improving or not, and I only give essay examinations. Thus, although I think I am helping students develop skills, the reality is that the workload is a killer and I am often weeks late in giving feedback. At CSUF we are asked to do everything, research, teaching, service. With a four-course load (reduced to three by teaching large sections of the survey), I still have 200+ students a semester. Any educational reform has to take into consideration workload factors. This summer, I have over fifty students in my survey that is normally capped at 40; in spite of the lip service they pay to student learning, administrators do not care how class size deteriorates the quality of what goes on in the classroom, they are only concerned with numbers.
I also believe that my “half and half” approach to teaching the survey class can be justified for intellectual and pedagogical reasons in addition to the obvious class size factor. As educators we need to understand the dramatic difference between the constructivist philosophy of education and traditional models based on behavioral approaches to learning. Traditional history education emphasizes basic-skills acquisition and proficiency in memorizing historical “facts.” Many historians and much of the general public take these “facts” very seriously. They believe that having students read and study a textbook and take standardized tests on it are the cornerstones of history education. The general public and many historians do not want to believe that knowledge is socially constructed, a fundamental basis of constructivist approaches to learning. Many special interests do not want students to be producers of knowledge at all for they are uncertain about what knowledge they will produce. At the same time, especially in dealing with K-12 education, many parents reject the premises of the various approaches designed to help students turn information into personal understanding. In California, for example, parents and politicians have rejected “whole language” and “new” math in favor of memorization based on phonics and fundamental arithmetic calculations. The future of K-12 history education is uncertain, but it is likely to be evaluated on the basis of standardized multiple-choice tests of material found in textbooks. Because so much of what politicians and parents believe should be going on in the classroom reproduces traditional behaviorist models of education, students come to college with few skills to enable themselves to engage in constructivist learning. As a consequence, they often resist it, complain about it, drop classes employing such techniques in favor of classes where it is evident what information they need know to pass the test. Thus, there are some legitimate pedagogical reasons for combining a “mode of inquiry” and a traditional approach to student learning.
So, how did it all work? Interestingly, and maybe encouragingly, my primary materials worked best when I first introduced them in a summer class two years ago. It was a small class; I had everyone do the assignment on the Mexico materials in the first week of class. I think it really worked. At that point, I had my class in WebCT, which often crashed when students tried to access my materials, but allowed me to track what students were using on the web and how often. I did a statistical study on this for our WASC accreditation. While it was overall inconclusive, it was obvious that Asian students in business and engineering did very well compared to similar students in other classes. Younger students also did better than older students, reflecting more familiarity with hypermedia. I became a little bit worried about this, however, since it implied that the technology was more important than the sources. When I taught the course in Fall 1998, I had added to my class Website, a series of links to other primary sources, and I let students write a paper on a topic of their choice. I have continued this option through last semester and included materials from other L.A. cluster members Bill Jones and Tom Reins, which I put up on my site.2 Gradually, fewer and fewer students used the Mexico material and wrote on other topics, most often on an historical topic of interest in the country where they were from. The number of papers on Vietnam grew significantly; what was especially interesting was the variety of viewpoints on the war. Most Vietnamese in Orange County are profoundly anti-Communist and are grateful that the United States tried to defend the South against the North. The uniformity of opinion, however, is breaking down, as students try to make sense of why their families ended up in Southern California. I am actually in favor of students writing on topics that connect history for them, and in that sense, see the independence of the students as something extremely positive and consistent with the constructivist model. On the other hand, I was not at all happy with the papers I received last semester. By this time, I put the paper project at the end of the class and like many of my colleagues, I have discovered that if you give an open assignment, students will download material from the Web and turn it in as a paper; plagiarism has become rampant with the Internet. As a consequence, I am regrouping this summer. I am using a version of Florence Baker’s assignment at El Camino College as an alternative. I found her feedback extremely useful, and I told my students that I hope it works for them, that they think about the material by reviewing Web sites, but I also want it to work for me because I cannot go forward without having a better understanding of how students use Web sites. So far, they have been interested and active participants in the class and are keeping on top of the material. We’ll see.
In the meantime, this project raises several questions for me. First, what is the difference between sources on the Web and in texts? Second, do constructivist models really work? Finally, will technology transform how we must design our survey courses?
- I have always had a hard time with primary source readers, even as a student. Readers are idiosyncratic and it is rare that the objective of the selections is evident. A lot of my colleagues are using the collection developed by Merry Wiesner,3 and there is no question it is better than most, but still idiosyncratic. I have given a number of talks on my project at various conferences, and I am always asked, “I use León-Portilla’s Broken Spears4 along with Díaz del Castillo’s The Conquest of New Spain5, how does what you are doing differ from this?” The answer to the question is that in some ways it does not differ at all. I have traditionally provided the same option for students who have no computer access. The use of the written texts is more difficult in that you have to make sense of a lot of unrelated material. In some ways, I have simplified things for students by comparing apples and apples and throwing out the oranges. I cannot honestly say whether or not I think this is an improvement or not. I do think it is an improvement over a lot of the readers where you get a Spanish source and a Mexica source, but they are on very different aspects of the conquest. I believe this is worthless. I also have to say, that modern editions of both the Mexica account and Díaz del Castillo’s manuscript take liberties with older versions. León-Portilla plays fast and loose with his translation, invents words and concepts, and provides a sense of solidarity among the indigenous populations that is hard to find in nineteenth century sources. Reading his footnotes carefully allows one to understand the historicity of his loose translations, but I came away from this project questioning the utility of his book as a primary source; it is much more like a literary exercise designed to present a particular point of view. The Penguin version of Díaz del Castillo is extremely difficult to map back onto the original. Cohen may have translated a different version than I did, but he also admits to modifying the text to make it more readable, especially by ignoring Díaz de Castillo’s chapter structure. It is not as much of a literary invention as León-Portilla’s book; nonetheless my close work with earlier versions made me question these primary sources I have always taken for granted. Stuart Schwartz published a book Victors and Vanquished,6 which I purchased a couple of weeks ago. It is a printed book version of what I have tried to do on the Internet and is far closer to the original sources. The use of this book along side of my sources on the Web will provide an interesting case study to answer this question when I teach the course in the Fall.
- In spite of the hype that has developed over constructivist models of learning, one has to question that students learn the way they suggest they do. Though many educators have defended the use of “whole language” and new approaches to teaching math in California’s K-12 schools, there is irrefutable evidence that the methods failed; most students in most schools could not answer half of the questions on Stanford 9 achievement tests correctly. California is a large multicultural state with enormous diversity in wealth as well as race and ethnicity. Politicians have failed to fund education adequately for many years, and it is not at all clear that teachers have enough training in subjects like math to be able to teach it in creative ways. Nonetheless, the failure of popular education models should give one pause. Most recently, the approach has brought conflict to the Portland State University campus. Funded by outside foundations, the university put together a constructivist-oriented general education program in 1994. Faculty designed new kinds of classes that were interdisciplinary and inquiry based in nature. After giving the new program, a serious try, both faculty and students are extremely unsatisfied with it now. Both groups complain that students are not learning anything, though some students are very happy with the approach. The Chronicle of Higher Education launched a Web forum on the issues raised at Portland State this week (July 28, 2000), and it is evident that many individuals are not persuaded that this kind of approach to education works. The biggest complaint is that the courses include students with a wide disparity of skills and basic information. The only way the course then seems to be able to work it is to gear it toward the students with the weakest skills, which then bores the other students. More important, many students continue to believe that the role of the professor should be to lecture, though I have had dozens of students thank me for having them write their own history from primary sources.
- To answer the question about the relationship between the use of technology and how we teach the survey course involves several considerations. As I argued above, I believe it is so transforming how are students handle information and the particular kinds of reading skills they have developed, that we must respond to the challenge and use the technology as a starting point to bring them to where we want them to be. The primary sources, especially the sources on the conquest of Mexico, unquestionably furthered my educational objectives by inducing students to think critically about the primary sources. Allowing access to other primary sources available on the Web also helped students to connect world history to their own histories, which I believe is, perhaps, the biggest achievement in the class, since few students see any value in studying history in the first place. I based all of my conclusions on the contribution of this project to student learning by reading all of the papers they wrote and by reading the essay exams on other topics. In general, students have done better in my class as a consequence of the materials. This was especially true in Fall 1999 when I could use the primary sources in class, since I had a live Internet connection. There is no question that student attitudes changed: they thought seriously about what they wanted to write about and more often than not wanted to make history relevant for themselves. It is unfortunate that the Internet has also expanded the opportunity to cheat, which effectively means that I am beginning to believe that I must restrict options for all students because some students decided to find their papers on the Web. Another positive benefit of using technology was the expansion of the community I engaged in. Many students from El Camino College and Mount San Antonio College emailed me after writing papers based on my materials. They liked the way I thought about history and decided they wanted to come to California State University, Fullerton to study history. In this sense, I believe that the technology is helping us to provide greater coherence between two and four year colleges, at least for those students who want to become history majors.
Nancy Fitch, California State University, Fullerton
1.The problem of misrepresenting the form of original sources is not unique to hypermedia. Primary sources originally carved in stone are often presented unproblematicly as though they were originally produced in printed books.
2.I used some of Linda Pomerantz’s material as an exercise in my graduate level History and Theory course, but I could not get to it for use in the World Civilization class. I had as many papers on creation myths and imperialism as I did no Mexico.
3.Merry Wiesner, et al, Discovering the Global Past: A Look at the Evidence (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1997).
4.Miguel León-Portilla, Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico (Boston: Beacon Press, 1990).
5.Bernal Díaz del Castillo, The Conquest of New Spain, trans. By J. M. Cohen (London: Penguin Books, 1963).
6.Stuart B. Schwartz, ed., Victors and Vanquished: Spanish and Nahua Views of the Conquest of Mexico (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000).
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Essay Writing Guides
All about a reflective essay
A reflective essay is a piece of writing dealing with you and everything about your identity, character and disposition. It is not a cursory look at you as an individual but a thorough analysis of your personal changes and what the impetus was towards such changes, who influenced your personality and why you yielded or vice versa – why you withstood and remained the same person you used to be. To write a reflective essay you need know inside and out other scientific fields rather than just of literature and writing strategies. Psychological approaches are useful to you as a student when it comes to help with essay writings . They will help you out to analyze the situation deeper with going into all the subtleties.
How to write a personal reflective essay
Conciseness and informativeness should be the main priorities for you while writing a reflective essay. Being too general and disorganized may lead you to the failure.
The key to success in writing your reflective essay is crafting its outline before actually start writing. It will help you to keep the same point throughout the whole essay. The outline is practically your draft paper where you organize your paper and mention what information will go to each of its sections. With writing a draft you will avoid getting into the dead end.
Although a reflective essay is not the same with other types of writings, for example, a literary essay, it has three vital parts as any essay does: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
Providing a hook is a good way to start writing a reflective essay. It will grab audience’s attention. To arouse interest, start by telling a joke adjacent to the topic of the essay to outpace yourself by providing a juicy detail from the story you are going to tell about without giving the whole resolution of the problem. We are sure you did have a high school reflective essay. If that is true try to recollect what were your main hooks?!
- Introduction. In the first part of the essay catch reader’s attention by providing a hook (that we were talking about) and also include a thesis statement. This is statement telling the audience what the essay is about as well as the problem or question it is targeted to resolve and dwell on. Insert some basic information concerning the story you are going to talk about.
- Body. These paragraphs are the essence of the essay because they contain the informative insight into the life story. Every essay differs from the rest of its kind but there is a common pattern you may use while structuring your essay. To complete a higher reflective essay you need to be precise and coherent and do not reiterate the same information again and again though you may make not a linear chronology to be more creative but it shouldn’t perplex the reader. Every story should have a deep sense that is why include only relevant and worthy details that later will lead to the thought-provoking conclusion.
- Conclusion. This is basically a summary of the whole work. This part should bring all the parts into a logical terminus that triggers thoughts and productive discussion. Note the impact that a person, situation, place made on you.
Avoid such errors!
Poor idea and plot of the essay will trigger a low grade. Every paper should have a definite goal and the writer needs to achieve it by the end of its completion.
Too many details, names, and unnecessary subtleties that will puzzle the reader.
Stylistic, grammar, spelling mistakes. Re-read your paper several times to detect such errors and eliminate them.
Lack of personality in rendering the message. Too many generalizations that are far from your experience.
Reflective essay common topics
Topics differ according to the particular discipline you study. It can be a reflective essay on communication, on love, friendship or universal concepts, reflective essay on presentation, truths etc.
“Why people turn to religion?”
“Is the the accomplishment of desires depend soelly on you?”
“Who is your lifestyle guru?”
“A concept of a hero in the modern world”
“Your watershed meeting”
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