History Learning Outcomes

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We expect that students who have studied history at Grinnell will:

  • Understand processes of change over time
  • Use historical frameworks to pose questions and problems
  • Learn how to work with primary and secondary sources
  • Learn how to synthesize multiple sources of historical information
  • Practice clear and persuasive historical argumentation, written and verbal
  • Appreciate the contested nature of evidence
  • Identify and understand the basis for debates in and about history
  • Rethink assumptions about the present in light of the past

We expect that students who have majored in history at Grinnell will also:

  • Develop a breadth and depth of understanding that permits them to communicate about the past with authority
  • Gain a respect for the diversity of the past, its actors, and its voices
  • Develop a transnational awareness of the past
  • Utilize multiple methods and lenses for reconstructing and interpreting the past
  • Identify and participate in historiographical debates
  • Undertake in-depth, original research by gathering primary evidence and presenting a clear interpretation of that evidence in a sustained analytical or narrative treatment
  • Become familiar with history as a craft and a discipline, and relate it to other areas of inquiry

Outcomes by level

At the 100-level, students will:

Learn how to:

  • read and critically analyze primary sources
  • read and critically analyze secondary sources
  • research, synthesize, and critically evaluate a body of historical literature

Engage with:

  • history as a craft and a discipline
  • a diverse array of concepts, methods, and narratives for investigating and explaining the past


  • Their skills of analytical, argumentative writing
  • Their skills of oral communication, dialogue, and classroom citizenship

At the 200-level, students will:

  • Achieve some degree of mastery over a particular time, place, and/or theme
  • Develop competencies in reading and critically analyzing primary sources
  • Develop competencies in reading and critically analyzing secondary sources
  • Improve their analytical writing
  • Improve their oral communication skills and ability to contribute to class discussion

At the 300-level, students will be able to frame, develop, and support a well-argued paper, by:

  • Identifying and analyzing a body of primary sources
  • Engaging with a broader scholarly debate/dialogue
  • Establishing the contextual, theoretical, and/or interpretive significance of the project
  • Using clear language and logical organization
  • Workshopping and presenting their findings within a peer research community

Outcomes approved 12-01-2016; Webpage updated October 2017