Course Syllabus

History 103 – Political and Social United States since 1877

Fall 2016
Prof. George Jarrett
Cerritos College

Ticket #26225
Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:30 - 1:45 p.m.
Social Sciences 309

Print Version of Syllabus (pdf)

Instructor Contact Information

Course website:
Office hours: Mon. & Wed., 11 a.m.-12 noon, Thur. 12:30 -1:30 p.m., and by appointment
Office: Social Sciences 31 (basement)
Office phone: (562) 860-2451 x2740


Satisfactory completion of the English placement process or ENGL 52 or equivalent with a grade of Credit or "C" or higher. As the course requires you to read and comprehend a large amount of complex material, we also recommend satisfactory completion of the Reading placement process or READ 54.

Course Content

This course covers the development of American institutions and society from Reconstruction to the present. In that time, the United States grew from a rural and disconnected nation with little influence in world affairs, to an integrated and urban nation that dominated the world. Along the way, daily life changed dramatically for all Americans.

We will also stress the ways that history is an argument about the meaning of the past. We will join that argument through discussions and our own interpretations of primary sources. We will develop our abilities to express ourselves clearly and persuasively, in speech and writing.

Required Texts

Weekly reading assignments are noted in the course schedule.

  • OpenStax College, U. S. History. Available to read online for free, or for purchase as a bound book at the campus bookstore.
    About U.S. History by OpenStax.
  • Victoria Bissell Brown and Timothy J. Shannon, Going to the Source: The Bedford Reader in American History, vol. 2: Since 1865. 3 ed. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2012) ISBN-13: 978-0-312-65279-1.
    Going to the Source is available at the college bookstore, and on two-hour reserve in the campus library.
  • Document readings distributed in class or at

Required Materials

  • Scantron forms (12 Quizzstrips for quizzes, four 882-E's for exams) and a #2 pencil.
  • For exams, 2 exam blue books.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete History 103 will develop knowledge of American history, including (but not limited to) understanding of:

  • The role of post-Civil War Industrial Revolution and immigration on the social, economic, and political transformation of the United States
  • The Great Depression and subsequent government reforms.
  • The basic foreign policies of the United States, from the Spanish-American War through the Iraq War, and nation's impact on foreign countries.
  • The origins, course, and impact of the Civil Rights Movement.

In addition, students will learn to distinguish between sources and interpretations, and to weigh the significance of evidence and claims.



Textbook Quizzes (top 10) 100 points
Objective Exams (Scantron) (4) 200
Interpretive Exams (blue book) (2) 200
Term Paper (Brown) 100
Primary Source Analysis (from Brown) 50
Group Discussion Outline 50
Group Discussion Leadership 50
Reader Response Paragraphs (from Brown) 25
Discussion Participation 25
Total 800 points
Extra Credit no more than 25 points additional


Textbook Quizzes (top 10 at 10 points each, total 100 points)

Objective: Reinforce your reading and comprehension of historical facts and themes in the textbook.

Format: 10-question matching quiz on material from the assigned textbook reading, by the schedule in the course outline. You must be present when the quiz is handed out at the beginning of class to take the quiz. You must provide a Scantron Quizzstrip form for each quiz. There will be no make-ups for absences or tardiness on the day of the quiz, regardless of the reason, but the two lowest scores (or absences) will not be counted.

Objective Exams (4 at 50 points/each, 200 points total)

Objective: Develop understanding of significant events in American history.

Format: Scantron matching, from textbook readings. Quizzes will serve as study guides for each exam. The last objective exam will be given as part of the final exam.

Interpretive Exams (2 at 100 points/each, 200 points total)

Objective: Demonstrate your ability to interpret and judge broad changes and major turning points in American history.

Format: Short in-class essay of about five paragraphs, your own synthesis of lecture content and textbook material. Study questions given in advance. You must provide a blank blue book for each exam. The second objective exam will be part of the final exam.

Term Paper (100 points)

Objective: Develop your ability to make valid claims based on historical evidence, express yourself clearly in writing, and handle scholarly sources.

Format: 3-5 page paper that makes a historical argument based on the material in the "Capstone" chapter of Brown and Shannon, Going to the Source. You will be guided to analyze the sources, frame your argument, and handle the sources in writing. Papers will be evaluated for quality of analysis, clarity of writing, and accuracy of quotations and citations.

Primary Source Analysis (50 points)

Objective: Understand how historians interpret sources to make historical arguments.

Format: For one chapter in Brown (assigned based on the discussion schedule), fill out the "source analysis table" based on the primary sources (25 points). Then, list ten open-ended discussion questions to enhance understanding of the source (25 points). This assignment will be based on the same chapter you will present to the class for the discussion leadership assignment (see below).

Group Discussion Outline (50 points) and Discussion Leadership (50 points)

Objective: Develop ability to interpret historical primary sources; develop ability to communicate and collaborate in a scholarly fashion.

Format: You will be assigned to a group of students that will prepare an outline of discussion questions, then lead the class in discussion of the primary sources in one chapter of Brown. Evaluation will be based on the accuracy and thoroughness of your preparation, and on the group's ability to guide meaningful discussion on the sources.

Response Paragraphs (25 points) and Discussion Participation (25 points)

On days when student-led discussions are held, you will be expected to: (1) read the chapter in advance; (2) write a one-paragraph response to a question about the reading; and (3) say thoughtful and relevant things during the discussion. The paragraph can only be accepted before the discussion; late paragraphs will not be counted.

Extra Credit (Maximum 25 points additional)

There may be extra credit offered for exam review, campus events sponsored by the History Department, or other additional opportunities to learn about history. There is a maximum of 25 points extra credit for the semester.

To find out about events, "like" the History at Cerritos College Facebook page:

Grading Policy

Grades are based on an absolute standard of expectation, not a curve. Each assignment will earn a letter grade (A through F) and a point value. The course grade will be calculated from the total of all points earned:

Grade Minimum Maximum
A 720 800+
B 640 719
C 560 639
D 480 559
F 0 479

A failing paper turned in on time may be rewritten for partial credit. Late papers, plagiarized papers, and other assignments cannot be rewritten for credit.

The instructor will make every effort to return all on-time assignments within two weeks of the date submitted. You can monitor your progress in the course by keeping a tally of your scores as the assignments are returned.

Secrets for Success

To pass this class: (1) read the assigned chapters, making sure you understand them; (2) come to class ready to learn by engaging with the lecture, discussions, and other activities; and (3) turn in every single assignment, on time.

iFalcon: Successful students share particular habits of mind that help them learn. Here at Cerritos College, we encourage these habits with the key terms of the iFalcon mnemonic: focus, advance, link up, comprehend, organize, and new ideas. Find out more about iFalcon on the web at

Student Success Center: Throughout the semester, the Student Success Center offers workshops, many on topics relevant to successful study of history. Topics include skills such as note-taking, reading a textbook, and writing essay exams. You can look for events at

Course Website: Readings, grades, and other information will be made available at Please make sure that your email address on TalonNet is current to ensure that you receive class announcements.

Learning Accommodations

Any student who has a learning disability or a physical disability that requires special accommodation should inform me at the beginning of the term. Please also contact the Disabled Student Programs and Services at (562) 860-2451 ext. 2335, as early as possible in the term. Use of Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS) services including testing accommodations, requires prior authorization by DSPS and compliance with approved procedures.

Additional Policies

  • Attendance. Per the Cerritos College Attendance Policy, students who miss 10% or more of class time (4 class meetings for this class) are subject to drop. Students who are absent during the Add period (first two weeks of the class) are subject to drop.
  • Deadlines. Written assignments due at the beginning of class on the due date. Late primary source response and term paper assignments will be penalized by a 50% reduction in grade. Exceptions will be made only in the case of medical necessity, verified by a signed note from a licensed physician. Late papers can be turned in at office hours or a subsequent class meeting. Don't wait to turn in a late paper--hand it in as soon as it is done.
  • Make-ups. There can be NO make-ups for group discussion assignments and discussion participation. There will be NO make-ups for missed quizzes, regardless of the reason for the absence or late arrival. There will be NO make-ups for reader response paragraphs . Plan accordingly. For exams only, in an emergency, a written, verifiable medical explanation (signed by a health practitioner) will be the only acceptable excuse for a make-up. If, on the day of a scheduled exam, you know you will have an unavoidable commitment, such as a tournament or out of town travel, make arrangements in advance for a make-up.
  • Plagiarism & Cheating. All assignments should be your own ideas, expressed in your own words. You may quote briefly from other works, but you MUST cite the source. Do not copy from other writers' works, whether from another student, a published book, or the internet. You also may not turn in the same paper for two different classes. Providing your work (such as a test, paper, or take-home writing assignment) for another student to copy will be penalized as cheating. Cheating on exams will not be tolerated. Students who cheat or plagiarize will be dealt with through college-mandated procedures. At minimum, you will receive no credit for the assignment, which may result in failure of the class. Please see the college academic honesty policy:
  • Writing assignments (the primary source analysis and term paper) will be submitted through the anti-plagiarism service,
  • Discussion Etiquette. Feel free to ask questions and make relevant comments, and to ask for clarification. Discussion works best when we respect each other's opinions. In good discussions, disagreement is accepted, even encouraged. I will not look for the "right" answer, but for signs that you have thought about the material and listened to other students. Talk to me for tips on speaking in class.
  • Interruptions for reasons other than learning history are not acceptable. Do not text or play games on a phone or other device during class. Please don't read or do homework for other classes, or carry on personal conversations with other students during lecture. If you arrive late or leave early, do so quietly. Students who habitually disrupt the class in these ways (including students who prefer to pay attention to their devices rather than lecture or discussion) may be asked to leave the room, or dropped from the class.


  • Safe Zone: I am a member of the campus "Safe Zone" committee, and as an ally, promise to help make this class, and our campus, a safe and supportive environment for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) people. If you have any issues you would like to discuss, please do not hesitate to talk to me.

Course Summary:

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