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Assessment (HC)

History Department

                                                               History Department Four-Year Library-Skills Rubric                                       


Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4


Research Questions

Students develop a research question that is of interest to them and meet with the subject librarian to work out terminology, search strategies, and database choices.

Students work with class discussion, readings, and personal knowledge to create compelling research questions that engage with significant issues.

While incorporating historical analysis and methodologies, students also consider what other disciplines and approaches may bring to the questions they are seeking to answer.

Students think through a complex set of primary and secondary sources to pose a research question for their theses.  As they gather more evidence and analysis, they rethink their question and the connections they have drawn, making changes that strengthen their argument.

Primary Sources

Students understand the difference between a primary and a secondary source and realize the value of analyzing primary sources.

Students use primary sources in scholarly, facsimile, and original versions and can navigate the databases and library catalogs that give access to them.   They use recent scholarship to better understand the major issues involved in a particular source.

Students are adept at using both analog and digital sources which includes familiarity with the protocols of special collections libraries.  They read sources critically in order to build more informed arguments.

Students find and evaluate individual primary sources and archival collections for their seminar papers and theses.  They contextualize their reading of a source by bringing in knowledge of the period, the historiographic tradition, and other primary source accounts.

Recent Scholarship

Students understand the difference between scholarly publications and those intended for a general audience, seeing the importance of accessing and using relevant and up-to-date scholarly work.

Students use both general and subject-specific databases to find recent research.  They choose journal articles based on topic and approach.

Students recognize that the field of history involves individuals, institutions and organizations exchanging ideas online and in print.  They understand that research involves tracing these lines of dialog and determining what new ideas or evidence to add.

Students are skilled in searching and identifying relevant scholarship, including books, journal articles, and papers, using databases, bibliographic notes, and citation searches.  They evaluate material critically, distinguishing those works that are likely to have a greater credibility.


Students understand that historical events and conditions are subject to different interpretations and methodologies.  They see the importance of reading critically and coming to informed decisions.

 Students develop a familiarity with a range of historiographic analyses and disciplinary approaches.

Students systematize their historiographic knowledge by strategic use of such disciplinary sources as literature reviews, book reviews, and studies of historiography.

Students bring an historiographic approach to seminar papers and theses, presenting their argument within a larger context of the related scholarship.  They give a cogent account of the historical issues involved and explain why their new interpretation is significant.

 Historical Reference Literature

Students realize the difference between authoritative reference works produced under editorial review and those done for a general audience by authors generally without subject expertise.

Students use subject encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, and other summary accounts to find background, identify interpretive themes, and see recommended sources for further reading.

Students deepen their knowledge through topic-specific reference guides that emphasize critical evaluations of major issues in the field.

Students bring the full range of reference works to bear on projects, making connections and sharpening their arguments.  When they do research in a new subject area, they are able to identify relevant resources for reference.

Responsible Use of Sources

Students understand that they must cite others’ work whether quoting directly or acknowledging an author’s ideas within their own statements.  Awareness about plagiarism and copyright is connected to an understanding of how citations function in scholarship.

 Students take on more involved research projects and learn to use citation-management programs, so that they can save, organize, and put to use the research they have gathered.


Students do research that connects them to scholars and casts them in a practitioner’s role.  The attention which the American Historical Association gives to issues involving plagiarism and copyright conveys to students the importance involved.   

Students have developed a critical awareness of the ways in which historical scholarship is created, distributed, and used.  This knowledge informs the production of their own work in terms of handling sources, understanding fair use, and providing access to their finished projects.