From the News column in the May 1999 Perspectives

Four Historians Receive Pew Fellowships

Susan W. Gillespie, May 1999

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has announced the winners of its 1999–2000 Pew Scholars National Fellowship Program. Twenty-nine scholars, divided among the fields of business, chemistry, English, history, interdisciplinary studies, mathematics, performing arts, psychology, and sociology, will attend two summer institutes and pursue research projects dedicated to the issues and challenges in the teaching of their fields.

Four historians—Lendol Calder, William Cutler, T. Mills Kelly, and David Pace—are among the 1999–2000 Pew Scholars. Each was chosen based on a proposal for a teaching innovation in his field, and will spend time during the coming academic year researching and fine-tuning the proposal, drawing on the expertise of other Pew Scholars both within and outside of history.

Calder, an assistant professor at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, will use his Pew Fellowship to pursue a new method of teaching the U.S. survey course—a project he has been developing over the past five years. His goal is to design a course that will improve students' historical literacy, which he defines as "knowledge of a given subject, clearly defined thinking skills, and certain attitudes and beliefs that promote historical understanding (tolerance for ambiguity, appreciation for multicausality, and so on)." He will work with other Pew Scholars in all disciplines to further refine his proposal and to develop reliable methods of assessment.

Cutler, an associate professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, will also examine the U.S. survey course, but will focus on integrating primary source material available online into the classroom. In his proposal he observed, "Most teachers of history are familiar with the arguments for and against the use of primary source materials as optional or required readings. But few have examined the contribution these materials can make when students encounter them online. I shall ask whether online access makes a difference in my students' mastery of course content and their understanding of history as knowledge." During the tenure of his Pew Fellowship he will continue revising his course syllabus, research the ever-changing world of web sites, and offer his new course in spring 2000.

Like Cutler, Kelly, an assistant professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, also plans to devote his Pew Fellowship to the world of cyberspace, working on a project entitled "Wired for Trouble? Teaching History with the World Wide Web." While Kelly does not deny the Internet's attention-grabbing ability for students, he questions how much more (or less) students might learn from web-based primary sources than from comparable sources in print. Thus, as part of his Pew project, he will simultaneously teach two sections of Western civilization, one with all primary sources in a multimedia format, the other with such materials in print. By measuring student performance and satisfaction, he will produce a substantial report on the topic.

Pace, an associate professor at Indiana University, will draw on his experience as co-director of that institution's Freshman Learning Project "to identify the kinds of operations students must be able to perform in order to read a particular page of reading, listen to a lecture, or answer an essay question." Working with other Pew Scholars, he intends to devise strategies for teaching these operations, and develop assessment techniques to measure their success.

For more information on the Pew Scholars National Fellowship Program and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, including application procedures and deadlines, visit the foundation's web site at http://www.carnegiefoundation.org.

—SWG