Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access



Second Department


Faculty Mentor

Ross Doughty

Second Faculty Mentor

John Spencer


Presented during the 17th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 24, 2015 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

In this project, I apply the concept of Understanding by Design as outlined by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins in order to create a World War I history course. In doing so I’ve attempted to deepen student understanding by having them make meaning of learning via "big ideas" while tying in important historiographical concepts and approaches. The course will focus on essential questions that include: "Why do countries go to war?" "What is the role of the historian?" "What drives large groups to support a cause?” “How does changing technology affect peoples’ lives?” “What are the unforeseen effects of war?” and “How does the past influence the future?” McTighe and Wiggins state, "Instruction is often focused on superficial coverage of lots of content as specified by national, state, or provincial standards, or as contained in distended textbooks with an emphasis on short-term content acquisition for simple recall rather than long-term understanding." Through this project, I'd like to challenge this trend. I seek to cultivate my instructional skills in order to be a "coach of understanding" rather than simply a purveyor of content. In doing so, I have attempted to create lesson plans and activities that are both aligned and meaningful. As the course progresses students, the goal is for students to answer the original essential questions with more depth and be able to transfer material to primary source documents, film, literature, and other areas of learning.


Available to Ursinus community only.