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This rubric is designed as a tool to assess activities aimed at student gains in the follow learning outcome(s) for the History & Social Sciences General Education Category:

At the completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental concepts and ideas in a specific topical area in history or the social sciences.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the methods that produce knowledge in a specific field in history or the social sciences
  • Demonstrate critical thinking in evaluating causal arguments in history or the social sciences and in analyzing major assertions, background assumptions, and explanatory evidence.

Criteria and performance descriptions for the review of student work

Advanced Proficient Beginning Unacceptable

Student can:

- accurately define or describe concepts; and

- correctly generalize course concepts to new situations; or

- apply concepts in contexts that require original interpretation.

Student can:

- accurately define or describe concepts; and

- apply concepts or ideas in contexts described in lectures, readings, or other course material.


- can define or describe concepts; but

- cannot apply those concepts or ideas correctly.

Student is unable to define or describe fundamental concepts or ideas from the course.

Historical methods that produce knowledge

Advanced Proficient Beginning Unacceptable

In addition to meeting all standards for “Proficient,” student uses the sources to answer overarching questions about historical change, continuity, or meaning. To achieve the latter, student properly generalizes from a particular case to a larger society, institution, or situation.

Student accurately distinguishes between primary and secondary sources; effectively interprets a variety of primary sources (that is, student finds out who produced the source, when, where and why); and is able on that basis to offer plausible interpretations of a range of primary sources.

Student accurately distinguishes between primary and secondary sources and can identify a range of documents historians might use to reconstruct and understand the past.

Student is unable consistently to distinguish between a primary and secondary source in history.

Critical thinking in evaluating arguments

Advanced Proficient Beginning Unacceptable

Student is consistently able to:

- identify flaws in interpretations or analyses; or

- offer alternatives; or

- suggest ways to empirically test any arguments.

Student is consistently and accurately able to evaluate:

- the empirical and logical validity of arguments; or

- strength of interpretive/ analytical statements.


- can distinguish unsupported opinions from interpretation or analysis resting on evidence; but 

- cannot consistently evaluate the validity or strength of interpretations or analyses.

Student is unable to differentiate unsupported opinions from statements of interpretation or analysis that rest on evidence.

The History Rubric was developed by the History Faculty Board, supported by the Office of Undergraduate Studies and the Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment with the History instructors upon review of the AAC&U VALUE rubrics and according to standards determined by the History Faculty Board for student performance in the General Education History courses.  The rubric defines the standards for student performance in History courses at the University of Maryland.

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