Ongoing Forum: Book Reviews and the Teaching of World History, 2018 Cohorts

Ongoing Forum: Book Reviews and the Teaching of World History, 2018 Cohorts

HIST3029 Transnational History: A New Perspective on the Past
The University of Hong Kong Semester 1, 2017-18 Dr Birgit Schneider

After teaching HIST3029, my favorite course here at HKU, for the third time, I am left
amazed about how much of a difference a cohort can make. The composition of a class is always accidental, yet it has an enormous impact on class dynamics. When I taught the course for the first time in 2014, I had four students, all from the liberal arts; in 2016, I had a much more diverse group of twelve from a variety of disciplines and places. This time, there were nine students in the class, of whom two were exchange students from Britain and France, and of whom the only non-History major was studying Journalism and Public Policy and Administration—overall, this made for a much more homogeneous class, even though their second majors and minors ranged from Quantitative Finance to Fine Arts and Music. Not only were enough students continuously active and engaged in our discussions, and willing to come forward with their ideas about our texts and topics; they were also discussing among themselves, responding to class mates’ comments and engaging with their peers’ thoughts. This was a major change from 2016, where most discussions happened between one student and me, and then between another student an me.

While I always actively encourage my students to respond to each other, I am not sure I will necessarily be able to reproduce this class dynamic in future HIST3029 classes; rather, I might simply have been lucky that the cohort was a little more homogeneous and engaged than the previous one. Did it help hat I spent fifteen or twenty minutes doing ice-breaker questions in week 3 (once all enrollment is final)? It might have helped set the tone and I will do this in the future, but I do not think that it made much of a difference. Rather, students’ engagement, confidence, and maturity will have played a more important role in better class interaction.

Interestingly, two students (whose work is not here included) wrote in their second reflective essays that they were reluctant to speak up in class for fear of having misunderstood the readings, or because they preferred to listen to their classmates’ ideas. Both realized, however, that they should have been contributing more to class discussions, and this realization should encourage them to speak up in their next seminar.

For Full Article: BirgitSchneiderOnTeachingSpring2019 1 HIST3029_Introduction_2017_Birgit_Schneider

First Reflective Essay: BirgitSchneiderOnTeachingSpring2019 2 First Reflective essay_class

Second Reflective Essay: BirgitSchneiderOnTeachingSpring2019 3 Second Reflective Essay_class


Student Review, Monty Law, Crisis of Global Modernity: BirgitSchneiderOnTeachingSpring2019 4 Law_Monty_Book_Review_Crisis_of_Global_Modernity

Student Review, Jerome Pasquier, Mapping the End of Empire: BirgitSchneiderOnTeachingSpring2019 5 PASQUIER_Jérôme_Book_Review_Mapping_the_End_of_Empire

Student Review, Kooshin So, The Little Ice Age: BirgitSchneiderOnTeachingSpring2019 6 SO_Kooshin_Book_Review_Little_Ice_Age

Student Review, Megan Woolley, Silk and Religion: BirgitSchneiderOnTeachingSpring2019 7 WOOLLEY_Megan_Book_Review_Silk_and_Religion

Student Review, Will Wu Wai Man, Andean Cocaine: BirgitSchneiderOnTeachingSpring2019 8 WU_Wai_Man_Will_Book_Review_Cocaine


(c) 2019 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 18, Spring, 2019. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.