The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

History 297 and History 298 to be combined into one course next semester

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The classes were originally combined until being separated 10 years ago. | University of Mary Washington


Staff Writer

Starting next semester, History 297: History Colloquium and History 298: History Practicum will be combined into one History 299 class covering both subjects. 

“We started [making this decision] before COVID hit,” said Claudine Ferrell, the chair of the history and American studies department and a professor of both HIST 297 and 298. “COVID slowed us down, so this is something we have decided, with some people more reluctantly than others, but everybody finally decided this was the best way.”

Staffing was not a factor in the decision to combine the two courses.

“We could continue staffing two semesters if we wanted to. That’s not the problem, but we think one semester is just the best approach for our students,” she said.

The 297 and 298 classes were originally combined until around 10 years ago.

“We developed course 299 30 years ago,” said Ferrell. “We decided about 10 years ago that we could do more for the students if it was a two-semester course.”

Mallory Karnei, a senior history major, worries that students will not learn as much in the combined class.

“I took 297 and 298 in my sophomore year and they’re the classes that you have to take if you’re a declared history major,” she said. “What I learned in 297 and 298 is what I will be utilizing in my 485 class. … They could be combined but you would lose a lot of valuable information and also just valuable time with your professor.”

Ferrell said that students were not retaining information between the time of their 297 and 298 classes.

“Students, after they finish the first semester, seem to forget everything they learned,” she said. “Instead of continuing into 298, we felt like we were starting over a lot of the time. … There was too much wasted time in 297 and too much to do in 298. We also felt that it made it hard to have two semesters before you can get into the three 400-level courses for transfer students, students who were double majoring, students who were licensing to teach and students who wanted to find a year, or at least a semester, to study abroad.”

Junior Katrina Smith, the History and American Studies Club vice president and a double major in history and historic preservation, is currently enrolled in 298.

“It is a little frustrating that I’m having to complete the sequence. I took 297 last semester, and I am currently in 298,” she said. “Although it’s frustrating and feels unfair, I really do think that 297/298 has helped me develop better research and writing skills, so I worry that development may be lost for future students who only have to take 299.”

Ferrell is hopeful that the combined History 299 class will better serve history majors.

“We think [the students] are going to gain [more education] by making everything fit together more obviously and logically. There are some things about it I think students didn’t quite appreciate because it was like ‘well, we’ll finish that next semester,’” said Ferrell. “Now it all fits together.”