World History Final Today

I gave my world history section their final exam today; it is the only final I have to give since Advanced Placement students at Houston Christian are exempt. One of the things I teach in what is “truly” a world history course is the concept of global history. Too often teachers at all levels teach what is nothing more than a European history course masked under the title of world history. For the roughly ten years that I have been teaching this course, I have adopted the mission statement of the World History Association:

World History is the study of human history around the globe and through time. World History is NOT an adaptation of European History nor is it a series of area studies. World History is a global perspective of the human story. World historians study global forces and large historical themes. Among these themes are climatic changes, the spread of diseases and religions, and the expansion of a global economy. In World History, the story of Columbus is not simply the discovery of a “new world”. Instead, it is the “Columbian Exchange”, a story of human migrations, transatlantic trade, and the exchange of plants, animals, diseases, art, and technology between the eastern and western hemispheres. World History transcends civilizations and nation-states to form a macro history of the human past. This course focuses on the global impact that change and continuity has brought forth. (World History Association)

Instead of giving my class the same old general essay and multiple-choice final, I asked them to construct from memory a map of the world as it relates to their question. Because we construct so many maps in this course, it is my expectation that students will be able to construct one without the use of a memory aid. Moreover, students are asked to do a number of analytical things with the maps we construct throughout the year. So, I assure you that students are not paying $16,000 a year to draw and color maps.

Here is an example of a map constructed earlier in the year. This map addresses the periodization in world history from 1000 to 1450:


For this  final, I gave students seven questions to prepare. Until they arrived today to write their response, they did not know which two of the seven they would have to select. Here are the two questions given today. The seven questions covered from the early ancient societies to the rise of the Cold war and decolonization.

Question One:

World History Final Exam, 2009

Using the paper that has been provided for you, construct a map of the world that puts in place the key regions needed to analyze the movement of each traveler. Using a color pencil, mark the routs in which each traveler traveled. Be sure to create a color key. On the back of your map, you should note the impact each migrant had on the route traveled, the region of final destination, and some type of political, social, and economic change brought about due to their movements. You must address at least one example per category for each traveler.

Explain the movement and impact of the following travelers between 1000 – 1450:

Zheng He




Ibn Battuta

Question Two:

Using the paper that has been provided for you, construct a map of the world that puts in place the key regions needed to analyze the three major empires addressed below. On your map, put in place the general areas occupied by each empire. Using lines, arrows, keys, and other symbols… illustrate graphically and by the use of notes how ideas, religion, and goods moved. Furthermore, on the back of your map, address the problems brought about due to the collapse of this network by way of the Hun and German nomads.

During the classical period, there existed three major empires: Rome, Gupta, and Han China. Explain the impact each had on world history and the extent to which they protected the major route by addressing the following:

Spread of Ideas




5 thoughts on “World History Final Today

  1. This is how an exam should be given. When I took world history it was a very sad course. We just colored maps. I do not think we covered Europe. That guy was too busy drawing up his basketball plays to teach an analytical history course.

  2. THAT is so neat! wow, on their own grade level my kids could take your final. it is reassuring to see that i am not the only one who teaches history from a sequential GLOBAL perspective that includes a high geography content. i never understood history because i couldn’t “place it” in my head…. though my kids are much younger, we are working towards the goal of being able to draw from memory and diagram/locate all important features, trade routes, empires etc…. wow! i’d REALLY like to get your opinion of my history curriculum to see what gaps i may have. history is not a series of chapters and dates but a constantly evolving story with cause and effect consequences…. i’m rambling. i love history.

  3. Carson, I must say, and I can assure you that I NEVER usually say this, but I enjoyed taking your final. It was very challenging but fun. It was much more interactive than usual final, which helped me keep my mind totally on the final, and I didn’t even notice the time fly by!

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