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Peer Review

Sage American History - The Ante Bellum, Expansion, Civil War Era

by Henry Judd Sage


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.25 stars
Content Quality: 4.25 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.25 starsstar
Reviewed: Jan 31, 2012 by History Editorial Board
Overview: This is a free, online textbook that includes links to primary documents, topical essays, and external links. The text is divided into several sections: the 1840s, the 1850s, the 1850 Compromise, Texas and the Mexican War, Plantation Life, Kansas Nebraska Act, Civil War Part I, and Civil War Part II (Gettysburg to Appomattox).
Type of Material: This website is an online repository of information on the antebellum, Expansion and Civil War periods in American history.
Recommended Uses: This is meant to be used as a textbook. The topical essays would work best as homework while the primary documents could be assigned as homework or used for in-class activities. For students, this text would need to be supplemented by a lecture or at least a question/answer session where they could find out more about particular events or topics that interest them.
Technical Requirements: Shockwave (Adobe) and Internet Explorer 7.0 or higher are required (Firefox and Chrome work as well).
Identify Major Learning Goals: The goal of the website is to provide information on the pre and post civil war era. It also aims at exploring the factors leading to the war while seeking to review the stages of the war.
Target Student Population: Undergraduate and high school teachers and students. Also, a general reader might appreciate the chronological account and manageable selection of primary documents.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basic computer skills are necessary to follow the links. Very little background knowledge is needed as the author provides a general overview of the period. High school reading skills are necessary to understand the material, especially the primary documents.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: 1. Variety of information 2. Clearly defined topics and categories 3. Helpful Maps and pictures
Concerns: The information is comprehensive however the layout could be more appealing to attract younger views. The website could be more interactive.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: This website is very informative and comprehensive. It has the potential to be very effective if properly used by students or teachers.
Concerns: No major concerns relating to potential effectiveness of the material.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: 1. The links are easy to follow and the text is clearly laid out and organized. 2. The collection of documents are manageable and also easy to navigate. 3. The writing style is engaging and, for the most part, clear. The author includes lists and other stylistic features that help break up the text.
Concerns: A list of definitions maybe be necessary depending on the age of the users.

Other Issues and Comments: It is an excellent website but it could be more interactive.