Author Archives: michaeljdouma

The “Teach to mastery approach” for history class

Shortly put, teach-to-mastery means (at least to me) that students get multiple attempts to learn, do their work, repeat and improve on their work. The approach is revolutionary in the sense that it allows students to absorb feedback from their teacher and incorporate that feedback in a revision to their work. Instead of punishing students […]

“I bought a Veneklasen brick house; now how do I repair the bricks”?

At least a few times per year, I get an email from someone from West Michigan who owns a 19th century brick house and is looking to repair it. I welcome these emails, and I’m always glad to share information. In the past, I have learned of some people who have extra bricks sitting around. […]

Dutch Letters of Marque and the Arrival of the First Enslaved Africans in Virginia

A recording from a webinar I moderated for the Netherlands American Foundation, with Leendert van der Valk and Vincent Tucker. https://vimeo.com/536451450

Some early maps of Hampshire County, W.V.

Since moving to Hampshire County, W.V. five years ago, I have been researching the history of my property and the county more generally. One problem in this research has been the lack of good, early maps. Early properties were defined by “metes and bounds” from the old Oak to the Chestnut, to the ridge, and […]

Teach-to-mastery approach in history classes

I’m using the teach-to-mastery approach in my course this semester. It helps that I only teach one class with 14 students in it. Essentially, I am allowing students to revise any assignment and turn it in for an improved grade as many times as they wish to. This is much more like how historians operate […]

I’m the new book review editor for the Journal of Markets & Morality

I’m the new (2021) book review editor for the Journal of Markets & Morality, published by the Acton Institute. The journal is interested in books about the intersection of religion (specifically but not limited to Catholicism), ethics, and economics, but also theology, history, and other related topics. If you are the author of a new […]

My interview on the Dangerously Good podcast

How many “reads” does a typical academic article get?

I frequently hear that academic scholarship is less important than writing for the public because only two reviewers and the author ever read the typical academic article. Certain articles in pay-to-play journals probably are subject to that criticism. And articles in very niche journals might also be poorly read. But if you are writing for […]

Should an academic agree to write an article for an encyclopedia?

When evaluating a CV, an encyclopedia article should count as negative one publication. (This doesn’t apply of course for something like the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). My reasons: (1) No one reads encyclopedias anymore. (2) The editors of encyclopedias are usually washed up Associate Professors who don’t publish peer-reviewed materials any more, or who never […]

Ghost Tallies in the Census

In my previous post I explained that historians have overcounted slaves in the New York census of 1830. Instead of the traditional count of 75 or 76, I estimated that there were in fact only between 38 and 51 slaves actually tallied on the census forms. One reason for the latter-day counting error, evident in […]