2015-16 AP European History Redesign: Validation Study

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In the fall of 2012, the AP Program, in partnership with Harris Interactive®, conducted a study of 60 representative AP score-receiving colleges and universities to finalize the redesigned AP European History course and exam that would launch in 2015-16. AP sought confirmation that:

  • The redesigned course and exam align with the expectations of postsecondary institutions as to the content and skills AP students should learn in AP European History to be successful in the subsequent college course; and
  • The depth and breadth of the redesigned course content are appropriate for the equivalent introductory college-level course(s).

The study findings revealed that the curriculum framework reflects the conceptual approach of college-level European history survey courses, and encourages teachers to approach the course as college instructors do—with flexibility and depth. Specifically:

  • The scope of the redesigned course reflects the beliefs of college and university instructors about the scope of the college-level survey.
  • The redesigned course emphasizes the significant historical developments and historical thinking skills valued within the discipline of European history.
  • The redesigned course encourages instructional flexibility and depth in how students investigate the past using college-level historical thinking skills.

In order to assess whether the redesigned course aligned with faculty expectations of what should be taught in the introductory European history course, we asked them to rate the proposed scope of the curriculum. Most participants felt that the scope was appropriate for the college-level survey course, and 31 of 60 participants further affirmed that it was just right.

With regard to the depth of conceptual understanding and breadth of content coverage, the college faculty who participated in this study reported that the redesigned course:

  • Is very effective at preparing students for success in sequent college-level European history courses;
  • Made them more likely to be willing to grant credit and placement for students who succeeded on the AP European History Exam;
  • Is successful in balancing depth of conceptual understanding with breadth of topic coverage to foster student achievement in sequent college-level courses; and
  • Features historical thinking skills that will lay a foundation for student success in subsequent history courses.

Qualified study participants were department chairs and/or faculty members who have taught introductory-level European history during the past three years or who have an influence on the department's AP credit and placement policy. The following institutions were represented:

To learn more about the role of college faculty in course and exam development, visit the AP higher education website. For information about specific institutions' credit policies for AP European History and other subjects, visit AP Credit Policy Search.