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HONORS COLLEGE

Honors Course Criteria

The Honors College invites faculty to propose Honors courses and general-education HNRS seminars for the Fall or Spring semester. Faculty are encouraged to use Honors and HNRS courses to experiment with course design and content, to pose interdisciplinary questions, and to supplement current department offerings. You may submit course information on an Honors Course Topic Proposal Form [online].

An ideal Honors course is, at its core, a laboratory. It boldly challenges assumptions about what we know and how we learn. It emphasizes rigor along with exploration, creativity, and discovery. It should provoke students to engage actively in the learning process. It should empower students to participate in academic dialogue, solve real-world problems through research, and draw creative and compelling connections within and across disciplines. Though an Honors course should be reading- and writing-intensive, its design should promote an atmosphere of collegiality and collaboration.

Honors Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate understanding of the scholarship behind at least two disciplines’ or professions’ core principles/practices;
  • Communicate effectively across disciplines and/or professions;
  • Address an urgent intellectual question, creative debate, or real-world problem through research or creativity activity;
  • Contribute to an intellectual, creative, or civic community;
  • Reflect on individual development.

Types of Honors Courses

HNRS seminars: HNRS seminars count for general education credit. They are small, discussion-based courses designed to provide greater depth and thoroughness of understanding to Honors students from all majors. Faculty are encouraged to propose interdisciplinary seminar work.

Honors Options: Faculty may work with individual students to create an “Honors Option” within an existing course. The “Honors Option Contract” is available in the office or for download.

Honors Course Objectives from the National Collegiate Honors Council:
Most Honors courses will have the following five objectives, or some variation:

  1. To help students develop effective written communication skills (including the ability to make effective use of the information and ideas they learn)
     
  2. To help students develop effective oral communication skills (while recognizing that not all students are comfortable talking a lot in class)
     
  3. To help students develop their ability to analyze and synthesize a broad range of material
     
  4. To help students understand how scholars think about problems, formulate hypotheses, research those problems, and draw conclusions about them; and to help students understand how creative artists approach the creative process and produce an original work
     
  5. To help students become more independent and critical thinkers, demonstrating the ability to use knowledge and logic when discussing an issue or an idea, while considering the consequences of their ideas, for themselves, for others, and for society

For more information about Honors Teaching, go to the National Collegiate Honors Council website, and for a recent example of Honors teaching principles in practice, see “What is Expected of Twenty-First-Century Honors Students: An Analysis of an Integrative Learning Experience” Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council Vol. 11, No. 2.