Free-standing Honors Courses
Free-standing and graduate courses already consist of Honors-level instruction and experience. Embedded and Honors Course Contracts require a student to participate in alternate or additional individual or group activities to provide an Honors-level experience. Honors Students who take graduate courses for undergraduate credit may count these courses toward their distinction requirements.
NB: while examples of different activities are presented below under different types of Honors offerings, Honors faculty are encouraged to “mix and match” as inspiration strikes.
Free-standing Honors courses are designed and offered as a stand-alone course for Honors students only. These are small classes (generally no more than 25 students) taught in a traditional manner by a faculty member. While the course material is often consistent with the non-Honors version of the same course, it should be taught at an increased level of sophistication. Faculty teaching Honors courses are encouraged to develop activities that:
- Expand knowledge and deepen comprehension of course material by reading and discussing primary literature rather than textbooks.
- Encourage students to consider the application of the course material to "real-world" situations or unexpected problems.
- Ask students to synthesize different bodies of knowledge to solve problems.
- Require students to evaluate information obtained from primary and secondary sources.
- Invite students to create an in-depth, inquiry-based project that is focused on their individual intellectual interests and that requires significant research.
Stacked or Embedded Courses
Embedded Honors sections are large courses in which Honors and non-Honors students are mixed; Honors students have alternate activities or additional meeting times consist of a group of Honors students who periodically meet with the faculty instructor in addition to regular class meetings. This model would emulate the traditional "lecture and tutor" format often seen in small private colleges. Students in the embedded Honors section should also be expected to complete alternate assignments or activities that achieve the objectives described in the free-standing section above. Embedded Honors sections provide an opportunity for a number of unique options as well:
- Embedded students could engage in small-group, inquiry-based projects that deepen their understanding of the course material and its contexts; the groups could present their findings to the entire class to enhance the normal course lectures.
- Term projects could encourage students (either individually or as a group) to synthesize the material covered over the entire breadth of the semester. Projects could be significant presentations, demonstrations, group "wikis," portfolios, or substantial essays.
- Meeting individually or as a group, students could read and discuss contemporary scholarly literature related to course material.
Graduate courses may be taken by Honors Students for undergraduate credit and have these count toward their distinction requirements. Many times, students do this when there is a graduate equivalent of an undergraduate degree requirement. No modification is needed in these cases since the ideal for an Honors course is a graduate-level seminar.