Skip to header Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Faculty Resources

Teaching in Honors

The Honors College allows instructors to teach small class and to work with highly motivated and talented students. This allows the opportunity for work in interdisciplinary teaching teams, the opportunity to introduce innovations to the classroom, and support from the Honors College.

  • Honors Classroom: The seminar room in the Honors Office in Randall Library is available for scheduling honors courses. The room may be reserved for additional class meetings or for students to study. There is access to a multimedia system, the internet, and a smart board.
  • Funds: The Honors College can often help with funds for class travel, such as van rental for field trips. We also have a small trust fund to assist with required activities such as cultural events. If you have any unusual supply requests, we may be able to assist. We can also make copies of your syllabus and class handouts.
  • Workshops: Each semester, the Honors College offers seminars in honors teaching for new and returning honors instructors. In addition, as needed, we hold a mid-semester meeting to discuss issues of concern. We often offer honors-related lunchtime workshops through the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE).
  • CTE Summer Teaching Initiatives: CTE offers summer teaching initiative grants for developing innovations for teaching existing courses. This is the ideal way to re-tool a university studies class for honors presentation, or to develop an honors seminar.
  • Conferences: Honors instructors are invited to participate in the National, Regional, and State Honors Council conferences, and the Honors College will typically pay for all expenses.

Honors courses are meant to allow a number of things that differ from traditional classes. They should include less lecturing and predigesting of material and allow faculty to approach material more selectively. This allows for the following to occur during honors courses:

  • More use of primary sources and original documents
  • More critical thinking and independent scholarship
  • Less passive note-taking
  • More student adventure in learning with focus on open discussion
  • Seminar-style course formats focusing on discussion
  • Space for professors and students to take risks

Honors courses make greater use of independent scholarship and student-directed projects where possible. It is crucial that they involve not merely more work or harder work, but more in-depth analysis, creative expression, and work directed to the students' level.

As a general rule, instructors should not require substantially more reading. Even though these are capable students, they may not read faster than their peers who are not honors students.

In fact, some evidence shows that many honors students read slower than average because they read closely and carefully. We tell the students to expect that honors courses will be more challenging than the non-honors sections, but that they are not harder just for the sake of being harder.

Because it is our goal to encourage the development of critical thinking and independent work skills, it is entirely appropriate to require more complex and innovative assignments. This may make the course more challenging, but it should also be more rewarding for the students and the faculty. This allows for a more intensive version of an undergraduate course.

Honors courses usually involve more study of the process of discovery, more feedback on writing and discussions, and more individual attention through more frequent teacher-student conferences and other student-teacher contact out of the classroom. Honors courses encourage faculty to redefine ourselves as teachers and re-think the line between teachers and learners.

Honors scholars are normally students who will be making As and Bs in their regular classes. Since clustering of grades can sometimes pose a problem for instructors, the following observations and guidelines may be helpful.

The goal of the Honors College is not for students to be penalized for taking honors courses. Therefore, to assign grades on the basis of a normal curve would in effect hurt them and be detrimental to student morale.

A more reasonable method would be to grade based on comparative performance. If the work done by the student would earn an A or B in a regular section of the same course, it should receive the same grade in an honors course.

Theoretically, all students in an honors section could receive an A in the course. Honors students are typically asked to perform at a higher level than in regular classes. They may be asked for more in-depth class participation, independent work and analysis. The grades should reflect this higher level of expectations, and take into account the degree of difficulty.

With that being said, honors students are not guaranteed high grades. If a student does not put forth effort or does not achieve the appropriate mastery of the material, the grade should reflect the lack of achievement.

Teaching Honors

Learn more about teaching honors courses or proposing a new class.

Honors Courses & Curriculum

Learn more about honors course descriptions and curriculum requirements in the student handbook.