Honors Contracts

Have any of the grad students ever had a student approach them about getting honors credit for non-honors class?  Apparently the Honors Program lets students and faculty “contract” for honors credit, if the student does some extra work.

If anybody has dealt with this before, what did you have them do for the honors credit?  Any pitfalls I should watch out for?

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About Jake Wobig

I teach international relations and comparative politics at Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina
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3 Responses to Honors Contracts

  1. Ari Kohen says:

    In the past, I’ve had a few students approach me with questions about adding an Honors component to a class. Generally, though, the things I suggest they might do have seemed prohibitive to them so they’ve looked elsewhere for this sort of experience.

    Last semester, for example, I told a student that I’d want him to read a couple of Plato’s dialogues that we weren’t reading for class, as well as an essay by Bloom on love and friendship, and then write an essay that explored the theme.

    My sense is that he was hoping to write a ten page paper instead of the eight page paper that others were writing. Or he thought he might read an extra short essay and speak with me about it.

    My goal has always been to make it a serious project. This is, at least in part, because I don’t want just anyone to do this sort of thing and also because I want the experience to actually be valuable for the student. Of course, I might be requiring a whole lot more than the average person.

    The upshot of the whole thing is that I put some serious thought into the project so that it won’t actually occur. But, if it did, it would be something I’d want to spend extra (volunteer) time doing with students who are going to work hard and turn in something interesting.

  2. Tina M Z says:

    I had two students complete honors contracts for 160, for two different semesters (the actual honors section was not available to them for various reasons). Basically I had them read additional journal articles to supplement the chapter and required them to write reaction papers in addition to regular assignments. They also had to meet with me every other week during office hours to hand in their reaction papers and discuss the readings.

    I plucked their extra readings from graduate core reading lists so some were quite challenging. Both students seemed to gain quite a bit from these assignments, I think in part because I asked them which specific topics covered in class they were most interested in. I tailored their extra readings to their interests. To be honest, it was nice having an intellectual discussion with an undergraduate during office hours. I mean, how often does that happen?!

  3. Mike Wagner says:

    I typically require that they read a scholarly book in the class’ area (of my choosing after asking them the sorts of things they are interested in), write a 8-10 page paper summarizing and critiquing the book, and engaging in an “oral defense” of sorts on their paper where I ask them some questions about what they’ve written. If the defense goes well, they are done, if not, they revise the paper (though so far, they defenses have gone well). Like Ari, I have found that some students found this too cost prohibitive and recanted their wish to take the course for the honors credit designation.

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