Contracting for honors credit is an option students may use to convert or extend a non-honors course to receive honors credit. It entails an agreement between the student and the course instructor and is monitored by the Honors Program. When the course is successfully completed and the terms of the contract are fulfilled to the satisfaction of the mentoring professor, the student receives honors credit.
The success of the contract approach to honors work is directly related to the quality of the relationship between mentoring professor and honors student. Therefore, regular and frequent meetings outside of class time, which produce substantial discussion of the proposed honors work as well as related concepts and material, are highly desirable.
guidelines for honors contracts
- Honors Contracts should
- Promote academic excellence
- Demonstrate initiative beyond syllabus expectations
- Encourage and challenge students to strive toward fulfilling their potentials their potentials and abilities.
- Extend and enrich the cultural awareness of students.
- Culminate with some kind of product that demonstrates the quality and content of the honors project. This project need not be a paper, but can be a scrapbook, videotape, portfolio, or other expression of the student's accomplishment.
- The contract should clearly demonstrate how the honors component complements the existing course syllabus, yet takes the honors student beyond established requirements without simply adding work for the sake of work. Tasks involving critical thinking and application of skills and knowledge are expected.
- The honors contract may include the presentation of the student's work to the class or other interest groups.
- A service to the college or community at large is sometimes included in Honors Contract projects. The Honors Program encourages such a component when it is appropriate to the project.
- An Honors Contract should not be a mini-thesis. It should be a reasonable length, considering all the work for the regular course, plus three other courses, probably an outside job, etc. The idea is not added quantity but depth in a subject the student is already engaged in.
Sample ideas for Honors Contracts
- An independent research project with lab work and demonstrable results.
- A translation of a short story, set of new poems, or play by a new author, for an upper division language course.
- A lecture with recital, focusing on a musician you have come to admire
- Critical Research on a topic that expands course content, culminating in a paper, class presentation, or some other format.
- A service learning experience with a community organization with a class presentation amplifying the experience with relevant context/research. There should be a reflective component to this experience.
- Courses in which a contract is done may not be taken P/F if the contract is to count for honors program completion. Contracts should not carry over into the following semester. Contracts are to be completed by the end of the semester.
At the beginning of the semester:
- Help the student focus and design proposal.
- Discuss resources available.
- Discuss how the Honors work will be graded. How will it affect the grade in a class?
- Set up a realistic time-line for conferences with student and for timely completion of contract (last day of classes). A minimum of four meetings (outside class time) with the student should be held during the semester. The dates of these meetings are to be written in the contract (Section 6 of the Project Information).
- Help the student to plan the project accordingly.
After the faculty member has discussed and approved the final draft of the student's contract, the student send the completed honors contract form and two copies of the proposal to the Honors Program Director by the due date. The contract form is available at the Registrar's office.
At the end of the semester (and before finals begin):
- Fill out the evaluation form.
- Share the evaluation with the student and provide a copy.
- Send a copy of the evaluation form (retaining a copy for yourself) to Program Director.
Upon receipt of the evaluation, the Program Director will notify the Registrar to place the title of the contract on the student's transcript, and will begin the process of remuneration.
Compensation for Faculty
Honors Course conversions and Course expansions are granted the same as one unit of independent study. There is no compensation for the faculty of a graduate course in which a Honors student enrolls. Full time faculty should report Honors' work on the workload form under independent studies (name of student, course, etc.). Part time faculty will be paid through the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs at the end of the semester.
Dr. Diara Spain
Director Honors Program
Office: Science Center 123