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Understanding the experiences, satisfaction and performance of Honors students: A multisite case study at public higher education institutions

Amy Lee Cossentino, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this study was to gather information from sophomore, junior and senior Honors students, faculty and directors at four, four-year public institutions to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences, performance and satisfaction of Honors students. This information resulted in the development of a set of guidelines for Honors program administrators to use for the enhancement of Honors programs at four-year public universities. The guidelines augment the NCHC "Basic Characteristics of a Fully Developed Honors Program", providing Honors directors with information that may aid them with the administration of various aspects of Honors programs. The development of the guidelines was based upon responses given to focus group and interview questions. ^ A purposeful sample of fifty-three Honors students, participated in focus groups with nineteen from focus groups participating in more in-depth individual interviews. Honors directors and an Honors faculty member from each institution were interviewed individually to provide their perspectives about Honors students’ experience, performance and satisfaction. ^ Two themes emerged from the data: (a) student academic development, which included six sub-themes: methods of instruction, nature of faculty, nature of students, academic challenge, academic usefulness and performance; (b) student personal development, which included three sub-themes: student life, student life satisfaction and Honors community. ^ The findings suggest the impression students had of the institution, major department and Honors program while visiting campus was important for the college choice. Students joined Honors programs for increased academic challenge, priority registration and enhanced graduate school and employment opportunities. Residence halls were an attractive benefit. The findings showed students preferred learning environments which incorporated active learning, taught by student-centered faculty who provided feedback and courses comprised of Honors students. Students reported dissatisfaction with general education requirements not considered challenging or useful. Commuter students indicated initial disconnect but adapted by developing strategies minimizing obstacles to enhance student engagement. Students reported the Honors community, including peers, faculty and staff, was important for personal development and support. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Curriculum and Instruction|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Cossentino, Amy Lee, "Understanding the experiences, satisfaction and performance of Honors students: A multisite case study at public higher education institutions" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3243737.