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The objective of this study was to conduct an exploratory evaluation of honors programs in institutions of higher education. Nine characteristics of exemplary K–12 gifted programs were used for this analysis of honors programs in the Big 12 schools. One school was eliminated from the process because it was the only one without an honors college. Instead, this school had departmental honors programs, and all programs there were somewhat different. Overall results showed that the eleven honors programs we examined complied with the same criteria recommended for K–12 programs. However, compliance with the characteristics varied. Most notably, only one program provided for teacher training. Further studies, such as interviews with graduates of these programs and comparative studies with other universities, might produce valuable insights. Published results of formal program evaluations would help other schools use empirical data to design or improve their honors programs. These studies would begin a new, comprehensive body of knowledge about quality honors programs.