Date of this Version
Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2016).
In his thought provoking essay in this issue, George Mariz makes a call for “devoting some serious attention to setting an agenda for honors research.” He tells us that research in honors is a lot less common than it would appear to a casual observer, writing that “Both narrative and statistical accounts of honors are so far inadequate to yield useful conclusions.” Honors administrators, he contends, need this sort of analysis in order to “be able to argue with hard evidence for the . . . demonstrable advantages of honors.” As a result of these concerns, he writes, “Research in honors has become a priority for the National Collegiate Honors Council.
I wholeheartedly agree both that it is surprising that more data haven’t been gathered or analyzed and that such analyses will help administrators demonstrate the significant benefits of honors education for both honors students and the larger colleges and universities we serve. I also support a renewed focus on research within the broader honors community. I am struck, though, by what I think is a misplaced preposition in both Mariz’s essay and in the broader discussions at the NCHC. While usually tagged with the phrase “research in honors,” these conversations are usually about research on honors. We need to clarify that there is—and should be—a great deal of research in honors that is not on honors. Like Ted Estess before me, I am unsatisfied with the view that “‘Honors scholarship’ [means] scholarship about Honors programs, their students, curricula, and institutional settings” (26). To suggest that what qualifies as research in honors is strictly research about what happens in honors is to ignore some of the most creative, innovative, unique, and honors-like research that we and our students do. If we tell ourselves, and the broader communities we serve, that the only—or the privileged—research in honors is research on honors, we do ourselves and our students a grave disservice.