Date of this Version
Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 3:1, Spring/Summer 2002.
The central aim of all honors programs is to produce the highest quality of learning experiences possible to students with high motivation and exceptional academic ability (Brown, 2001). The assumption has been for many years that a high quality learning experience is ensured in the traditional (honors) college classroom by small class size and a seminar format.
However, some of these classes are inevitably higher quality than others. Recent teaching innovations open additional instructional options to honors and other courses as well. Process evaluation or assessment can help course instructors learn how to make course adjustments while the course is still underway. Repeated data points can also help to ensure course improvements. This kind of input can be particularly useful when: a course is new and in the development phase, an instructor tries new teaching techniques, an instructor changes, or more simply, an instructor is looking for fresh insights into a course taught many times before. The Innovation Quality (or IQ) program was developed and implemented at Penn State for the past four years to meet these assessment needs. IQ student teams help faculty appraise the quality of teaching and learning experiences in one course across the entire semester. The purpose of this paper is to explain how the program was developed, what its key elements are, and the potential applications it has for honors and other classes on any college campus.