Date of this Version
Honors in Practice, Volume 8
One of the National Collegiate Honors Council’s Basic Characteristics of an Honors Program is that “the program serves as a laboratory within which faculty feel welcome to experiment with new subjects, approaches, and pedagogies. When proven successful, such efforts in curriculum and pedagogical development can serve as prototypes for initiatives that can become institutionalized across the campus.” Four faculty members from the departments of nursing and respiratory therapy at Midwestern State University, a public liberal arts university in Wichita Falls, designed and taught a hybrid honors course called Death—Planning for the Inevitable. This course, which combined traditional in-class and online instruction, might pave the way for determining how honors education can evolve to accommodate the needs of not just honors students but the wider campus context and beyond.
Death—Planning for the Inevitable (from here on called simply Death) was a three-credit-hour, semester-long course that met for two hours each week in a traditional classroom setting, with the other hour spent on an online component using Blackboard, the university’s program for distance education. The MSU College of Health Sciences and Human Services has an extensive program of online coursework and confers degrees on a number of students who rarely, if ever, set foot on campus. Each of the instructors has experience in teaching online courses, and one of the four instructors had previous experience teaching honors classes. This combination of experiences made it reasonable to investigate the direction of online honors instruction. The following study presents background on the merits of online education in honors, including hybrid courses, followed by an exploration of the perceptions of honors students and faculty who participated in the honors hybrid course. We believe this method of teaching successfully enhanced the honors experience and that the hybrid method may be useful in other honors programs as well.