Date of this Version
Published in Honors in Practice: A Publication of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Volume 11 (2015)
Many universities in the United States and Europe offer honors programs to meet the demands of gifted and intelligent students (Hébert & McBee; Wolfensberger). One of the standard goals of these programs is to build an intellectual learning community (Stanlick; Koh et al.). McMillan & Chavis define a community as a “feeling that members have, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together” (9). A more specific definition of a learning community is “a group of people engaged in intellectual interaction for the purpose of learning” (Cross 4). Learning communities are known to have a positive impact on students so that they spend more time on their schoolwork (Tinto), receive higher grades (Tinto; Baker & Pomerantz), have a better attitude towards their courses (Wilson et al.), feel more satisfied about their college experience (Baker & Pomerantz) and finish their studies more quickly (Eggens). The presence of a community also provides students with skills they will need in their future work environment (Wilson et al.), gives them academic and social support (Tinto; Van Lankveld & Volman), causes them to feel less isolated (Hébert & McBee), provides a social context in which to learn during their courses (Wilson et al.), and leads to greater retention (Wilson et al.; Ludwig-Hardman & Dunlap). Honors communities are therefore seen as essential to the success of honors programs (Van Eijl et al., “Honours”; Van Eijl et al., “Ondersteuning”).