National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice: A Publication of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Volume 11 (2015)


Copyright © 2015 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


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”).