National Collegiate Honors Council
Contracts for Honors Credit: Balancing Access, Equity, and Opportunities for Authentic Learning
Date of this Version
Honors in Practice 16 (2020)
Research indicates that a majority of honors students across the country are able to earn honors credit through the fulfillment of honors contracts. These learning contracts grant honors credit to students who perform additional work in non-honors-designated sections of other courses. Despite their popularity, little has been written on the design and delivery of honors contracts. An inaugural annual honors contract system is presented, involving student reflections on contract fulfillment and programmatic assessment of learning outcomes. Students (n = 38) demonstrate an understanding of interdisciplinarity, alternative ways of knowing and being, and intellectual humility while faculty (n = 28) indicate a high level of satisfaction with contracts’ design and output. Strengths and weaknesses are discussed. The author concludes that despite legitimate concerns about the effects of contracts on honors curricula and community, these agreements provide flexible ways for offering rich learning opportunities to students. A historical overview of honors contracts is provided.
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