National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Fall 2006


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 7:2, Fall/Winter 2006. Copyright © 2006 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


Since this edition of the JNCHC is dedicated to honors administration, it seems appropriate to offer a few introductory remarks about the usefulness of this study. College and university administrators participating in the accreditation process are well aware that assessing student learning is not the passing fad that some had suspected it might be. In the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, for example, administrators are familiar with Core Requirement 2.1—the institution engages in ongoing, integrated, and institution- wide planning and evaluation processes that incorporate systematic review of programs and services (Handbook for reaffirmation of accreditation, 2004). All accreditation bodies in higher education now require systematic assessment of student learning.
Honors programs have been generally slow to adopt ongoing assessment strategies, and calls for intentional evaluation of honors education are not new. In a National Collegiate Honors Council monograph published in 1995, for example, Reilhman, Varhus and Whipple noted that “. . . the paucity of evaluations of honors programs is surprising” (p.2). A decade earlier, Randall and Collier (1985) observed, “examples of efforts to evaluate the effect of honors programs on the college career . . . are extremely rare”(p. 2). A search of relevant literature today suggests that only marginal progress has been made toward providing substantive and scientifically gathered data about how student learning is enhanced as a result of participation in an honors program.