Date of this Version
Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council Vol. 12, No.1 (Spring/Summer 2011). ISSN 1559-0151
Educators concerned with the development and maintenance of collegiate honors programs throughout the United States face considerable hurdles in these times of decreased funding, concerns about charges of elitism, and calls for accountability (Campbell 95). In 1990, the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) published a monograph that identified a minimum of five concerns that should be periodically and systematically evaluated within a program: causes of attrition, liberal education goals of the curriculum, participation in cultural and community activities, administrative structure and budget, and advising responsibilities (Reihman, Varhus, & Whipple). Although the NCHC, as well as accrediting bodies, strongly supports the assessment of honors programs, Greg Lanier reports little consistency in the process or the findings of such assessments (84).
In spite of a growing body of literature supporting the benefits of honors programs (Achterberg; Cosgrove; Hartleroad; Park & Maisto; Ross & Roman; Seifert, Pascarella, Colangelo, & Assouline; Shushok), some members of the national community of honors educators remain resistant to the concept of assessing their programs. Lanier cites the spring/summer 2006 volume of the Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council (JNCHC) that included nine essays in its “Forum on Outcomes Assessment, Accountability, and Honors”; he writes that two thirds of them focused on the problem and dangers in program assessment. A common theme in several of the essays opposing assessment was that the unique and qualitative nature of the stated outcomes of honors programs makes assessment difficult or unhelpful (Digby; Freyman; Strong).