National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Fall 2007


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 8:2, Fall/Winter 2007. Copyright © 2007 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


In the context of the national debate over the advantages and disadvantages of honors education, we developed a two-semester honors curriculum designed to draw upon the benefits of integrating teaching and research through student participation in an ethnographic research project. This paper recounts the process of the pedagogy and curriculum and discusses some key findings and outcomes of the students’ ethnographic study. Liberation pedagogy framed the critical questions addressed in the ethnographic study exploring how students in honors programs make sense of their academic selves and their honors program. We emphasize student-researcher findings concerning status and elitism among honors participants and then reveal how engaging in research helped transform student-researchers’ own self understandings. We conclude by arguing that liberation pedagogy through scholarship in discovery can serve as an effective tool to help honors participants construct more democratic ideals of honors programs and higher education in general. More importantly, liberation pedagogy can lead to a transformational educational experience as students engage in discovery and self-reflection.