National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Fall 2018


Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 19.2 (Fall/Winter 2018) ISBN 978-1-945001-01-7 ISSN 1559-0151


© Copyright 2018 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


Honors education is often marketed as a means to offer enhanced value to a collegiate education. This value has the capacity to bolster a student’s academic experience, to add to his or her comprehensive skill set, to enhance a resumé, and to improve professional development. Ernest Pascarella argued that theoretical value without data is often used to justify collegiate programs such as honors and criticized those practices for lacking research and data to validate the claim of enhanced value. The current research was designed to obtain validation by eliciting the perspectives of alumni from South Dakota State University’s (SDSU’s) Honors College on the value of their honors education. The data presented here sought to fill a gap in honors research by identifying what skills honors graduates value from their honors education and determining whether post-graduation value aligns with the SDSU Honors College’s student learning outcomes.

Assessing the effectiveness and value of honors education is a challenge, heightened by the fact that no two honors programs are exactly alike. However, there have been attempts dating back at least as early as 1995 to assess the value of honors education. Among these attempts are studies on grade point average (GPA), student involvement, exposure to collegiate “good practices,” student awards, and measures of emotional intelligence among honors students. These studies have largely been conducted with undergraduate students in an attempt to justify the value of an honors education, but these previous studies can help scholars assess where future research is needed.