National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Summer 2020


Journal of The National Collegiate Honors Council, vol. 21, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2020)


Copyright 2020 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


This essay responds to an argument for certification based on a particular sociological theory of professionalization. The case for certification rests on the supposition that honors has evolved from a nascent educational movement focused on distinct teaching and learning approaches for high-ability students to one that is now ready to professionalize in ways that require more specialization, organizational oversight, systematic evaluation, and exclusive credentialing through certification. The author suggests that honors is already a full-fledged professional endeavor, recognizing that the core emphasis on teaching and learning in honors is a genuinely professional endeavor when performed authentically in the experimental, creative, and subversive spirit that underlies honors pedagogy and that is shared with a community of scholars through professional activities and publications. Such a precedence is consistent with Ernest Boyer’s reconsideration of the traditional “priorities of the professoriate,” placing the kinds of pedagogical innovation, analysis, review, and distributed scholarship found in contemporary models of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) and in honors on a par with the scholarly demands in recognized specific disciplines and in the professoriate at large. Using a contemporary lens that focuses on teaching and learning as a scholarly enterprise and recognizing that honors education has from its beginnings valorized the scholarship of teaching and learning, the author concludes that honors is a legitimate professional venture without the exclusive standardization of certification.