National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Fall 2021


Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, 2021, 22(2):71–86


© Copyright 2021 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


This pilot study describes a nascent first-year honors colloquia series using human-centered design (HCD). An interdisciplinary team of instructors redesigned the course with the intention of engaging the whole student in transformative learning and creating a curriculum that addresses problems and opportunities focused on the needs, contexts, emotions, and behaviors of all students, faculty, administrators, and community involved in the series. Authors describe the HCD process, observing the challenges faced by faculty in realizing its design principles, and student (n = 98) reflections on a two-part prototype involving innovation and entrepreneurship emphasizing “wicked” problems and resolutions. Students were asked to reflect on their honors college experience, in general, and then specifically focus on the course, assignments, events, and activities in which they engaged throughout the program. Authors consider the benefits of research through the immersion and observation of participants, arguing that such continuing research engagement (thought and action) informs iterations of the curriculum that are then evaluated in a continuing cycle of HCD. Qualitative analyses indicate that students’ lived experience align with curricular objectives and design. Authors conclude that HCD offers promising and innovative strategies that honors practitioners can use to engage students and manage potential pitfalls and pivots in honors curricula and programs after COVID.