National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Evaluating Honors Programs: An Outcomes Approach by Jacqueline Reihman, Sara Varhus, and William R. Whipple (NCHC, 1990), 52pp.


© Copyright 1990 by Jacqueline Reihman, Sara Varhus, and William R. Whipple


The evaluation of academic programs has always been a complex and sensitive issue. Evaluations are undertaken to determine which programs will survive in an era of straitened economic circumstances, to gain or maintain accreditation, or to tell us how our programs can be improved. They may apply some normative standard of quality, 0r address an academic program's unique situation and mission. They may include the following: review of budget, evaluation of staff, description of the program's operation, demonstration of faculty and student satisfaction, or measures of what students have learned. They may use standardized or locally developed tests of achievement; tests of ethical and cognitive development; analysis of demographic data; transcript analysis; course evaluations; exit examinations; or faculty, student, and alumni surveys.

In the seven years since NCHC published Handbook for the Evaluation of an Honors Program, demonstrating the effectiveness of academic programs has become a widespread obligation, and educators have approached this task with increased sophistication. The most commonly cited causes of this trend are recent indictments of higher education in widely publicized national reports, and the determination of governments and governing boards (and provosts and deans) to ensure that support for education is money well spent (Warren 3). Whatever the cause, evaluation has become a central academic responsibility.