National Collegiate Honors Council


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From: The Demonstrable Value of Honors Education: New Research Evidence, edited by Andrew J. Cognard-Black, Jerry Herron, and Patricia J. Smith. (Lincoln, NE: NCHC, 2019). Copyright 2019 by National Collegiate Honors Councils.


Defining success is challenging. Yet schools and colleges across the country, indeed, around the world, seek to do it in order to demonstrate value. While we know that success depends upon a variety of skills that individuals develop into competencies, these can be difficult to measure in an academic setting. For example, as educators, we hope that success is an outcome of lifelong learning, but the measurement of lifelong learning requires sophisticated approaches that can be difficult to deploy across a broad population (Riley and Claris 2008). As a result, administrators and instructors will often gravitate toward more readily available measures of success such as individual grades, grade point averages (GPAs), or standardized test scores. While these measures can provide insight into performance in a particular setting, commonly a didactic instructional environment, they do not account for the variety of experiences that mold and shape an individual’s capacity for success. In fact, some educators might argue that these limited measures ignore some of the most important aspects of potential for success, such as, for example, resilience.