Date of this Version
In Miller, K.A., ed. 2020. Building Honors Contracts: Insights and Oversights. National Collegiate Honors Council Monograph Series. pp 3-19.
This volume offers a timely and much-needed discussion, for in spite of their apparent ubiquity across the honors landscape, contracts are not a feature of honors education that has received much attention. For example, the National Collegiate Honors Council’s (NCHC) “Basic Characteristics of a Fully Developed Honors Program” and its companion statement on honors colleges—documents meant to guide colleges and universities in curricular innovation, engaged pedagogy, and intentional learning—make no mention of contracts. Additionally, NCHC’s 2016 Census of U.S. Honors Programs and Colleges, which captured qualities of 408 responding member institutions, asked over a dozen questions about curricular features of honors programs and colleges, including queries about online education, distance learning, internships, study abroad, and service learning (Scott, Smith, and Cognard-Black). While the instrument also questioned programs about their use of contracts, the summary data originally posted on the NCHC members’ site omits any information about contracts, a curious lacuna. As for scholarship on honors contracts, the offerings are meager: up until 2020, NCHC’s monograph series and journals have published only two essays on the topic, a mere twenty pages across two issues of Honors in Practice. One piece takes readers through the process of trying to improve the contract system at Texas Tech (Bolch), while the other is a short case study reviewing the value of extending a contracted course’s work beyond a single semester at Penn State Brandywine (DiLauro, Meyers, and Guertin). In our guiding documents, data instruments, and publications, the issue of contracts is virtually invisible.
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