Date of this Version
Miller, K.A., ed. 2020. Building Honors Contracts: Insights and Oversights. National Collegiate Honors Council Monograph Series. pp 103-125.
At their best, honors contracts can be creative, challenging, exceptional learning opportunities for students and faculty. At their worst, they promote busywork that fails to deliver enhanced educational experiences. While I am proud of the many contracts that allowed honors students at my former institution, the University of Southern Indiana, to collaborate on customized learning and deeper relationships with course material and faculty, I also found myself on occasion having to apologize to students or faculty for the stunted, lackluster projects that one party or the other proposed. These conflicting sentiments illustrate why Richard Badenhausen urges the honors community to engage in the “thought exercise” of considering, evaluating, and improving honors contracts (5). One way that directors or deans may begin this work is by supporting contracts that promise mutual benefits for both students and faculty. Honors can develop a culture of rewarding contracts through guidance, encouragement, and examples that motivate students and faculty to design projects that inspire and excite both parties. This chapter describes over a dozen creative ideas for such contracts in five broad categories: teaching tools, collaborative research, promotional material, grant applications, and community engagement. Contracts that bring shared value to students and their professors enhance the integrity and quality of the learning experiences that are the hallmarks of an honors education.
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