Criteria for Honors Courses

It is expected that honors courses/sections would meet most, if not all, of these standards:

  • Honors courses differ from regular courses in some combination of quantity of work, sophistication of assignments, and expectations of quality. For example, honors students may be expected to read and to respond to more material or material that is more challenging, or they may be asked to engage the material on a more sophisticated level.
  • Honors courses focus on principles of discipline: ways of knowing, relevant/important questions, methods of problem resolution, critical thinking.
  • Honors courses encourage critical thinking, including such habits of mind as withholding judgment in the absence of sufficient evidence; analyzing and evaluating evidence; drawing reasonable conclusions from evidence; developing the willingness to revise conclusions in response to new information or convincing counter-arguments; developing awareness of and ability to critique one’s own critical thinking processes. Experiences, exercises and assignments should be developed specifically to further such goals.
  • Honors courses nurture the ability to communicate effectively both one’s conclusions and the process by which one reached them.
  • Honors courses engage students intellectually through active interaction among faculty and fellow students, both in small groups and one-on-one.
  • Honors courses include primary literature, scholarship, criticism and other texts, as appropriate, rather than rely on textbooks alone.
  • Honors courses design assignments and assessments to build knowledge rather than test primarily for mastery of factual detail.