NCHC 2013 Faculty Panel: Celebration of Teaching and Learning

NCHC 2013

Evergreen, 4th floor, 5.30-7pm

Guiding question: What are the core elements of Honors programs and colleges?

What follows are some notes on some of the key points

Honors education varies significantly as a function of the institutional setting in which it is embedded: Type, size, resources, location, etc. of institution. This makes it hard to generalize about honors education. However, certain key themes emerge, revolving around these keywords:

  • thematic
  • inter-/transdisciplinary
  • academic excellence
  • undergraduate research/creative/practical projects
  • skills development: critical & analytical thinking and writing; research skills; practical skills
  • Development of multidimensional honors students beyond academics

What is distinctive about honors education? Is it ‘just’ a synonym for excellent education?

  • more intentional/deliberate design of interdisciplinary teaching to overcome silo teaching/learning/thinking

Excellent and engaging teaching & learning are at the heart of honors education

  • Small & interactive courses
  • Interdisciplinary: Hard to get faculty from other departments to do – easier to develop your own interdisciplinary honors faculty; cross-listing courses
  • Team teaching is the best, but it is hard and expensive
  • Example: Different aspects of the Rio Grande River: Ecology, hydrology, economics, politics, etc. – cf. Mark Taylor and others’ advocacy of problem-focused programs, which is increasingly practiced in the emerging field of global studies (see tags)
  • Inter-/transdisciplinary ‘Spaceship Earth’ class to systematically integrate
  • Topical courses tend to be popular: Islam post-9/11; sustainability
  • Teaching as coaching
  • ‘Interdisciplinary learning doesn’t mean much for beginning students who don’t know their own fields yet’ (student comment)
  • How to design the most effective ‘freshmen experience’ courses/programs?
  • Faculty: ‘Your grade depends on how much I learn.’

Communication is key

  • Involve Honors students as much as possible
  • Technology is useful: E-learning platforms; social media – but how can we do a better job of drawing their attention to the most important information?

Key constraints

  • Financial constraints
  • Institutional resistance
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