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Teaching in the Honors College

teaching in honors

The curriculum in the Honors College is not fixed but evolves within a general structure and is planned anew each semester, about a year ahead of time. Some of our courses are taught by full-time faculty in Honors, but many are taught by others who are not full-time. We are always interested in finding new instructors and courses at all undergraduate levels and in pretty much any area of study. If you’d like to teach for us, here are some things to consider.

What Honors Courses Are Like

The mission of the Honors College is to provide a vibrant, interdisciplinary educational environment for the intellectually curious and scholastically capable student. To deliver an enhanced learning experience to such students, faculty who teach Honors courses are actively encouraged to explore their own pedagogical boundaries. We look for professors who join excellence in teaching with research and who will offer ingenious and original approaches to teaching.

Honors College courses involve much more student-faculty interaction than is typical in undergraduate instruction. Classrooms are limited to 18 students, and classes are never lecture-based. Students develop knowledge and skills through activities like discussion, critical reading, writing, laboratory experience, and research. The model can be similar to a graduate seminar format, but the instructor should be committed to fostering appropriate undergraduate-level skills and development. Honors students have diverse majors, interests, and experiences, so while we encourage our instructors to dig deep, their classes need to be accessible without prerequisites.

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The Honors College embraces the concept of the broadly educated student. As such, Honors encourages its instructors to draw from a wide range of disciplines while presenting material within the professor’s own area of competency. The Honors College is an important vehicle on campus for launching courses that cross disciplinary lines for the purpose of giving students a fully integrated perspective on human knowledge and, at the same time, allowing students to address topics and 21st century issues in a holistic manner.

Rewards of Teaching in Honors

Whether an adjunct instructor or continuing faculty member in Honors, faculty will enjoy countless benefits of working with some of the most engaged and talented students this university has to offer. Here are few of the perks:

  1. Classroom ambience. Virtually all of the rewards for teaching in Honors are intrinsic. The chance to teach small classes of highly inquisitive, well-prepared, responsible, and motivated students is one of the most gratifying experiences in college teaching.

  2. Innovation. Honors offers the chance for truly creative teaching. Professors are encouraged to innovate in Honors classes, to try techniques that they may have considered, but have never had a chance to implement because of class size or the quality of students.

  3. Honors College recognition. The Honors College gives an annual Outstanding Professor Award. The recipient's name is inscribed on a permanent plaque maintained in the Honors office, and the instructor will be recognized at the annual Awards Ceremony.

How to Teach in Honors

If you would like to teach in Honors, there are three simple steps to follow (See the Timeline below for information about when all of this happens).

  1. Become a registered Honors instructor. You must be registered with us before we can accept course proposals from you. To become a registered Honors instructor for the following year, contact the Honors College Chair to arrange an interview during the first four weeks of a semester. When you make this contact, include a CV, a cover letter, and a course proposal, formatted for submission to Honors (look at the proposal form below and our rubric for what this means, but also feel free to ask questions).

  2. Propose an Honors course. Fill out the Honors Course Proposal Form to describe your course, its learning goals, and how it fits into Honors. Accepted courses will be kept on file for teaching in future semesters. Courses can be submitted on an ongoing basis, and the curriculum committee will meet after week 8 each semester to consider all new proposals for inclusion two semesters hence (i.e. submit by 11:59pm on the final Sunday of week 8 in Fall 2017 to have the course available to teach in Fall 2018). Your courses will be evaluated and you will receive feedback about how well your proposed course fits Honors, and what needs to be changed before it can be taught.

  3. Indicate your teaching preferences for each upcoming semester. In week 13 of the semester, the curriculum committee will meet to assemble a schedule of courses from the list of approved Honors courses, using the preferences indicated by instructors. To be considered to teach, fill out the Teaching Preferences Form (again for two semesters hence) by the end of week 12 of the current semester. You can ask to teach any of your already approved courses (so we encourage submission of this form only after feedback has been received on any new courses you might want to teach), and list the times you will be available to teach.

Honors Curriculum Timeline

The general cadence of how we plan our curriculum and when you need to upload your proposals and preferences follows. Exact dates will be posted each semester on the web and reminders will go out to registered instructors over email.

We use the online site Submittable for proposals. You will need to make an account, and courses previously submitted by you can be re-opened for revision either as part of the review by the curriculum committee. If you wish to make substantial changes to an already accepted course (these revisions are due at the same time as new proposals), contact the curriculum committee to ask that your course be reopened.

Semester by semester curriculum planning

Courses proposed by Will be available to teach in (if approved)
Fall BreakThe following summer or fall semester
Spring BreakThe following spring semester









Curriculum timeline within a semester

Week 4 (of the current semester)
  • Deadline for potential new instructors with interest to teach teach 2 semesters from now (i.e. we plan in fall for the following summer and fall) to register with Honors
Week 8 (before Fall/Spring break)
  • Deadline for registered instructors to propose new courses through Submittable for consideration in this semester
  • Instructor-driven revisions to existing courses are due
Week 10
  • Instructors receive feedback on their course proposals, requests for revision on proposed courses
Week 11
  • Revisions to proposed courses are due 
  • Final acceptance decisions are made
Week 13
  • Registered instructors indicate their teaching preferences (for the next unscheduled semester)
Week 14
  • Curriculum Committee meets and sets schedule
Week 15
  • Instructors are notified about what they will be teaching
Week 16
  • Any conflicts, revisions to schedule will be resolved























Rubric for Honors College Course Proposal Review

When completing a proposal for the Honors College, instructors should check that the proposal has met all the requirements below. Note, too, that proposals will not be accepted from instructors who have not yet interviewed and registered to teach with Honors.

Overall

  1. Is the course proposal application complete? It should contain:

    • Completed new course proposal form

    • Syllabus (Sample available soon. Contact the curriculum committee if you have questions about what a syllabus needs to include)

  2. Does the course address the core Honors College values, as detailed on the Honors College Assessment?

Submittable Form

  1. Does the course description provide sufficient information to judge the topic and content of the course?

  2. Are the stated readings, Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs), etc., appropriate for the type of course being taught, correlated to specific activities and assignments, and consistent across the proposal form and course syllabus?

  3. Does the student requirements section provide sufficient information for students to accurately judge the nature and volume of work expected of them?

  4. Does the material taught in the course address each of the Honors College SLOs for the appropriate level and concentration?

  5. Is a reasonable budget attached to account for the course fee (if applicable)?

Qualifications

Does the candidate provide evidence that they are qualified to teach the class they have proposed in an authoritative, Honors-level fashion? Such evidence could consist of: higher degrees in the taught subject areas; record of publication in the taught subject areas; evidence of extensive, advanced practical experience in the taught subject areas; or other such evidences.

Syllabus

  1. Is the material covered in the course of the correct focus and of sufficient depth and breadth for a course of this level and type? Examples of expectations at different levels can be found on the Honors College website.

  2. Is the course sufficiently interdisciplinary to fulfill the Honors College mission? Expectations of interdisciplinarity vary with course level and can be found on the Honors College website.

  3. Is the number of student contact hours correct for the number of credit hours for the proposed course? For a typically scheduled class, this requirement will be met.

  4. Are the stated readings, in-class activities, discussions, as well as written work and other assignments, etc., of sufficient (but not excessive) depth and breadth for a course of this level and type?

Revising Accepted Courses

Small changes to courses, each time they are run, are to be expected, and no formal review by the curriculum committee is necessary. Substantive revisions to courses, however, will need to be submitted to the curriculum committee, almost as a new course would. This is a fuzzy concept, but here is some help in deciding what might count as substantive. Any of the following changes would require review by the curriculum committee:

  • Changed SLOs (student learning outcomes)

  • More than 30% change in assignments, content, or texts.

  • Changes to a major assignment

Revised courses will follow the same review schedule as new courses, but should use the “Revised Course” form in Submittable.

One Topic, Many Courses

There is not a necessary link between content area and the level at which an Honors course is taught. Additionally, when the curriculum committee sets the schedule each semester, it can be difficult to balance a diverse set of topics and levels. We encourage instructors to offer courses based on similar content at different levels of the curriculum. Each course requires its own accepted proposal and content appropriate for the specific type of course, including:

  • SLOs

  • Syllabus

  • Distinct course titles

Rather than repeating the same material at a higher level, imagine an interested student who would be able to benefit from both courses. Some shared readings would be reasonable, and in fact could be a real boon as we acknowledge the benefit of revisiting content from a new perspective. At the same time, it is not likely that these two courses would exist as a sequence, so you cannot expect one course to serve as a prerequisite for another.