More Than Bookwork
Completion of the Honors Project and the public presentation of it provides capstone educational experiences for Honors Program students. Engagement with the project offers students who possess initiative, intellectual maturity, and commitment to scholarship the opportunity for a rich educational experience, one in which they will synthesize information learned over the course of their academic careers with independent investigation and thought on a topic of their choice. The Honors Project may cross disciplines to incorporate other interests and experiences. Work on the project should offer honors students a satisfying intellectual opportunity that will prepare them for graduate or professional study and provide a significant career credential.
The Honors Project will produce either a thesis or a creative project reflecting substantial scholarship. All Honors Projects will include a written component. The completed project will demonstrate students’ skills through the accurate and correct use of language, the clear presentation of concepts, and the logical organization and development of ideas. The completed project will also demonstrate how well students apply research and analytical skills appropriate to their chosen discipline and to the undergraduate level of inquiry. The project will move beyond mere summary of current research in a field and will include students’ own critical and creative thought.
The Honors Project should investigate a question that places the topic historically, reviews relevant literature, and arrives in a substantiated way at a conclusion, interpretation, or resolution. The project may take the form of a creative work that demonstrates imagination and originality, in addition to craftsmanship and professionalism in production. Public presentation of a creative project should presume a multidisciplinary audience.
Although the rewards of working in close intellectual contact with faculty mentors and of organizing and completing independent work can be great, honors students should be aware of the demands of the undertaking. Successful completion of a project of value and quality requires a significant expenditure of time and, possibly, resources.
Relevant forms regarding project proposals and process overviews are available to those looking to get started.
Honors Project Overview for Students
The Honors Project, being the capstone for the Honors Program, has two major requirements: a written component and an oral presentation. The project can also require a performance, demonstration, experiment, research, etc., that also helps review and reaffirm all that a student plans to accomplish with the project. As with completing any project, important deadlines and required items must be satisfactorily met before the Honors Program Council may approve the project.
We strongly recommend that you begin your project at least one semester before you intend to present it.
If you are thinking about doing an Honors Project, your first step should be to contact the Honors Program director.
Below is a list of steps that you should take to help complete your project in a relatively painless matter and help keep track of where you are as you complete the project.
- Explore topics and questions you wish to pursue, and select a faculty mentor who can guide you through your research or artistic process. The best place to start is with your major, as well as with any other interests that you either would like to explore even though you might not be majoring in that area or other areas where you already have ideas that you would like to prove true or false. At this time, you and your mentor need to discuss and decide if the research will be completed for credit or not.
- With your mentor, discuss and outline goals with the project, methods to obtain those goals, and a timeline for the project. With these in mind, write your proposal for your project.
- Ask your mentor to complete the mentor’s statement.
- Fill out a Project Proposal Form, and attach your proposal and the mentor’s statement. Once the packet is approved by you and your mentor, it can be turned in to the Honors Center. At this time, a staff member will evaluate whether you are on track to completing certificate requirements, and all results will be sent to you in writing. This audit will not imply that you are cleared for graduation, only for Honors Program requirements. Staff will at that point send your proposal to the Honors Program Council, which will select two staff members to serve as project liaisons. These two liaisons and your mentor form your project evaluation committee. Information about contacting you and your mentor will be forwarded to your liaisons.
- Arrange to meet with your evaluation committee. This is your responsibility. At this meeting, the project requirements and the project will be discussed:
- Liaisons will provide feedback based on the council’s consideration of the proposal.
- The group will establish times and means of future contact with all involved.
- The group will establish roles and responsibilities of the liaisons and mentor.
- The committee will establish and distribute to everyone the criteria for evaluation of the project.
- The group will clarify the process for reviewing the polished draft (i.e., who forwards the draft to whom?).
- Continue your research and proceed to write a draft of your paper. Start formulating ideas and work on the presentation of the project.
- Submit your polished draft to your mentor and liaisons as established above in 5. Feedback and revisions should occur as necessary once the draft has been reviewed and feedback has been given.
- Any and all requests for the presentation, especially date, time, venue, and presentation equipment, will be made through the Honors Center. Contact the Honors Center at least 15 days in advance, preferably earlier, to ensure that enough time will be allotted to establish the reservations. Presentations must be given during the academic year, and the evaluation committee must attend the presentation.
- Submit your final written project to the evaluation committee and the Honors Center for distribution to the rest of the Honors Program Council. As per Honors Program rules, this must be available at least two full business days before the presentation, if not more.
- Give your oral presentation. Depending upon the venue, your audience is presumed to be a general academic audience. As preparation, look at possible questions you may be asked during and after the presentation. There may be a bigger audience than solely the evaluation committee.
- After the presentation, the evaluation committee will meet and recommend that the project be accepted, rejected, or amended by the Honors Program Council. If amendments are sought, the students will be required to respond to the evaluation committee by the set deadline. Submit your amended project to the evaluation committee, who will submit their recommendation to the council. The council will then make a final decision on the project.
- You will be informed in writing of the council’s decision.
Honors Project Process Overview for Mentors
The role of the mentor for an honors student’s project is that of an undergraduate thesis director. Along with the two liaisons from the Honors Project Council, the mentor will form the evaluation committee for the student’s project. Because the mentor has expertise in the subject of the project, the council will give the mentor’s views special consideration throughout the evaluation process.
The Honors Project has two required components: a written component and an oral presentation. As part of the presentation, certain projects may also require a performance, demonstration, etc. Please note there are important deadlines and required items (in bold) that must be completed before the Honors Program Council may approve the project. The evaluation committee is not obliged to consider projects until such items are completed.
The program offers a list of steps the mentor should follow:
- Work with the student in selecting and exploring topics for research. The mentor and the student should decide whether this project is to be completed for credit.
- Help the student outline goals and methods appropriate to the chosen project. The student will develop a project proposal based on the goals and methods. Together the mentor and student should establish a timeline for the completion of the project.
- Complete the mentor’s statement. This document will clearly and succinctly explain why the project is worthy of Honors credit and how this project provides a unique challenge for the student. If the project is being done for credit, this document will also explain how the work will be evaluated and provide the criteria to be used for the final grade. Please note that the course grade is not linked to the evaluation of the project by the council.
- The packet should consist of the mentor’s statement, project proposal, and Honors Project Proposal Form. Upon approval by the mentor and the student, the student should send the packet to the Honors Center. This packet must be submitted no later than the fourth week of the semester in which the student intends to present the project. If the student intends to graduate during the semester in which the project is presented, the presentation must take place no later than November 8 in fall semesters or April 5 in spring semesters. Honors projects cannot be presented during the summer. Honors Program staff will send the proposal to the Honors Program Council, which will select two members to serve as project liaisons. Honors Program staff will provide the contact information for the liaisons. Although it is the student’s responsibility to arrange a meeting with the mentor and the liaisons (the evaluation committee), the mentor should try to facilitate the meeting.
- Meet with Honors Program Council liaisons and the student:
- Liaisons will provide feedback based on the council's consideration of the proposal.
- The group will establish times and means of future contact with all concerned.
- The group will establish the roles and responsibilities of the liaisons and mentor.
- The evaluation committee will establish and distribute to everyone the criteria for evaluation of the project.
- The group will clarify the process for reviewing the polished draft (i.e., who forwards the draft to whom?).
- Continue guiding the student until completion of the project and the oral presentation.
- Approve the written component of the project before it is submitted to the Honors Program Council for approval as outlined in 5. The evaluation committee should have a final copy of the project at least two business days before the oral presentation. Evaluate the final written component before attending the oral presentation.
- Attend the oral presentation.
- After the presentation, the evaluation committee will meet and recommend that the project be accepted, rejected, or amended by the Honors Program Council. If amendments are recommended, a deadline for resubmission will also be established. The mentor should continue working with the student and the liaisons as needed. Amended projects will be resubmitted to the evaluation committee, who will submit their recommendation to the Honors Program Council. The council will then make a final decision on the project.
- The mentor will be informed in writing of the council’s decision concerning the Honors Project.