The Honors Option is a special arrangement between an instructor and an Honors student, by which that student's participation in a regular Penn State class is supplemented to approximate some of the conditions of an Honors Class. The student enrolls and participates fully in the regular class, while the instructor and the student agree to carry out a program of more challenging tasks and tutorials to supplement or replace some of the tasks performed by the regular class. This program should include a regular schedule of one-on-one meetings. An Honors Option requires careful planning, close collaboration between student and instructor, and a serious commitment by both parties to see the project through. Herewith are some general guidelines useful in developing a productive Honors Option Proposal:
The honors project must not simply add an extra assignment to the student's workload. Rather, it should be an enhanced part of the regular course syllabus, or an alternative to some such part. Simply increasing the volume of work does not constitute an Honors Option. The character and quality of the work should be augmented, but the time required for the honors project should remain commensurate with the time required (and the number of credits) in a comparable Honors Course.
The honors project provides an opportunity to go more deeply into methodology, structure, and theory; it should attack more sophisticated questions; it should satisfy more rigorous standards than expected in a general course. Honors projects, however, are not graduate-level work - students may be admitted to the program on the basis of potential rather than advanced achievement, and may need to learn how to carry out the tasks required in their projects. Instructors will provide guidance in research methodology, and must keep the scope of the project within reasonable limits.
A successful Honors Option experience will include regularly scheduled meetings between the instructor and the student, to plan, review, discuss, and revise as the project develops. Specific deadlines should be established from the start.
The proposal must specify how the project will be evaluated --laboratory, internship, creative, and experiential projects must produce some kind of report, examination, creative work, or other suitable concrete result specified from the start.
The proposal may be developed by the student, the instructor, or (preferably) through a collaborative effort. Faculty should feel free to stipulate clarifications, modifications, or alternatives to student proposals, or to decline proposals that do not appear to merit honors treatment.
All proposals must be read and approved by the Honors Coordinator and the Associate Dean of the Commonwealth College. Please take time to write the proposal carefully, and arrange to have the finished version typed. All four questions must be addressed. You may attach your proposal on a separate piece of paper if necessary.
When the College has filed the proposals with the registrar, the student's name should then be entered in a new honors section of the course. The mark will appear on the transcript with the H designation. Occasionally the re-registration process is not completed; if the instructor does not receive a separate grade sheet at the end of the semester, please contact the Honors Coordinator, who can arrange the H-designation.
At the end of the semester instructors should provide the Honors Coordinator with a brief memo about the project. Certain honors projects may be presented at a special gathering to which honors students, faculty, staff, and advisory board members may be invited.
Honors Option Proposals cannot be processed after the third week of the semester.