How to Propose a Sequence or a Course
Guidelines for Honors Courses
The Honors program encourages submission of course proposals for team-taught sequences, stand-alone disciplinary courses, and Honors Junior Seminars. Course proposals should be submitted to the director of the Meijer Honors College. They will be reviewed by the Honors Curriculum and Development Committee (HCDC). If the committee has questions about the proposal, a representative will contact you and/or invite you to come to a committee meeting to discuss your proposal. Courses are scheduled based on the needs of the Honors College for the upcoming academic year. Ordinarily, courses will run first as a 280 or 380. Those approved to run regularly after that will need to be approved through the university curriculum process.
Meijer Honors College Mission
The Mission of the Meijer Honors College is to inspire and empower motivated students to be intellectually-curious lifelong learners who make positive contributions to their local and global communities, and serve as capable leaders and active global citizens.
Expectations for Honors Courses
The Honors program encourages submission of course proposals for team-taught sequences, stand-alone disciplinary courses, and Honors Junior Seminars that help advance the mission of the Frederick Meijer Honors College. Honors courses should be constructed and facilitated with the goal of helping students achieve these skills and dispositions, and the ability to make connections across disciplines. Honors courses may involve more extensive reading, deeper analysis, and/or greater research, but students should always know why they are being challenged—courses should not simply add work for work’s sake. As you design your course, you can and should expect Honors students to perform at a high level, but the grading expectations should not be significantly different from a non-Honors course. Honors courses should be challenging and engaging, and students who rise to the challenge and engage earnestly with course material should do well.
Distinguishing Features of Honors Courses
I. All honors courses should feature:
- Personal learning dynamics created through practices of personal engagement with the faculty, high participation and involvement.
- Multiple writing and research opportunities (most Honors courses fulfill SWS, so the approach and syllabus should demonstrate fulfillment of SWS guidelines)
- Strong focus on oral communication—discussion, presentations, etc.
- Significant practice in critical thinking and thinking across disciplinary boundaries
- “Deep learning”—getting students to break through received paradigms and construct new ones
- Encouragement of self-reflection. Students should become aware of their own intellectual growth and of how what they are learning changes the way they think and engage with the world around them.
II. The following are often characteristics of Honors courses. New proposals should indicate at least three of these characteristics:
- Team-teaching with faculty from different disciplines
- Service-learning component
- Problem-based learning
- Opportunities for students to pursue topics/projects of individual interest
- Cooperative/collaborative learning/projects
- Involvement of students in leadership of course or development of course content or activities
- Connection of disciplines or topics in unique and distinctive ways
- Course or issues centered on unique themes (topics courses—especially in Junior Seminars)
- Encouragement of participation in intellectual or cultural events/activities out of the classroom—connect to university initiatives (Sustainability, Community Reading, etc.)
- Greater reliance on primary sources or original data
- Encouragement of creativity in fulfillment of assignments
- Expectation for students to do an oral defense of research in or outside of class
- Encouragement of students to present at Student Scholars Day or local/regional honors conferences, or other relevant venues
- Greater use of technology in the classroom (e.g., use of the LearnLab)
- Innovative pedagogy and/or unique topic or approach
Developing a Proposal
The best first step in the proposal process is to contact the director and/or the chair of the Honors faculty with a brief description of the course you have in mind. Generally speaking, we like to run new course ideas by the membership of the Honors Curriculum and Development Committee before asking faculty to put in the time and effort to produce a full proposal. Individual members of the HCDC are available to work with faculty who are developing new proposals.
Finished course proposals should be submitted to the director of the Meijer Honors College. They will be reviewed by the HCDC. If the committee has questions about the proposal, a representative will contact you and/or invite you to come to a committee meeting to discuss your proposal. Courses are scheduled based on the needs of the Honors College for the upcoming academic year.
A course proposal should have the following:
A. The completed Honors Course Proposal Form. Note: If a course is being proposed for an Honors Junior Seminar, it should be a topics-type seminar with no prerequisites (other than successful completion of Honors general education courses and junior standing), should be interdisciplinary, should allow students to make connections with their major, and should require a substantial scholarly and/or creative endeavor. All Junior Seminars fulfill both General Education Issues course requirements (collaboration, problem solving, and integration) and Supplemental Writing Skills. Once approved by the Honors Curriculum and Development Committee, proposals must be sent to the SWS committee for approval (see http://www.gvsu.edu/sws for information about how to fulfill SWS requirements and craft a syllabus/proposal). Junior seminars may also fulfill a culture requirement—either U.S. Diversity or World Perspectives. If you wish to have your course count in one of these categories, please specify how the General Education knowledge outcomes will be met.
B. A proposed syllabus. If the course has been taught as a non-Honors course, then it would be helpful to have both a copy of the non-Honors syllabus and a copy of the syllabus for the proposed Honors version of the course which clearly shows the Honors characteristics.