Any full-time faculty member is permitted to offer an honors course as long as regular sections of the course currently exist and the course number is at a 100 or 200 level. These courses are geared toward honors freshmen and sophomores. They are meant to fulfill core requirements, but differ from a regular section in the following ways: 1) courses are capped at 15 students, and 2) there is substantially more work and/or discussion in the course in terms of type and quantity of reading, writing, speaking, and/or projects. Colloquia (capped at 12 students) are worth one credit and meet once a week for 50 minutes. Colloquia need not already exist in order to be offered as honors. A call for honors courses and colloquia is sent to all faculty every semester by the Honors Program. Faculty must fill out a form every semester he/she is interested in offering the course/colloquia. Once all proposals have been submitted, the Honors Program makes a decision regarding which courses/colloquia to offer based on variety and need as calculated by the current number of students in the Program. Departments cannot offer an honors course without that course being submitted and approved by the Honors Program. This applies even if it is the same course being offered every semester.
Students (in most departments) are required to complete an honors contract as part of their departmental honors requirements. Students can complete an honors contract in any 300 or 400 level course in their respective major. During the first week of the semester, students will approach faculty members teaching these upper-level courses and request that they be able to receive honors credit in the respective course. If the faculty member concurs, the student and faculty member agree upon the extra work that the student will complete in order to receive honors credit for the course. This extra work should be substantial enough to warrant honors distinction. Students must fill out an honors contract form with all appropriate signatures and submit it to the Honors Program for approval. Students must receive a B or better in the course to receive honors distinction.
As part of their honors requirements, students must complete either a one semester or two semester honors thesis (it varies by department). These students work closely one-on-one with a faculty mentor who oversees their work. Students learn a great deal about the research process through this close interaction. Faculty receive 0.5 credits per semester for overseeing an honors thesis. Besides a thesis mentor, students are required to have a thesis committee which consists of two other faculty members. Faculty may choose to be a part of this committee to see how the thesis process works. Selection of this committee varies by department.
Every fall (typically the last Saturday in September), the Honors Program brings together honors students and faculty facilitators for the annual honors book club. A book is chosen in the spring and we send out a call for facilitators. Facilitators meet twice and send us materials such as a short biography and questions for the students. On the day of the event, each faculty facilitator leads a discussion with a small group of students and gives a lecture and/or discussion centered on a theme of their choice. Students sign up to hear specific facilitators. A stipend is given for faculty participation. It's a great way to get to know some of the honors students. Faculty facilitators must attend the entire day-long event.
Every fall semester, departments determine (by vote or other means) who will be their Departmental Honors Chair. The Honors Chair is responsible for running the Honors Program in their respective department. A list of their responsibilities can be found here. If you are interested in serving in this position you should consult with your Department Chair and current Honors Department Chair.
The Honors Program has a living and learning community for honors freshmen. Each semester we plan both academic and social events with this group of students. We encourage faculty to get involved in this programming. If you have an interest you'd like to share with these students (whether it be academic or social), we'd be very interested in working with you to develop and carry out a proposed program. Programs can include but are not limited to: field trips, movie nights, pizza with Professors night, sharing a hobby (e.g., beading, cooking, etc.), hiking, etc. The choices are endless.
Students develop ideas into thesis projects the semester before the thesis begins, and they sign up for the thesis before or during the first two weeks of that semester. You will have to consider whether you also have the time to mentor a project well; you will be closely involved with the student for a long time, considering that the thesis can take up to two semesters; can extend into or include an ATP summer grant; and can involve the student in presenting research at conferences, preparing research for publication, and applying to graduate school or other employment. As the student's thesis advisor, you are in effect signing up to mentor the student in all these potential areas. This is not meant as a warning but as a realistic assessment on your part.
A student will come to you with an idea, and your mentoring role begins at that point as you and the student develop that idea into a project. You have far more experience than the student in this process, and so you will have to model the research process, steer the student away from unviable projects, work with the student on finding research materials and generally balance supporting them with letting them experience the turbulence of academic scholarship.
While mentoring the thesis, you should meet with the student at least one hour each week, although your actual time commitment to the project will certainly exceed that. In the beginning of the project, you should set up detailed expectations of what the student should accomplish at key points during the semester, and how those expectations will translate into a grade. If this is one part of a two-semester thesis, you have to provide a grade each semester--not an incomplete. This is why it is important to articulate semester expectations very early in the process.
If students will be working with human or animal subjects in any capacity, they must submit proposals to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to conducting research. The IRB can be accessed at http://www.bridgew.edu/sponproj/human_subj.cfm.
If the student would like to receive funding for research-related costs, he or she may be eligible for research grants and scholarships from the Office of Undergraduate Research.
Faculty advising the thesis receive 0.5 overload credits. This means that when you mentor six semesters of thesis work, you have accumulated enough for one course release. This can accumulate by mentoring three students for two semesters each as well; you receive 0.5 credits per student thesis advised per semester.
Students must hand in the final copy to the reading committee the last day of scheduled classes (not including final exam days). This is so that the committee will have time to read the thesis, meet to discuss it and, one hopes, award it Honors. The members of the reading committee are determined by the Departmental Honors Committee; in some departments the two committees will be the same, and in some departments the reading committee will consist of faculty chosen specifically for content knowledge. This choice is up to the Departmental Honors Program in each department.
The reading committee has one week to consider the thesis and decide whether or not to approve it for Departmental Honors. The reading committee may suggest or require changes for approval.
Once the thesis has been approved for Departmental Honors, the student has three bound copies of the thesis made: one for the student, one for the faculty advisor, and one for the Honors Center. Students can have their theses bound durably at the campus print shop, Staples or any other office supply/printing store.
Last Modified: April 11, 2011