Editor’s Note: Thanks to honors Deans and Directors from across the country, we received more data than ever before in 2016. Most of the data appear in our new book, but periodically we will report on other discoveries that we did not have time to include.
We have written about honors classes several times, having reported on average class sizes and the various types of honors class sections–honors seminars, honors-only classes in the disciplines, mixed honors classes (honors and non-honors students), and contract sections, in which honors students do extra work in a regular class for honors credit.
Before presenting data that show the percentage of class work honors students do in the various class types, here is a brief recap on the average class sizes of honors sections, based on actual, detailed data from 50 major honors programs:
Honors-only class section size= 19.0 students
Mixed sections for honors credit= 51.1 students
Contract sections for honors credit= 60.1 students
OVERALL average size of class sections for honors credit= 26.3 students
But now for the additional, unpublished data.
Since class sizes vary significantly according to the type of class section, here is a summary of the percentage of classroom time that honors students spend in the different section types:
In 22 of the 50 programs we rated, all honors credit sections were “honors-only” sections (no mixed or contract sections).
Across all 50 programs, 83.1% of enrollment time was in honors-only sections.
13.6% of enrollment time was in mixed sections that included both honors and non-honors students. Many of these sections had separate honors-only breakout or lab components.
The remaining 5.1% of enrollment time was in contract sections, in which students in regular classes had to complete extra work for honors credit.
Honors-only classes may be seminars that are generally interdisciplinary, or more discipline-specific classes.
Our findings show that 45.8% of honors-only classes are seminars are interdisciplinary sections, which are typically offered through the honors college or program itself.
The remaining 54.2% of honors-only classes are centered on the academic disciplines, many offered directly by the academic departments.
There are some interesting features, and the rankings are certainly worth a look.
The rankings combine national universities and liberal arts colleges into one group, and in this way resemble the Forbes rankings. And, also like the Forbes rankings, the salaries earned by graduates also count as a metric, 12% of the total in the WSJ/THE rankings.
Farther down, we will list the top 100 colleges in the rankings. Only 20 of the top 100 schools are public; 31 are liberal arts colleges; and the remaining 49 are elite private universities. This is not much of a surprise, given that financial resources are a major ranking category.
Before listing the top 100, we will list another group of schools that have the best combined scores in what we consider to be the two most important umbrella categories in the rankings, accounting for 60% of the total: “Engagement” and “Output.”
Engagement (20% of total, as broken out below):
A. Student engagement: 7%. This metric is generated from the average scores per College from four questions on the student survey:
To what extent does the teaching at your university or college support CRITICAL THINKING?
To what extent did the classes you took in your college or university so far CHALLENGE YOU?
To what extent does the teaching at your university or college support REFLECTION UPON, OR MAKING CONNECTIONS AMONG, things you have learned?
To what extent does the teaching at your university or college support APPLYING YOUR LEARNING to the real world?
B. Student recommendation: 6%. This metric is generated from the average score per College from the following question on the student survey:
If a friend or family member were considering going to university, based on your experience, how likely or unlikely are you to RECOMMEND your college or university to them?
C. Interactions with teachers and faculty: 4%. This metric is generated from the average scores per College from two questions on the student survey:
To what extent do you have the opportunity to INTERACT WITH THE FACULTY and teachers at your college or university as part of your learning experience?
To what extent does your college or university provide opportunities for COLLABORATIVE LEARNING?
D. Number of accredited programs (by CIP code): 3%. This metric is IPEDS standardized number of Bachelor’s degree programs offered.
Output (40% of the total, as broken out below):
A. Graduation rate: 11%. This metric is 150% of the graduation rate status as of 31 August 2014 for the cohort of full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates, Bachelor’s or equivalent sub-cohort.
B. Graduate salary: 12%. This metric estimates the outcome of median earnings of students working and not enrolled 10 years after entry.
C. Loan default/repayment rates: 7%. This metric estimates the outcome of the 3-year repayment rate from College Scorecard data. The value added component is the difference between actual and predicted (based on underlying student and College characteristics) outcomes.
D. Reputation: 10%. This metric is the number of votes obtained from the reputation survey, and is calculated as the number of US teaching votes from the reputation survey and the number of US-only teaching votes from country section of the reputation survey.
The two remaining umbrella categories measure FinancialResources, including the amount spent per student; and the Environment, including the diversity of enrolled students (or faculty) across various ethnic groups. You can find a summary of the methodology here.
Here are the 23 colleges that scored at least 17.0 (out of 20) in Engagementand at least 30.0 (out of 40.0) in Output, listed in order of their overall place in the WSJ/TimesHigherEd rankings:
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Few undergraduate students get to sit down and discuss big issues with campus leaders. Next spring, 14 students at the University of Arkansas will get an unparalleled opportunity to do just that, thanks to a new Honors College course, Flagship U!, to be led by Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz.
Photo of Chancellor Steinmetz, by Russell Cothren
“I’ve missed teaching and I look forward to working with these top students,” Steinmetz said. “I’d like to share what I’ve learned so far, and I’m interested in getting their perspective on issues that I deal with on a day-to-day basis.”
Steinmetz also will lead a public forum on “The Fate of theFlagship U,” at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, 2017, in Gearhart Hall Auditorium (GEAR 26).
It is rare for a university chancellor or president to teach any type of course, given the demands of their position. This course is especially unique.
“I don’t know of any other chancellors who have invited undergraduate students into their home to discuss pressing, and in some cases, controversial campus issues,” said Lynda Coon, dean of the Honors College. “What a fantastic opportunity for our students – we are very grateful to Chancellor Steinmetz for sharing his valuable time and expertise.”
Flagship U! is second in the Honors College Forum series, which brings top faculty and honors students together to discuss trending issues, from the 2016 presidential election to diversity in design.
Each student in Flagship U! will research and present on topics that shape academe, such as inclusion and access, Title IX, substance abuse, and enrollment growth. Leaders in Steinmetz’ administration will partner with the students; for example, Jeff Long, vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics, will advise the student presenting on athletics. Each student also will track developments at another flagship university, selecting from a list of schools that includes the University of Texas, the University of Michigan and Penn State.
Honors students interested in leadership – whether in academe, a Fortune 500 company, public service, or another endeavor – are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit the Forum: Flagship U! page on the Honors College website.
“We hope to draw exceptional students from every college on campus,” Dean Coon said.
About the Honors College: The University of Arkansas Honors College was established in 2002 and unites the university’s top undergraduate students and professors in a learning environment characterized by discovery, creativity and service. Each year the Honors College awards up to 90 freshman fellowships that provide $70,000 over four years, and more than $1 million in undergraduate research and study abroad grants. The Honors College is nationally recognized for the high caliber of students it admits and graduates. Honors students enjoy small, in-depth classes, and programs are offered in all disciplines, tailored to students’ academic interests, with interdisciplinary collaborations encouraged. Fifty percent of Honors College graduates have studied abroad – three times the national average – and one hundred percent of Honors College graduates have engaged in mentored research.
About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.
Editor’s Note: The following post comes from the Purdue Honors College. Dean Rhonda Phillips will be an asset in bringing greater attention and support to honors programs and colleges within major public research universities.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — With honors colleges growing in popularity among high ability students, the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) has selected Purdue Honors College Dean Rhonda Phillips to co-chair its NCHC Large Research University Committee alongside Mark Law, director of the University of Florida Honors Program.
“NCHC has an opportunity to support large universities and research to build effective honors education by convening R1 institutions,” said Hallie Savage, executive director of the NCHC. “Through the collaborative work of these institutions, we will engage a broad range of expertise in honors programs and colleges. This is a unique opportunity for members of large institutions in program development.”
Phillips will head to Seattle for the 51st annual NCHC Conference later this month. She is uniquely poised to serve as committee co-chair, as she has successfully built the Purdue Honors College to a scholarly community of 2,200 students in just three years. Under her direction, the college has burgeoning enrollment and a new academic home, tailor-made for gifted students. The 324,000- square-foot, $90 million Honors College and Residences opened in August. It houses learning studios, faculty and staff offices, a STEAM lab and large community gathering spaces, among other things.
“I look forward to working with colleagues from around the U.S. to examine the needs of Honors Colleges at large research institutions and determine how we can better serve our students,” Phillips said. “Right now, honors education has a great deal of momentum. More students and families are recognizing the added value we provide. We want to refine honors programming, while ensuring that sustainable growth continues.”
Currently there are dozens of public universities making investments in honors colleges, hoping to compete with historically prestigious private schools to attract the best and brightest. For example, Rutgers opened an $84.8 million, 170,000 square foot honors college facility in August of last year. Phillips says in many cases, that focus is paying off.
“Students find we offer many of the same perks and outcomes as the Ivy League for a fraction of the cost, small and supportive classes, undergraduate research opportunities, and a distinguished faculty and student body,” Phillips said.
The National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) is a professional association of undergraduate honors programs, colleges, directors, deans, faculty, staff and students. With more than 1,300 members in the U.S. and abroad, it provides support to institutions and individuals as they develop and expand honors education.
About Purdue Honors College:
The Honors College, which admitted its inaugural class in 2013, brings together students from all areas of study across campus, along with faculty, staff, alumni and organizational partners, in pursuit of academic excellence. Fostering transformative scholar and leadership development, the college is a community of scholars who learn together and explore ways to connect to Purdue and to the world beyond through engaged service. Website: https://honors.purdue.edu/