Honors Augmentation Contract
What is an Honors Augmentation Contract?
Honors Augmentations Contracts (HACs) are designed to allow MHC scholars to earn honors credit in non-honors upper-division courses. Working closely with a course’s instructor, the student develops and engages in a creative and rigorous “honors experience” to enhance the course’s learning outcomes.
When is the HAC due?
During the fall and spring semesters, HACs must be submitted to The MHC by the Friday of the third week of classes. In summer and winter terms, HACs must be submitted to The MHC by the end of the first week of classes.
What are the expectations?
- Ideally a HAC incorporates course learning objectives and personal interests. Therefore, students are encouraged to brainstorm ideas before approaching faculty. Nevertheless, students generally need faculty guidance to design appropriate projects/assignments.
- The HAC can be an extension of a current class assignment, can replace an existing assignment/exam or can be an additional assignment.
- A HAC could provide students the opportunity to explore an idea to be developed into a Capstone Experience/Thesis (CE/T). Students who already have a CE/T in mind might use the HAC to complete the preliminary steps (HSRB/CITI training or a literary review).
- The HAC project could be used to better prepare a student for graduate-level work.
What makes for a successful HAC?
It is difficult to generically state what makes a good HAC project since they can be conducted in any discipline at WKU, from Engineering to Ballet, Sociology to Dental Hygiene. However, the main common quality uniting all successful HAC projects is that they are thoughtfully designed to give the student an “honors experience,” rather than simply being a matter of “more work.”
It is important to keep in mind that the Honors College discourages just making a term paper longer or assigning more homework problems per class for an Honors Augmentation. Although lengthening a pre-existing assignment is acceptable, it is important that the “augmented” focus is increased quality and complexity, rather than simply length. For example, rather than just lengthening a term paper, an instructor could assign more sophisticated supplemental readings, a more difficult essay topic, or require a different degree of research for the paper. In the lab sciences, a student could be required to conduct a more extended, focused, or challenging experiment conducted with a higher quality than the rest of the class.
Often, successful HACs allow students to engage with the course’s material in a more hands-on way than is usual for the class. Rather than learning principles abstractly, the student can conduct a project that allows for first-hand experience, which could include taking a field trip, doing a case study, or conducting a separate lab assignment. For example, a student could create an original musical composition, write an original computer program, present his or her project to the class, or conduct interviews in the community rather than solely researching online or in the library.
What are the general categories of HACs?
- Field-based projects, including observations and field research
- Curricular design (primarily, but not exclusively for students preparing to teach)
- Presentations (to class(es), conference or third party)
- Supplemental reading
- Writing projects
- Performance projects
- Community engagement projects
- Lab research projects
Projects can incorporate as many of these categories as appropriate.
Is funding available to support HACs?
MHC scholars are eligible to apply for an Honors Development Grant (HDG) of up to $500 to offset the cost of special materials or travel associated with the HAC.
What is the process?
- Students are encouraged to approach their professor during the first or second week of classes to discuss the options for a HAC.
- Student completes the MHC HAC Application (an E-signature form) and forwards it to the faculty member
- If the HAC application is acceptable, the faculty member sends the form to their department head for approval.
- The department head forwards the HAC application to The MHC by the third week of classes.
- Members of the Honors Development Board will review the applications and communicate with faculty if there are any concerns. Otherwise, students will be notified by email that the HAC has been approved.
- The successful completion of the HAC is recorded on TopNet when final grades are submitted.
What are the grading considerations?
- The HAC project can be evaluated to be included within the final grade, or it can be a non-graded component that, when completed, merits honors credits.
- Honors credit can only be received for courses in which students receive an A or a B.
Are there accommodations during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- In accordance with the WKU COVID-19 grading changes, for the Spring 2020 semester, students that receive a "P" will also have the course count for Honors credit.
- HACs are permissible in online classes for Fall 2020.