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Honors Enriched and Embedded Courses (HEECs)

What is an Honors Enriched and Embedded Course (HEEC)?

HEECs allow departments more flexibility in offering honors courses for students in the major or minor.

The best way to think about HEECs is to consider them similar in organization to a split-section graduate/undergraduate courses: physically there is one class that meets with the same teacher during the same class times, but there are two sets of syllabi and two different sections being conducted. The class instruction is necessarily the same, but for the embedded honors section there are added opportunities and responsibilities that make the class an honors experience.

What types of activities make for an "honors experience" with the HEEC?

Of course, it varies greatly for different disciplines, courses, and professors, but the nature of the HEEC necessitates that the students have some sort of enriched experience outside of the classroom that improves the quality and depth of their knowledge of the course. This could be through additional assignments, more sophisticated assignments, more sophisticated course material, oral presentations, different methods of grading, special trips or activities, group work, or even special meetings with the professor outside of the scheduled class times (such as scheduled discussion groups).

They key is that while the classroom experience for the HEEC and non-HEEC sections will be very similar, if not identical, the HEEC’s out-of-class work needs to provide a creative, active and enriched learning experience for the students. Often faculty will reduce the in-class assignments to create space for more inventive Honors projects/assignments.

What are examples of HEECS?

  • Field Trip: In art students traveled to the opening of an exhibit at the Frist at which the artist spoke. Afterward, students selected two of three essays to answer. Financial support provided through an HFEG.
  • Poster session: As part of the honors component, biology students have created scientific posters for a poster session in the halls of the department. Financial support provided through an HFEG.
  • Book club: In nursing, students read a work of fiction to explore how mental health is portrayed in contrast to what they have learned in class. Afterward, students meet as a group with the professor for a discussion. *This could also be done through film.
  • Focus group: In sociology, honors students have replaced an assignment to develop an email survey with an in-person focus group.
  • Survey Research: In political science students get firsthand experience in survey research by writing survey questions and analyzing the results afterward.

How do I set up a HEEC?

HEECs are the prerogative of the professor’s home department and thus must be accepted by the department chair. They are not a new course number, just a new course section, and thus they do not have to go before the University Curriculum Committee.

The HEEC is advantageous to professors because they can attract honors students to your course, provide a stimulating classroom environment, provide professors with engaging and creative pedagogical opportunities and potentially increase the number of honors students majoring or minoring in the department.

Is funding available to help with costs associated with a HEEC?

Yes! Faculty who teach HEECs are eligible to apply for an Honors Faculty Engagement Grant (HFEG).

HEEC Agreement Form (Optional)

If you set up an HEEC and want to ensure your students are enrolled in the correct section, feel free to have your students sign this form.

As you propose and develop your HEECs, please notify the Assistant Director of Academics in the Mahurin Honors College so we can advertise your HEEC.

HEEC Questions?


For more information, please email honors@wku.edu.

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 Last Modified 5/16/23