Course Design

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Course Design

Honors courses are expected to provide increased intellectual challenge through more sophisticated material, a higher level of intellectual engagement, and more student responsibility for the learning process than would typically be expected in undergraduate courses. Honors courses are intended to be more complex, not merely “more work.” Thus, most Honors courses teach to the upper end of Bloom’s taxonomy of learning by stressing the analysis, evaluation, and creation of information and ideas.

McBride Honors courses should:

  •  Seek to meet multiple Program Learning Outcomes;
  • Prioritize discussion and active learning over lecture and memorization (courses should be seminar-style, focusing on discussion, research, writing, and presentation); 
  • Expose students to complex ideas and problems, typically through in-depth examination of select case studies rather than through broad surveys of material;
  • Emphasize learning through writing, as well as the development of writing skills;
      • Include multiple writing assignments, typically including about 6000 words of both formal and informal writing;
      • Incorporate opportunities for revision;
      • Provide students with meaningful and extensive feedback that facilitates their learning and improvement;
  • Include opportunities for working individually and in groups;
  • Include some formal presentation component;
  • Create an environment that is constructive by challenging student ideas in ways that are stimulating and critical, but also positive and encouraging;
  • Emphasize the collection, analysis, and synthesis of information from diverse sources, ideally with an emphasis on primary sources and scholarly works;
  • Develop student research and analysis skills, as well as oral communication abilities and presentation skills;
  • Incorporate “out of the classroom” learning when possible;
  • Include a workload that is commensurate with high expectations, while emphasizing innovative and creative pedagogical strategies to put focus on independent student learning;
  • Hold students to rigorous standards that encourage and reward excellence. 
For additional guidance on teaching in Honors, see the Resources page of the McBride website.


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