Designing an Effective Practicum

The NCHC’s definition of an Honors Education

“The National Collegiate Honors Council recognizes an honors college, program, institute, or equivalent descriptor, as the academic unit on a collegiate campus responsible for devising and delivering in-class and extracurricular academic experiences that provide a distinctive learning environment for selected students. The honors college or program provides opportunities for measurably broader, deeper, and more complex learning-centered and learner-directed experiences for its students than are available elsewhere in the institution; these opportunities are appropriately tailored to fit the institution’s culture and mission and frequently occur within a close community of students and faculty …. Honors courses foster student development or transformation in some or all of the following measurable outcomes: problem solving, often with creative approaches; critical reading; clear, persuasive writing; oral presentation; critical thinking; forming judgments based on evidence; artistic literacy; articulated metacognition; and spiritual growth.”

McBride Mission Statement

The McBride Honors Program has the feel of a small liberal arts college – right here, in the heart of one of the foremost science and engineering universities. Nurturing the full potential of Mines students, the program develops core skills in effective communication, problem solving, leadership, and critical thinking – all while exploring the world in all its complexity.

Through McBride, students get a well-rounded education that integrates the world of the liberal arts with that of science and engineering. With its focus on small classes and interactive learning, the program provides highly motivated students with a place to call home and the opportunity to enjoy a truly transformative educational experience.

The Stated Objectives and Learning Outcomes from the Sophomore Year Cohort of McBride Classes 305/315

Learning outcomes for the McBride Honors Program are student-centered, meaningful, challenging but achievable, and applicable to learning in other classes, as well as to professional and civic settings. The skills and knowledge identified in these outcomes will be introduced and developed in the core courses (HNRS 305 and HNRS 315), and expanded and strengthened in the 400-level courses. 

Students who complete the McBride Honors Program will demonstrate competencies in the following categories. 

EXPLORE: actively questioning, investigating, and contemplating your internal and external worlds. 

McBride students will be able to

  • generate open-ended inquiries requiring higher-order thinking skills to pursue their answers
  • conduct relevant, interdisciplinary research that broadens and deepens knowledge 
  • use intrinsic curiosities to inspire self-directed learning

PROCESS: engaging in strategies that result in new understandings and stretch your mind. 

McBride students will be able to:

  • participate in dialogue that includes a diversity of disciplinary lenses and individual perspectives
  • utilize creative, experiential, and reflective processes to elevate and expand learning
  • challenge and reflect upon their own and others’ assumptions and biases 

COMMUNICATE: clearly expressing arguments, ideas, beliefs, and insights.

McBride students will be able to

  • develop and support arguments through reasoning, evidence, and expression appropriate for genre and audience
  • articulate ideas and arguments using written, oral, and creative communications
  • make connections among ideas, concepts, and perspectives to produce synthesis 

APPLY: transferring learning and growth to daily practice in civic and professional lives. 

McBride students will be able to

  • develop strategies to be life-long, learners in their local and global environments 
  • engage critically, analytically, creatively, and self-reflectively with their living environments
  • embrace the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition

HNRS 405 (Practicum) seeks to build on the above learning outcomes specifically by asking you to put them into practice on your own.

The goal of the practicum is for students to apply the above qualities of an honors education to an area of special interest to the student in a practical, experience-driven setting of the student’s own design. This process typically unfolds over several semesters, but should generally follow this basic arc: Practicum Timeline