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Honors Program
Deciding on an Honors Project
Deciding on an Honors Project

Once the student has decided in which course he or she would like to work, two basic decisions must be made.

Project content:

Before approaching an instructor with a request to create a project for his/her class, students should think about what course subject matter they want to study. Do they feel most passionate or most curious about certain course topics? Is there course content that the student most needs to learn in depth? Could a project in a particular area of study be advantageous when listed on a resume? Would increased knowledge of a subject be advantageous during a job interview? Decisions about content don’t have to be finalized before talking to the professor, but students should have considered them.

Project format:

What format the project will take is the second decision needed. Formatting can vary widely, as seen by the following list. Formats are often influenced by the discipline of the course. For example, experiments tend to work better in a chemistry rather than an English class. Again, students should consider format before talking with the instructor but also try to keep an open mind. Some projects are wonderfully creative, but that isn’t always possible. Sample formats with examples of past projects include:

Artwork: Create a mural, painting, graphic art or sculpture. Recreate a three-dimensional model of the cell wall of both a Gram-Positive and a Gram-Negative cell.

Community Service: Volunteer backstage during a local theatre production. Work with a children’s choir.

Creative Writing: Write four poems based on the theme of faith. Rewrite the ending of a short story or novel studied in class to clarify an issue of characterization (or theme).

Film or video: Write music and record/film its performance. Videotape a speech.

Instructional aids: Create aids for elementary education, occupational therapy, etc. Try them in a real life situation and report on their effectiveness.

Performance: Write and produce a play based on the seven deadly sins found in Medieval literature.

Research paper: Research how the discovery of penicillin affected WWII. Research developing technologies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Scientific experiment: Compare radio signals from the sun to those from Jupiter. Analyze spinach extract.

Service to the college: Organize and label lab items. Create a plant guide for the college’s upcoming trip to Costa Rica.

Slide presentation: Create a PowerPoint presentation on Marie Curie’s accomplishments. (Almost any content can be interestingly portrayed in this format.)

Webpage/ brochure/ portfolio: Create a map of Oak Ridge housing options. Create facebook pages for three American literature authors and have them interact in ways appropriate to their characters.

Approaching the instructor:

After considering both content and format, it is time to discuss the project with the professor. Have an open mind to his/her suggestions. Often the student and instructor work together to decide on the project.

Filling out the contract:

The contract should be completely filled out. The R# needs to be legible and the course title and number correct. An example is “ENGL2120” for the course title and “025” for the course number. The project should be described as the instructor and student planned it, and an expected completion date should be included. This information helps to avoid miscommunication as to what is expected of the student. Three copies must be made of the completed and signed contract: one for the student, one for the instructor and one for an Honors Program Coordinator. Ideally a copy should be given to a coordinator by midterm.

Honors Program projects must stem from the content of a particular course so that honors credit can be given for that course on the student’s transcript. Projects can only be completed while the student is enrolled in said course and must be in addition to regular class work.

Helpful Links and Contacts:

How to Create an Effective PowerPoint  (This was also a previous student project.)

Honors students have two excellent resources available:

For questions about content and research, contact the library:
Harriman campus library: (865) 882.4553 or 1.866.462.7722 x 4553 (toll-free)   
Oak Ridge campus library: (865) 481-2004

For questions on software such as PowerPoint, please contact CTAT:
ctatmailbox@roanestate.edu
Phone (865) 882-4556

Sample Project:

Mural Created for Local Elementary School

left to right: Adam Barnett, Darla Ardziejewski, Veronica Castle and Jan Shaw

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