Honors Senior Project
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Overview: The capstone experience of the USA Honors Program is the Honors Senior Project. This program requirement is designed to provide the student an opportunity to apply the knowledge base and tools of their discipline in a mentored scholarly exploration suitable to the student's academic interest and background. Most projects will be at least a year in length and may earn up to six (6) hours of credit toward the degree. Students are required to enroll in "Honors Senior Project" within the appropriate academic department or program (course may be repeated for a maximum of six cumulative hours). Satisfactory completion of all projects includes a public presentation of the project (e.g., paper reading, recital, exhibition) at the Honors Senior Showcase each semester and a written presentation in the style and format acceptable to the discipline.
Mentors: Students will select a Project Mentor from the faculty. In some cases, it may be desirable to establish a mentor relationship with more than one faculty member (e.g., multi- or interdisciplinary projects). The Honors Program Director, the student's academic advisor, the department chairperson, or others can provide assistance in selection of the mentor, as appropriate. The mentor relationship should be established no later than the student's junior year. (Note: Some majors, e.g. Biology, may require an earlier initiation of the Senior Project.) The mentor will be responsible for assisting the student in project design and implementation, preparation of the project prospectus, development of necessary methods and skills, providing guidance in professional ethics and integrity, analysis of results, preparation of the final presentation, and final evaluation of the project. Together, the student and mentor will select two additional faculty members to provide additional assistance, especially in evaluation of the project results
Project Prospectus: No later than the end of the student's junior year, a Project Prospectus, approved
by the mentor, must be submitted to the Honors Program Director as the final graded
work in HON 301, Introduction to Senior Project. This document represents the project
plan and will serve as a "contract" for conduct, completion and evaluation of the
project. Although a binding agreement, the prospectus may be modified or amended,
as required, to accommodate unexpected results, new opportunities or techniques, or
other circumstances. The student, the mentor and the Director must agree upon changes
to the prospectus. In general, the prospectus should contain the following elements,
which will also serve as a template and starting point for the final written presentation
of the project.
- Title page
- Approval page (format will be provided by the Director)
- Background or Introduction - A presentation of the context and rationale for the project focus. This section should be supported by appropriate citations from the primary literature in a style and format customary to the discipline.
- Project Hypothesis (-es) or Objectives - clearly present the focus of the project.
- Methods or Approach - How will you investigate and test the hypothesis or achieve the objectives? Should include citations from the literature, as appropriate.
- Project Outcome - What are anticipated results or the scholarly product of the project? What will be the format of the public presentation?
- Bibliography of "References Cited" in a style and format appropriate to the discipline.
- Project Timeline - Provide a reasonable calendar outline of project benchmarks, achievements and completion.
- Resource Needs - include supplies and materials, equipment, space, logistical support and any other requirements to complete and present the project. Indicate those that will be provided by the mentor or academic unit and those that are not currently available. If financial support is required, provide a detailed budget.
"Introduction to Senior Honors Project" (HON 301): Each participant in the USA Honors Program will be required to enroll in this course during their junior year for one hour of credit. The course will include: an overview of what it means to do research and other scholarly work, in general and specifically in various disciplines; academic integrity and professional ethics; professional writing; presentation skills; and guidance in development of the individual project prospectus. The Project Prospectus will be the final course product for each student.
Honors Senior Showcase: The Honors Senior Showcase will be held each spring semester (fall if necessary to accommodate individual student graduation schedules). Seniors will present their Honors Senior Projects in a public forum and will be honored, together with their mentors, at a reception to which their families will be invited. All USA Honors Students will be required to attend at least the showcase presentations and strongly encouraged to attend the reception in support of their peers.
Project Evaluation: The director, the mentor, and two additional faculty members will evaluate projects. Evaluations will be based upon both the public presentation and the written presentation of the project. A letter grade will be assigned after completion of the project to each incidence of enrollment in "Honors Senior Project".
Honors Senior Project Guidance Report