Measurement of Honors student outcomes is a matter of evaluation of mainly the Honors Senior Study/Capstone Course products: these come in many forms, such as actual Capstone Courses (various departments at UNK require this as well), a Capstone Experience such as Student Teaching (which can also be categorized as an Internship), internships, portfolios, projects, and writing samples (which usually take the form of research papers or theses proper). This measurement is done by the Director and Associate Director of the Honors Program, in cooperation with the faculty representatives from each of the four colleges. A general rubric is applied to a random sampling 2-4 Honors Senior Studies taken from both December and May graduates of 2004. Basic requirements include objectives such as quality, depth of thought, demonstrated levels of competency and expertise in the discipline, and the manuscript form of the Honors Senior Study are all examined. The initial plan was to conduct such evaluation every two years; because the plan is new we elected to conduct the evaluation three years in a row so as to assess the assessment plan more thoroughly at its onset.
Eight Honors Senior Studies were randomly selected from the colleges of Business and Technology, Education, Fine Art and Humanities, and Natural and Social Sciences. Faculty representatives from each college were then presented with these samplings of Honors Senior Studies, and, depending upon their individual disciplines, either evaluated the Senior Studies themselves or sought the evaluative expertise of additional faculty from the specific departments from whence the sampled Senior Studies were completed (but specifically did not solicit input from any of the actual faculty mentors who worked with the Honors seniors on these Senior Studies).
According to the rubric, four categories of criteria establish the general guidelines, and three categories of performance-rating allow the evaluators to rank the Honors Senior Studies.
- Clear structure of the Senior Study/Capstone Course has been information disseminated thoroughly to administration, chairs, faculty, and students via e-mail (and attachments of said narratives), the Honors web page, and handouts available to any Honors student in the main Honors Office;
- Clearly there may be a need for more structured guidelines for the Education majors in the Student Teaching Capstone/Internship—perhaps a different rubric for said students to evaluate these Honors Senior Studies differently than other capstones/internships;
- Additional input from the Honors Advisory Council will continue to help improve the nature, rationale, scope, and procedure of the Honors Senior Study as well as further assessment tools such as student surveys;
- Continued encouragement to faculty to involve and collaborate fully and deeply in the selection of courses for Honors Senior Studies, and to suggest guidelines for such study;
- Continued efforts on the part of the administration of the Honors Program to establish better understanding by students, faculty, and administration of the purpose, philosophy, scope and procedures of the Honors Senior Study;
- More encouragement to pursue additional resources for possible publication of Honors Senior Studies in the UNK Undergraduate Research Journal, the National Council of Undergraduate Research (including presentation at regional and national conferences of such organizations, both interdisciplinary and disciplinary-specific), and external scholarly publications of all disciplines
- Network of alumni to provide more post-UNK opportunities to undergraduate Honors students within their disciplines utilizing the Honors Senior Study as a truly worthwhile and useful tool. [See Appendix A ]