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ERIC Number: ED566742
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 184
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 40
Honors Composition: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Practices. National Collegiate Honors Council Monograph Series
Guzy, Annmarie
National Collegiate Honors Council
Annmarie Guzy realized she had some concerns about teaching honors courses as she prepared to teach at the same University where she had been an honors student herself. She enrolled in a summer seminar on teaching basic writing in order to expand her teaching horizons beyond the honors student mentality, and to address some of her concerns and possible prejudices developed during her own honors experience. Reading about students who cared a great deal about their academic performance but who were truly struggling to build their writing skills not only made her more appreciative of her own abilities with writing, but also caused her to think about composition pedagogy in different ways. How had the educational system failed these students? How had common pedagogical practice failed these students? How early in their academic careers had these students been written off by faculty, by administrators, and eventually by themselves? She found that the actual grouping and labeling of basic writers and basic writing particularly interested her. For example, concepts such as diagnosing writing problems, offering remedial course work, and curing writers' difficulties revolve around medical terminology. At one level, these terms suggest that writing problems are a symbolic type of illness for which students come to the composition course and/or to the writing lab to be "cured," but at a deeper level, these terms imply that something is fundamentally wrong with the student if he or she cannot write in the manner that the institution (another medical reference) deems acceptable. While focusing on the grouping and labeling of basic writers, Guzy began to make connections between basic writing and honors education. Students at the upper end of the academic spectrum are also grouped and labeled, and these labels change over the course of a student's education: elementary school children are "gifted," "talented," or "exceptional," and as they progress through high school and college, they become "honors students." These labels and the programs that they represent carry with them certain advantages (e.g., specialized curriculum, extracurricular opportunities, and increased funding), but these students are still removed from the educational norm, just as remedial students are--they go to different classrooms, they read different textbooks, and they complete different exercises. Although these consequences are preferable to those that students labeled "remedial" must endure, they still affect students negatively, and the negative effect of labeling is an important similarity between basic writers and honors students. To further explore this similarity, Guzy began researching the labeling and grouping of composition students at both ends of the education spectrum at the university level, and was surprised and disappointed by the dearth of material about honors composition at the university level. She discovered that, for whatever reason, research on university-level honors composition is quite limited. This project begins to address this dearth in research by answering basic questions about composition courses and other types of written communication projects commonly found within contemporary honors programs. This monograph contains the following chapters: Chapter 1: Why Should We Research Honor Composition?; Chapter 2: Twentieth-Century Developments in Honors Education and Composition Instruction; Chapter 3: A Survey of Writing Courses and Projects in the Contemporary Honors Program; Chapter 4: Guidelines and Suggestions for Honors Composition Courses and Projects; and Chapter 5: Conclusion. Appended are the following: (1) The Sixteen Major Features of a Full Honors Program; (2) Cover Letter to Questionnaire for NCHC Member Programs; (3) Questionnaire for NCHC Member Programs; (4) Question Bank for Follow-Up Interviews; (5) Honors Thesis Rationale and Support for Azusa Pacific University; (6) List of Follow-Up Interview Participants.
National Collegiate Honors Council. 1100 Neihardt RC, 540 North 16th Street, Lincoln, NE 68508. Tel: 402-472-9150; Fax: 402-472-9152; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires; Books
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC)