NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1132009
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1559-0151
The Effect of Honors Courses on Grade Point Averages
Spisak, Art L.; Squires, Suzanne Carter
Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, v17 n2 p103-114 Fall-Win 2016
High-ability entering college students give three main reasons for not choosing to become part of honors programs and colleges; they and/or their parents believe that honors classes at the university level require more work than non-honors courses, are more stressful, and will adversely affect their self-image and grade point average (GPA) (Hill; Lacey; Rinn). Some of them are likely basing their belief on the experience they had with Advanced Placement (AP) classes in their high schools. Although AP classes are not specifically designed to be more work or more difficult, at their worst they can be little more than that (Immerwahr and Farkas; Challenge Success, 2013). Just as important as the fear of more work and increased difficulty is anxiety about the increased competition within a high-ability cohort. Anne N. Rinn, for instance, cites the "theory of relative deprivation" and the "Big-Fish-Little- Pond Effect" as factors that inhibit students from joining an honors program. Such perceptions of honors coursework are common even among some university advisors and faculty, who often perceive honors courses as entailing more work, being more competitive, and having the potential to lower students' GPAs. As a result, high-ability students who might benefit from an honors education decline participation because they believe honors classes will jeopardize their academic standing (Hill). The current study is unique in its focus on how honors coursework affects the cumulative GPA. The study was initially a response to the somewhat common perception that honors courses adversely affect GPAs because they are more work-intensive, competitive, and difficult than non-honors courses. The findings of the study provide a corrective to the perception that becoming part of an honors program or college adversely affects academic performance as measured by GPA. This information should be useful to those who recruit for honors programs, those who advise high-ability students at both the secondary and undergraduate levels, and especially those high-ability students who fear that they might be overwhelmed by honors coursework.
National Collegiate Honors Council. 1100 Neihardt Residence Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 540 North 16th Street, Lincoln, NE 68588. Tel: 402-472-9150; Fax: 402-472-9152; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A