PENDLETON — Tri-County Technical College will roll out a new program for high performing students this fall with the launch of the Honors Experience.
“High academic achievers are among the students who enroll at Tri-County. We have initiated the honors program in the hope that it will provide intellectual challenges and a learning community for them,” said Dr. Hap Wheeler, dean of the Arts and Sciences Division.
“It’s not about writing extra papers and getting additional reading assignments,” said Dr. Kate Williams, social sciences department head and one of the honors team leaders. “It’s designed to be challenging in terms of a student growing intellectually and being a deeper learner. Instead of the traditional lecture format, classes will enroll 15 really academically-strong students who will engage in discussion, peer-to-peer teaching and participate in more hands-on learning,” she explained.
“The Honors Program is for students who want to be active learners, are highly motivated and capable, want to stretch their minds and make the most of their academic experience at Tri-County,” she added. “It’s for students who want to interact more deeply with the material.”
A team representing the departments in the Arts and Sciences Division has been working for a year on eligibility criteria, assessment of applicants, philosophy of the coursework, developing courses and evaluating other programs, said Dr. Wheeler.
Participants must be enrolled in the associate in arts or associate of science degree programs and meet certain eligibility requirements. Graduating high school students must meet two of the following: a 3.5 GPA, or a combined score of 1150 or better on the critical reading and math sections of the SAT; or a score of 25 on the ACT; or rank in the top 10 of their graduating class.
Current students must meet these two requirements: a 3.5 GPA on courses taken at Tri-County and have 12 credits at Tri-County that would qualify for university transfer.
“We anticipate enrolling 40 to 50 students with diverse ages and backgrounds in the first semester this fall. This experience will provide the academic challenge sought by students who expect more than a job or transfer credential from their education. Students will take an active role in class presentations and will have ownership of the material,” she said.
For example, Dr. Williams, one of the honors faculty members, says her Psychology 201 class could replicate a well-known study by Robert Cialdini on littering behavior.
“Subjects observe someone either dropping or picking up a piece of litter in an environment that is either full of litter or free of litter. The question is under what conditions littering is encouraged or discouraged. Honors students can replicate a study like this right here on campus, which will give them great exposure to research methods and data collecting,” she said.
Astronomy 101, English 101, History 202, Sociology 101, Biology 101 and Chemistry 110 will be offered this fall. Students will take one or two honors classes each semester and one to two colloquia per year as part of their regular schedule.
Students will be awarded the honors distinction at graduation on their credentials.