Evaluation of Senior Honors Project

Honors are awarded on the basis of the student’s work completed in the Seniors Honors Program, including: coursework in the Junior Honors Seminar (HON 491), Introduction to Research (HON 495), and two semesters of Senior Honors Project (HON 496); cumulative GPA in the major and junior-senior years; and the work submitted as the Senior Honors Project.  Priority is given to the Honors Senior Project, or “thesis,” and the Honors Council recognizes that judgment of quality is best made by experts within the student’s particular field.

Format and page length

Because of the variety of formats and styles across disciplines there are no standard criteria for formatting the  Senior Honors Project.  The Honors Council has established a minimum length requirement of 25 pages (less for creative work) of text, exclusive of front matter, diagrams, tables, appendices and bibliography, but in practice there is a wide range in page length and again, the committee is in the best position to judge quantity as well as quality of the work.

Opportunities for Feedback

The Senior Honors Project culminates in a formal oral and poster presentation at the annual Spring Symposium and Fall Forum, and these presentations effectively function as the “defense” of the Senior Honors Project.  In some specific cases, however, there may be additional requirements: students in English, for example, have a “conversation” about their project with their committee and the Honors Director in the English Department; and students in programs that mandate defense of a required thesis, such as Global Environmental Sciences, are expected to defend their thesis like others in their major. The Honors Program encourages “conversations” or informal defenses as students seem to appreciate the opportunity to talk about their work and get critical constructive feedback.

Evaluation process

The thesis committee should meet to discuss its evaluation of the Senior Honors Project.  Thesis committee members should concern themselves only with assessment of the final project and not of the process of its production (research, drafts, rehearsal etc.) which is separately assessed through a grade submitted for HON 496 by the primary thesis advisor.

The evaluation form is to be completed by the thesis advisor and should be signed by each committee member, though other thesis committee members may wish to use it as the basis for discussion.  Please note that the form is designed for the assessment of a conventional thesis.  If advisors feel this is not appropriate in their field or out of preference, please submit a separate narrative assessment endorsed by each committee member. We hope that the thesis committee will be able to form a consensus, but if not we suggest that individual committee members submit separate forms or letters.

At the end of the report we ask that the thesis committee make a collective judgment of the Senior Honors Project, and give it an appropriate honors designation.

Incompletes for Senior Honors Project

The Honors Program discourages awarding of Incomplete (I) grades for HON 496, Senior Honors Project, because this can provide an “unfair” advantage compared to those students who do meet deadlines, and because it creates additional administrative work for advisors and the Honors office.  However, we recognize that in some cases problems may arise that are beyond the control of the student and this may cause delay in completing course requirements.  If this is the case, and an extension is necessary, the student must submit to the Honors Program a written request for an Incomplete grade providing an explanation for the delay and a plan for completion of the requirements.  This request should be endorsed by the thesis advisor and must be received before the deadline for submission of the thesis to the committee, that is, by the end of the twelfth week of the semester.

The student is expected to complete the requirements according to the plan agreed upon by the thesis advisor and approved by the Honors Program.  However, the student and thesis advisor must keep within the following absolute deadlines for submission of the grades and evaluation of the Senior Honors Project. Please note that unless the student is graduating in the summer, in which case advisors should follow the regular summer due dates, the schedule is accelerated in order to accommodate the University’s “change of grade” deadlines.

  1. No later than four weeks before the University deadline for Incomplete conversion (usually April 1 and November 1): the advisor should receive a draft of the Senior Honors Project.
  2. No later than two weeks before the University deadline for Incomplete conversion: the committee should receive an examination draft of the Senior Honors Project.
  3. No later than the date of University deadline for Incomplete removal: the Honors Program should receive a digital copy of the Senior Honors Project.  The thesis advisor should submit a grade for HON 496.
  4. No later than two weeks after the date of University deadline for Incomplete removal: the committee should submit an evaluation of the Senior Honors Project to the Honors Program.
  5. Prior to the end of the semester, student must present their completed work at Spring Symposium or Fall Forum.