Teaching an Honors Course

Are you a Skyline College instructor interested in teaching an honors course?

Honors courses are different, not necessarily harder. For example, in an honors course, students should expect more reliance on primary sources as texts for the course and/or as resources for student research projects. The materials may be covered in greater depth and/or more intensively.

In addition, students may be expected to participate in an interactive learning environment, such as discussions, seminars, oral presentations, and in-class workshops.

Emphasis is placed on skills needed at the university level, such as written analysis, critical thinking, research, and collaborative learning.

If interested, please contact John Ulloa.

Program Coordinator and Counselors

John Ulloa became the program coordinator in 2013.  His duties include recruitment and approval of students, coordination of the selection and scheduling of courses and faculty, and representing the program both on and off campus.

Joyce Lee and Suzanne Poma have been appointed counselors to the program. Their duties include being the designated counselor to all students admitted to the Honors Program. They also participate in the recruitment and approval of students. They work closely with the transfer/articulation officer to develop and maintain our transfer agreements and  accompany students to honors events at recruiting transfer institutions. They are pleased to be associated with an exciting program that provides valuable opportunities and experiences for Skyline students.

1. What are the advantages for students?
In our student focus groups, the advantages identified as most important to Skyline students were small classes with students of similar interests, talents and motivation, and increased transfer and scholarship opportunities. Students were not very concerned about the amount of work or possible effects on their GPAs; they felt quite ready for the challenge and wanted to start right now!

2. What are the advantages for faculty?
As for students, small classes and the chance to do more in depth work with students who are exceptionally talented, independent and committed. Faculty will be encouraged to be more experimental, will themselves be more challenged, and will get a fresh perspective on their courses.

3. What are the advantages for the college?
This program increases our visibility in the community and enhances our reputation as a learning institution. It helps us attract and retain more talented students. Since many other colleges in the area are instituting honors programs, we need such offerings to remain competitive. The program is designed to help us meet Partnership for Excellence (PFE) goals to increase transfers and degrees awarded.

4. How are students chosen?
Criteria for admission to the program are eligibility for English 100 and Math 120 and GPA of 3.25 in 9 units of degree applicable courses, or  a high school GPA of 3.5. Some students  enter from high school as honors program participants; others  join after some college experience. We particularly seek out students who have been in programs for under-represented students such as PUENTE, ASTEP and MESA, who have discovered their academic interests and talents. Prospective students are recruited and screened by the program coordinator and counselor.

5. How are  faculty be chosen?
A number of factors are considered: student recommendations, dean recommendation, and self-selection by those who teach the appropriate classes and are interested in (and enthusiastic about!) doing the coordination and classroom assessment that will be asked of faculty in the program.

6. What is the  faculty assignment?
Faculty appointments to the program are on a semester to semester basis. Both courses and faculty change from term to term. Faculty are asked to teach to honors course outlines.

7. Does the Program offer evening honors classes?
Yes.  Each semester between one and three evening honors classes are offered.  In addition, evening HTP students may contract classes for honors credit.

8. What is the relationship between the Honors Program and the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society?
Some students will belong to both organizations. PTK and the Honors Transfer Program can work together on community service activities since both have a service component. Completion of the Honors Program requires a minimum of 16 hours of service to the community. One way for students to satisfy this requirement is to volunteer for activities organized by PTK.

9. Won't this dilute the quality of the non-honors sections?
 No.  Honors students take most of their classes in non-honors sections and not all students who are eligible for honors courses take them.

10. Isn't this program elitist?
No. Skyline has several programs that serve the needs of a specific part of our population. They are very effective in helping students but do not make other students who are not in the program feel diminished or uncared for. The Honors program is specifically designed for the wide variety of Skyline students and no racial, cultural, gender, age or other bias is present in selection of students. Our research cohorts were selected with this in mind. Many of our students have had little chance to take honors or AP classes in their high schools-they simply were not offered. This Program ensures that ALL Skyline students have access to the kinds of classes those from other communities may already enjoy.  The demographics of the Program almost perfectly reflect the demographics of the Skyline student population at large.

11. Is this a tracking system?
No. No student is required to take any particular honors course. Honors students take about 75% of their classes in regular sections.  All honors sections are open to the general student population. Students are not isolated by the Honors Program.

12. What is the coordinator's function?
The coordinator recruits and admits students, coordinates class scheduling and instructor selection, works with the transfer center coordinator/articulation officer to institute and maintain transfer agreements, coordinates program research, and works with the program administrator on budget and other administrative matters.

13. How is the program being funded?
The program start-up was funded with PFE funds and was designed to increase our transfer and degree numbers, two of the PFE goals.

14. How will the program develop?
The program is dynamic and research driven. We add and modify classes as appropriate. We have been increasing the number of classes offered in learning community style.