Conferences – National Collegiate Honors Council conference in Atlanta

Honors Program Directors Kacy Tillman and Ryan Cragun recently took three UT students to the National Collegiate Honors Council conference in Atlanta. Two members of the Honors Council, Carla Shapira and Delaney Russell, attended the conference, along with Honors student Hanifah Griffith, who was presented a poster titled, “Do Honors Symposia Affect Student Beliefs, Values, and Behaviors? A Pre- and Post-Test Study”. We attended a number of sessions and enjoyed a number of meals together where we discussed what we were learning at the conference.

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The conference was in downtown Atlanta, which meant it was quite close to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. The five of us took some time late one afternoon to visit the site and learn more about the life and activism of Dr. King.

Guidance – Honors Conferences

The Honors Program at UT is a member of three Honors Councils. At the national level, there is the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). At the regional level, there is the Southern Regional Honors Council (SRHC). And at the state level, there is the Florida Collegiate Honors Council (FCHC). Each of these Honors Councils holds annual conferences (typically in the fall for NCHC and in the spring for SRHC and FCHC).

The current Honors Program Directors have decided to prioritize students attending disciplinary conferences with faculty members at UT where they can present their research and make contacts that will be helpful as they consider graduate school (like this and this). However, there are some benefits from attending the various Honors Conferences. The primary benefit is that Honors Conferences often have a focus on Honors education and have a number of sessions that can help Honors Program Directors and Honors Councils improve the Honors Program at UT. Additionally, presenting scholarship at an Honors Conference can also provide experience in how to present scholarship to a scholarly audience.

UT Honors Program students who would like to attend an Honors Conference have to do the following:

  1. Complete an application that details the scholarly work they would like to present at the conference.
  2. The Honors Program Directors will evaluate the application. Only high-quality applications will be accepted by the Honors Program Directors.
  3. If the application is accepted, the student will then have to apply to the appropriate Honors conference (i.e., NCHC, SRHC, or FCHC) through their website.
  4. If the application is accepted, the student will notify the Honors Program Directors so appropriate travel arrangements can be made.
  5. Prior to attending the conference, the student must present their research to the Honors Program Directors so they can provide feedback on the presentation.

Students who are selected to attend an Honors conference will be expected to professionally represent UT’s Honors Program when presenting their work.

Additionally, it is the expectation of the Honors Program Directors that the student will attend other sessions at the conference both in the interest of learning and also to find ways to improve UT’s Honors Program. 

Guidance – Making a Course an Honors Tutorial

In order to help students complete their 5 required Honors Courses, the Honors Program allows students to convert some non-Honors courses into Honors Tutorials. This is detailed in the Honors Handbook (p. 8). The process for converting a non-Honors course into an Honors Tutorials is as follows:

  1. Make sure the course meets the requirements for converting it into an Honors Tutorial. These requirements are detailed in the Honors Handbook and include the following. The course must be taught by a full-time UT faculty member. Tutorials can only be done in courses that assign a letter grade. Tutorials can also only be taken in courses that are 3 or 4 (or more) credit hours.
  2. Approach the faculty member teaching the course and ask them if they would be willing to supervise your Honors Tutorial. This requires extra commitment on the part of the faculty member (they are paid for this extra time from the Honors Program), so it is vital that you discuss this with them with plenty of advanced warning. It is strongly encouraged that you do this before the semester starts, not once the semester starts, as professors need time to make these arrangements.
  3. If the faculty member is amenable to making the course a tutorial, you’ll then need to develop the tutorial itself. Doing more of the same work that other students in the class are doing is not the ideal Honors Tutorial. The aim of the tutorial should be to enhance the class in a way that: (a) the course content is made more relevant to the student’s interests and (b) the course content is extended beyond that which is covered in the course. When evaluating whether to approve an Honors Tutorial, the Honors Program Director uses those two criteria (i.e., “How is this different from what everyone else is doing?” and “How does this enhance the class in a way that is worthy of Honors credit?”) Here are some examples of innovative Honors Tutorials:

    “I will be doing a project connecting my major (Biochemistry) with my minor (Cybersecurity). This makes my project different from what others in the course are doing because I am tying networking concepts learned in class to a different field altogether, healthcare. I want to research the pros and cons of cloud computing in electronic medical records, with a special emphasis in security of the digital infrastructure. Cloud computing is covered in the course, but only in a general overview sense. This way, I will be able to learn about a specific sector of this new and upcoming technology. I plan on completing this research project in the form of a lecture/presentation. With the way my project is formatted, I am able to practice my public speaking skills and apply an important computing topic to a broader audience, such as other professors here at UT or healthcare officials in the Tampa Bay area. I also hope that this provides a unique experience for my professor, who has never had a student that is studying the natural sciences and cybersecurity.” (Maya Patel)

    “This will be an original model created incorporating all three sections of the course into one creative model. I will present this model as if presenting a final project to an employer. The other students in my class will do three noncumulative exams approaching some conditions given by the professor to create respective models. I will be putting all the concepts we learned together and make my own assumptions and conditions into “simulating” a real modeling job. It will be a great experience to create this huge model because I am doing an academic internship for credit this semester where I need to create new creative models in order to simulate and forecast next year’s numbers. So it will be of a great help to keep practicing and learning new stuff relating to financial models.” (Camilo Gonzalez)

    “This project will involve running an untested experiment on how the protein content of crab claws change in response to fluctuations in temperature. This is an aspect of physiology that other students will not be learning about and an experiment that other students are not doing. This will involve designing the experiment, running the experiment, collecting data, and writing a paper on the results. This will improve my understanding of the underlying theories and literature of the given subject matter, of the laboratory techniques relevant to the class, of physiology focused experimental design, and of physiology focused scientific writing.” (Kelly Fryar)
    “The Tutorial Enrichment project is a collaboration with Dr. Miller towards the publication of an academic research paper that aims to identify patterns between the FED minutes’ language and market responses. The project will require the student to collect, clean, and analyze nearly eight decades of data, and then run regression analysis as well as building models that would attempt to predict market reactions after the FED’s minutes are published and made public. This Tutorial Enrichment project will take a different approach to what the other students in the course will be doing by looking beyond the textbook content and regular assignments, while enhancing the student’s understanding of the FED’s impact on the financial markets.” (Victor Philaire)

  4. Once you and the professor have agreed to the project, you’ll need to submit the application via Submittable (here). Honors Tutorial applications are due by 5:00 pm on the third Friday of the semester.
  5. The Honors Program Director will evaluate each application, confirm with the professor that they have approved it, and then either approve the Tutorial or request modifications to improve it.
  6. At the conclusion of the Tutorial, the faculty member will evaluate the Tutorial, which will include submitting any deliverables from the Tutorial. Note that not every Tutorial is considered meritorious based on the evaluations from the professors who oversee them. Evaluations of Tutorials by overseeing faculty members can be completed here.

Honors Courses – BIOH124

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BIOH124 is a non-majors Honors Biology course that is being taught as an intro to human genetics. The professor, Dr. Sarah Cuccinello, developed a karyotyping activity that is unique to the Honors version of the course. The photos above show the students engaged in this activity. There are also some pictures of them using micropipettes for the first time. The micropipette practice is preparation for some genetics experiments they will be conducting in a couple of weeks.