We currently have three options for students taking honors classes in the Grossmont College Honors Program.
Dedicated honors sections of an existing course, usually one that has a number of sections offered and is therefore highly enrolled.
Honors contracts. Individual students write a “contract” together with an instructor to do extra specified work at the honors level, achieving honors credit for an otherwise non-honors course.
Hybrid honors/regular classes in which one cohort of students are registered in an honors section of the class and other are registered in a non-honors class, with both sections meeting at the same time and place. Those students in the Honors portion/section will receive extra assignments in order to bring the otherwise non-honors coursework in the syllabus to honors level.
The purpose of this document is to explain how option #3, hybrid honors, works. There are successful honors programs in California Community Colleges in which option #3 makes up the entire program (Mt. San Jacinto, for example).
In a hybrid honors/regular class, there are two different sections on record, but both sections meet at the same time in the same classroom. Separate maxima are set for both sections. For example, in a hybrid class with a cap of 35 students total, 25 seats may be designated for regular students and 10 seats may be reserved for honors students. The number to be reserved for each cohort is to be determined by the dean and department chairs. There is no impact on cost to Grossmont College for this option. Instructors get compensated as they would for a regular un-mixed section of the course.
The honors credit is earned by the students in the honors section by additional work determined by the instructor. The hybrid course is similar to an honors contract, except that all the students who are in the honors section have the same “contract.” The additional work can be an extra paper, an independent study project, additional readings, extra questions on exams which are at a higher level, or many more possibilities as determined by the instructor. Most likely the additional work will include more than one of these options.
The mechanism for creating such a hybrid course is very simple. An instructor who is interested in offering a hybrid course needs to inform both his/her department chair and the honors program coordinator(s). The responsibility to the honors program is to inform us of the intention to offer an honors hybrid course. The instructor must submit what amounts to a group honors contract proposal. In other words, the instructor submits the regular course syllabus and an addendum which gives a brief synopsis of the additional work to be done at the honors level. This addendum may be the syllabus addendum which the instructor will actually give to those students who will be enrolled in the honors section of the class. The honors committee will consider this proposal for approval. The responsibility of the instructor to the department chair is to request to have a separate honors section of the course opened alongside the course section they are already assigned to teach. If the department chair approves, then he/she will inform the dean of the intention and request Admissions and Records to open up a parallel section. Since fall semester 2008, we have already done this for several courses. It works very smoothly.
The responsibility of the honors program is to respond in a timely manner—ideally within one week—so that the instructor can move forward with creating the hybrid class. It is possible for the instructor to take care of this before approaching the department chair.
Once the hybrid class is set up, students will self-select which section they apply to. A notice is put into the schedule explaining the requirements for participation in the honors program. Acceptance to the honors section of the course is overseen by the instructor. Presumably, if necessary, students whom the instructor deems to be not qualified for honors can be switched to the non-honors section. The weighting of the honors and non-honors material in the final grade is determined by the instructor. We suggest the additional honors material should count for approximately 20% of the total final grade.