Learning Goals, Outcomes, and Assessment Policy

The Honors College at Rutgers University-Newark recruits students who are well suited for in-depth and advanced course work.


To promote the teaching of courses appropriate for Honors students, the Director offers the following to clarify (1) identify the kinds of general approaches that often distinguish Honors courses from other courses in the curriculum; (2) identify learning outcomes and attitudes or characteristics that are especially descriptive of Honors students; (3) suggest methods of assessing student learning in Honors courses; and (4) provide guidelines and a template for the construction of syllabi to aid faculty when teaching a course for the Honors College or in an honors-designated course in their department, as well as for student to use in seeking approval for a course to be counted toward the Honors College’s requirements.


Approaches to Designing and Teaching Honors Courses


Faculty proposing and teaching courses in the Honors College are encouraged to be creative in the design and delivery of their courses and to consider the following approaches:


1. Honors Seminars in the Humanities, Sciences, or Social Sciences often lend themselves to interdisciplinary studies so that students can investigate issues from a variety of perspectives. Therefore, team teaching or a panel of guest speakers is often an effective means of presenting material.


2. Starting in Fall 2017, we prefer that pedagogy for Honors College seminars utilize a project-based learning model to go beyond traditional lecture and discussion and involve students in service-learning, field work, or campus extracurricular work as appropriate to course goals.


3. Honors College courses may be designated as Writing Intensive (WI) and the Director encourages faculty members to consider this option. The faculty member should discuss this with the Director during the course scheduling period and will be required to complete the process by submitting the “Writing Intensive Criteria Checklist” along with a copy of the course syllabus and writing assignments to the Director at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester.


4. As a general rule, Honors College courses should fulfill the following criteria:

  • Students should complete at least four evaluated writing projects in a minimum of three genres at least one of which must be an argumentative essay on a complex issue. Examples of these genres may include academic essays, book reviews, research reports, proposals, annotated bibliographies, literature reviews.
  • At least one text from one of these projects should be approximately 1250 words. This text should require significant research, including library research.
  • At least two projects should require multiple research strategies, including library research, to complete the rhetorical task.

Learning Outcomes


Honors College course syllabi should state what a student should know and be able to do as a result of taking it. In addition to content-specific, knowledge-based learning outcomes, the following outcomes may also be appropriate for an Honors course: 


A student should be able to:


1. Demonstrate intellectual skills and knowledge across a broad range of the humanities and sciences with an in-depth understanding of a specific discipline in preparation for work or continued education; aware of current developments and thinking within disciplines and committed to professional excellence and life-long learning


2. Identify, pose and solve problems using multiple modes and technologies, including qualitative methods and other modes of inquiry and research


3. Read and think critically and with purpose. Understand, review and evaluate, make judgments and then apply information in new ways.


4. Locate, extract, and evaluate research on a specific topic. Listen to and read a variety of texts with critical discernment, comprehending, interpreting, and analyzing information; follow the logic, validity, and relevance of data.


5. Use technology effectively for presentations (in programs such as PowerPoint, DreamWeaver, FrontPage) and for research and documentation (in programs such as Academic Search Primer, EndNotes)


6. Communicate effectively in written, spoken, visual, and technological modes for a variety of purposes, with different audiences in various contexts, using appropriate formats and technologies.


7. Demonstrate skills in both leadership and collaborative teamwork. Demonstrate the ability to work effectively independently, collaboratively on multidisciplinary teams, and as part of an organization, able to make connections and negotiate differences.


8. Demonstrate an understanding of their own cultural traditions and those of other cultures, locally, nationally, and internationally; use strategies to bridge cultural differences and barriers.


Attitudes or Characteristics Particularly Descriptive of Honors Students


Through coursework in the Honors College, we hope to develop students who are:


1. Curious: interested in learning and learning more, aware that most important issues are complex and interrelated, requiring rigor to unpack.


2. Creative: able to tolerate ambiguity—to embrace uncertainly to find new and interesting solutions; willing to suspend judgment while investigating a topic from multiple perspectives.


3. Ethical: seek to understand the ethical consequences of their decisions, actions, beliefs; able to articulate grounded personal standards against which to evaluate new ideas or experiences and make informed and principled decisions.


4. Ready: able to contextualize issues relevant to today, to see links between one discipline and another, and be prepared to carry that knowledge into their careers.




In addition to traditional means of assessment such as exams, various methods of assessment of the stated learning outcomes may be appropriate in an Honors College course. All Honors College students will be required to:


1. Maintain a current electronic portfolio of work which may be reviewed by the instructor, Director, or designees. The contents should include, by the time of the completion of the program:

  • A reflective journal in which they summarize readings, record personal responses to new knowledge, and generate questions for further investigation.
  • End-of-semester presentations either individually or as a group project.
  • Research papers or other extended written work, including annotated bibliographies.
  • Peer evaluations that offer constructive criticism.
  • An archived version of a senior capstone project and any accompanying poster generated from work thereof.
  • A current resume and cover letter from each Honors College student.

2. Electronic portfolios will be evaluated on an annual basis by the Director and Assistant Director to ensure students are meeting the Learning Outcomes listed above. The results of these evaluations will be shared with the Faculty Advisory Board to determine if and where any adjustments in Honors College programming are needed.


Guidelines for Syllabi for Honors Courses


Syllabi for honors courses should reflect the mission and goals of the University, the home school, the Honors College, and departmental and faculty goals for individual courses. Syllabi should explain what we want students to learn (knowledge) as well as indicate skills and attitudes we hope to develop. 


Content for Syllabi


Basic information:

  • Faculty member’s name
  • Class number and section
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Office location, Office Hours
  • Semester/year
  • Class time and place
  • Academic conduct, including plagiarism statement and attendance policy
  • Use of technology

Course content:

  • Goals, objectives and learning outcomes for the course
  • Course description and justification as appropriate to an Honors course, including interdisciplinary connections or pedagogical approaches such as project-based learning, as appropriate
  • Required readings
  • Recommended readings
  • Technology to be taught or used in course
  • Course format--lecture, guest lectures, seminars, interactive/experiential, field experience, class presentations, use of community and university resources
  • A topical outline

Means of assessment:

  • Statement of grading policy—weights for different assessment components, late paper policy
  • Testing procedures--essay, short answer, multiple choice
  • Other forms of evaluation--performance, oral presentations, class participation
  • Writing Assignments--topics, genre, purpose, audience, research component, format
  • Collaborative work, especially evidence of leadership skills and teamwork
  • Ability to use appropriate technology


In compliance with University policy, these guidelines and policies have been posted publically on this website and are available in hardcopy at the Honors College office.


Any questions related to or clarifications needed with regard to these guidelines and policies may be directed to the Honors College Director or Assistant Director.