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The Honors Program

Mentoring Research

Independent Project Advisors

Your role as advisor is voluntary. The rewards of assisting with undergraduate research are various, including:

  • supporting promising undergraduates who may be considering your field of study
  • involving students in work related to your own, and
  • working directly with the University's most talented undergraduates.

As teachers, we recognize that these important intangible rewards justify our dedicating a certain amount of time to our students. We leave it to each potential advisor to judge how much and whether the moment is propitious, and we thank each of you -- and you have been many, from many parts of this institution -- for your invaluable contribution to this important learning effort, both now and then again as the individual IP concludes.

The project itself can take many forms, as appropriate to the discipline(s) involved. Students may register for credit either under a disciplinary independent study rubric (usually xxx 395) or the HON 395 option. Timing of the registration for the IP does not always coincide exactly or completely with the time dedicated to the project; in fact, we know from long experience that most of our students spend considerable time and effort, on the order of 20-33% of the entire project's work, before completing the IP proposal and registering for credit. We encourage flexibility here, to underline that learning does not usually take place in neat 15-week packages and to maximize convenience and efficient use of student and advisor time, and other resources.

The completed contract is your mutual record of that agreement; we urge you and the student each to keep a copy. The original is read carefully by the Senior Academic Coordinator of the Honors Program when received. Proposals are approved when all criteria are met, when the proposal is professionally presented, and when it is written clearly enough for someone outside the discipline to understand its main principles and goals. Proposals defective in any of these regards are returned to the student for further work. Once approved, a copy of the proposal, with any comments, is returned to the student and the original kept on file with others in the Honors Program Office, where other students may consult them as models or inspiration in thinking about their own projects.

When the project has been completed and a grade awarded, you the advisor may file the grade in the department in the usual manner at semester's end, or, if the IP was done for credit as HON 395, inform the Senior Academic Coordinator via email. We encourage students to submit their completed work to undergraduate or disciplinary conferences or to peer-reviewed journals. There is funding available to support these student experiences.

Independent Projects must be completed and grade submitted before a student graduates in order to meet HP requirements and to be acknowledged on the student's transcript and diploma.