Vol State honors classes challenge students to think critically

Submitted on February 10, 2010 at 9:36 AM

American history can seem cut and dried. You probably memorized the dates in high school. Now you are encouraged to throw it all up in the air and take another look. It's an honors history course at Volunteer State Community College. Honors courses teach students to think critically. The smaller classes provide greater student interaction, and sometimes that even leads to arguments in class.

"The discussions, the conversations and even the disagreements are all important in the honors classroom," said Grady Eades, director of the Honors Program. "They help to teach people how to think."

"It's a different way of learning. It's not just memorizing facts," said honors student Karen Yates. "The most challenging course was honors Literature and History. There were times I felt confused. Professor Ruff would say - That means you're learning."

Honors classes are taught in a number of subject areas, even math and science. Vol State students can take many other courses the college offers as an honors class, in a program called honors by contract.

"It's basically an agreement with the instructor to do a paper or project as extra work in the class," said Lindsey Johnson, a Criminal Justice major. "In my English class it was about William Faulkner's "Spotted Horses" and his writing style. For chemistry I did my project on ozone depletion. With the contract you just work with the teacher to come up with a project that's going to work with the class, and fit in with your major. It's really individual, independent work and I enjoy that."

In order to enter the program, a student must meet requirements. High school students must have either a 3.5 grade point average (GPA), a composite score of 26 on the ACT exam, or two letters of recommendation from instructors.

"It's not all about a having a high GPA. Honors courses are for students who want to be challenged. It's best for someone who is willing to put forth the work and think out of the box," said Eades.

"The growth that I've had through the classes has been tremendous," said Yates. "When you're done at the end of the semester, there's a sense of pride."

For more information visit www.volstate.edu/Honors or call 615-230-3281.

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