Honors Program prepares for new changes

Posted on 27 August 2014 by admin

New honor courses made available in Fall and Spring

Students graduating from the Honors Program pose for a photo at the May 2014 Student Award Dinner at the Chase Park Plaza. PHOTO PROVIDED BY STLCC CAMPUS LIFE

Students graduating from the Honors Program pose for a photo at the May 2014 Student Award Dinner at the Chase Park Plaza. PHOTO PROVIDED BY STLCC CAMPUS LIFE

Managing Editor

Aaron Champene took the reigns of St. Louis Community College – Meramec’s Honors Program at the beginning of the summer, with the hopes of recruiting students for the program and increasing course offerings, he said. As he works to revive the program, Champene recognizes the challenges.

He said in recent years, the program changed with the school system when administration “took a hard line” on a minimum of 15 students required for a class.

After what sociology professor Darlaine Gardetto called a “rocky time” with prior administration, she said she believes honors courses are good for students and provide many benefits. Gardetto said departments used to be able to have an honors class with eight students. Another hit the honors program took was an overall campus drop in enrollment.

“It also may be that there were young people that were signing up for classes because they had become unemployed, and perhaps now they’ve gotten jobs, which has reduced their course load,” Gardetto said. “It’s not that they’ve disappeared, but maybe they’re taking fewer classes. I don’t think we know all the reasons that we’ve had a drop.”

Gardetto also theorized the drop to a growing economy. She said families who were choosing community college for a better buy were now able to afford four year universities. With enrollment dropping, there were less and less students to place in honors classes. Champene said there was a decrease in the amount of course offerings that were provided for students.

“The ideal program is one which we have many more course offerings, and students anxious to take those courses. And, faculty anxious to teach them, of course,” Champene said.

Champene said there are two honors classes for the Fall 2014 semester and a spring honors schedule is in the works. Once the spring classes have been approved by administration; it’s up to students to fill those classes in order to keep them. In addition, honors students can also earn honors credit in most standard courses by completing an honors contract with an instructor. The contract adds a major assignment to the course.

Gardetto said she believes the honors program is a great opportunity for students. Having taught honors classes off and on for about six years, she has seen it benefit the students who take advantage of it, she said.

“In a regular class, you’ll have a group of students who are very serious – they’re on time, they’re really focused,” Gardetto said. “But there’s usually a couple of students who are really not serious, and sometimes that can pull down the level of the class.”

Champene said his long term plans are to work with other STLCC campuses to have a consistent honors program. Right now, Phi Theta Kappa is offered for all STLCC students, but the honors programs work independently of each other.

“Students are more likely to succeed in a smaller class size and honors courses of their very nature are to be within a smaller classroom environment,” he said. “It gives students the opportunity to work closely with the instructor, some of our best instructors teach honors courses, and it gives them the opportunity to interact with other well prepared students.”

Gardetto said she used to teach classes with six students and said it was a great experience for those six students.

“It may have been small, and it may have cost the college a little more,” Gardetto said. “But to think about the benefits for the students – immeasurable.”

For more information about the Honors Program, contact Honors Program Coordinator Aaron Champene at 314-984-7147 or achampene@stlcc.edu.

honors sketch


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