Honors in Psychology

Who should do an honors project?

Typically students are encouraged to pursue research experience through a Tutorial or Directed Inquiry, Research Practicum, or volunteer positions in research labs. A psychology honors project may be an option for gaining more advanced research experience on an independent research project for students of exceptional academic accomplishment who: 1) have previous research experience, and 2) are competitive for and seriously considering applying to graduate school in psychology or related fields.

A psychology honors project involves a rigorous program of research, with a great deal of independent work on the part of the student as well as a close collaborative relationship with a faculty sponsor. Because of the high level of involvement and commitment of the faculty sponsor, students are required to meet with the sponsor to discuss the option of conducting an honors project. In most cases, the honors project is seen as an extension of research in which a student is already engaged.

The honors project in Psychology will prepare students for a graduate-level experience, and as a result, the process of completing an honors project will closely resemble that of completing a Master’s thesis.  The honors project is reserved for students who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to research in the Department. It is not designed to provide students with research experience; rather, it is intended for students who are already experienced in research to complete a graduate-level project. Students who are seeking research experience should consider research practicum or volunteer positions in departmental research labs.

To ensure that the student is fully prepared to undertake an honors project, a student must meet several eligibility requirements in addition to obtaining approval from a faculty sponsor. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee final approval and acceptance of the student’s honors project.  

 

Eligibility Requirements:

  1. A cumulative and major GPA of at least 3.5 at the time of application for Honors work and upon graduation from the College.
  2. Prior research experience either with a faculty member in the psychology department (as a member of a research team), as part of an advanced methods course, or in a research laboratory in another department or at another institution.
  3. Commitment from one faculty member in the Department to serve as sponsor.
    1. The student must find a faculty member willing to sponsor a project prior to registering for coursework and submitting the honors proposal. This commitment is typically made before second semester of junior year
  4. Adequate time and flexibility in the academic schedule to allow for data collection and completion of the project (see specific project requirements for junior and senior year below).
    1. Includes Junior Seminar (Psychology 399) for one or two credits during the Spring Semester of the student’s Junior year to initiate the honors proposal process.  
    2. Includes two academic semesters in the senior year, during which the student will be enrolled in Psychology 495-6 for eight credits, four  of which will be taken in the semester the student is enrolled in Senior Seminar (Psychology 485)
  5. Before deciding to propose an honors project, the student must read the Rhodes College Honors Program and Honors Research document and the Guidelines for the Preparation of the Archival Copy of the Honors Paper document.  These documents can be found in the Honors Research folder in the Cares folder on the FacStaff Community server.

 

Junior Year

In preparation for completing an honors project, students must complete several critical tasks during their junior year and must meet the eligibility requirements listed above prior to the start of their senior year.

Tasks:

  1. The student will complete Junior Seminar (Psyc 399) for one or two credits during the Spring Semester.  This course will initiate the honors proposal and will facilitate completion of the tasks listed below.  Enrollment in this course will require approval of the student’s honors sponsor.
  2. The student and sponsor should meet to accomplish four tasks.
  1. Create a tentative timeline for the project (including, but not limited to, the dates by which the student will obtain IRB approval to conduct the study, date(s) that the student will send drafts of the proposal to the committee members, the anticipated dates when data collection will begin and end, anticipated date when analyses will be complete, and when a final draft of the student’s project will be submitted to committee members for review).  
  2. Identify the research question to be addressed in the honors project and the tentative method that will be employed for addressing the research question.
  3. Develop a reading list that will provide the necessary background for the project and will potentially serve as a foundation for the Introduction of the project.
  4. Form an honors project committee consisting of: a) the primary sponsor, b) another faculty member of the Rhodes College Psychology Department selected in coordination with the primary sponsor, c) one Rhodes College faculty member outside of the Psychology Department selected in coordination with the primary sponsor, and d) one additional faculty member of the Psychology Department selected by the department chairperson.  
  1. Each student is responsible for submitting a letter of intent to the Chair of the Psychology Department to notify her/him of the anticipated honors project proposal.  This letter of intent must be approved by the faculty sponsor.  (DUE DATE: April 15) and should include:
    1. The proposed research question
    2. A tentative method for addressing the research question
    3. The names of the two faculty members who have agreed to serve on your committee selected by the student and sponsor.
    4. The student’s curriculum vitae
    5. The proposed project timeline

 

Summer Tasks (to be completed between Junior and Senior years):

  1. Review the articles included in the reading list.
  2. Refine the research question to be addressed in the honors project.
  3. Refine the methods to be used in the honors project.
  4. Draft the honors project proposal and receive feedback from committee members.  NOTE: Faculty members may take up to two weeks to return comments on each draft of your honors proposal, so you should plan accordingly.
  5. Prepare all documents necessary to obtain IRB approval, if applicable. Note that if summer data collection with human subjects is planned, IRB approval should be received during the spring semester of junior year.

 

Senior Year

The student’s Honors proposal must be approved by the honors project committee prior to undertaking any data collection or data analysis critical for completing the honors project.  It is understood that in some instances students will propose utilizing existing data sets to answer novel research questions or to implement a new analysis procedure.  Importantly, the honors project proposal must be made available to all members of the Psychology Department for two weeks before the project can be approved.  This period of time is included to allow other faculty members to provide feedback on the project question and project design to the department faculty member selected by the Chair to serve on the student’s committee.  The chair appointed faculty member will provide feedback to the student based on feedback received from other committee members and department faculty.

The student must participate in the Honors project for a minimum time period of two academic semesters, during which the student will be enrolled in Psychology 495-6 for at least eight credits, four of which will be taken in the semester he or she is enrolled in Senior Seminar (Psychology 485).  Each credit hour is equivalent to a minimum of four hours of research-related work on the honors project per week (i.e., 4 credits = 16 hours of work per week).  However, most honors project students should expect to put in an average of 25-30 hours per week on the project with some weeks far exceeding this estimate during time-sensitive parts of the process.  In addition, the student must have completed at least 44 credits in Psychology at Rhodes by the completion of the Honors project (typically at graduation).  

The Honors project must include both a written paper and a defense of the project to the honors project committee and any faculty member who wishes to attend.

1. The written work must be approved by all of the honors project committee members and must be made available to all faculty members of the Psychology Department one week in advance of the scheduled oral defense. The final paper must conform to the style guidelines presented in the current edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.  A final copy must be made and delivered to the Rhodes Archives; this copy must also conform to the Honors Program and Honors Research document and the Guidelines for the Preparation of the Archival Copy of the Honors Paper document.  These documents can be found in the Honors Research folder in the Cares folder on the FacStaff Community server.

2. The student must give an oral defense of the results of the Honors project to the honors project committee and any faculty member who wishes to attend.  Typically, the oral defense will consist of a 30 minute presentation and 45 minutes of questioning by the honors project committee and other members of the audience.  The defense must be evaluated as satisfactory by the committee as part of the final honors approval.

3. Finally, honors projects students are expected to give a research talk that is open to the public

 

The student must complete each stage of the Honors process no later than the dates specified below.

Senior Year Fall Semester

End of the 14th day of classes

Last date for Honors Proposal to be approved by the honors project committee.

End of the 15th class day

Last date for Honors Registration to be submitted to the Registrar's Office. Honors Registration may be submitted prior to final approval of project.

Before October 1

Student will schedule a meeting with the sponsor and all members of the committee for the purpose of establishing deadlines for submitting drafts of the paper for reader approval.

 

Senior Year Spring Semester

Prior to April 1

Faculty sponsor and readers provide feedback on Honors paper.

Prior to April 15

Student submits the Honors paper to the Department and completes an oral defense of the thesis.

Prior to April 15

Student learns whether Honors paper is accepted, rejected, or accepted pending revisions. Suggested revisions will be sent to the student in a letter from the committee.

April 20

If necessary, student submits revised Honors paper to the Department; the faculty sponsor and readers will have read the revised paper. The revised paper should have incorporated feedback provided at or immediately following the oral defense.

During last two weeks of classes

Student will give a public presentation of the research project.

Last day classes

Student will be notified in writing by the Department chair whether the Honors paper is accepted and honors are received.

Last day classes

Honors Project abstract must be submitted electronically to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Curriculum– receipt will be acknowledged.

This is our most public document.  Let’s require the student to have this abstract approved – by the sponsor?  by the chair?  We need to make sure that this abstract is good and is appropriate for the audience (everyone who attends the graduation week events).

Due Date of Final Grades

Final approval to graduate with Honors and final grade from Department due in the Registrar’s Office by 9:00 a.m.

Friday following Commencement

Final print copy and a PDF copy on a CD of Honors Project is submitted to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Curriculum.