First Honors Program established at OTC

First Honors Program established at OTC

Contact

College Director of Communications
417.447.2655 publicinfo@otc.edu
Steve Koehler
Coordinator of Publications (417) 447-2666 koehlers@otc.edu

By Steve Koehler

One of the clearest signs that Ozarks Technical Community College is evolving into an institution for serious study is the recent establishment of an honors program.

The program, which will be implemented with the fall 2009 semester, provides academically exceptional students an opportunity to develop their full potential through an enhanced learning environment of a designated community of scholars. The introductory seminar course to the honors program, HON 101, is offered currently as a pilot course.

“We challenge the students in smaller, seminar-based classes, where discussion and dialogue are encouraged. The approach to their learning is one in which we hope to encourage them or give them permission to learn outside of a textbook,” said Caron Daugherty, director of the honors program. “We do not want them to memorize material for an exam only to have them forget it in the next semester.”

In order to be eligible for the program, new students must fulfill one of the following requirements: score a 27 on their ACT, attain a 3.75 high school GPA, or score a 3200 on the GED test. They can also qualify by earning a 95 in reading and a 98 in writing on their OTC entrance COMPASS efficiency tests.

Currently enrolled students need a 3.5 GPA after completing 12 or more credits.

Students in the pilot course are studying the paradox of affluence, the national topic of the Phi Theta Kappa honors programs. The students are studying how the topic relates in a number of areas, including the economy, the sciences, education and the arts.

Students also are reading Thomas Friedman’s “Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - And How it Can Renew America.”

Through the semester, students will hold discussions, do research and conduct interviews and surveys with selected groups about the affluence issue. Students make presentations at the end of the semester regarding their research topic.

“The design of the course is to challenge the students and involve them in their own learning process. Through discussion, dialogue, research, presentation, and communication, we hope to advance the course beyond a lecture and note-taking class,'' Daugherty said.

OTC has an articulation agreement with Missouri State University that will allow honors students from OTC to transfer into the honors college at MSU.

The seven students who make up the first OTC honors class said they have found the course to be a springboard to express themselves.

“I was expecting a free exchange of ideas and people who care about academic achievement. That’s exactly what I’ve found,” said Christina Hahn, a second-year student from Clever.

Jordana McReynolds of Springfield said the class breaks the mold of typical college classes that require “memorization and regurgitation.”

“You can explore issues on a real level. Everything we do here is applicable to real life,” she said.

Daugherty said in the fall, there will be two honors sections offered with about 15 spots in each class, but added that her first class will be a special one for her personally.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better group to start with. I’m learning so much through them,” she said.

 Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College.