Collaborative Senior Honors Projects
The Honors Program encourages Collaborative Senior Honors Projects that follow a participatory model emphasizing students working together to complete projects no single partner could achieve independently. The typical group size is two (2) and no more than five (5) collaborators. Students may undertake Collaborative Senior Honors Projects involving traditional research or creative projects with permission from the Honors Faculty Fellows. Permission to undertake a collaborative project will be considered when requests are made during the 499A course at the planning stage of the Honors project. (See Requirements section below for more details.)
The increasing complexity, interdisciplinarity, as well as the open, invitational nature of much modern research and creative endeavor encourages us to expand our offerings to encompass educational opportunities that are cooperative, collaborative, and often pluralistic. The team-oriented nature of such scholarship ensures that all participants – each with different perspectives and complementary skills – contribute to and benefit from the experience through mastery of scientific, technical, and craft expertise, as well as those social and management skills necessary to group work.
The expectations and guidelines listed below have been established for the following purposes:
- To provide a framework for students to undertake collaborative projects in such a manner that encourages complex but productive networks of association, transfer of knowledge or skills, stimulation of creativity and intellectual companionship, peer assessment, and dissemination of results.
- To provide faculty advisors with general expectations on the part of the Honors Program related to the progress and completion of collaborative projects, expectations that allow for flexibility in implementation and do not supersede the advisor(s)’ primary role in guiding and assessing the project.
- To provide the Honors Program with a documentable set of requirements that will ensure the quality and intellectual rigor of collaborative projects submitted for completion in Honors.
A successful collaborative project will engage the participation of all partners, including the advisor(s). It will encourage shared leadership and decision-making, group collaboration and cooperative learning, and integration of diverse perspectives, knowledge, and skills. Collaborative projects will also improve student awareness of how scholarly works are created, valued, disseminated, and assessed.
Collaborative Senior Honors Projects must comprise the following elements:
1. Permission to undertake Collaborative Senior Honors Project
Students must request permission to undertake a collaborative project from the Honors Faculty Fellows during the 499A course at the planning stage of the project. Requests should take place in writing or email to Dr. Barry Falk and contain the following two components:
Letter for collaborative project consideration
The letter for collaborative project consideration should be a written request to the Honors Faculty Fellows (“HFF”) initiated by the students considering a collaborative project. This letter should discuss the purpose of the project and how that purpose warrants the collaboration of multiple students. The collaborative project consideration letter should also contain overall project guidelines described in the Requirements section of this document.
This letter should contain a list of all students collaborating on the project, the advisor(s), and all readers. In addition, students should provide documentation stating that faculty readers and advisor(s) approve of the joint project and are aware of the additional requirements that accompany a joint project. Advisor(s) and reader approval can be in the form of signatures on the letter itself, or attached emails stating their understanding of the joint project. If there are multiple advisors for a collaborative project it should be clearly stated at the outset. Projects spanning more than one discipline should arrange for at least one reader from each of the different disciplines involved in the project.
Description of labor division
The students and their advisor(s) should write a letter briefly describing the general breakdown of the work each student will be completing. Students should describe what written, empirical, experimental, research, service, leadership, performance, or other type of work each member is expected to complete during the course of the project. Students, in consultation with their advisor(s), should consider at the outset what type of project they will complete.
2. Senior Project Application and proposal
Submit the Senior Honors Project Application and Proposal by the assigned deadline at the end of the 499A semester (usually late November or late April). Each student working collaboratively on the project must submit a separate application and proposal. The proposal must include the signatures of the project committee, department head, and dean of the appropriate college. Approval is determined by the Honors Program Director.
3. Written Document(s)
Collaborative senior projects must have substantial, quantifiable independent work. The final submission of the project may take one of three general types:
Type I. Separate documents. In this case, there should be some attempt to make it clear that there is a necessary connection between or among the documents using jointly written conclusions, a jointly written executive summary, or some other display of the need to combine the work into a single project. Every effort should be made so that the separate documents have consistent formatting and voice.
Type II. A single document with clearly differentiated sections authored by each of the collaborating students. Every effort should be made so that differentiated sections have consistent formatting and voice.
Type III. A single co-authored document submitted separately by each student with a preface that delineates the contributions of that particular student.
Variations to the final projects described above will be considered if submitted in writing. Requests for variations on joint projects should contain a clear description of labor division.
Additional requirements apply to Honors students who engage in traditional research projects and creative thesis projects. Students should consult these guidelines as they begin gathering collaborators.
4. Public Presentation
Every student is required to present their work to the public at the Honors Symposium or a professional academic conference. See Public Presentation for more information.
(Effective for students beginning 499A in Spring 2014 and later.)
Submission of Materials:
Rather than collectively submitting one set of documents, each student is required to submit a separate copy of the following documents to the Honors Program Office by the appropriate deadline. See Submitting the Project for more details.
1. Final Document(s)
Review your department’s project guidelines and adhere to the advisor(s) approved formatting requirements in submitting the written component of the project. Instructions for formatting and submitting the completed project are located here: http://www.jmu.edu/honorsprog/shp-info.shtml.
2. Title Page
This must be submitted in hard copy format, and include signatures of all committee members. It also should indicate the date and the format of the public presentation.