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Honors Program

Culture of Critical Inquiry -- Principles, Processes and Products
Subjects: Honors Program

Culture of Critical Inquiry - Principles

A wide variety of terms and expressions have been employed to describe the kind of work that will be expected of you as Honors students:

“independent inquiry”

“scholarly inquiry"

scientific inquiry, creative activity, and scholarship”

“hands-on projects of real scientific, scholarly and creative merit”

“undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative accomplishment”

“artistic creation”


The Chameleon Clarinet:cultural and historical perspectives in America through the 20th century       [ DeStefano Undergraduate Research grant recipient]

Academic and scholarly organizations of different types have, over the years, attempted to specify the elements of academic thinking and practice that honors work should encompass. One such model from CASHE [Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education] includes these characteristics:

• Knowledge acquisition, integration, construction, and application

o Dimensions: understanding knowledge from a range of disciplines;

connecting knowledge to other knowledge, ideas, and experiences;

constructing knowledge;

and relating knowledge to daily life

• Cognitive complexity

o Dimensions:  critical thinking;

reflective thinking;

effective reasoning;

and creativity

• Intrapersonal development

o Dimensions:  realistic self-appraisal,


and self-respect;

identity development;

commitment to ethics and integrity

• Interpersonal competence

o Dimensions:  meaningful relationships;


collaboration; and

effective leadership

Fernandez HonorsBiology 

Xenia Fernandez (Biology) with her poster presentation titled "Bcp1 as a possible component of the DNA damage response in Saccharomyces cerevisiae."

CASHE also gives active examples of more specific subdivisions within each of the larger areas,

for example, in the “ Knowledge acquisition, integration, construction, and application” area: 


understanding knowledge from a range of disciplines

 Possesses knowledge of human cultures and the physical world;

possesses knowledge of [a specific] one or more subjects

connecting knowledge to other knowledge, ideas, and experiences

Uses multiple sources of information and their synthesis to solve problems;

knows how to access diverse sources of information such as digital texts, physical texts, observations, and databases

constructing knowledge

 Personalizes learning;

makes meaning from text, instruction, and experience;

uses experience and other sources of information to create new insights;

generates new problem-solving approaches based on new insights;

recognizes one’s own capacity to create new understandings from learning activities and dialogue with others

and relating knowledge to daily life

Seeks new information to solve problems;

 … makes connection between classroom and out-of-classroom learning;

 … provides evidence of knowledge, skills, and accomplishments resulting from formal education, work experience, community service, and volunteer experiences…




Do not hesitate to contact me about anything noted in this very brief overview, or about library resources, or about discovering and using academic information in general.


Patricia B.M. Brennan, Associate Professor / Head of Reference, Adams 204, 456-2810,