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Indiana University Bloomington

Hutton Honors College

 — Indiana University

Contact: Robert Withnell
Undergraduate Coordinator
Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences

1. How is your honors degree program administered? Is there a specific person who acts as coordinator? Is there a faculty committee?

The honors program is administered by the undergraduate coordinator in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. Please contact Dr. Robert Witnell, email:, telephone: 812-855-9339.

2. What are the requirements for admission into your honors program? How are students recruited for your program? May students recommend themselves?

All juniors with a GPA greater than or equal to 3.5 are eligible for participation in the SPHS Departmental Honors Program. In the fall semester, the undergraduate program coordinator sends an email message to the students inviting those students who meet the GPA eligibility criteria to attend a meeting to receive information about the program and to field questions from perspective applicants. Students who wish to apply to the honors program should email the undergraduate co-ordinator. Acceptance to the program requires a GPA greater than or equal to 3.5 and an academic faculty member willing to mentor the student.

3. How does a student graduate with honors from your department?

Students must successfully complete the three SPHS courses for the honors program, one in each of their final three semesters at IU, maintain a cumulative GPA at or above 3.5, and complete an honors thesis with a faculty member.

4. What courses do students take as juniors and before in order to prepare for working on the senior project? How are these honors seminars and courses typically conducted? What are the usual requirements in such courses?

In addition to other courses required of all SPHS majors (including PSY-K 300 Statistical Techniques), four SPHS courses are required for the departmental honors program:

  • SPHS-S 311/Fall: It is recommended that students interested in the honors program take this course prior to admission to the program (e.g., fall of junior year). Preference will be given to applicants who have completed or who are enrolled in this course at the time of their application. Students may also enroll in P211: Psychological and Brain Sciences, to complete the research methods course requirement.
  • SPHS-S 415/Spring: This is a seminar offered in the spring semester of the junior year and usually taught by the undergraduate program coordinator. There are two objectives: a) to learn to think critically about research and research design in speech and hearing sciences; and b) to learn about the on-going research activities conducted by faculty in the department. The first objective is met through assigned readings and seminar discussions during weekly class meetings. The second objective is accomplished via two means. Each student is assigned to two laboratories housed in the department. Here, he or she will work under the tutelage of the faculty member in charge of the laboratory. During the first half of the semester the student will be assigned to one lab. During the second half, he or she will work in the second lab. Another means of exposing the students to the ongoing research in the department is scheduling sessions within the seminar in which each of the different faculty members with active laboratories and interest in working with honors students present brief overviews of the activities in their laboratories.
  • SPHS-S 399/Fall: One-hour meetings, coordinated by the undergraduate program coordinator, are held 2 times during the fall semester of the senior year. Prior to the beginning of the fall semester of the senior year, each student is paired with a mentor. Most of the work for this course is done under the tutelage of the student's mentor. It is during this semester that the student will develop the research project and begin working on the data collection process. During the scheduled class meetings, each student provides an overview and update on the status of their research project, on a rotating basis.
  • SPHS-S 499/Spring: This course meets during the spring semester of the senior year and is coordinated by the undergraduate program coordinator. Periodic progress reports by students are continued from the prior semester. Near the end of the semester, a summary report on the completed honors project is presented to the faculty and students via a poster presentation session.

5. Are there departmental resources available to support internships or research projects related to the senior project?

No, at least not specifically earmarked for honors students. The department sets aside about $1,500 to support student-initiated research, however, and honors students are eligible for this support. In addition, many of our faculty involved in research have their own external support for research and often can provide funds, if needed.

6. What is the nature of the senior project and what are the requirements for completing it?

There are no rigid requirements and the details are left to the individual faculty mentors. However, a commonly accepted or agreed upon "target," adopted by the faculty as a whole, is to conduct an experiment following a review of the literature and to present the details, together with the results and their discussion, in a manuscript that is "thesis-like" in nature. This is usually followed by a poster presentation where all the student present their results to faculty and students from the department.

7. How might the work required for an honors degree be particularly beneficial in future endeavors?

Participation in an independent research experience enhances critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and good understanding of the nature of research in speech and hearing science. Graduation with honors is a testimony to academic excellence and may enhance a student's prospects for acceptance into graduate school.

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