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Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, v13 n2 p183-195 Fall-Win 2012

While the attractions and advantages of freedom that differentiates honors education from regular teaching are both theoretically and practically significant, the authors' experience at Utrecht University in the Netherlands has demonstrated drawbacks that need to be addressed and resolved in creating effective honors education. Freedom poses certain challenges to students, teachers, and the faculty in general; these challenges include guarding a program's coherence and quality, marketing the freedom in a clear and effective way, and ensuring that students challenge themselves. This essay introduces the challenges and struggles as well as the rewards that have been shaped by the particular contexts of the program within the Faculty of Geosciences, within Utrecht University, and within the Netherlands. The honors program of the Faculty of Geosciences fosters three kinds of freedom: (1) passion; (2) learning strategies and behavior; and (3) involvement. Freedom can only lead to extraordinary achievements when it comes with conditions and requirements. Such requirements have to be clear but also relevant to the students. Freedom needs to be scaffolded, especially in honors programs because critical consumers of education do not necessarily know how to organize education.

Descriptors: Foreign Countries, College Students, Honors Curriculum, College Faculty, Personal Autonomy, Learning Strategies, Student Participation, Positive Attitudes, Student Attitudes, Student Behavior, Creative Thinking

National Collegiate Honors Council. 1100 Neihardt Residence Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 540 North 16th Street, Lincoln, NE 68588. Tel: 402-472-9150; Fax: 402-472-9152; e-mail: nchc[at]; Web site:

Autor: van Gorp, Bouke; Wolfensberger, Marca V. C.; de Jong, Nelleke


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