Independent Studies

An Honors Independent Study is a one-credit hour course in which a student initiates, designs, and completes an independent study on a topic of personal interest. The study may be closely linked to a single academic area, or it may be interdisciplinary. Throughout the semester, the student works closely with a faculty mentor with expertise in that area who offers guidance and support.

One of the main goals of an Independent Study is to help students further develop research and critical thinking skills. While completing the study, students are challenged to take a topic that they care about and create a project that not only reflects their interests, but also reflects heavily upon the ideas and findings of others in the field.

The other main goal of an Independent Study is to give students an opportunity to explore their interests. Interests are an important component of personal identity, and as such, they often direct decisions and define career goals.

Throughout the history of the Honors Program, students have completed a wide variety Independent Studies, both in subject and in format. Many students have written research papers on an academic topic, while others have created CDs with original songs, developed presentations for professional conferences, written books, or expressed themselves though their artwork.

Some Honors Independent Studies have even included a community service component. Regardless of the study the student chooses, there are many guidelines in place that are similar for all Honors Independent Studies.

At the beginning of the semester, the student defines a topic, selects a faculty mentor, and submits an Honors Proposal to the Honors Committee that outlines the objectives and timeline of the study. After the proposal is approved, the student works on the study, meeting regularly with his or her faculty mentor to discuss research, receive guidance, and evaluate progress.

When the written portion of the study is complete, the student meets with the Writing Center and with a proofreader to discuss revisions. The student then submits a final copy or their work to their faculty mentor, who assigns the study a grade of A, B, or F. The faculty mentor then submits the study to the Honors Committee, and indicates if he or she recommends approval. The Honors Committee reviews the final submissions and decides whether or not to award Honors credit.

If the study is approved, the class will be counted as one of the four Honors classes the student needs to graduate from the Honors Program, and the student’s work will be bound and placed in the SCC Library. If the study is not approved, the student will still receive the grade that his or her mentor assigned; however, the study will not count as an Honors class and will not be placed in the library.

As an alternative to designing an Independent Study, a student may opt to pursue a topic that is defined in an Honors Contract. An Honors Contract is an Independent Study with a very specific theme that has been developed by a faculty member. The process for completing an Independent Study defined in an Honors Contract is very similar to completing an Independent Study that is designed by the student.

Any student who is interested in seeing past Independent Studies can find them at the SCC Library. There are some excellent past studies, and reading them is a great way to understand what an Independent Study involves. There are a wide variety of past studies available to read at the library, but a few examples include:

  • A criminology student examined murder in the Quad Cities over a 15-year period, discussing trends and presenting hypotheses about gang involvement.
  • An elementary education student created a 70-minute video of American Sign Language students signing children’s stories and nursery rhymes.
  • A radiology student created a 2-hour presentation that was delivered at a professional radiology conference.
  • A psychology student wrote a research paper on the use of corporal punishment with children based on Biblical teachings.
  • An interior design student researched different architectural designs found on structures within the Quad Cities, and created a map and PowerPoint presentation based on her findings.