- Associated Press - Sunday, March 27, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Drury University hopes to attract more students to a revamped and expanded program that will no longer require them to use textbooks.

Students instead will be encouraged to work more independently to seek answers and test theories while developing research projects, honors program director Richard Schur said.

Students will have to take at least 27 hours of honors courses, which are electives in addition to their regular requirements for a degree, as well as complete and present a research project, The Springfield News-Leader reported (https://sgfnow.co/22xY6cP ).

The goals are to “get them to develop new skills, get them to do research and get them to ask the questions that aren’t being asked anywhere else in the university,” said Schur, an English professor.

The program emphasizes career preparation, service learning, student research and projects based on solving problems.

“We define honors a little differently than high schools do,” he said. “It’s really more about how the teaching happens and the learning happens.”

Schur hopes the honors program changes will increase the current enrollment of nearly 60 students to more than 120 students with a wide range of interests, good grades and the qualities of curiosity, ambition and independence.

Senior Austin Ross is currently doing a research honors project on how racially divisive events in Ferguson are affecting police training. Ross, who is majoring in criminology, said the project helped him to take a deeper look and a compelling issue. He will present his findings in April at a conference in Indiana.

While honors students can select topics related to their majors, they’re encouraged to explore other interests, with a goal of graduating with a more well-rounded education.

“It’s really refreshing,” Ross said. “It keeps you from burning out in one area.”

The program’s Honors Student Association hosts field trips, dinners and an annual banquet. Honors students also can live together in one residential hall. A new scholarship is being offered to help students complete honors projects.


Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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