February 15, 2018
The National Collegiate Honors Council held its 52nd annual conference themed “Just Honors” last November in Atlanta, Georgia. With a focus on exploring justice as an academic endeavor and also the role honors can serve in addressing issues of access, equity, and technology in education. The NCHC is a respected organization that is dedicated to supporting and promoting undergraduate honors education.
The John V. Roach Honors College was represented at the conference by current students Tymerra Coleman, Bethany Pierce, Meraleigh Randle, Courtney Franz, Brian Niebuhr, Iris Yang, Claire Nguyen and Becky Owens. Diane Snow, Dean of the College, also attended, in addition to faculty members Rob Garnett, Dan Williams, Wendy Williams, Beata Jones and Peggy Watson. Honors College supporters Mark and Linda Wassenich attended as presenters.
Coleman, a sophomore Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies major, was especially enthused about the conference’s focus on addressing issues in access, equality, and technology in education. She grew interested in diversity and underlying bias in education after taking Dr. Lynn Hampton’s Honors class, “US Schooling in American Society” and began to research campus perceptions of TCU’s diversity and inclusiveness.
Coleman conducted interviews both online and in-person with current TCU students and distributed an online survey to gather insights. She presented her results in a poster outlining unofficial and unintended lessons and values that students learn in school, known as the “hidden curriculum.” Among her findings, she learned that many students thought TCU lacked inclusivity and access for those with disabilities and that students perceived a lack of diversity within individual sports – most notably cheerleading and the dance team.
As a result of her research, Coleman is now working to expand her scope of understanding by conducting additional in-person interviews about a wider variety of inclusiveness topics. She hopes to use the findings of her research to develop a tactic to improve perceptions of inclusiveness on TCU’s campus.
This conference was Coleman’s first, and she enjoyed the diverse topics presented by her peers. The most interesting presentation she attended? Fellow TCU Honors student Courtney Franz’s discussion on service learning at Como Community Center, in which she considered the value of integrating learning and community service. “I didn’t realize that service learning was a thing,” Coleman said. She noted that she sees service learning as the future of education and thinks that it should work well alongside many kinds of classes – particularly those in the social sciences and humanities.
Will Coleman be back at NCHC this year? She admits that it’s not likely. She wants to focus on completing her research and has instead set her eyes on a possible return in 2019. The 2018 conference is scheduled for Nov. 7-11 in Boston, Massachusetts, and centers on the theme “Learning to Transgress.”