The Honours+ Student Manual
Stay on track with this overview of deadlines!
Welcome to Honours+
Dear Honours+ Student,
It is our pleasure to welcome you to Honours+, Maastricht University’s interdisciplinary excellence programme for all Bachelor programme Honours students.
Over the course of six months, participating in the Honours+ programme will offer you plenty of opportunities to challenge yourself, further develop useful academic and professional skills, and explore other academic fields and disciplines in order to broaden your knowledge and expand your academic mindset.
Honours+ was specifically designed to bring Honours students from all faculties together and add value to your bachelor education by doing so.
We have been working hard to organize and coordinate a highly educational but also a fun programme for you and hope you are excited about participating as we are about creating an optimized learning environment for you to flourish in. Honours+ is centrally coordinated by EDLAB, Maastricht University’s institute dedicated to education innovation at UM.
In this student handbook, you will find everything you will need to make your Honours+ experience a grand success. We advise you to read it carefully and make sure you are familiar with the information at all times.
We wish you a fruitful and inspiring Honours+ endeavour and look forward to seeing you and all that Honours+ helped you accomplish at the Honours+ Closing Event in May.
The Honours+ Central Management Team
Guidelines to Being a H+ Student
First things first; in order to help you get the most out of your Honours+ experience, we wish to provide you with basic guidelines and an explanation of assets we believe will enable you to become an honours student truly worthy of the additional plus.
Participating in Honours+ asks more of you academically as well as in the “effective teamwork” department. Honours+ will offer you a chance to supplement your education in a highly valuable manner. However, you will only reap the benefits of the programme if you put in a certain amount of effort, dedication, commitment, and time.
In our view, the ideal Honours+ student:
- is able to make a serious commitment and willing to go the extra mile;
- has impeccable time management skills or the drive to develop them;
- is a flexible, exceptionally reliable, and people-oriented team player;
- is eager to learn, grow, and work on personal/academic development;
- sees problems as an exciting challenge;
- is able to apply creativity and innovative solutions to said challenges;
- is able to translate complex academic content into intelligent but accessible representations;
- is able to academically connect with others across disciplines and work together towards a common objective.
The Honours+ programme offers you plenty of opportunities to work on developing or fine-tuning this set of assets. Wrapping up your bachelor’s education as a true Honours+ student will give you a competitive edge as an excellent student, with not just outstanding academic achievements but also a set of useful skills that are valuable in any form of graduate education or professional occupation following your bachelor’s degree.
Throughout Honours+, you will be meeting and working with academic Supervisors, UM employees, fellow bachelor honours students, the Honours+ Central Management Team, and other (external) professionals. All Honours+ students are expected to behave in a polite and professional manner towards all parties involved with Honours+. You will soon find that maintaining a courteous and professional demeanour in both concord and conflict will go a long way and always enable you to achieve the desired results in the end.
Guidelines for professional behaviour:
- Communicate politely and respectfully with everyone at all times.
- Take your commitments seriously and be a reliable team player.
- Give and receive feedback in a strictly constructive manner.
- Always aim to resolve any sort of conflict in a fair and effective manner.
- Be honest and ethical.
Honours+ is part of your honours education. This means that each faculty has cleared 5 ECTS within their existing honours programme, to make room for Honours+. It is therefore an integral part of your honours education, not on top of your honours education.
Taking into account Honours+, your faculty honours education, your regular curriculum, as well as any other extracurricular or private activities that might fill up your weekly calendar, it is important to realize that participating in Honours+ will require your commitment and dedication.
Overall, Honours+ has been designed to require 140 hours (the equivalence of 5 ECTS) of your time, spread out over the course of approx. 6 months (November until Mid-May). It is important to note that poor time management will most likely not only affect you, but your team members and your Supervisor as well. Be sure to manage your time well and securely schedule your activities.
- ±10 hours for attending mandatory Central Events;
- ±6 hours for attending (mandatory) workshops;
- Remaining hours (±124) for the team challenge.
Honours+ offers a workshop on time management and stress management, to help you prioritise and manage your time and tasks wisely. However, if you ever feel that your commitments are too overwhelming, come and talk to H+ Central Management. We can help you prioritise structure and refocus your H+ related tasks, which may give you peace of mind and renewed energy.
An exception this year, are the Honours+ students from FHML, who are joining Honours+ voluntarily (on a pilot basis). The FHML students will participate only in the team challenge and events (no workshops) and will be rewarded with 3 ECTS, to be traded in for an elective course at their faculty’s honours programme.
Mandatory & Exceptions
You were selected by your faculty and deemed a suitable candidate for the honours programme (at your faculty and Honours+).
However, participating in Honours+ is not without obligation. Whereas you are entirely free to plan team meetings when they best suit you (and we will facilitate you as much as we can), your teammates and (on set occasions) your Supervisor, there are several programme components that require mandatory attendance. Some of these programme components are more flexible than others.
For example, you are required to attend at least 2 workshops. The workshops are offered several times on different dates and time slots to ensure that every student is able to attend. Your attendance is also mandatory at the Honours+ Central Events. These events are organized on set dates. For specific information on mandatory programme elements, see the section on ‘Assessment’.
In case a student is unable to 1) attend the required number of workshops, or 2) attend a Central Event due to a serious personal situation or highly important prior engagement, he/she may make up for missing a workshop or event by submitting a substitute assignment.
Students should email the Honours+ Central Management Team in case exceptional circumstances apply. Upon evaluation of their request, they may receive this substitute assignment.
In any case, students are advised to contact the Honours+ Central Management Team and their Faculty Honours Coordinator whenever private, personal circumstances (threaten to) get in the way of their participation in Honours+.
We understand life can throw a roadblock at you and we are always willing to look for a solution together if a student informs us in a timely manner.
Assessment occurs on the basis of 1) your Supervisor’s evaluation of you and of your team (both procedural as in your performance as a team player (in part based on peer review) and the quality of the end product), 2) formal requirements.
In order to successfully complete Honours+, all students must fulfil a number of requirements.
The student or the student team:
- Student: has attended at least 2 workshops.
- Student: has attended all mandatory Central Events: the Kick-Off, Midterm Peer Discussions, Student Intervision Evening and Closing Event.
- Student: has contributed sufficiently to the team challenge and has proven himself/herself a valuable team member.
- Student team: submitted the final report and outcome of the team challenge before the deadline.
To fulfil the requirements 3 and 4, each student will receive a grade (scale 1-10, with > 6 = pass) from their respective Supervisor, comprised of:
- 60%: The team’s performance with regards to the final report;
- 40% : The student’s own personal and individual contribution.
Your Supervisor will fill out an assessment form for each individual student, which includes feedback on the team challenge and the individual performance of the students. This assessment form includes five different criteria which the Supervisor will give points for. The criteria that will be graded are:
- Relevance – based on the choices you made;
- Logic – based on the structure of your reasoning;
- Added Value – based on the novelty and insights of your suggestions;
- Applicability – based on the feasibility of your suggestions;
- Communication – based on how you make yourself understood.
Upon successfully fulfilling the above mentioned assessment criteria, you will have successfully completed the Honours+ programme, and receive a ‘pass’ for the programme. A ‘pass’ for Honours+ is an integral part of the successful completion of your faculty honours programme. Please note that you will not receive a numerical grade for Honours+, due to the way the course appears on the transcripts of the faculties. You will be informed however of the numerical grade you were given by your Supervisor and his/her feedback on your team’s and individual performance.
H+ during Covid-19
Due to the measures surrounding Covid-19, Honours+ will look slightly different in the coming period than in previous years.
Some components of the programme will physically take place at EDLAB’s Tapijn X Building, while others are organized in an online setting. Naturally, the welfare, health and safety of students and teachers as well as the quality of education will be safeguarded and all government guidelines will be followed. Directional signs in the Tapijn X building indicate in what directions you may walk, and we ask everyone to keep in mind the 1.5 metres social distancing rule.
For the educational components that are organised on campus, such as certain events or workshops, we expect that students who are able to come to Maastricht will actually be present. Students who are unable to come to Maastricht due to international travel restrictions, health risks or physical symptoms will be provided with an alternative, if they inform H+ Central Management Team on time.
Please be aware, the Corona crisis can always throw us an unexpected curveball, which changes things again. Keep an eye on your student email for any changes in the programme related to the Corona crisis.
Please stay home if you experience (mild) Corona-like symptoms or if you live with anyone who has tested positive, and follow UM’s protocol regarding COVID-19 infections as of 1 June 2020.
The Honours+ Student Team
The student team
“Teamwork makes the dream work.”
Before the Honours+ Kick-Off opening event on October 29th, you will have learned already which team you have been assigned to and who your teammates are. At the Kick-Off, you will get an opportunity to get together and get to know each other better.
You will be embarking on the Honours+ journey together, as a team of students from different disciplines and academic backgrounds. Not only does teamwork allow for brainstorming solutions much better than working by yourself ever will, working in a team also means that together you surely have enough time, resources, and mental capacity to get the job done right. We sincerely hope you are all able to experience working in your Honours+ team positively, and use this opportunity to learn from other faculties’ honours students.
Even though teamwork generally is a very rewarding experience, it can also be challenging at times. Especially in a situation with limited time, added pressure of researching a topic out of your regular curriculum, and dealing with team members from different disciplines/academic backgrounds.
This is all part of the learning experience, which Honours+ first and foremost is. The good news is that there is a solution for everything and since it is a learning experience, Honours+ Central Management will try to support you in any way possible.
However, if you feel your team is not functioning optimally or you as a person cannot function optimally, make sure to speak up in a constructive way and do it as soon as possible! Always try to prevent any issues from escalating. Give each other feedback and respect each other’s (cultural) difference. When things (appear to) go south, don’t be afraid or hesitate to contact the Honours+ Central Management Team.
How to be a team player and role of the student team
The student team is responsible for planning and execution of the challenge, under the guidance of the Supervisor. Most likely, team roles will be defined among you naturally, or perhaps the division of tasks is more of a guided process. Either way, it is good to be aware of the different team roles and what the varying responsibilities mean. Throughout the execution of the team challenge, the team leader will work closely together with the Supervisor to steer the team in the desired direction.
How to be a team player?
- Have an open mind and go into the teamwork experience with positivity and readiness to succeed;
- Commit to your team and all agreements made within your team;
- Schedule and manage your time wisely, so that none of your teammates are ever left hanging;
- Communicate, and communicate clearly. In case of conflict, take a proactive and effective approach toward solving the conflict and setting your team up to succeed in the future;
- Be reliable. Always be on time for team meetings and meet your deadlines.
- Do not be afraid to be vulnerable. You are all students and you are here to learn. Be open about struggles you are dealing with that might affect your work and thus you team. You will be surprised to see how open people are to offer help.
Effective teamwork has never been more important than it is today, as our world is facing unknown challenges related to and consequences of the Covid-19 crisis. Teamwork remains a key tool to face these challenges head-on, since working in teams — especially those with different skill-sets and backgrounds — sparks innovation, enables agility, and leads to better outcomes.
However, when it comes to working in a team that is not able or allowed to come together physically, there are some things to take a bit extra care of to ensure efficient and effective team functioning.
- Different time zones: Some students are not (yet) able to come to Maastricht, which means that team members might be working from different parts of the world. Be aware of each other’s time differences, and plan your meetings on moments that accommodate different time zones. The scheduled H+ slot on Wednesdays from 18.00-20.00hrs for example.
- Communication tools: When it comes to tips for managing remote teams, nothing beats efficient communication. Virtual team communication can best be handled with the right communication tools, and it is vital that you discuss early on in your group work which tools to use.
- 🗨️ Chat tools – for asking quick questions and clarifying matters about your work.
- 💻 Skype or Zoom – for carrying out video meetings/brainstorm sessions with your team.
- 📧 Email – for the more official correspondence, like arranging the time for group reports and one-on-one meetings, or reporting to your Supervisor or communication with H+ Central Management.
- Management tools: There are plenty of free tools for managing your remote team work. Such a tool will greatly facilitate your project/challenge, task, and team management, as well as ensure you save time by working in one document at the same time. Some free examples are Slack, Clockify and Trello.
- Virtual team culture: Virtual team culture is just as important as a standard team culture – the group of people within a virtual team will still have to form some kind of understanding, as well as build mutual trust.
- Try to establish (virtual) friendships – if you all live in the same country, you can organize get-togethers every couple of weeks. Organize a team dinner, grab a movie together, and get to know each other beyond your Honours+ experience. If meeting in person is not possible due to Covid-19, try to arrange a virtual team dinner, join a virtual Pubquiz or other teambuilding activities. If you have a nice idea that you would need a little bit of funding for, ask H+ Central Management, we might just be able to help you out.
- Establish some ground rules for your virtual meetings. Basic things such as, turn your camera on so that genuine interaction with your team members is possible, take care to be appropriately dressed, do sufficient beforehand preparation of the meeting, be punctual, pay attention to others when speaking and make sure to look at your camera. If it is improper for a face-to-face meeting, then it does not work for video either. To avoid too many people talking over each other, it can be helpful to establish a host/chair for online meetings, and another team member to take notes.
Challenges and obstacles you may face
Participating in Honours+ will most often than not, be a pleasant experience. Working together with equally motivated and high performing students while picking up useful skills and knowledge will definitely expand your academic horizon and elevate your knowledge.
However, we cannot deny the fact that you will potentially also find yourself facing certain obstacles, when working with such diverse teams with different academic and cultural backgrounds, that we feel you need to be wary of.
- Honours students are in general extremely motivated and versatile, which leads them to dedicate their time to a lot of diverse activities to build up their curriculum, next to maintaining a high GPA. This might also lead to stress and too much pressure for some. We provide a workshop on Stress Management within Honours+ that we specifically recommend to these students.
- Trying to schedule team meetings with students from 5 different faculties is a challenge in itself. While it is an excellent planning exercise for students, and we try to facilitate you as much as we can by blocking a timeslot in schedules, the reality is that many teams will find the planning aspect one of the greater challenges in the programme. Try to be as creative as you can in scheduling your team meetings.
- Team members may have different disciplinary backgrounds, different motivations and aspirations, and different cultural backgrounds. Effective collaboration relies in large part on interdisciplinary communication. Communication across disciplines is not always easy. For example, implicit misunderstandings may arise concerning what is deemed a valuable question, what are valid data, what kind of result should emerge from the project and so on (Menken & Keestra, 2016). When performing under pressure, these differences might be a cause for friction within the team. Try to avoid these frictions by careful communication.
- Over time, team members’ roles may change from being core (fully dedicated to the research goal) to peripheral (committed to this research goal, but also working in one or more other teams), and vice-versa. This may cause extra stress on students that stay fully committed.
Of course we all understand that in a team, everyone has different schedules and peaks in their workload. Since you are working in a team and every member needs to put in the required number of hours, it is vital that you communicate timely when you see an issue arising in your calendar with regards to availability and workload. Agreements can be made within the team to divide tasks accordingly and exchange and shift tasks in times of high pressure, if possible.
Also, the assessment of the Team Challenge by the Supervisor will take each student’s individual contribution to the team and their work into account, to avoid freeriding as much as possible. With Honours+ it cannot be stressed enough that this programme is an integral part of the students’ regular faculty honours programme. Failing Honours+ will lead to having to compensate for the missing credits at their faculty.
- In time, measurements related to the Covid-19 crisis, might again become more severe. This might have its effect on the well-being of certain team members. Please take care of each other, and if you feel that you are not feeling well or if you notice a team member not being well, contact H+ Central Management Team as soon as possible. These Covid-19 measurements might also have an effect on your team’s methodology of choice and possible approach. Take this into account beforehand when setting up your methodology.
If at any point you need support or advice on how to deal with a certain issue, please inform the Honours+ Central Management Team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will gladly provide advice, help you out or intervene if necessary.
The Supervisor plays a crucial part in the team dynamics and the overall Honours+ experience. The main concern of your Honours+ Supervisor is your team’s learning experience during the programme.
Because of the supporting role of the Supervisor and the safe learning environment he/she provides within Honours+, we require the Supervisor to be physically present in Maastricht during November-May to regularly attend team meetings and be available for questions you might have. We also recommend Supervisors to be available during some evenings, to help facilitating team meetings.
- Because of the interdisciplinary character of Honours+, the main role of the Supervisor is to monitor an equal input from, and interaction between, the various disciplines and guarantee sufficient challenge and academic depth.
- The Supervisor doesn’t necessarily have knowledge to a detailed level on all disciplines, but needs to stimulate the students themselves to create links between the various disciplines in the team.
- The Supervisor is not a sole source of required knowledge, but a broker of knowledge throughout the execution of the challenge.
- Furthermore, throughout Honours+, the Supervisor will support the team in planning, developing, and completing the challenge. The Supervisor does not take over the role of the team leader. The students will appoint a team leader in their team. However, the Supervisor is asked to intervene when the team doesn’t display enough initiative and he/she stimulates the students to act pro-actively.
- The Supervisor takes the role of steering and guiding the group, provides for a safe learning environment, and is sensitive towards team dynamics.
- The Supervisor also initiates and chairs the team’s kick-off meeting and midterm feedback session.
- The Supervisor is in close contact with the Honours+ Central Management Team, in order to assure monitoring of the overall programme process and team development.
- The Supervisor is also responsible for assessing the interdisciplinary team challenge and as such, the team’s performance (see also section on “Assessment”). The final report will be assessed on relevance, creativity, logic, added value or novelty of insight and suggestions, applicability and communication. Students will be assessed by the Supervisor both on their team performance and their individual performance and input, to avoid freeloading within the teams as much as possible.
The Supervisors is a determining factor in your overall Honours+ experience, and H+ Central Management takes this very seriously. In order to be as transparent as possible, students ought to be aware of the fact that Honours+ requires not just an honours mentality from students, but from the Supervisors as well. They are required to invest a certain number of hours of supervising Honours+ students, partake in a training programme to support the students to their best ability and communicate regularly with Central Management on their team’s progress.
If any time during your Honours+ experience, you feel that there is an issue with your Supervisor, come and talk to H+ Central Management about this, which will always be confidential. We can help clear up misunderstandings and put you back on track.
Team Meetings & Team building
In order to successfully work on the Honours+ team challenge, we advise students to regularly meet up (offline or virtually) as a team (at least once a week). It is also advisable to meet with your Supervisor at least once every 2 or 3 weeks (preferably in person or via Zoom/Skype), and keep your Supervisor otherwise updated on your progress. The initiative to schedule these meetings lies with the students primarily.
Try to be creative with these meetings as much as you can. Schedule a (virtual) meeting over dinner. It is not just beneficial for the execution of your challenge, but for team dynamics as well. When scheduling meetings with your Supervisor, try to be sensitive towards the times of the meetings. Many Supervisors have family obligations, so try to inform your Supervisor in a timely manner and avoid making appointments with him/her at very late hours or during the weekend.
We would like to facilitate you to meet up, as much as we can. All participating faculties were requested by the Executive Board and Management Team to block a timeslot especially for Honours+ in every participating student’s schedule. This time-slot is blocked with an Honours+ course code, every Wednesday, between 18:00-20:00 hrs. We encourage students to make use of this timeslot for team meetings, as much as possible.
There are rooms and a Common Room to reserve at Tapijn X, should you wish to meet. In case you wish to use the facilities, please send an email to email@example.com and we will check the availability.
Team Kick-Off Meeting & The Teambuilding Assignment
The actual working on the Team Challenge starts with a Team Kick-Off Meeting with the entire Honours+ team (Supervisor and students).
During this meeting you not only get to be more acquainted with your fellow students and Supervisor, but you will also need to discuss at least the following issues as a team, to make sure you are off to a good start:
- Introduction: Make sure each student introduces himself/herself and explains their academic background and what added value his/her discipline could potentially bring to the challenge.
- Expectation management: What do you expect from each other, what can the students expect from their Supervisor and the challenge? The team can also set rules for behaviour, how to proceed if someone last-minute cannot attend a scheduled meeting, how often the team wishes to meet to work on the challenge etc.
- Team roles: In addition to knowledge, experience and skills, individuals have different behavioural traits or characteristics they bring to the way they carry out their work and these can be aligned to particular roles in the team: some are very good at seeing a big picture, others very good at detailed work. Some are very oriented towards action – good at just getting things done; others are natural communicators and networkers. The need for these different roles will emerge at different times and it is worth considering the composition of your team to ensure you have a balance of strengths.
- Communication: Discuss and agree upon how you as a team will work together during the Honours+ programme. This can vary from practical issues (use of email, phone, dates of meetings, etc.) to the way you will interact with your Supervisor (how often does he/she expect an update and in which way) and how to provide each other with feedback (how to deal with conflicts, free-riding etc.)
A checklist was drawn up in order to facilitate this meeting, and to use to support the team and the Supervisor. You can find the checklist in the Appendix and on the website https://edlab.nl/excellence/honoursplus/ (current student section, under “documents”).
Secondly, the team may use this Team Kick-Off meeting to complete a teambuilding assignment, to get team functioning off to a perfect start. Most teams benefit from an extra team building assignment once the initial ice has been broken during the plenary Honours+ Kick-Off event. Nevertheless, this is an optional assignment, for those teams willing to go the extra mile.
The Honours+ teambuilding assignment is a fun 1-hour activity, which focuses on effective team communication and problem-solving skills and functions as an icebreaker for the team as well. The students can email firstname.lastname@example.org, to receive the materials for the teambuilding assignment.
You may opt to do the team building assignment during a virtual team meeting, or book a room at EDLAB (email email@example.com to do so), use the EDLAB common room, or use an alternate location of your own preference. Upon completion, you may request the solution of the assignment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Midterm Feedback Meeting
To improve as a team, and have a better team dynamics, it is important to regularly evaluate and share information about the different situations and processes faced by the team. Within Honours+, we aim to facilitate this process by means of a Midterm Feedback Meeting, to be scheduled between Mid-February and the end of March.
During this meeting, all students and the Supervisor are present, and by means of providing feedback, the team will identify the gaps between the ideal standard of functioning as a team and the current situation, and then work towards bridging these gaps.
In order to facilitate this meeting, EDLAB has provided a tool, the so-called Feedback³, developed by Design Museum CUBE together with Maastricht University’s PREMIUM students.
Feedback³ is a set of 7 cubes that will help make your Midterm Feedback session easier, more natural and fun! Each of the cubes addresses a topic that should be addressed when talking about the team process, ensuring that all of the important issues will be discussed. The cubes each have 6 statements written on them, which will provide a baseline for the discussion. This tool provides you with a new way of doing your feedback-sessions, but it is up to your team to decide how to use them. You can find more information via this video: https://youtu.be/9oIhQg7jQhs
The actual 7 cubes, and a booklet that provides you with the rules and guidelines for this session, can be found on the Honours+ website (current student section under “Documents”). You can either agree that each of your team members prepares a cube (cut and glue it) and bring it to the meeting, or make them on the spot, which provides for a teambuilding moment as well.
In total, the Midterm Feedback Meeting should take approximately 1-1,5 hour. You may use a room at EDLAB (email email@example.com to do so), use the EDLAB common room, use the Tapijn learning spaces, or use an alternate location.
Team Closing Session
At the end of the programme, after the Closing Event has taken place, we request that students schedule one final meeting with their Supervisor to openly discuss their challenge outcome, group functioning and overall evaluation of the past months.
The H+ Interdisciplinary Team Challenge
The Team Challenge
Once entering the labour market, the majority of you will have to work in an interdisciplinary context, whether it will be in academia or otherwise. Even more important, expectations are that your generation will be faced with unprecedented complex (global) challenges, such as access to health care, social cohesion, safety and security, and climate change. Exactly these type of challenges especially requires an interdisciplinary research approach and the involvement of multiple parties in order to be solved or at least dealt with. These complex issues are typified by conflicting values, mounting political pressure, and major economic interests.
In Honours+, we aim at offering you a first research experience to approach/tackle such (global) challenges in an interdisciplinary setting, under the professional guidance by staff members from Maastricht University, the so-called Supervisor.
The meaning of ‘research’ in this context is, to have students actively finding information new to themselves. Underlying this notion is the ‘degree of knowness’ of knowledge: whether research involves developing knowledge that is commonly known to humanity, commonly unknown or totally unknown. We see that even inquiry into the commonly known is all part of a process of research skill development. And to overlook the development of skills in earlier years of education is to miss the potential development of skills required of researchers or by industry and employment. (Willison, John; O’Regan, Kerry; and Kuhn, Sara K., “Researcher Skill Development Framework”, 2018).
The Challenges you will be working on in Honours+, are based upon and linked to the Dutch National Research Agenda, and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Furthermore, the setup of the Honours+ Challenge is aimed at building bridges between education and research, and at fostering closer links between researchers, students and disciplines.
We now call upon you as honours students, the brilliant minds of the future, to make a start to this plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.
A true Honours+ Team Challenge:
- Is a challenging, academic and current case, issue or problem, with societal relevance;
- Is linked to UN’s SDG’s and the Dutch National Research Agenda;
- Pushes students outside their comfort zone;
- Calls for an innovative solution, exploration or approach;
- Allows and facilitates an interdisciplinary approach, with an equal input of the involved disciplines;
- Requires a time investment of 125 hours per student;
- Can be approached along the lines of the scientific method(s);
- Either calls for a solution (applied research), or aims to advance knowledge on the phenomenon (theoretical research).
Applied Research or Theoretical Research
The definitive research question that your team will be working on depends on the team’s interpretation of the challenge and your plan for tackling it. Honours+ Challenges may imply doing either applied research or theoretical research.
With a theoretical research focus, your aim for the Challenge is to contribute to the advancement in scientific knowledge for the complete understanding of a topic or certain phenomenon. It is completely theoretical, and focuses on basic principles and testing theories. These Challenges are aligned towards collecting information that has universal applicability. Therefore, it aims to adding new knowledge to the already existing knowledge.
With an applied research focus, your Challenge is directed towards providing a solution to specific problems or an attempt to solve these problems. The research is not done for its own sake, but with the specific aim of solving the problem. It is research that can be applied to real-life situations. It studies a particular set of circumstances, so as to relate the results to its corresponding circumstances.
The category your Challenge most adequately belongs to was made clear at the time of requesting your Challenge preferences in order to ensure all students were able to best choose the Challenge of their preference.
Whether your Challenge has an applied research focus, or a theoretical research focus, there are certain fixed steps every type of research goes through, upon which the structure of Honours+ is based as well. The most common steps your research will go through, are the following, and the deadlines in the H+ checklist are based on these steps as well.
1.Question formulation & Clarifying research focus.
The importance of this first stage in the research process is often underestimated by many students. However, it is of high importance to have a clear eye on what the goal of your research is. The choice between the formulation of research questions and the development of hypotheses depends on your research approach. In order to avoid problems at this stage, get your research questions or hypotheses confirmed by your Supervisor before moving forward with the work.
Do not underestimate the time you will dedicate to literature review, because more often than not, it will be the longest stage in your research process. It is advisable to do parts of the literature review even before the formulation of research aims and objective (you will want to check if exactly the same research problem has been addressed before and in what way). Narrowing down and formulating a more specific research problem is quite often not possible without reviewing relevant sources. However, the majority of your literature review will be done after you have formulated your research question, or at least after you identified the direction and some keywords necessary for further inquiry.
2. Select your research methods & Collect data
Once you know the aim of your research and your final research question, you have come to the stage where collection method(s) need to be selected, based on the advantages and disadvantages associated with several alternative data collection methods. What method works best, given your Challenge topic and research question? You will need to come up with a plan on how to collect data with maximum efficiency, and effectiveness, and draft up a plan on how to best organize the information and make sense of the collected data.
Topics that you may need to tackle during this step:
- What is the required information to answer your research question and what potential data sources for each piece of information do you need.
- Specify how you will sample these data sources (process of selecting units, e.g. people, from a population of interest so that by studying the sample you may fairly generalize your results back to the population from which they were chosen.)
- Select data collection methods.
- Design data collection instruments/forms/questionnaires and procedures corresponding to each data collection method.
- Specify data collection, coding, and analysis procedures.
- Plan how you will address validity and reliability issues together with your Supervisor.
Once you have a detailed methodology, it is time for the most demanding part of research. Collecting and analyzing information will require extensive brain capacity of the team.
Usually, each type of scientific research, has to go through the ethical review committees within the university. However, the research done within Honours+, was cleared from this. We would like to recommend however to always carefully reflect on whether/how anonymity and confidentiality can be guaranteed for the study participants.
3. Analysis & Interpretation of data.
Analysis of data plays an important role in the achievement of research aim and objectives. It means that you are going to convert quantitative and qualitative data into information that has meaning and value in light of your research question and goals.
In qualitative research using interviews, focus groups, experiments etc., data analysis is going to involve identifying common patterns within the responses and critically analyzing them in order to achieve research aims and objectives. Data analysis for quantitative studies, on the other hand, involves critical analysis and interpretation of figures and numbers, and attempts to find rationale behind the emergence of main findings. Comparisons of primary research findings to the findings of the literature review are critically important for both types of studies.
4. Reaching conclusions.
Now that you have gathered and analyzed your data, and have tried to find patterns within the responses, or have looked for a rationale behind the emergence of main findings, it is time to draw your conclusions. You will have to justify why you believe that your research aims have been achieved or what limitations were involved and potential suggestions for future research.
5. Share your work.
The most common end products of research are a report and a presentation, that allow for you sharing your knowledge. Next to these two, Honours+ also requires you to visualize your findings into a poster, to exhibit during the Closing Event. Make sure you hand in drafts of every above-mentioned step to your Supervisor on time, to avoid not having enough time to implement his/her feedback at the very end of the programme.
Team Challenge outcome
By working on the Challenge during the Honours+ programme, following the scientific method, you will get a grasp on the interdisciplinary collaboration, together with all the opportunities and challenges it provides. This learning process is vital, and the results of it are to be put in an academic report.
Furthermore, Honours+ requests each student team to translate their findings into an A0 poster, and a presentation during the Closing Event.
These formats aim at teaching you how to present results to non-expert audiences and peers. This process of transfer of knowledge begotten during the Honours+ programme, and using it to make an impact and impression, is something we wish our Honours+ students to gain further experience in.
Additionally, since multiple teams will be working on the same Challenge topic (but on their own specific research question), it means that teams will be able to compare each other’s progress throughout Honours+, are able to exchange knowledge and experience on the topics during the events. Additionally, they will be competing for the most value adding findings during the Closing Event, thus creating a system of peer support.
Honours+ defines general guidelines for the outcome of the team Challenge. The further refinement of the style of the academic report needs to be defined in close interaction between Supervisor and students. Honours+ requires the following outcome (1-3):
1. Academic report, that:
- displays an interdisciplinary understanding of the researched subject, reflecting all involved disciplines and clearly shows what the added-value was of every discipline involved in tackling the challenge;
- includes a proposed potential solution to the problem (applied research challenges); or
- includes new and value-adding knowledge to the already existing knowledge on this topic (theoretical research challenges);
- contains between 6000-8000 words;
- is written in accordance with the APA guideline;
- is sent to the Supervisor and firstname.lastname@example.org,
before the deadline (Friday, May 7th 23:59hrs).
Based on the outcome of the scientific exploration of the team Challenge, each team presents their outcome during a 5-minute pitch during the Closing Event. Challenges with a focus on applied research will focus on presenting their recommendations or proposed solutions to the proposed problem. Challenges with a focus on theoretical research will focus on presenting the added value of the new insights they gathered on the topic, contributing to the already existing knowledge.
The best presentation within every Challenge topic will win a team prize. We challenge you to impress your peers and UM’s academic staff and set wheels in motion! The students’ pitch during the Closing Event will be supported by a PowerPoint presentation:
All pitches should at least include the following topics:
- A short description of what has been accomplished, the team process;
- Challenges with a focus on applied research: recommendations or proposed solutions to the proposed problem.
- Challenges with a focus on theoretical research: new insights the team gathered on the topic, contributing to the already existing knowledge and the added value of this knowledge.
Submitting the slides:
- One member of the student team emails their PowerPoint file to email@example.com, before the deadline (Friday, May 7th, 23:59)
- When submitted, the pitch has a duration of 5 minutes, no more, no less.
- The slides are based on the team’s Challenge outcome.
- The team is free to be as creative as they want to (it is highly appreciated). As long as it helps getting the message across and is relevant to the story.
3. A0 poster:
Each team visualizes their outcome in an A0 poster, to be exhibited during the Closing Event, with the following criteria:
- One member of the student team emails the digital file of the poster to firstname.lastname@example.org, before the deadline (Friday, May 7th, 23:59);
- One member of the student team hands in the printed poster at EDLAB, Tapijn Building X, room 0.003, before the deadline (Tuesday, May 11th 16:00);
- A0 format (118,9 cm x 84,1 cm);
- The poster adequately presents the Challenge and outcome (it is clear what the objective, process, and outcome was);
- Consistent and aesthetically pleasing layout;
- Effective use of images, colors, and fonts;
- Limited use of large text-boxes;
- Source citations in proper APA-style.
Printing costs for the poster will be reimbursed by Honours+. In order to do so, keep the original receipts, and download and fill out the reimbursement form on the H+ website (current students, documents section). Then hand in the signed form and the original receipt (no scans) at EDLAB.
In order to help you develop practical applicable academic skills that will be useful to you now as well as in your academic and professional future, Honours+ offers you a number of workshops. All workshops will be conducted in English, and take approximately 3 hours.
All Honours+ students are required to attend at least 2 workshops out of the many different workshop topics that we offer (see “Assessment” section for specific requirements). Attendance is registered using signup sheets at the workshops. Please make sure to always sign the attendance sheet, because your attendance cannot and will not be verified otherwise. Attending more workshops than the required amount is allowed, provided there are spots open.
- Creative Problem Solving;
- Teamwork & Constructive Communication;
- Stress Management;
- Time Management;
- Science of Wellbeing;
- Debating Skills;
- Presentation Skills;
- Speed Reading;
How to sign up
To sign up for workshops, go to www.edlab.nl (Honours+) and navigate to the ‘Current Students’ page. There you will find, amongst other useful information for your Honours+ journey, the link to the workshop registration page. This page includes the workshops’ description, preparation material if applicable, and a link to the signup sheet.
Please note that once you are signed up it is not possible to cancel your registration yourself. If you must cancel your registration please email email@example.com with your request. Registration or cancellation of a registration is allowed up to 24 hours in advance of the workshop date and time.
Central & Informal Community Events
Over the course of the programme, Honours+ organizes several activities for all Honours+ students, Supervisors and coordinators. These events contain educational and/or assessment elements and offer opportunities for students and UM honours staff to meet, connect and create an honours community.
Remember! Your attendance at the Central events (Kick-Off, Midterm Peer Discussions, Student Intervision and Closing) is mandatory and a necessary requirement to fulfil if you want to successfully complete the Honours+ programme. Mark your calendars! If you cannot attend a central event, please refer to the section on ‘Exceptional Circumstances’. The informal community events are free to join if you wish to spend more time with fellow Honours students.
Please refer to the Honours+ website, your student email account, and Facebook for official invitations and definitive dates, places, and times.
Central Event: Kick-Off of the programme
We want to officially welcome you to Honours+ and kick-off the programme together with a bang! Students will get an opportunity to first meet and get to know each other.
Additionally, there will be an inspiring webinar on interdisciplinary teamwork and how to lift your group work from multi-disciplinary to interdisciplinary.
Lastly, we have organized an enjoyable group activity to facilitate the formation of excellent team dynamics within your team, right off the bat. We hope to inspire you to go into the Honours+ experience with an enthusiastic approach and a good foundation for pleasant and effective teamwork.
Central Event: Midterm Peer Discussion Evening
Halfway during the Honours+ programme, all students are required to attend one of the Midterm Peer Discussion Evenings (a schedule will be drawn up for when, which team needs to be present).
During these evenings, you will be grouped with fellow honours students from other teams that are working on the same challenge, and you will be explaining the status quo of your research. How is your team progressing, what research question are you focusing on, what are your pitfalls, what information has proven difficult to gather and do you have a specific need for input from other teams?
This way, students will be given the chance to exchange views and insights, compare progress, gather new knowledge via discussions with other teams and their respective Supervisors, request input for their own challenge and discuss team related issues with other Honours+ students (team functioning, scheduling challenges, communication etc.).
By doing so, we are aiming at building towards a system of peer support and build further towards the development of an honours community and the exchange of knowledge amongst UM honours students, and it helps your challenge keeping momentum as well.
Central Event: Student Intervision Evening
3 Weeks before the deadline of handing in your final report, students are required to attend one of the Student Intervision Evenings (a schedule will be drawn up for when, which team needs to be present). This session is aimed at providing you with a) some final input from your fellow students on problems your team is facing related to the challenge, b) to facilitate a plenary team meeting with the finish in sight, and c) give you a chance to come together as an honours community.
Usually around this team, students feel pressure building up towards the closing of Honours+. Constructive team meetings are crucial at this point, but tunnel vision might also be luring. Picking the brains of fellow honours students can provide you with last-minute ideas and energy to keep momentum going. As a team, you are able to check your progress and rely on the system of peer support by your fellow honours students.
It is also a centrally facilitated opportunity to come together as a team with all members present and work on the team challenge. Lastly, we organize an informal event right afterwards to allow you to take a breather and recharge.
Tell the H+ community and us what potential solution you found (applied research challenges) or what new and value-adding knowledge to the already existing knowledge on this topic your team uncovered (theoretical research challenges).
Central Event: Closing Event
The Honours+ programme is concluded with a festive Closing Event, focused on bringing the Honours+ experience to a close reflectively, together.
During the Closing Event, each student team will pitch their findings with regards to the team challenge to the other Honours+ students, and a jury. The best presentation within every challenge topic will win a team prize. We challenge you to impress your peers and UM’s academic staff!
Additionally, all teams will display their findings via a poster exhibition, which allows students to see the outcome of other challenge topics, and provide room for discussion. The jury will take the poster into consideration as well.
Tell the H+ community and us what potential solution you found (applied research challenges) or what new and value-adding knowledge to the already existing knowledge on this topic your team uncovered (theoretical research challenges).
Informal Community Events
Besides the formal Central events, we also host a variety of fun and informal community events, where you can meet and connect with fellow honours students in an informal setting. These events are aimed at building bridges across faculty borders and aspire to create a community of honours students.
Some events are already scheduled, but you never know if we might surprise you with a pop-up event.
To sign up for the community events, go to www.edlab.nl (Honours+) and navigate to the ‘Current Students’ page. There you will find the link to the H+ events page which leads you to a registration button.
Attending these events is optional, voluntary and free of charge. However, once you sign up for such an event, we count on your presence an expect you to actually attend these events. Not showing up, or cancelling later than 24 hours in advance, without a valid and documented reason, will affect the activity for your fellow students and leads to extra costs for the organisation. You will, in that case, be faced with a no-show fee of € 25.
Please note that once you are signed up, it is not possible to cancel your registration yourself. If you must cancel your registration please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your request. Registration or cancellation of a registration is allowed up to 24 hours in advance of the community event date.
Please refer to the Honours+ website, Facebook, and your student email accounts to stay informed about the informal community events.
Events during Covid-19
During all Honours+ events this year, we have assured that the regulations set by the Dutch government concerning the Covid-19 situation are followed, and that we can safeguard the health of our students and staff the best way possible. However, we appeal to your good sense to maintain the 1.5 metres distance during the events, and wash/disinfect your hands regularly.
If any of the below mentioned situations apply to you, we request that you stay home, take care of your health and inform H+ Central Management.
- You have been experiencing one or more of the following symptoms during the past 24 hours (coughing, colds or chills, raised temperature or fever, shortness of breath or loss of smell/taste)
- You currently have a housemate with a fever and/or shortness of breath.
- You have the new coronavirus and this was determined during the past 7 days via an official test.
- You have a housemate family member with the new coronavirus and you have been in contact with him/her during the past 14 days, while he/she still was experiencing symptoms.
- You are or need to be quarantined because you have had direct contact with someone who was diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Please be aware, the Corona crisis can always throw us an unexpected curveball, which changes things again. Keep an eye on your student email for any changes in the programme related to the Corona crisis.
The mighty Honours+ Checklist
Below, we provide you with an overall checklist for every task you need to complete in order to successfully complete Honours+. To be specific, if you stick to this checklist, nothing can go wrong and you should stay on track just fine.
Ready? Set? Go!
1)Honours+ Kick-Off (Deadline: Thursday October 29th)
- Attend the Honours+ Kick-Off event via Zoom, during which you will meet your team and Supervisor;
2) Team kick-off (Deadline: Friday, November 20th)
- Schedule your first team meeting together with your Supervisor to set ground rules for teamwork;
- Request the optional teambuilding assignment via email@example.com;
And we're off!
3) Schedule regular team meetings throughout the programme.
- Schedule weekly sessions with your student team;
- Schedule sessions with your Supervisor.
4) Step 1: Question formulation & clarifying research focus (Deadline: Friday, January 15th)
- Complete your team’s literature review;
- Define the research question;
- Create a hypothesis;
- Send a draft to your Supervisor for feedback.
5) Step 2: Select research methods & collect data (Deadline: Friday March 5th)
- Design the actual study, define the methodology;
- Collect the necessary data;
- Send a draft to your Supervisor for feedback.
6) Attend 2 workshops of your choosing.
- Sign up timely for two workshops (limited spaces);
- Attend two workshops;
7) Schedule the Midterm Feedback session (Between: February 22nd and March 19th)
- Prepare for the meeting by watching the instructional video: https://youtu.be/1edcpsI2wdI and reading the information booklet;
- Prepare the cubes (cut-outs);
- Attend the actual meeting as a team, with the Supervisor present, and make agreements for the second half of the team challenge and your team’s functioning.
8) Honours+ Midterm Peer Discussion Evenings (Wednesday February 24th or Thursday February 25th)
- Prepare for the Midterm Peer Discussion Evening by preparing a problem your team is facing;
- Attend the Midterm Peer Discussion Evening your team is scheduled for.
9) Step 3: Analysis & data interpretation (Deadline: Friday April 16th)
- Organize the collected data;
- Analyze the results;
- Send a draft to your Supervisor for feedback.
10) Honours+ Student Intervision Evenings (Wednesday April 21st or Thursday April 22nd )
- Prepare for the Student Intervision Evening by preparing a problem your team is facing;
- Attend the Student Intervision Evening your team is scheduled for;
Wrap it up!
11) Step 4: Conclusion (Deadline: Wednesday April 28th)
- Generalize your results. Relate what you have learned on a small scale to the bigger picture;
- Provide potential suggestions for further research;
- Highlight the potential solution you are offering (applied research challenges), or the new knowledge you added to the already existing knowledge on this topic (theoretical research challenges);
- Send a draft to your Supervisor for feedback.
10) Step 5: Share your work (Deadline: Friday May 7th)
- Send the final report to your Supervisor ánd to firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Send your PowerPoint slides for your pitch to email@example.com;
- Send the digital file of the poster to your Supervisor ánd to firstname.lastname@example.org;
11) Honours+ Closing Event
- Hand in the printed poster at EDLAB, Tapijn Building X, room 0.003 (Tuesday May 11th 16:00);
- Attend the Closing Event on Wednesday May 12th;
- Hand in your poster reimbursement forms and original printing receipts at EDLAB (Friday May 28th);
12) Team Closing Session (Deadline: Friday, May 28th)
- Schedule a team closing session together with your Supervisor to evaluate and discuss the results of the team challenge.