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Clemmer College

East Tennessee State University

General Information
The Teacher Education Honors Program is designed for students who are looking for a challenging educational option. The Honors Program provides intellectual stimuli and challenges for students with superior academic ability. The special honors courses offered provide a stimulating range and depth of intellectual inquiry, with a focus on service learning, culminating in an action research project (of thesis quality). Honors students work with outstanding faculty members in enhanced courses and participate in extracurricular activities and independent scholarship, affording them the opportunity to integrate content areas and theoretical foundations regarding best teaching practices.
Admission Requirements
  • An incoming student may apply for the Honors Program with a high school GPA of 3.8 and one of the following: an ACT SCORE of 27, an SAT SCORE of 1210.
  • A transfer student may apply with a GPA of 3.5 and 27 ACT.  
  • A currently enrolled ETSU student may apply with 3.5 ETSU GPA and 27 ACT.  

To apply, please mail or email the following materials to the teacher education honors program coordinator.

  • Application form
  • Copies of High school transcript & ACT or SAT score (Or ETSU transcript)
  • Short Essay (please see the requirements in the application form.)

Email or mail your application and requests for information to Dr. Huili Hong (, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Clemmer College, East Tennessee State University, Box 70684, Johnson City, TN  37614.

Program Requirements

Successful completion of the Honors Program requires:

  • 21 hours of Honors designed hours
  • Fulfilling the academic excellence requirement
  • Participate in several service learning projects
  • Maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.5 in Honors courses
  • Maintaining a 3.5 cumulative in GPA overall
  • Completion of an action research project of thesis quality
Program Description

Total Teacher Education Designated Honors Courses or Sections:

EDFN 2100-088 or equivalent
Orientation to the Profession
EDFN 2300-088 or equivalent
Foundations for Teaching
SPED 2300-088 or equivalent
Exceptional Learners
READ 3100-088 or 3200-088 or substitute
READ 3100 Teaching Reading in the Elementary (K-6) School or READ 3200 Teaching Writing and Language Arts in the Elementary School
READ 4026-088
Assessment of Literacy
HDAL 4950-088 or substitute
Research in Learning and Development
CUAI 4018-00X or substitute


  • The –088 courses would require observation-based projects, in addition to other course requirements.  Students would read research in conjunction with course content and supplementary field experiences or service learning.  They would be expected to produce a substantial written report or term paper in conjunction with this project, the goal of which would be to help students establish a basis for the research they would later perform in preparation for the Honors Thesis.
  • The Honors Thesis would be a capstone project in which the student developed an original research project.  In most cases, but not all, this would be Action Research. Students would be enrolled for 3 hours of supervised thesis in each semester of the senior year.

 Teacher Education Honors Program Description

  1. Participation in an Orientation Seminar/Experience during the first two weeks of the first semester of enrollment with other students enrolled in the Teacher Education Honors Program.  A Faculty Mentor will be identified for each student at the time.
  2. Enrollment in the Honors section of EDFN 2100-088 (Orientation to the Profession of Education). This course will provide the student interested in the teaching profession with an overview of the opportunities, problems, and realities of teaching. Students will learn about matters concerning the requirements that must be met in order to complete the teacher education program at ETSU. (fall, spring)
  3. Enrollment in the Honors section of EDFN 2300 (Foundations for Teaching).  In this course students will compete specialized community experiences that are not a part of the regular class activities.  The focus of these experiences will be on participating in service activities to benefit students’ communities in our region.  In addition to the service-learning experiences, students will extent their knowledge about the agencies in which they serve and their value to education.  Students will incorporate experiences of this class into their reflective journals.  
  4. Enrollment in the Honors section of SPED 2300 (Exceptional Learners). In this course students will participate in service-learning activities in settings related to working with individuals with disabilities that are not a part o regular class.  They will gain additional knowledge about the settings in which they do service learning.  All experiences will be added to the reflective journals.
  5. Enrollment in the Honors section of READ 3100 (Teaching Reading in the Elementary (K-6) School) or READ 3200 (Teaching Writing and Language Arts in Elementary School). READ 3100 addresses foundations, content, and pedagogies of elementary reading, grades K-6, including a study of teaching strategies, curriculum materials, and children’s literature to teach reading in K-6 classrooms. READ 3200 The course addresses foundations, content, and pedagogies of elementary writing and language arts, including teaching strategies, curriculum materials, and children’s literature to teach writing and language arts in K-6 classrooms. Prerequisites: Admission to teacher education; Completion of READ 3000 and READ 3100.
  6. Enrollment in the Honors section of READ 4026-88 (Assessment of Literacy).
    Prerequisite(s): READ 3000, READ 3100, and READ 3200. Corequisite(s): CUAI 4210, CUAI 4220, CUAI 4310, and CUAI 4241. Study of theoretical foundations for the assessment of reading proficiency and models for building reading competencies. Targets for study include evidence-based components of reading processes. Particular emphasis on phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Admission to teacher education required.
  7. Enrollment in the Honors section of HDAL 4950-088 or substitute (Research in Learning and Development). Prerequisites: PSYC 1310 and MATH 1530; or PSYC 3100. The study and application of research methods appropriate to the behavioral sciences for consumers of developmental research. Observation, research design, and data analysis appropriate to the applied setting is emphasized. (fall, spring)
  8. Enrollment in the Honors Section of CUAI 4018 (thesis).   The Honors Thesis would be a capstone project in which the student developed an original research project.  In most cases, but not all, this would be Action Research. Students would be enrolled for 3 hours of supervised thesis in each semester of the senior year.
Honors Program Retention Requirements
  • Student must maintain a 3.5 overall GPA.
  • A cumulative GPA below 3.5 will result in a probationary status.  The student may remain enrolled in the program for only one semester on a probationary basis.
  • Students must meet all criteria for admission to the Clemmer College Teacher Education Programs by the end of their sophomore year or within two semesters after transfer.
  • Participation in the Honors Program is contingent upon satisfactory status within the Clemmer College.
Benefits of the Honors Program
  • Classes that provide opportunities for students to interact with each other and build intellectually satisfying supportive relationships with peers and faculty
  • Classes taught by faculty whose interest and expertise lie in the discipline of the particular class
  • Classes that provide opportunities for independent scholarship in areas of special interest to the individual student
  • Participation in special honor events, such as field trips and lectures
  • Upon successful completion of Honors Program, Honors Scholar designation on transcript, a distinction of advantage for graduate school or career placement
Scholarship Opportunities
Honors students are eligible to apply for academic scholarships based on academic achievement. Scholarships are limited, so early application is encouraged. Please contact the Director of the Honors Program for details.
Action Research Project

The Senior Honor’s ACTION RESEARCH PROJECT represents an in-depth, capstone experience designed to provide TEHP students with opportunities to develop a deeper knowledge of teaching and learning, a closer intellectual interaction with faculty, and more complete preparation for their career goals.  The Senior Honor’s Action Research Project must be written in a manner consistent with the APA style and the model for approaching an action research project provided below. The project should represent a student’s most sustained research as an undergraduate.  It must be academically honest and in full compliance with ethical guidelines.  An approved Senior Honors Action Research Project that has been orally presented in public is required for graduation as a Teacher Education Honors Program student from East Tennessee State University.


Typically, the Honors Action Research Project is a one to two-year project and completed by (or in) the last semester of the senior year.  Initial preparation for the project should begin with enrollment in the first one-hour service learning course, which is taking during the freshman or sophomore year. Students should follow the approved timetable. A typical schedule requires that the student complete the majority of all library work, collection of data, plus initial analyses by the end of the junior year, so that the fall semester during the senior year allows ample time for the actual writing of the thesis. Since students typically complete student teaching during the last semester of their senior year, it is important that much of the project work be completed prior to student teaching. Since student teaching places a lot of demand on the student’s time and energy, it will be difficult to complete the project during the student teaching experience. Throughout the project, each student should engage in careful planning, thorough research, thoughtful analysis, good writing, and enthusiastic work.


A senior TEHP student should choose a faculty mentor in conjunction with the TEHP Honors Coordinator.  The committee must consist of a mentor professor, Honors Coordinator and a second reader, all from the Clemmer College.  The project professor, with input from the Honors Coordinator, is responsible for directing the Action Research Project and seeing that the student meets all deadlines and fulfills the expectations of the study.   


The action research project should be considered a manuscript that may be submitted for publication in a scholarly journal.  It must follow the research guidelines established by the Teacher Education Honors Program.  The final copies must be permanently bound, but they may have a soft cover and/or spiral binding if the student chooses. Most students have binding done at a photocopying business and have four copies made:  a required copy to be submitted to Dr. Rosalind Gann, Honors Coordinator, a required copy to be submitted to University Honors Programs, a copy to keep, and a copy to be given to the project professor as a courtesy and one copy for the department.

The action research project will involve the student in the orderly process of collecting data about some aspect of the teaching and learning process relative to a goal or need of that process. The data are not arbitrary, and like other applications of the scientific method, action research is guided by hypotheses and assumptions about the phenomenon under investigation. Unlike other uses of the scientific method, the purpose differs in that knowledge alone is not the goal, but rather the goal and process of action research involve data collection that is fed back into the system with action taken as a consequence. It should be thirty to forty pages in length, the emphasis being on quality rather than quantity.  Works of fiction, drama, poetry, or personal essay may not be submitted as a senior action research project.


The honors student should write a description (2-3 pages) clearly describing the objective of the action research project, its scope and limitations, and a preliminary bibliography of 5-7 sources to indicate that sufficient secondary material exists to support the action research project.  The project description should be signed by both the student and the project professor and should be shown to all faculty members who are asked to serve as readers. This assignment is to be completed at the end of the one-hour service learning course (CUAI-4008).


The following timetable establishes deadlines for completion of the action research project. (Completion of IRB training during the sophomore year)

September 15
Choose a project professor in consultation with Dr. Hong, Honors Coordinator. (This should be done during the junior year.)
October 1
Meet with Dr. Hong and discuss an action research project topic. (Early in the junior year)
October 15
Present the first draft of the project to Dr. Hong and the action research professor for review. (Fall Semester-Senior year)
December 1
Present the second draft of the project to the project professor, Dr. Hong and readers. (Fall Semester-Senior year)
March 1
In conjunction with Dr. Hong, set a date for a project presentation to be completed before April 15.  Make arrangements for publicity. (Spring Semester-Senior year)
April 30
Submit two bound copies of the completed project, signed by the project professor, and Dr. Hong — one for the department and one for University Honors.  You also may want to give a copy to the project professor. 
In writing the project description, keep in mind that it is good to be up front with what you will cover and what you will omit.  Dr. Hong will be available to assist you in each step of your project’s development. Please refer to your   to see the order in which all required, designated courses are should be completed.

The model provided below is a suggested approach to use as you complete your action research project. The intent of this model is to keep the student (action researcher) on track and provide a structure for completion of the project.

A Model for Approaching an Action Research Project

Step 1: A Question or Problem

Step 2: Problem Relevance, Problem Significance

Step 3: Definitions: Up to this point, the area of concern may have been identified and described with vague generalities or global descriptions. In this third step, the action researcher begins to identify and define in more concrete terms the concepts, the constructs, and the variables involved. When possible, the action researcher defines these by actions or operations preformed.

Step 4: Review of the Related Literature: Though the problem under investigation is somewhat unique to one action researcher, it is possible that others have encountered similar problems or concerns. Further, it is possible that other individuals have made discoveries that could be of use to the action researcher. Therefore, reviewing the professional literature for evidence of those findings may prove to be a valuable step in intervention planning.

Step 5: Developing Hypothesis: The intent of action research is to effect change. Therefore, the action researcher attempts to articulate the change anticipated and the conditions under which that change should occur. The hypothesis is simply a predictive statement of what will happen when the action researcher institutes a change in teaching practice. Knowing where we would like to go can help us get there.

Step 6: Outcome Measures: As action researchers seek to increase their understanding of the impact of specific teaching decisions, measurement of those decisions and their impact needs to be recorded. There is no one clear prescription for the type of measurement or data to be employed (e.g., quantitative only, qualitative, combined, etc.). (Most of the Teacher Education Honor Students have used the descriptive or qualitative methods.)

Step 7: Methods-Creating a Design: As with any study, in order for conclusions to be considered valid, the researcher must consider the use of a design that provides accurate data collection and interpretation. The action researcher must determine how the research questions can best be assessed. Are qualitative methods such as participant observations with extensive field notes best suited for the research questions, or should both qualitative and quantitative types of data be combined in a planned, meaningful way in order to test the hypothesis?

Step 8: Data Collection: The types of data the action researcher chooses to collect, as well as the methods employed in collecting these data, will be influenced not only by the nature of the problem but also the interest and talents of the researcher and the demands and opportunities provided by the situation. However, the information gathered must be as detailed and as informative as possible. Action researchers need to remember that they are teachers as well as researchers and that they have a professional responsibility to their students.

Step 9: Data Analysis: Data analysis is fundamental to understanding the experience of the research. At a minimum, the data need to be organized and grouped with themes, with trends and characteristics noted. When appropriate, action researchers should use visual presentation and descriptive statistics.

Step 10: Interpretation and Practice Decisions: A keystone of action research lies in its link with practice decisions—an applied outcome. In reviewing the data, the teacher as action researcher balances research significance with practical relevance. Having answered the question What happens if…, the action researcher can then answer questions such as What does knowing what happens man to my students? To me? To my professional decision making or to my current teaching?


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