NEW ORLEANS—Feb. 10, 2014—The Association of College Honor Societies, the nation's only certifying agency for college and university honor societies, voted to implement The Plan for Aiming Higher which will help its 66 members, and thousands of chapters around the world, focus on improving their effectiveness. The plan includes the creation and sharing of measures that will help to better assess and improve the work of advisors and chapters.
ACHS members unanimously agreed to the action at its Annual Council Meeting late Friday. They also reviewed the results of a questionnaire of students, advisors, honor society executives and university administrators that focused on officer and program effectiveness, and communications practices.
"The demand for a better-qualified work force that meets the needs of the 21st century means everyone involved in post-secondary education must examine what they are doing and how to improve. Support for excellent learning opportunities extends well beyond the classroom. The ACHS plan to assess both organization and member effectiveness shows that we are eager to be part of this transformation, while always adhering to our existing high standards. ACHS and its member honor societies can then better communicate their value to students, parents, faculty and administrators," says Martha Zlokovich, president, ACHS and executive director, Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.
The questionnaire found many strengths as well as room for growth. Some of the highlights include:
- Advisors reported that their honor societies focused on four key areas in their programming: leadership (63 percent), service learning (62 percent), scholarship (61 percent) and then research (51 percent). Student members, however, reported a stronger program emphasis on scholarship (87 percent).
- Only 27 percent of advisors reported that they collaborate with other honor societies on their campus.
- Eighty-seven percent of honor society executive directors said they have chapter program initiatives.
At the meeting members attended also heard from Jane Halonen, professor of psychology, University of West Florida, about the need for honor societies to track effectiveness. Jillian Kinzie, Ph.D., associate director, National Survey of Student Engagement, Indiana University Bloomington, spoke about the quality of the undergraduate experience. Other sessions addressed "Chartering and Maintaining Chapters at Online Universities," "Developing Board Members," and "Best Practices for Recruiting, Educating and Retaining Advisors."
It was also announced that Golden Key International Honour Society, after a series of on-going discussions and correspondence, decided to resign from ACHS, effective Dec. 31, 2013.
ACHS members are non-profits that encourage and honor superior scholarship and leadership achievement in areas ranging from business to physics, mathematics to music.
It sets standards for organizational excellence and scholastic eligibility for the various categories of membership: general, specialized, leadership, freshman and two-year honor societies. To ensure member participation in governance, honor societies must be structured on a membership basis so that the interests of individual members are advanced.
Members and society-at-large are protected by the standards of excellence of the Association of College Honor Societies. Not all organizations calling themselves "honor societies" subscribe to the high honors standards of ACHS.
The minimum ACHS scholarship criterion for undergraduate (specialized and leadership) is a rank in the upper 35 percent of the class (a 3.2 or 3.3 GPA in most cases). Undergraduate (general) allow in students that rank in the upper 20 percent of the class. These criteria are minimum ones; many societies have higher standards.
This link provides further details about "How to Judge the Credibility of an Honor Society": http://www.achsnatl.org/standards_alert.asp.
The Association of College Honor Societies (www.achsnatl.org) is a visibly cohesive community of national and international honor societies. A coordinating agency for these societies in chartering chapters in accredited colleges and universities, the Association sets high priority in maintaining high standards, in defining the honor society movement, and in developing criteria for judging the credibility and legitimacy of honor societies.