Workshop Collaboration = Success!

In partnership with the Alpha Mu Tau chapter at Collin College, North Lake College’s Alpha Zeta Eta officers, Magui Mijes, Pascal Bakari and S.M. Gibran had an extraordinary opportunity to prepare and present an Honors in Action (HiA) workshop at the 2017 Texas Honors Institute. The workshop was primarily focused on Service and Advocacy as it pertains to HiA. From the Alpha Mu Tau chapter, we partnered with James Carter, David Parker, and Monique Spence. This year’s Texas Honors Institute was held at Schreiner University from July 21st – 23rd with attendees from all five districts in the region. The three-day event was jam packed with chapters who had already begun their research; however, we later found out during our workshop sessions that most had only read a few pages from the Honors Program Guide. A few others hadn’t even begun thinking about their HiA projects.

New to HiA, Phi Theta Kappans can feel overwhelmed; we helped by providing understanding between the service and advocacy components. What is service and advocacy—truly? Are service and advocacy the same thing? Can they be used simultaneously in an HiA project? These are some of the questions new chapter members ask regarding service and advocacy. If only there were a way to simplify matters, allowing members to enjoy the research process and focus more on their project. Enter—Alpha Zeta Eta and Alpha Mu Tau.

We were tasked with preparing and presenting a 45-minute workshop to educate Phi Theta Kappa members about Service and Advocacy as it pertains to the Honors in Action project. Our chapters set out to present a workshop that would be informative to both chapters that weren’t as knowledgeable about HiA and to those that just needed additional information to get started. We wanted the audience to walk away with knowledge, resources, and confidence. From brainstorming and selecting themes, researching the chosen theme, to presenting the final project within a limited time table; our workshop was carefully designed to reflect the process of completing a real-life HiA.

Magui Mijes (Alpha Zeta Eta) opened with greetings and handed out note cards to our participants; encouraging them to make a note of interesting facts they learn during the presentation as well as any questions they might have regarding Service and Advocacy. We began the workshop with a fun game we like to call Service and Advocacy: Myth or Reality? We used this opportunity to quiz the audience about their knowledge of service and advocacy through a 5 question Kahoot game. We asked participants to form groups of four for the game, encouraging them to get up and move around the room. Each group had 25 seconds to read the question and discuss their final answer as a team. The purpose was to get participants comfortable with talking to one another as this would come in handy for the case study activity we for planned later in the presentation.

After the game, S.M. Gibran (Alpha Zeta Eta) and David Parker (Alpha Mu Tau) gave a brief overview of the Honors in Action project. They explained the steps before reaching the action component and how to proceed after selecting a service and/or advocacy project. Monique Spence (Alpha Mu Tau) gave tips on successful service and/or advocacy projects. Monique also encouraged members to “Consider the impact of your project, both qualitatively and quantitatively.”

James Carter (Alpha Mu Tau) along with Pascal Bakari (Alpha Zeta Eta) followed up on Monique’s tips by providing detailed definitions of Service and Advocacy. We made it very clear to our participants that the action component of their project cannot be determined before completing their research as this would be an example of ‘putting the horse in front of the cart.’ Pascal explained that “how you are an advocate or how you show service must be a product of your committee’s research.” David later expanded on Pascal’s statement by adding that “the action component of a project is essentially the capstone of a scholarly experience.”

To give participants an opportunity to practice the process of reaching the action component of an HiA project, we set aside 20 minutes for a case study during the workshop. For our case study activity, David Parker gave each team instructions to prepare them for what the real process of completing an HiA project would be like in real life. As David gave instructions, Magui Mijes handed out packets to each person in a team. The handouts were comprised of excerpts we compiled from three different, yet related articles. Each person in the group was assigned an article, and one person was tasked with taking notes. After reviewing each article, we encouraged participants to reflect on it as a team by answering a ‘so what?’ prompt.

After completing all three articles, teams developed a conclusion from their findings. From their conclusion, they crafted a working hypothesis to help guide their objectives. Finally, they brainstormed a service and advocacy action to bring it all together! Each team had 90 seconds to present their findings, project ideas, why they chose that project, and how their reached the action component (service and/or advocacy). Why just 90 seconds? Since chapters are given a maximum of 2600 words for their Hallmarks submission, we wanted to give our participants a taste of what it’s like to explain your project and its action component within a short time table.

So, if you’re just getting started with your HiA project, remember, expressing the process is the focus as opposed to the polish of the final product. Focus on the process and don’t put the horse ahead of the cart. Always remember to TRUST THE PROCESS! But, most importantly, have fun! We hope that we’ve left you with Knowledge, Resources, and Confidence that you will take back to your chapter and continue to work hard toward submitting an amazing project.

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