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Hallmark Awards in Depth: Honors in Action

Hallmark Awards in Depth: Honors in Action

Among the Educational Forums held during Phi Theta Kappa’s 2017 Honors Institute was a session on the Honors in Action Project Hallmark Award. It was presented by Monika Byrd, Phi Theta Kappa’s Associate Vice President of Leadership and International Education.

In general, Honors in Action provides you with the opportunity to DO something; your Honors in Action Hallmark Awards entry should demonstrate that you achieved these things. Also, because the Honors Study Topic changes every two years, it’s important to show that your project, from start to finish, is designed and intended to accomplish the general purpose of the program. Additionally, there are six intended outcomes:

  1. Interdisciplinary Inquiry
  2. Dialogue
  3. Critical Thinking
  4. Global Awareness
  5. Experience Breaking the “Complexity Barrier”
  6. Deep Learning

The Foundation

Part one of the forum focused on the foundations of the Honors in Action Hallmark Award. A good Hallmark Awards entry begins with a good Honors in Action Project as well as a good understanding of the Honors in Action rubric.

A key step in the process is to get organized:

  • Find resources online
    • Application deadlines
    • Link to application and rubrics
    • Link to FAQ’s
    • Link to Tips
  • Understand the deadlines for different Hallmark Awards categories:
    • Administrator Awards — early December 2017
    • Individual Awards — mid-January 2018
    • Chapter Awards — late January 2018
  • Applications open in mid-October
  • Develop a communications plan — will your team use Google Docs, DropBox, etc.
  • Define roles and assignments
    • Writers
    • Proofers
    • Someone to review with the rubric
  • Develop a timeline
    • Deadlines for first and later drafts
    • Editing sessions
    • Proofing sessions

The rubric isn’t only for the judges; use it throughout your project’s life cycle as you plan, implement, adjust, and reflect, and as you prepare your Hallmark Awards entry. There are seven categories on the rubric:

  1. Academic rigor
  2. Resourcefulness
  3. Exercise of leadership and leadership development
  4. Persistence
  5. Action
  6. Cooperative effort/outreach
  7. Impact

Reflective Practice is also useful throughout your project. This is a process by which you stop and think about your practice, consciously analyzing your decision-making and drawing on theory — in this case the purpose of Honors in Action — and relating it to what you do in practice. This process provides focus and generates new knowledge and ideas, and analyzing your project critically and thoroughly is important when writing your Hallmark Awards entry.

The Execution

Part two of the forum looked at the execution of your Hallmark Awards entry — writing it, using the rubric, and best practices. There are 10 categories on the judging rubric, but four are weighted:

  1. Academic Investigation
    1. You’ll want at least eight academic sources representing multiple perspectives for your research
  2. Exercise of Leadership and Leadership Development
    1. Show that you intentionally sought opportunities to grow and improve as scholars and leaders
    2. Demonstrate resourcefulness
  3. Action
    1. If your academic investigation is thorough, and if your topic is of interest to your chapter members, you will inspire action
    2. Seize this opportunity to apply new knowledge of global issues to impact yourself and your community
  4. Outcomes
    1. Cover both quantitative and qualitative outcomes
    2. Consider all parts of the project

When it’s finally time to write your entry, keep in mind this advice from author Dan Pink:

  • Show up
  • Write every day
  • Don’t do anything else until you’ve written 500 words
  • Move
  • Have someone read out loud to you
  • Remember that writing, though usually solitary, is also social

Also, keep in mind these best practices for writing Hallmark Award entries specifically:

  • Use the rubric — before, during, and after your project
  • Understand quality differentiation — i.e., what is the different between exercising leadership skills and advancing leadership skills?
  • Provide concrete evidence and examples
  • Ask at least three outside readers to “grade” the entry using the rubric — revise your entries based upon their feedback


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