Honors courses offer students unique opportunities such as smaller class sizes, applied application of knowledge, and a closer mentorship with the faculty member. Through observation, there are some cases where courses have regularly been cancelled every term due to low enrollment. When these courses are often canceled, it can impact the honors program ability to continue to offer courses to the students. Using Weick's work on Sensemaking and principles of analyzing organizational culture, the study addressed how honors students are impacted by course cancellations and how they communicate about the impact. Through two focus groups with a total of eleven participants, information was gathered on how they constructed and communicated about their identity as honors students; their individual campus environments, and how those environments help to shape the communication culture they were part of; how they make scheduling decisions by extracting plausible cues from the communication they receive about course scheduling; and the impact of course cancellations on their honors experience. In defining honors and its incorporation into their identity, the students described how being in honors was a challenge to make themselves the best that they can be which included being part of an engaging community of scholars and of use to the community around. The two focus groups noted differences on how each campus provided a slightly different organizational culture: one more familiar and inviting, the other massive and resource filled, and with diversity in the type of students encountered. Course scheduling messages often were extracted from the course scheduling website, with little communication about what would be offered into the future beyond the immediate term. Students had to gather additional data from their fellow students, faculty, and the honors office. Students often searched for cues regarding time and location of the class, the impact to the degree program, and if the class will push the student in new and innovative ways to provide a deeper engagement with the material. Students were often impacted by course cancellations and the added stress of having to find replacement courses to avoid extending the time to complete the degree or risk financial repercussions with the loss of financial aid. These stressors do provide cues that can influence the degree of challenge a student is willing to accept or even degree completion.


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Graduation Date





Musambira, George


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Communication; Interpersonal Communications









Release Date

May 2017

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)