Department Honors

This is an independent research program for students who have a strong academic record for four previous semesters of college study. Overall GPA of 3.5 and departmental approval are required for enrollment. Students in Messiah College's Honors Program can complete their required Honor's Projects through departmental honors.

Acceptable Papers

The following types of papers are acceptable for Departmental Honors projects.

  • Research Projects (Quantitative or Qualitative studies)
  • Theoretical Projects (Integrative or Historical/Library based studies)
  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Program Evaluation and Assessment
  • Program Design & Implementation
  • Community Based Research

Department Major Honors Project Guidelines

An overview of the time table is below. This example is based on May graduation. There are equivalent dates for December graduation in the full Honors Project Guidelines.

1st Semester Jr. Year Letter of Intent November 15
2nd Semester Jr. Year Choose Committee; Submit Proposal April 1
1st Semester Sr. Year 1st Draft of Paper / Final Draft of Literature Review and Method Section October 1/ October 31
2nd Semester Sr. Year Final Draft / Revisions from Committee & Presentation April 1 / Early May

Full Major Honors Guidelines (PDF file)

Sample Abstracts

(Complete projects are available for review in Boyer 351).

Families Talking About Faith: Factors Affecting Spritual Disclosure in Christian Families (May 2011)

Some families speak frequently and openly about their spirituality, while other families find it difficult to spiritually disclose to each other, even if they highly value faith. This qualitative study explores the factors that both help and hinder Christian families with adolescents in the act of spiritual disclosure. Interviews were conducted with 11 pairs of siblings from Messiah College and online surveys were sent to the parents of the siblings. Four distinct themes emerged from both the interviews and the surveys: authoritative parenting as helpful to spiritual disclosure; a difference in core beliefs as a cause of tension; the importance of bi-directional reciprocity in disclosure; and how the stage of adolescent with its focus on identity formative and individuation may provide a unique set of challenges regarding spiritual disclosure.

Perspectives of Siblings of Adolescents with Eating Disorders: Parental Communication, Parenting Style, and Perceived Family Satisfaction (May 2009)

There is a gap in eating disorder literature regarding the perspectives of well siblings of adolescents diagnosed with eating disorders. Research has shown that parental actions can impact the well sibling's experience of the disorder, and that parental communication about the eating disorder can benefit the well sibling. Twenty-two well siblings were studied via online survey with particular attention to the relationship between communication about the eating disorder and the authoritative style of parenting, as well as the relationship between such communication and perceived family satisfaction. The latter relationship was found to be significant. Limitations of this study and implications for future research are discussed.

Instant Message Use and Taboo Topics of Self-Disclosure (May 2008)

This study investigates the influence of instant message (IM) on self-disclosure, specifically "taboo" topics. College students (N = 162) currently in a romantic relationship were surveyed online using the program Survey Monkey. Participants were asked to rate their "comfort level" on a 7-point Likert scale regarding a list of "taboo" self-disclosure topics, generated by Baxter & Wilmot's (1985) study on "off-limit" topics in close relationships. Face-to-face (FtF) comfort levels were compared against those of IM. Results indicated that participants felt more comfortable discussing topics via FtF communication. Higher comfort levels also significantly correlated with greater levels of relationship satisfaction. Results are discussed in light of the current effects computer-mediated communication (CMC) may have on this generation of college students.

Analyzing Premarital Education for Military Couples (May 2008)

Military couples face a number of distinctive stressor events, including relocation, deployment, and financial instability. Therefore, premarital education programs that address marriage skills, such as healthy communication, as well as conditions that are unique to military life, are important for healthy military marriages. An online survey was taken by 19 participants involved in military relationships. Respondents who participated in premarital education reported receiving information about general marriage skills, but not the specific factors related to military couples. Implications for intervention and further research are discussed.

Analyzing Marital Enrichment Resources Employed in Churches (May 2008)

This study surveyed churches from six counties in South Central Pennsylvania to understand resources churches have employed to strengthen the marriages in their congregations and to learn if these resources were designed specifically for marriages composed of two professing Christians or for marriages where one or both persons do not profess a Christian faith. The study found that 71.1% of the churches surveyed utilize some type of resource for married couples within their congregation. The majority of the resources used are based on Christian experience and not on empirical research. This study gives an introductory understanding of the role churches are taking to help support marriages in their congregations and will hopefully generate further concern for Christian marriages.

Maternal Perspectives on Child Care Quality (May 2007)

Mothers display a variety of behaviors when engaging in the complicated child care selection process. Many mothers indicate that quality is one of the most important factors they think about when making child care decisions. Quality child care is hard to define, because numerous perspectives exist on quality child care which have been under-researched. The present study explores how mothers define high quality child care. Fifty-one mothers with children who attend day care centers and pregnant women completed questionnaires which asked questions related to their perspectives on high quality child care. Results showed that mothers emphasize safety, warmth of caregivers, and comfort level of children in their definitions of quality. Maternal definitions of quality child care differ from definitions of quality used by early childhood professionals.

Factors Affecting Third Culture Kid Adjustment to College (May 2005).

TCKs are individuals who are born to parents of one culture, but raised in another culture. For these students, the transition to college often involves crucial cross-cultural and identity issues, in addition to other challenges faced by college students. The primary objective of this study was to discover factors affecting TCK adjustment to college. The secondary objective was to determine what colleges can do to support and enable positive TCKs adjustment. Self-ascribed identity, reverse culture shock, host country, length of time overseas, age at reentry and year in college were found to be the strongest influencers of adjustment. Ethnomethodology Theory, Role Theory and Symbolic Interaction Theory were all identified as theories of orientation for understanding TCKs adjustment to college. Relevant research and implications are discussed.

College Students' Stereotypes and Knowledge of Older Adults (December 2001).

Service-learning is a pedagogical strategy that effectively meets course objectives while improving college students' stereotypes about older adults and aging. This study examines qualitative and quantitative data drawn from student journals and student responses to the Facts on Aging Quiz (Palmore, 1998) administered at the beginning and end of the semester. The data gathered in Sociology of Aging, offered in Spring 2000, were examined for changes in students' knowledge of aging and stereotypes of older adults. On one level, this study analyzes college students' understanding of older adults as a result of their participation in the course, but on another level, this study is an example of the scholarship of teaching, specifically the value of intergenerational service-learning.