Honors programs as forerunner for 21st century skills?


  • Pierre van Eijl Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Ton Peeters Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Henmar Moesker Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, The Netherlands
  • Annemie Dillen KU Leuven, Belgium
  • Albert Pilot Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Stan van Ginkel Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht, The Netherlands




honors program, 21st century skills, biology, interdisciplinary, Holocaust


Honors programs are frequently regarded as inspiring for redesigning curricula in higher education that incorporate 21st century skills. This explorative study focuses on eliciting students’ perceptions regarding their learning gains related to these skills in honors programs. Results demonstrated high learning gains. Moreover, based on students’ insights, each honors program can be characterized by its own profile regarding the type of 21st century skills. Further, in two honors programs students were asked to compare their learning gains with the perceived learning in their regular program. The majority of students emphasized that their skills were highly promoted in their honors program in comparison with their regular program. Finally, students suggested varying possibilities to incorporate honors activities in their regular program. However, from a curriculum design perspective, adjustments are needed to fit the regular groups of students.