High-Impact Practices Presented by: Brenda Kowalewski, Associate Provost, WSU

In order to understand HIPs, we need to start with AAC&U's LEAP initiative.

"LEAP is a national initiative launched in 2005 that now involves hundreds of private and public colleges, universities, and community colleges...LEAP engages the public with core questions about what really matters in college, works to give students a compass to guide their learning, and makes the aims and outcomes of a liberal education - including broad knowledge, intellectual and practical skills, personal and social responsibility, and integrative learning - the expected framework for excellence at all levels of education. The LEAP initiative also strives to "make excellence inclusive" and is especially concerned with students who, historically, have been underserved by higher education." (from Schneider & Humphreys forward in Kuh & O'Donnell, 2013).

High-Impact Practices (HIPs) are strategies for helping students achieve the aims and outcomes of a liberal education.

What are High-Impact Practices?

High-Impact Practices (HIPs) are techniques and designs for teaching and learning that have proven to be beneficial for student engagement and successful learning among students from many backgrounds. Through intentional program design and advanced pedagogy, these types of practices can enhance student learning and work to narrow gaps in achievement across student populations.

-- from LEAP Campus Toolkit, AAC&U

In short, HIPs are pedagogies and practices that challenge and stretch students.

Eight Key Elements of High-Impact Practices (Kuh and O'Donnell, 2013)

  • Performance expectations set at appropriately high levels
  • Significant investment of time and effort by students over an extended period of time
  • Interactions with faculty and peers about substantive matters
  • Experiences with diversity, wherein students are exposed to and must contend with people and circumstances that differ from those with which students are familiar
  • Frequent, timely, and constructive feedback
  • Periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning
  • Opportunities to discover relevance of learning through real-world applications
  • Public demonstration of competence

HIPs emphasize real-world contexts and applicability that highlight the value and relevance of college learning.

Why are HIPs beneficial for students?

“Deep approaches to learning are important because students who use these approaches tend to earn higher grades and retain, integrate, and transfer information at higher rates” (Kuh, p. 14)
Participation in HIPs improve the quality of students’ experience, learning, retention, and success, particularly for underserved students (Kuh 2008).
Research on the impact of HIPs has demonstrated positive effects on student persistence, time to degree, and increases in timely graduation (Huber 2010).

Students engaged in HIPs develop:

  • Personal identity
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills
  • Awareness about the community
  • Cultural & racial understanding
  • A sense of personal & social responsibility
  • Problem solving skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Career experience and choices
HIPs teach LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes. It's what employers want!

Benefits to faculty include:

  • Being more fully engaged in teaching
  • Real world examples/material become part of the classroom experience
  • Fuller connections with community and external stakeholders
  • Feeling more job satisfaction
  • Deeper, richer relationships with students
  • Expanding research opportunities in both the discipline and the scholarship of teaching and learning

Weber State's Approach to HIPs

Tool to promote student access and success.

Broad and inclusive definition.

Early and often.

Designate, track, assess and celebrate.

Key component of interdisciplinary programs.

Tool to Promote Access and Success

As a public institution with a commitment to ACCESS, Weber State almost has a moral urgency to promote and engage students in HIPs - especially under-represented students who stand to benefit the most.

HIPs promote student success, which is defined broadly to include learning, equitable outcomes and graduation.

As such, WSU has created centers and offices to support and promote engagement in HIPs by faculty, staff and students. Such as: OUR, CCEL, SPARC and Study Abroad.

Broad and Inclusive Definition

AAC&U's list of 10 HIPs may not be inclusive enough for WSU's approach. HIPs need to be embedded throughout the university's learning environments in both Academic and Student Affairs.

A definition that focuses on the 8 common elements of High-Impact Practices.

Early and Often

According to research, students should have 1 HIP experience in their first year and at least 1 HIP experience in their major (Gonyea, Kinzie, Kuh, and Laird, 2008).

60% of WSU first-year students and 86% of seniors participated in at least 1 HIP.

What can we do to meet this recommendation?

  • Embed HIPs into Gen Ed
  • Embed HIPs into all majors

Designate, Track, Assess and Celebrate

Designating HIPs in the curriculum and co-curriculum will help:

  • Students find and participate in HIPs courses and experiences
  • Students record HIPs experiences on a co-curricular transcript
  • Departments, centers, and the institution track participation in HIPs and the outcomes associated with them
  • Celebrate students with 3+ HIPs at graduation
  • Reward HIP faculty in the rank and tenure process
  • Recognize students, faculty and staff who engage HIPs with awards

Key Component of Interdisciplinary Programs

Interdisciplinary academic programs like Honors and Bachelor of Integrated Studies consider HIPs a signature experience in their programs.

We have work to do to truly define and refine our HIPs strategy at WSU.
WSU is applying to send a team, summer 2017.
We have a fantastic foundation upon which to build. Examples of HIPs at WSU.

Study Abroad

Renaissance and Reformation Study Abroad through Honors

The Renaissance and Reformation Study Abroad course in Honors is a "short-term" study abroad experience that occurs over 2-3 weeks in the summer. Students visit different sites, learn from local experts, experience food and cultural diversity, develop significant relationships with faculty and peers, have opportunities to reflect and synthesize and integrate learning from multiple disciplines.


Undergraduate Research

Linsey Christensen was a Zoology student and graduated this past May. Her research spanned 2 years with Dr. Ron Meyers from the Department of Zoology. Linsey completed an undergraduate thesis titled "An Immunohistochemical Study of Syringeal Muscles in Songbirds." This project was funded by multiple sources including OUR as well as the National Institutes of Health. Her research examined muscle structure of songbirds. She determined that there is very little sexual dimorphism in muscle fiber structure despite the fact that typically only male songbirds sing. Her research was presented at WSU Symposium, NCUR and an international professional organization the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Linsey went on to win the Department of Zoology undergraduate research award and the College of Science Sigma Xi presentation award. Her research has recently been accepted for publication in the leading ornothological journal - the Auk. Linsey is now in her first year of Medical School at the University of Utah.

Community Engaged Learning

Dr. Jenny Gnagey's Labor Economics class produced a livable wage standard for the City of Ogden.

In spring 2016, Dr. Jenny Gnagey's labor economics class was given the task of developing a Livable Wage standard for the city of Ogden which they decided to call the Ogden Independent Living Standard (OILS). Students worked in groups to estimate the cost of various basic budget items (housing, food, child care, etc.) for 74 different family types (varying by the numbers and ages of children) in Ogden. Although they closely followed the methods of the Self-Sufficiency Standard reports produced by Diane Pearce at the University of Washington and, to a lesser extent, the online Living Wage Calculator from MIT, they deviated when they found data and created methods to customize estimates to the city of Ogden. Since September, 2016, Cottages of Hope, a local non-profit whose mission is to empower families to achieve greater financial self-sufficiency, has been using the OILS for goal-setting and bench-marking with all of their new clients. In November 2016, they began retroactively applying the standard for their existing clients. While this implementation is relatively recent, it will provide a metric for future program evaluation.

Capstone Project

Megan Yates completed a BIS capstone project entitled, "Teaching Families About My Plate" wherein she taught the basics of nutrition to Weber County families through a program at the YMCA. Megan's project integrated her three BIS emphasis areas of nutrition, child and family studies and health promotion.

Sources Cited

Gonyea, R.M., J. Kinzie, G.D. Kuh, and T.N. Laird. 2008. High-impact activities: What they are, why they work, and who benefits. Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Washington, DC.

Huber, Bettina J. 2010. “Does Participation in Multiple High Impact Practices Affect Student Success at Cal State Northridge?: Some Preliminary Insights.” http://leap.aacu.org/toolkit/wp-content/files_mf/huber_hips_report.pdf.

Kuh, George D. 2008. High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access To Them, and Why They Matter. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Kuh, George D. and Ken O'Donnell. 2013. Ensuring Quality & Taking High-Impact Practices to Scale. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

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