Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving Our Students A High Impact Learning Experience

How can we give our students a richer more engaging learning experience that will boost academic achievement and meet essential learning outcomes?   One approach to meeting these challenges is the use of what George Kuh calls "high impact educational practices" (Kuh 2008) or HIPS.  

In his article High Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter (AAC&U 2008), George Kuh identifies several educational practices that have been shown to have a significant positive effect on student success.    My colleagues and I have used several HIPS with great success both in onsite and online courses at Berkeley College, including collaborative learning, learning communities, internships, academic service-learning, capstone courses and general education.

Kuh's high impact practices include the following.  Click HERE to see a chart showing these in greater detail.  

First-year seminars and experiences - Within a small group context, students develop critical thinking, writing, information literacy, collaborative learning and other skills.  

Common intellectual experiences - A new form of a "core curriculum", such as a program of general education courses, both introductory and upper-level, which examine broad integrative themes.

Learning communities - Students take two or more linked courses as a group and work closely with professors.  Common themes, topics and readings are examined.

Writing-intensive courses - Similar to "writing across the curriculum", these courses focus on writing at all levels and across multiple disciplines from the humanities and social sciences to math and business.

Collaborative assignments and projects -  Students learn to work together in teams to solve problems and complete projects.  This can include study groups, writing, research and other assignments.  

Undergraduate research - More colleges and universities are offering courses that give students experience in conducting research projects.

Diversity/global learning - Courses and programs that provide cross-cultural competence,  awareness of diversity and global interconnectedness.  Sometimes includes study abroad.

Service learning and community-based learning - Courses that offer students experiential learning opportunities that also provide services to nonprofit organizations.   

Internships - Students acquire practical knowledge through faculty-supervised internships or job-related assignments.  

Capstone courses and projects -  Student projects completed near the end of their degree program, such as a portfolio of their work, a performance, art exhibit or research paper.  The capstone project demonstrates an application of what they have learned.

These high impact learning activities benefit all students, however, with the greatest benefit to historically underserved students.  To learn more about these benefits view the presentation High Impact Activities : What They Are, Why They Work, and Who Benefits. Robert M. Gonyea. Jillian Kinzie. George D. Kuh