Thirsty for a Strong Instructional Practice?
As faculty, we know about the progression of curriculum in our disciplines, both at the class level (e.g. what we cover in a semester) and at the program level (e.g. the classes a student needs to take, and the order in which they should be taken). Furthermore, we all serve as advisors and regularly talk to our students about what in-class work they need to do to progress toward a degree. But are we taking advantage of the opportunity to inform students of the other experiences they need to work into their degree plan to make the most of their education?
Take a SIP of This: High-Impact Teaching Practices
One way to do this is to incorporate High Impact Practices (HIPs) into our course design and advising plans. The American Association of Colleges and Universities has identified ten HIPs that have been shown to have a profound impact on a student’s college experience, both academically and in the social-emotional realm. These HIPs are:
- first-year seminars and experiences;
- common intellectual experiences;
- learning communities;
- writing-intensive courses;
- collaborative assignments and projects;
- undergraduate research opportunities;
- diversity and global learning (including study abroad);
- service learning and community-based learning;
- internships; and,
- capstone courses and projects.
MSU Denver’s Associate Vice President of Undergraduate Studies, Mark Potter, notes that HIPs also “have a cumulative effect and are compensatory, so a student starting out who doesn’t have the same level of college preparation can ‘catch up’ by experiencing the benefits of HIPs. So, they’re important to the equity agenda.”
Faculty may notice that many of these HIPs are already integrated into their course designs, such as collaborative projects or service learning assignments. Other times, the implementation of HIPs represents a significant commitment on the part of the professor, like the decision to take on the extra work of making a course writing-intensive, or sponsoring undergraduate research. And still other HIPs, such as capstone courses (senior experiences) and internships need to be woven into the fabric of your department’s major or minor.
Many instruments have measured the effectiveness of HIPs, including the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE, currently going on at MSU Denver), surveys of potential employers, and research done as part of AAC&U’s LEAP project (Liberal Education and America’s Promise). Data points to the fact, though, that if a student experiences at least one HIP per year, they will retain at a higher rate, and that their chances of increased retention grows as their experience with HIPs is more intense.
The documents attached to this SIP provide solid information on how HIPs are employed and assessed. In particular, check out the document on High Impact Practices right here at MSU Denver. Take a minute to reflect on the extent to which you are offering students these valuable experiences, and how you can advise them to seek out HIPs outside of your classroom!
Still Thirsty? Take Another SIP of High-Impact Teaching Practices
- MSU Denver’s Undergraduate Studies division houses a number of programs that specialize in creating and implementing HIPs. Check out these areas that are resource centers for HIPs on campus:
- First Year Success
- The Applied Learning Center houses multiple HIPs resource centers: the Internship Program, the Service Learning Program, the Center for Urban Connections and the Undergraduate Research Program.
- The Office of International Education works on diversifying the campus and the curriculum and also helps students to find study abroad opportunities around the world.
- In addition, the Writing Center can give you pointers on how to make your course more writing intensive. Dr. Elizabeth Kleinfeld, the director of the Writing Center, also has invaluable tips on how to grade writing assignments so that you can ask for more writing from your students while not overburdening yourself with grading.
- And of course, don’t forget to explore this website for additional SIPs on HIPs!
- And for ideas on how to design for students a complete degree plan that includes HIPs, see the Queens University major maps with relevant engagement opportunities.