High-Impact on Retention with HIPs

How High Impact Practices Are Benefiting Higher Education

By: Marla Baltazar

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and George Kuh recognize the following 11 educational activities as High-impact practices (HIPs) because they promote a deep learning experience for students,

First year seminars and experiences                                   Common intellectual experiences

Learning communities                                                            Writing intensive courses

Collaborative assignments and projects                             Undergraduate research

Diversity/global learning                                                        Service/community-based learning

Internships                                                                               Capstone courses and projects

And most recently, the ePortfolio.

High-impact practices (HIPs) require considerable time, effort and interaction among a variety of individuals (Kuh, 2008) and can lead to many benefits reported by the literature, including enhanced motivation, personal growth (Weber and Myrick, 2018), higher satisfaction with college, grade point average, and year to year retention rates (Hakel and Smith 2009; Eynon 2009; Huber, 2010; Provenher and Kassel 2017). Presenting opportunities to participate in HIPs increases the probability that students complete classes, register for the following semester, and graduate within six years (Huber 2010; Eynon et al., 2014; Bonet & Walters, 2016). HIPs support universities in meeting their goal of enhancing student learning, engagement and retention.

Several universities have reported benefits of implementing quality HIPs on their retention rates:

  • Texas A&M at San Antonio designed HIP-courses where at least two HIPs were implemented; the ePortfolio and either a writing-intensive, research, service – or experiential – learning activity. Retention rate between fall 2016 and spring 2017 for the first cohort enrolled in these courses was 89% (AAC&U: Campus Models & Case Studies).
  • San Francisco State University implemented the ePortfolio in a learning community for high-risk, first-year students and reported higher retention rates for the learning community when compared to university-wide averages. Retention rates for the learning community were 90% the first year (11% higher) and 79% the second year (19% higher).
  • In their 2012 report to the Department of Education, LaGuardia Community College reported a 19% difference in retention rates between students enrolled in HIP courses and students in a regular course.
  • Similarly, Tunis Community College reported a 6% higher retention rate for students in an ePortfolio section when compared to those in a non-ePortfolio section (Eynon, 2014). As for retention rates across the college, data showed students who had taken multiple courses with ePortfolio were more likely to be retained; 52.7% of students with no ePortfolio exposure were retained as compared to 60.9% students with one ePortfolio course, 66.2% with 2 ePortfolio courses, and 71.40% with 3 ePortfolio courses.

It should be noted that the implementation of HIPs is more than just labeling an experience; HIPs should be intentional in that they are designed to meet specific learning outcomes and take into consideration the needs of the institution and students (Albertine & McNair 2012). The quality of HIPS can be increased by identifying the target goal of an HIP, adhering to the key components outlined by Kuh (2008) and supporting faculty and staff who implement HIPs. Focusing on the quality and fidelity of HIP implementation is critical to impacting retention rates and other student success metrics.



AAC&U. High-impact practices help students succeed during university expansion. AAC&U: Campus Models & Case Studies.  Retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/campus-model/high-impact-practices-help-students-succeed-during-university-expansion

Albertine, S., & McNair, T. B. (2012) Seeking high-quality, high-impact learning: the imperative of faculty development and curricular intentionality. AAC&U:  Frontiers of Faculty Work: Embracing Innovation and High-Impact Practices 3(14). Retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/seeking-high-quality-high-impact-learning-imperative-faculty

Bonet, G., & Walters B. R. (2016) High – impact practices: student engagement and retention. The College Student 15(2).  Retrieved from: https://academicworks.cuny.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1101&context=kb_pubs

Eynon, B. (2009) “It helped me see a new me”: ePortfolio, learning, and change at LaGuardia Community College. Academic Commons. Retrieved from https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/vkp/files/2009/03/eynon-revised.pdf

Eynon, B., Gambino, L. M., & Török, J. (2014) What difference can ePortoflio make? A field report from the connect to learning project. . Retrieved from http://www.theijep.com/pdf/IJEP127.pdf

Huber B. J. (2010) Does participation in multiple high impact practices affect student success at cal state northridge?: Some preliminary insights. AAC&U. Retrieved from: https://www.aacu.org/sites/default/files/huber_hips_report.pdf

Kuh, G. (2008). High impact practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Retrieved from http://www.aacu.org/leap/hip.cfm

Provenher A., & Kassel, R. (2017). High-impact practices and sophomore retention: examining the effects of selection bias. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory, & Practice. https://doi.org/10.1177/1521025117697728

Weber, K. & Myrick, K. (2018). Reflecting on reflecting: summer undergraduate research student’s experiences in developing electronic portfolios, a meta-high impact practice. International Journal of ePortfolio 8(1), 13-25. Retrieved from http://www.theijep.com/pdf/IJEP287.pdf