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.