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High-Impact Educational Practices and Scholarship  

Last Updated: Feb 21, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Introduction to High-Impact Practices Print Page

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Subject Guide

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UNG CTLL (Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership)
The Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership (CTLL) supports the University of North Georgia’s commitment to “academic excellence in a student-focused environment.”


Welcome to the LibGuide (or Subject Guide) for High-Impact Educational Practices and Scholarship. At University of North Georgia (UNG), many of us employ diversity/global learning, service-learning, and undergradute research in our classes; these practices also enrich our degree programs. These practices are central to the UNG mission statement. Created by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership (CTLL), this guide is meant to provide materials for professors who are implementing high-impact pratices in the classroom.

Other High-Impact Practices Library Guides:


Defining Engaged Learning

In 2005, the Association of Americna Colleges and University published an issue of Peer Review entitled Engaged Learning:
Are We All on the Same Page?  

The editors write that  "Engagement is increasingly cited as a distinguishing characteristic of the best learning in American higher education today. Vision statements, strategic plans, learning outcomes, and agendas of national reform movements strive to create engaged learning and engaged learners. Despite this emerging emphasis, an explicit consensus about what we actually mean by engagement or why it is important is lacking. Is engagement an end in itself, or a means to other ends? Is engagement as important as other characteristics of a good education such as intentionality, balanced breadth and depth, complexity, multidisciplinarity, integration, and contextual awareness? And, while we are asking questions, perhaps we should begin by asking--Engagement with what?"

They identify the four interrelated ways in which educators regard engagement:

  1. "The most fundamental is student engagement with the learning process: just getting students actively involved.
  2. The second is student engagement with the object of study. Here the emphasis is on stimulation of students' learning by direct experience of something new.
  3. Another is student engagement with contexts of the subject of study. This gives emphasis to the importance of context as it may affect and be affected by the students' primary subject. When social and civic contexts are considered, this inevitably raises ethical issues.
  4. Finally, there is student engagement with the human condition, especially in its social, cultural, and civic dimensions. According to this way of thinking, the human condition is the ultimate subject of study to which individual subjects and disciplines should be understood as subordinate. Each of these ways of thinking about engagement has an interesting history, relationship to the others, and relationship to the goals of liberal education."

High-Impact Educational Practices: Definition

According to the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AACU), high-impact educational practices "have been widely tested and have been shown to be beneficial for college students from many backgrounds. These practices take many different forms, depending on learner characteristics and on institutional priorities and contexts."

George Kuh's list of high-impact educational practices are identified as research-based approaches to effective teaching and learning for college students.  They include this list taken verbatim from the AAC&U:

First-Year Seminars and Experiences
Many schools now build into the curriculum first-year seminars or other programs that bring small groups of students together with faculty or staff on a regular basis. The highest-quality first-year experiences place a strong emphasis on critical inquiry, frequent writing, information literacy, collaborative learning, and other skills that develop students’ intellectual and practical competencies. First-year seminars can also involve students with cutting-edge questions in scholarship and with faculty members’ own research.

Common Intellectual Experiences
The older idea of a “core” curriculum has evolved into a variety of modern forms, such as a set of required common courses or a vertically organized general education program that includes advanced integrative studies and/or required participation in a learning community. These programs often combine broad themes—e.g., technology and society, global interdependence—with a variety of curricular and cocurricular options for students.

Learning Communities
The key goals for learning communities are to encourage integration of learning across courses and to involve students with “big questions” that matter beyond the classroom. Students take two or more linked courses as a group and work closely with one another and with their professors. Many learning communities explore a common topic and/or common readings through the lenses of different disciplines. Some deliberately link “liberal arts” and “professional courses”; others feature service learning.

Writing-Intensive Courses
These courses emphasize writing at all levels of instruction and across the curriculum, including final-year projects. Students are encouraged to produce and revise various forms of writing for different audiences in different disciplines. The effectiveness of this repeated practice “across the curriculum” has led to parallel efforts in such areas as quantitative reasoning, oral communication, information literacy, and, on some campuses, ethical inquiry.

Collaborative Assignments and Projects
Collaborative learning combines two key goals: learning to work and solve problems in the company of others, and sharpening one’s own understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences. Approaches range from study groups within a course, to team-based assignments and writing, to cooperative projects and research.

Undergraduate Research
Many colleges and universities are now providing research experiences for students in all disciplines. Undergraduate research, however, has been most prominently used in science disciplines. With strong support from the National Science Foundation and the research community, scientists are reshaping their courses to connect key concepts and questions with students’ early and active involvement in systematic investigation and research. The goal is to involve students with actively contested questions, empirical observation, cutting-edge technologies, and the sense of excitement that comes from working to answer important questions.

Diversity/Global Learning
Many colleges and universities now emphasize courses and programs that help students explore cultures, life experiences, and worldviews different from their own. These studies—which may address U.S. diversity, world cultures, or both—often explore “difficult differences” such as racial, ethnic, and gender inequality, or continuing struggles around the globe for human rights, freedom, and power. Frequently, intercultural studies are augmented by experiential learning in the community and/or by study abroad.

Service Learning, Community-Based Learning
In these programs, field-based “experiential learning” with community partners is an instructional strategy—and often a required part of the course. The idea is to give students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve problems in the community. A key element in these programs is the opportunity students have to both apply what they are learning in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences. These programs model the idea that giving something back to the community is an important college outcome, and that working with community partners is good preparation for citizenship, work, and life.

Internships are another increasingly common form of experiential learning. The idea is to provide students with direct experience in a work setting—usually related to their career interests—and to give them the benefit of supervision and coaching from professionals in the field. If the internship is taken for course credit, students complete a project or paper that is approved by a faculty member.

Capstone Courses and Projects
Whether they’re called “senior capstones” or some other name, these culminating experiences require students nearing the end of their college years to create a project of some sort that integrates and applies what they’ve learned. The project might be a research paper, a performance, a portfolio of “best work,” or an exhibit of artwork. Capstones are offered both in departmental programs and, increasingly, in general education as well.


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