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High-Impact Practices - Overview

Page history last edited by Robert Hackett 6 years, 3 months ago

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High-Impact Practices

Overview  |  Guides  |  Campus Examples  |  Documents to Download



In 2005, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) launched the Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative. The LEAP Initiative, which has drawn from the emerging research about what works best for student learning, draws on data from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which is used on more than 1,100 campuses nationwide. Through LEAP, research and scholarship such as College Learning for the New Global Century has begun to emerge. 


That initiative has surfaced a set of high-impact educational practices which have been shown to be highly effective for supporting students’ learning and persistence in college. These High Impact Practices (HIPs) are especially powerful for students from under-represented backgrounds – such as low-income students, first generation students, and students of color. What makes a practice high-impact is that:


  • It involves time on task and effort
  • It helps students build substantive relationships 
  • It helps students engage across differences
  • It provides students with rich feedback 
  • It helps students apply and test what they are learning in new situations 
  • It provides opportunities for students to reflect on the people they are becoming 
  • It involves mentors 
  • It involves interactions between faculty and students or other instructors (such as community partners) and learners


Common High Impact Practices can include the following, provided they meet the qualities outlines above (note: research has found that there is often more variation in the quality of HIPs within a campus than across campuses):


  • First Year Experiences
  • Internships
  • Learning Communities
  • Service-Learning
  • Writing Intensive Experiences
  • Collaborative Assignments 
  • Undergraduate Research Projects
  • Diversity and Global Immersions
  • Capstones


A concise overview of high impact educational practices can be found on the AAC&U website at: http://www.aacu.org/leap/hip.cfm 


Link to Community Engagement

Finley and McNair’s (2013) cutting-edge research suggests that service-learning is one of the most powerful High Impact Practices, boosting students learning in areas (such as critical thinking and deep learning) reflected in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).  Yet, research also suggests that the average student graduates without a systematic involvement in HIPs; Finley and McNair found in a large-scale study involving three state university systems that the average was only 1.3 for a graduating student.  


We know that all of the high impact practices are being linked to community and civic engagement.  We have been working closely with schools in the Bonner network to systematically link high impact practices to civic and community engagement, and thereby helping campuses to scale effective community engagement initiatives that reach more students and maximize the meaningful impact for communities.



High Impact Community Engagement

As we have work on linking the high impact practices to community engagement, we worked with schools in our network to articulate a series of high-impact community engagement practices (HICEPs) that to guide this effort.  These are:


  • Asset Based:  rather than viewing neighborhoods and communities from a deficit point-of-view, we seek to identify and build upon the strengths and assets of each partner and community.  Students and others are trained in this orientation.


  • Place Based:  we also believe in the importance of place – including listening to residents and leaders – and understanding the learning and meaning that is derived from engaging in a community.


  • Mutually Beneficial and Reciprocal: staff and students who build and manage Bonner Programs and Centers invest in building relationships that are intentional, aim to add value for each party, and demonstrate reciprocity. 


  • Developmental:  just as our work with students is developmental, so too is our work on partnerships.  Programs and institutions acknowledge that it takes experience to build and sustain partnerships that can include students working at different levels, connections with faculty members and academic courses, and even long-range community impact goals. 


  • Deep: an aim is to have partners connected with multiple resources on campus, such as the involvement of long-term student volunteers, research projects, and even resource development. 


  • Sustainedbecause of the multi-year involvement of Bonner students and the establishment of campus infrastructure (such as staffing and centers) to manage partnerships and projects, partners can look for longer-term engagement by their partnering college or university.  This supports long-range visioning, planning, and even impact assessment.


  • Focus on Capacity Buildingwe have adopted goals for building the capacity of organizations and communities, including strategies for direct service, volunteer management, program development, communications, organizational development, research, and assessment.


  • Partners as Co-Educators: we believe and intentially engage partner staff as well as clients in co-educator roles, valuing their knowledge about their communities, issues, and approaches for change.


  • Connective: when the knowledge and skills of all who are involved in the engagement is sought and respected, mentoring and learning take on new dimensions. Teaching and learning becomes a dialectical process for all.


  • Democraticwe seek to foster “democratic engagement,” meaning that all contributors are valued in helping to address issues (like education and hunger), create knowledge (through scholarship and action), and be a part of a larger eco-system of individuals and organizations working for a healthy and just society 


Thoughtful integration of high-impact educational practices with community engagement can enable individual campuses and the national network to significantly strengthen their Bonner Programs (or other co-curricular developmental programs), as well as institutional civic engagement.  


High impact community partnership practices can act as multipliers for engaged learning and high-impact practices.  While many know that service-learning is a high-impact practice, this initiative and experience from multiple campuses is explore how all of the HIPs—including global immersions and deliberative democracy dialogues, a newest practice—can also be linked to HICEPs.  


While we continue to refine our language and approach for how to describe these high-impact community engagement practices, they are framed around a strategic, team-based, multi-year relationships program model, such as that of the Bonner Scholar or Leader Program or others.  Because of this structure, students can engage in developmental direct-service multi-year student positions and projects. Campuses work in a deep, intentional way with a set of committed community partners including non-profit and governmental agencies, schools, and consortia.  


This structure enables academic service-learning and community-based research to involve multi-year faculty commitments and partnerships that continue beyond one term or semester (10 -15 weeks) and can be offered in a sequence, with a continuing relationship with the partner).  Additionally, these partnerships allow for the integration of other forms of engagement, including public policy research to identify best practices, effective program models and related policy news for community partners (i.e, this connects with our PolicyOptions.org model).  Finally, this approach to campus-community partnerships allow for evidence-driven program planning, capacity building, and assessment.  For instance, the campus partners can engage in research projects to help an agency identify the best approaches for collective impact.  This provides an opportunity for coalition-building and sharing of best practices across institutions and agencies.  Examples such as the Learning to End Hunger consortia in New Jersey convene representatives of multiple agencies to share their work and models. 


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