Instructors have hundreds of teaching strategies, activities, and tools at their disposal, any number of which can potentially be valuable for a given teaching situation: for example, some teaching strategies and practices might be best suited to a particular discipline or course; others might be most beneficial for students at certain levels; and still others might simply be more amenable to the teaching style of a given instructor. Research has established, however, that some teaching practices tend to have a higher impact than others. And, given that both instructors and students are usually pressed for time, it makes sense to pay special attention to those teaching practices that offer "more bang for the buck."
Eight practices have been identified as high impact practices: first-year seminars and experiences, common intellectual experiences, learning communities, writing-intensive courses, collaborative assignments and projects, undergraduate research, diversity and global learning, service learning/community-based learning, co-operative education/internships, and capstone courses and projects.
These high-impact practices help students engage in "deep approaches" to learning which are important because "students who use these approaches tend to earn higher grades and retain, integrate, and transfer information at higher rates” (Kuh, 2008).
But what makes a practice “high impact”?
Characteristics of a High Quality, High Impact Practice
Below are eight characteristics (Kuh, 2013) which when incorporated into different academic practices, can engage students and have a high impact on their learning. Beside each characteristic we’ve linked to a teaching story that illustrates the use of a particular characteristic, as well as “friendly contacts” from across campus who are willing to share their experiences with particular high impact characteristics and practices.
For guidance on implementing any of these practices or characteristics into your course(s) or program(s), contact Katherine Lithgow
- Set performance expectations at appropriately high levels, and effectively communicate these expectations to students
- Encourage students to invest significant and meaningful time and effort on authentic, complex tasks over an extended period of time
- Add meaningful interactions amongst students and between faculty and students about substantive matters
- Challenge students’ ways of thinking, increase interactions with individuals with experiences and life experiences different from their own, Experiences with diversity
- See Joseph Sanderson’s Teaching Story
- Friendly contacts: Maud Gorbet, Regina Vera-Quinn, John Fedy and Alannah Robinson
- Provide frequent, timely and constructive feedback
- Increase periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning
- See Geoff Malleck’s Teaching Story
- Friendly contacts: Katherine Lithgow, Anne Fannon, Geoff Malleck, and Alannah Robinson
- Provide opportunities to discover relevance of learning through real-world applications, or add a real-world/authentic experience
- Add a public demonstration of competence
For guidance on implementing any of these practices or characteristics into your courses, contact Katherine Lithgow, Senior Instructional Developer Integrative Learning or your CTE Faculty Liaison.