This is a presentation I’m giving today for the Student Success Summit of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. You can get a copy by clicking on the image here.
(We now interrupt this blog for a public service announcement.)
High-Impact Practices, or HIPs, are educationally powerful experiences like learning communities, service learning, and undergraduate research. They take different forms but share some intriguing properties: they put college learning into real-world settings, highlighting its relevance and value. They vary the cues and demands on students, improving the chances that they’ll be able to transfer what they learn with us into different situations after they graduate.
And over the past ten years they’ve been shown to boost student success, both by raising overall graduation rates, and by closing the difference in those rates across different populations, such as ethnic minorities, students on financial aid, or the first in their families to attend college.
It all sounds pretty win-win, until you realize that hardly any of our inherited administrative tools – things like the transcript, the syllabus, the units of course credit – are set up to deliver these, let alone pay for them. Instead the default structure is all read-listen-remember-repeat, and high-impact practices eke out their survival on the fringes.
The job of fixing that is both enormous and urgent. We’ve gotten pretty good at the campus welcome mat – students from all backgrounds seem, finally, to believe they deserve college. But once we get them here the gaps quickly reappear, perpetuating inequity and, not incidentally, putting us on the wrong side of demographic trends.
HIPs can help with that, but only if we offer them differently. As long as they remain a tiny and unwritten part of the curriculum, they will be available mostly to the insiders and the privileged.
In the ten years since the HIP literature first appeared, colleges and universities have been trying to act on the implications, bringing their best educational practices into the administrative mainstream, easing them onto transcripts, taking good work to scale, and even making students aware they need to seek out these experiences, by name and on purpose.
So it seems like a good time to connect these campuses to each other, especially places whose mission is broad access, affordability, and a way up into the middle class for people of all backgrounds. We operate without much slack, and it’s now on us to get the academic recognition and the funding to follow the things that work. Doing it together could accelerate the learning – and improve the chances that whatever we cook up will work for transfer students, policy makers, and the public.
If your state is a member of NASH then join TS3. Whether you’re in NASH or not, join the community of practice email list, and stay tuned via the CSU Dominguez Hills web page for the national model and laboratory for student success, open to all who are interested: csudh/laboratory.
Click the image above to go straight to the page, and bookmark it.
And plan to join us next February in Southern California, where you can be virtuous and warm at the same time.
We now return to our regularly scheduled blog. Up next, the humanities.