High Impact Practices

High Impact Practices (often abbreviated HiPs) refer to specifically designated pedagogies and university initiatives that have been shown by research to make a deep impact on student learning. Although the name uses natural-language words, not every practice should be called a "high impact practice" even when it affects students deeply--instead, HiPs refer to a discrete list of activities. You can read more about HiPs at the AAC&U website for the LEAP initiative.

HiPs approved for USF General Education

The following list of HiPs have been approved by the General Education Council for use in Gen Ed (certain levels of the Gen Ed curriculum are required to be a HiP course - see https://www.usf.edu/undergrad/general-education-council/enhanced-gened/enhanced-curriculum.aspx for details).

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.

Community-Engaged Learning
In these programs (formerly known as Service Learning), 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.

Education Abroad
While the official AAC&U list includes "global learning," the USF Gen Ed council has defined Education Abroad as a HiP meeting their requirements.


Gen Ed HiP Requirements

Each area will have its own requirements, and faculty are strongly encouraged to work with the corresponding office for each area (for Internships, Community Engaged Learning, Undergraduate Research, and Education Abroad) during course creation and certification. Regardless of in which HIP area a courses chooses to certify, all HIP courses must include all of the following student learning outcomes:

  1. Students will engage in meaningful critical reflection in required coursework.
  2. Under professional oversight, students will utilize contextually-appropriate behaviors, tools, techniques and/or dispositions.
  3. Students will integrate discipline-specific knowledge into the contextualized experience.
  4. Students will synthesize discipline-appropriate learning via a culminating assignment. 


Other High Impact Practices

Other HiPs on the LEAP website (but not approved for USF Gen Ed) include: 

  • First-Year Seminars and Experiences
  • Common Intellectual Experiences
  • Learning Communities
  • Writing-Intensive Courses
  • ePortfolios

Key Elements of HiPs

It can be useful to measure how "high impact" a particular practice is by looking at these key elements. In brief, a practice isn't very high impact unless it has all these features:

  1. Performance expectations set at appropriately high levels
  2. Significant investment of time and effort by students over an extended period of time
  3. Interactions with faculty and peers about substantive matters
  4. Experiences with diversity, wherein students are exposed to and must contend with people and circumstances that differ from those with which students are familiar
  5. Frequent, timely and constructive feedback
  6. Periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning
  7. Opportunities to discover relevance of learning through real-world applications
  8. Public demonstrations of competence

Source: Ensuring Quality & Takin High-Impact Practices to Scale (Kuh, O'Donnell, Reed)