IU Southeast wins AASCU grant to encourage High Impact Practices

29th November 2017
Raven Roberson '17 stands by her research poster at the 2017 Undergraduate Research Conference.

Raven Roberson ’17 presents a poster at the 2017 IU Southeast Undergraduate Research Conference. Undergraduate research is an important high-impact practice that involves students with the current state of knowledge in their fields and builds enthusiasm for deeper investigation. First-year students involved in research graduate at twice the rate of those who are not.

By Steven Krolak

(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–IU Southeast has received a grant from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) to fund development and implementation of so-called High Impact Practices (HIPs) in first-year courses.

Ten faculty members will be selected to receive a $1,000 stipend to support course design and implementation for the Spring 2018 semester.

IU Southeast is one of only 20 institutions to receive this support, part of a larger $1.1 million award to AASCU by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to further the association’s Re-Imagining the First Year of College (RFY) project funded by the Gates Foundation and USA Funds.

IU Southeast is one of 44 institutions nationwide engaging in this project, whose purpose is to ensure success for all students, particularly those who have historically been underserved by higher education

HIPs are a group of actions, processes and interventions that have been shown to contribute to student success.

“Research indicates that carefully designed high-impact practices enhance the learning of students,” said Donna Dahlgren, professor of psychology and dean of student success and persistence. “It also indicates that students who participate in these experiences are more likely to be retained.”

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) has created a list of HIPs that includes the following:

  • First-year seminars and experiences
  • Common intellectual experiences (core courses)
  • Learning communities
  • Writing-intensive courses
  • Collaborative assignments and courses
  • Undergraduate research
  • Service learning
  • Internships
  • Capstones
  • Diversity/global learning

Research demonstrates that these HIP’s lead students to talk about substantive matters outside of class, study together, see connections between different courses and integrate and synthesize material. They become more deeply and personally invested in the subject matter, and more committed to pursuing studies to graduation.

HIPs are already a big deal at IU Southeast.

Under the leadership of Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Uric Dufrene, the university has spent the past four years underscoring their importance and supporting their implementation.

“Evidence shows that persistence to the second year increases with the introduction of High Impact Practices,” Dufrene said.  “So HIPs during the first year must be a key persistence strategy.”

Virtually all faculty are familiar with AASCU materials describing HIPs, and Dufrene has enlisted the assistance of deans, unit heads and the Faculty Senate to encourage instructors to consider how HIPs can be integrated into their classrooms. He has also asked the Institute for Learning and Teaching Excellence (ILTE) to develop programming to support the adoption of HIPs. This information is shared with instructors during professional development activities.

Faculty from across the disciplines have responded to the call for HIPs by creating a culture of innovation in teaching that incorporates service learning, undergraduate research, first-year seminars, capstones and other recognized practices into the classroom experience.

Management students involved in a collaborative game to better understand team performance.

Management students (l-r) Indy Goodson, Ben Ho and Jordan Parrot learn about team dynamics through a hands-on activity. Such collaborative projects help sharpen listening and cooperative problem-solving skills.

The AASCU grant will enable these efforts to be expanded. It will give IU Southeast the opportunity to highlight the use of HIPs in the first college year, encourage faculty to design appropriate HIPs for more first-year students and increase recognition of this important work by giving faculty the opportunity to share their HIP practices with colleagues.

To be selected, instructors who teach first-year students will submit proposals to be reviewed by a multi-disciplinary subcommittee. The ten strongest will be selected according to primary criteria that include the clarity of goals, the appropriateness of the HIP to the class objectives and the viability of assessment.

Once selected, the instructors will receive support from ILTE and faculty colleagues with experience in the use of HIPs. When the semester has ended, thje instructors will create a report that describes their HIP and how it unfolded in their classroom. The reports will form the basis for a workshop that will allow other interested faculty members to benefit from the project.

“The grant award says that our faculty are knowledgeable about practices that lead to a high level of student learning,” Dahlgren said. “Faculty across the campus are already implementing HIP’s in various classes at IU Southeast, so we were ready for this type of grant.”

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