Starting a Conversation about High-impact Practices Online
by Katie Linder and Chrysanthemum Mattison Hayes
As institutions of higher education focus more and more of their attention on student success initiatives, interventions to impact student retention, and increased graduation rates, we have all been challenged to develop innovative ways to nurture and enhance student success.
However, we have found that sometimes it can be helpful to put a new spin on older ideas to help us meet the needs of our students, especially as our student demographics keep changing and requiring us to think about these older ideas in new ways.
In 2008, George Kuh coined the term “High-Impact Educational Practices” (HIPs) and defined them as unique components that make up the undergraduate educational experience. Ten years later, HIPs are now frequently utilized as metrics for measuring student learning and campus cultures that promote educational quality. The eleven high-impact practices, as defined by Kuh, currently include:
- 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 and community-based learning
- Capstone courses and projects
As the literature on the use and effectiveness of HIPs in a range of institutional environments continues to grow, a new area of exploration is starting to emerge: HIPs in the context of the online classroom.
It is important to note that the adaptation of HIPs online is a new practice and, as with any new practice in the higher education classroom, it can take some time to build a literature base to discover what is effective for student learning. In the case of transferring HIPs to the online environment, we are still very much in the exploration stage. In this stage, we are asking questions such as:
- What are the logistics of transitioning each HIP to the online environment?
- What benefits and challenges emerge when trying to implement each HIP online?
- Do HIPs function online in the same ways that they function in face-to-face environments?
- In what ways do HIPs in the online environment support efforts to advance opportunities for students in historically underrepresented groups?
- Are HIPs as effective online as they are face-to-face? Are some HIPs more effective online than when used in traditional classrooms?
- Are certain HIPs more effective in online environments than others?
- Are there additional HIPs that should be added to the list, such as the recent addition of e-portfolios, that are more technology focused?
To help answer some of these questions, and to further this important conversation, we have edited a new collection, High-impact Practices in Online Education: Research and Best Practices (Stylus Publishing, 2018). This collection is a multidisciplinary collaboration meant to assist faculty and administrators in considering whether and how best to implement HIPs in online education courses and programs.
Each chapter in the volume is dedicated to a specific HIP and includes examples and practical suggestions for what it might mean to implement it online. We were fortunate to have authors in the volume that represent a range of disciplines and institution types, so the examples provided throughout the book are broad and diverse.
Each chapter also references the most recent and relevant literature on each HIP. In some cases, admittedly, there is not much research to cite. As we said, we see this as the beginning of a conversation that will need to continue as online education continues to grow.
We invite you to explore what we know about HIPs being transitioned online and contribute to the growing conversation:
- To what degree have you experimented with implementing high-impact practices in online settings?
- What successes and challenges have you encountered with implementing high-impact practices online?
- What additional research would you like to see about HIPs in online environments?
Katie Linder is the Research Director for Oregon State University Ecampus and the co-editor of High-impact Practices in Online Education: Research and Best Practices. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chrysanthemum Mattison Hayes is the Associate Director for Institutional Analytics and Reporting at Oregon State University and the co-editor of High-impact Practices in Online Education: Research and Best Practices. You can reach her at Chrysanthemum.Hayes@oregonstate.edu.