Mapping student perspectives to institutional priorities

Presenters: Natasha Cook, Sofie Lachapelle, & Karen Menard from the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Much has been written about high impact practices (HIPs) and how they can enhance student learning, engagement, and academic success (Kuh, 2008).  HIPs are teaching and learning practices that are deemed transformational and contribute to student success.  The ten HIPs include: first year seminars, common intellectual experiences, learning communities, collaborative assignments and projects, writing intensive courses, undergraduate research, capstone projects and courses, diversity and global learning, service/community based learning, and internships.

The National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE) has been used by many institutions to identify how HIPs are perceived by students in their first and final undergraduate years.  While helpful, the NSSE data does not tell the whole story. To fill this gap, the University of Guelph embarked on a study to consider how HIPs can enhance retention and student success and inform the SEM process and create linkages to SEM goals.

The University of Guelph research project sought to learn, from the student perspective, about the prevalence of HIPs, who participates, when and where students participate, and how effective are HIPs are in enhancing student success.  By taking advantage of Guelph’s collaborative culture, the researchers worked with the AVP Academic, Institutional Analysis and Research, Open Learning and Educational Support, and five of the University’s colleges.  Using a mixed methods approach, it achieved a 27% response with 3,183 students participating in the project.

Most students reported that they participated in 2 or more HIPs.  Some of the HIPS that received the highest number of participants included: common intellectual experiences, learning communities and collaborative assignments and projects.  Those with the least participants included: capstones, community based learning, and diversity/global learning.

The research provides a baseline measure in HIPs related to student experience and satisfaction with particular attention to access; identifies  gaps and areas for improvements and opportunities and to respond to government priorities; identifies student engagement and satisfaction with some HIPs and began a deeper conversation on specific concerns or frustrations identified (e.g., group work); engages programs on student perception of specific HIPs within their curriculum (contribute to a cycle of curricular improvements);  and contributes to research in HIPs in the context of a Canadian comprehensive university.

The research team will soon produce an institutional report, reports for each college, and information for educational developers to create resources for faculty, review gaps in the curriculum and support a wider discussion on how HIPs impact learning outcomes assessment.