High-Impact Educational Practices

Duquesne University students have the opportunity to participate in many practices that the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) considers to be “high-impact educational practices.”  These practices include:

  1. First-Year Seminars and Experiences
  2. Common Intellectual Experiences
  3. Learning Communities
  4. Writing-Intensive Courses
  5. Collaborative Assignments and Projects
  6. Undergraduate Research
  7. Diversity/Global Learning
  8. Service Learning, Community-Based Learning
  9. Internships
  10. Capstone Courses and Projects
  11. E-Portfolios (added 2016)

Kuh (2008) writes that these “practices have been widely tested and have been shown to be beneficial for college students from many backgrounds. These practices take many different forms, depending on learner characteristics and on institutional priorities and contexts.” He adds that “on almost all campuses, utilization of active learning practices is unsystematic, to the detriment of student learning.”  (Overview of High-Impact Educational Practices) Kuh also provides a strong summary of the value of High-Impact Educational Practices in this video.

The AAC&U has defined the broad essential learning outcomes of liberal education to be

  • Knowledge of human culture and the physical and natural world
  • Intellectual and practical skills
  • Personal and social responsibility
  • Integrative and applied learning

Scholars of high-impact teaching practices argue that high-impact educational practices provide pathways for students to attain these important learning outcomes.

When they are done well,  high-impact education practices have six student behaviors in common: Students invest time and effort; they interact with faculty and peers about substantive matters; they experience diversity; they respond to more frequent feedback; they reflect and integrate learning; and they discover relevance of learning through real-world applications (Kuh, 2008, pp. 14-17).

Brownell and Swaner (2010) summarize the general research on five high-impact practices and include discussions of research relevant to underserved students.  Research shows that high-impact educational practices are even more beneficial for students who have lower standardized test scores upon entering college, or who are in communities historically underserved in higher education.  And yet often these students are not the ones who have access to these kinds of learning opportunities (Kuh, 2008, p. 1).

In his engaging address on Changing Education Paradigms, Sir Ken Robinson decries the production line model of education and its detrimental effect on student creativity and engagement.  High-impact educational practices – done well – are a counter example to assembly line learning.  They foster the investment of students and faculty alike in the real-world messiness… and joy of learning.


Kuh, G. D., Gambino, L. M., Bresciani Ludvik, M., & O'Donnell, K. (2018, February). Using ePortfolio to document
and deepen the impact of HIPs on learning dispositions (Occasional Paper No. 32). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and
Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA). http://learningoutcomesassessment.

Kuh, G. D. (2017). Foreword: And now there are 11. In B. Eynon and L. M. Gambino, High impact ePortfolio practice: A catalyst for
student, faculty and institutional learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Kuh, George D. & O'Donnell, K. (2013). Ensuring quality & taking high-impact practices to scale. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges & Universities.

Brownell, J.E., & Swaner, L. E.  (2010).  Five high-impact practices: Research on learning outcomes, completion, and quality.  Association of American Colleges & Universities.

Kuh, G. D.  (2008).  High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter.  Association of American Colleges & Universities. (High-Impact Educational Practices: A Brief Overview)