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High-Impact Practices

High-Impact Practices (HIPs) are teaching and learning practices that research has found to have significant educational benefits for students, particularly those from historically underrepresented groups. Thoughtfully incorporating one or more carefully chosen HIPs in any course can result in increased student learning by challenging students to apply their learning in academic and real-world contexts. All ELAC courses must include HIPs.

The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) has identified the following evidence-based HIPs: 

  • Capstone courses and projects
  • Collaborative assignments and projects
  • Common intellectual experiences
  • Diversity/global learning
  • e-Portfolios
  • First year seminars and experiences
  • Internships
  • Learning communities
  • Service learning, community-based learning
  • Undergraduate research
  • Writing intensive courses

Brief descriptions of these HIPs are available on the AAC&U website. Please note that there may be other high-impact practices that have been identified by specific academic disciplines--and there are other practices that are still being studied that may be identified as HIPs in the future. However, any HIP proposed for an ELAC course must be supported by scholarship on teaching and learning.

What Makes a Practice High-Impact?

Kuh (2013) notes that not all efforts to implement HIPs are equally impactful on students, and that quality of implementation varies considerably. Kuh has identified eight key characteristics for evaluating whether a particular practice is likely to impact student persistence, graduation rates, and achievement of learning outcomes:

  • Performance expectations are set at appropriately high levels.
  • Students must invest significant time and effort over an extended period of time.
  • Students regularly interact with faculty and peers about substantive matters.
  • Students get experiences with diversity by being exposed to and contending with people and circumstances that differ from what they are familiar with.
  • Faculty provide students with frequent, timely, and constructive feedback.
  • Students have periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning.
  • Students have opportunities to discover the relevance of their learning through real-world applications.
  • Students demonstrate their competence in course material publicly.

Additional Resources


Kuh, G. D. (2013). Taking HIPs to the next level. In G. D. Kuh & K. O'Donnell (Eds.), Ensuring quality and taking high-impact practices to scale. Association of American Colleges and Universities.