- "High-impact" learning practices (HIP) were once regarded as the keys to revitalizing higher education for its growing and diversifying student populations. But a new study suggests learning modules built around intensive writing training, service learning, community and group approaches to coursework and other methods may not be as intrinsic to improving student completion as they were once believed to be.
- Data taken from 101 institutions suggest that four and six-year graduation rates at schools using a majority of HIP practices were the same as the rates at institutions using few or none of the modules, suggesting that different forms of learning do not equate to students finishing college at faster rates.
- HIP learning advocates say the data is missing analysis of advising intervention, extracurricular activities and other elements of the college experience which also contribute to completion, a subject that in itself requires a larger sample size of schools to effectively view what works and what doesn't.
It is difficult to assess the effectiveness of any teaching, as different schools and professors can always be judged for different approaches to different types of students in any given course. But there is a value in understanding the ways in which students are engaged by specific learning modules, and studying the levels of interest and motivation spurred by a variety of teaching styles and content presentation methods.
This kind of assessment is particularly useful in online learning, as some professors have publicly shared the value of professors exposing their personalities as an asset to increasing student engagement. Other examples of measuring engagement levels can be found in the courses which use real-world training experiences as part of the curriculum, like Stony Brook University's career preparation add-on to its nursing curriculum.
The challenge lies in departments and professors being able to collect and accept what data tells them about student connections and achievement. If they can cultivate information that shows them a path to take in attracting student interest and encouraging success, then it should guide their design and implementation strategies even if it is well outside of cultural teaching and learning norms.