Action Plan for the Use and Evaluation of High Impact Educational Practices through a Model of Inclusive Excellence at WKU
In June of 2015, five WKU faculty members participated in the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) High Impact Practices Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. High Impact Educational Practices, or HIPS, have been shown to benefit students from diverse backgrounds by promoting deep learning and personal and professional growth (aacu.org/leap/hips)
The purpose of the AAC&U HIPS institute was to help institutions develop an action plan that would guide the use and assessment of high impact practices for the benefit of ALL student learning through a model of equity and inclusive excellence (aacu.org/sites/default/files/CommittingtoEquityInclusiveExcellence.pdf)
Clearly, WKU faculty and staff are actively engaged in many initiatives that would be considered by AAC&U as “High Impact”, such as common intellectual experiences, study abroad, undergraduate research, service-learning, internships, living-learning communities, and capstone experiences, faculty and staff do not discuss these collective activities as being “high impact” learning experiences for our students. These practices may be viewed are disparate and at times competing initiatives, most especially by support units created to support one practice and by faculty who see the value of one activity over another. Moreover, many of our high achieving students choose to engage in one or more of these practices, creating a selection bias whereby motivated students have access to these high impact practices, whereas traditionally underserved student populations, such as racial and ethnic minority groups and first generation college students are excluded from receiving their inherent benefits. Finally, our institution must assess student learning outcomes within and across these disparate practices, measuring the “impactful” nature of these practices on student learning, personal transformation, student retention and persistence, graduation, and professional opportunities upon graduation.
The preliminary draft of the action plan developed by the WKU HIPS Team seeks to achieve these goals through the completion of specific activities within three broad actions/objectives.
- First, our draft action plan outlines activities that will create a culture and discourse centered on High Impact Educational Practices at WKU through the development, implementation, and delivery of a professional development program for faculty and staff focused on AAC&U High Impact Practices. WKU faculty, staff, and students are already engaging in many of these practices, and efforts here will help faculty, staff and students see these activities as high-impact and transformative.
- Second, our draft action plan specifies activities that will ensure these high impact practices are accessible to all students at WKU, especially racial and ethnic minorities, first generation college students, adult learners, and other traditionally underserved student populations. Empirical research has demonstrated high impact practices can be most transformative to these traditionally underserved students and can lead to increases in retention and persistence toward graduation. We must understand the extent to which underserved students are participating in these practices through the collection and analysis of institutional data, and should inequalities be identified, work across the institution to engage important stakeholders who have resources to support these students.
- Third, our draft action plan outlines steps to ensure that faculty and staff have the resources and support necessary to conduct formative and summative assessment of these high impact practices, which will be used to inform larger institutional wide assessment of student learning within and equitable access to these high impact practices.
In the coming months, the WKU HIPS Institute Team will be reaching out to individuals and units who are actively and creatively engaged in the use of HIPS at WKU to discuss this action plan and to offer suggested revisions and additional ideas. Working with these individuals and constituents, we envision the development and creation of a two year professional development program (academic years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 academic years) that will provide faculty and professional staff with the opportunities to learn about the benefits of high-impact practices (as identified in the existing literature), successful strategies for the development and implementation within courses and degree programs (including the Colonnade Program), the need to ensure inclusive excellence, and the importance and appropriate use of formative and summative assessment of these practices to ensure course and program level learning objectives are met.
AAC&U High Impact Practices Institute Team Members from WKU
- Scott Bonham, Physics & Astronomy (CITL Teaching Fellow)
- Jerry Daday, Sociology (CITL Director)
- Angela Jones, English (Director of Internship Program in English Dept)
- Wren Mills, Distance Learning (Faculty Professional Development)
- Ron Ramsing, School of KRS (Chair of International Education Advisory Council)
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