High Impact Practices

What are High Impact Practices?

High Impact Practices (HIPs) are eleven specific teaching practices that can be incorporated in undergraduate courses and across undergraduate modules. These broad instructional practices are considered “high-impact” because they have been shown to foster student success, including: improved academic achievement; engagement in educationally purposeful activities; student satisfaction and; student persistence (Kuh, O'Donnell & Schneider, 2017).

The Eleven High Impact Practices

  1. First year seminars and experiences
  2. Common intellectual experience
  3. Learning communities
  4. Writing- and inquiry intensive course
  5. Collaborative assignments and projects
  6. Undergraduate research
  7. Global learning
  8. Service or community-based learning
  9. Internship and field experiences
  10. Capstone course and projects
  11. ePortfolios

Download the full list of High Impact Practices (2017)

While HIPs can take different forms, what makes HIPs effective are the common characteristics of fostering high levels of student engagement in meaningful tasks, which in turn deepen the learning experience. As described above, student engagement is informed by Chickering and Gamson's (1987) seminal work Seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education, where it is understood as the effort that students devote to educationally purposeful activities (Hu & Kuh, 2002). Deep learning is a stage in a learning cycle where students seek meaning, relate and extend ideas, look for patters and underlying principles, check evidence, examined arguments critically and become “actively interested in course content” (Hattie & Donoghue, 2016, p. 3).

Kuh, O'Donnell and Schneider (2017) go on to describe that many HIPs, when done well, will also require “hands-on, integrative and often collaborative learning experiences” (p. 11) putting students in close proximity to faculty and peers for “an extended period of time” (p.12).

Eight Key Features of HIPs, as identified by Kuh, O'Donnell & Schneider (2017)

  1. Students' performance expectations are set at an appropriately high level.
  2. Projects or assignments require an investment of concentrated effort by students over an extended period of time.
  3. Students interact with faculty and peers about substantive matters on an on-going basis, in or out of the classroom.
  4. Students receive frequent, timely and constructive feedback.
  5. Students discover the relevance of their learning through "real-world" applications.
  6. Students demonstrate their competence publicly.
  7. Students explore cultures, life experiences and worldviews different than their own.
  8. Periodic, intentional and structured opportunities for students to reflect and integrate learning.

HIPs not only can improve the student learning experience, but seem to have other larger effects, including: improving undergraduate degree completion rates (Finley & McNair, 2013); shrinking the psychological size of a campus, increasing the likelihood of a student having an affinity group to identify with (Kuh, O'Donnell and Schneider, 2017); and having a compensatory effect for students from populations under-represented in higher education (Finley & McNair, 2013).

While incorporating HIPs into undergraduate curricula promises to improve the student learning experience, it is also important to note that faculty members are in the best position to judge local circumstances and adapt a particular HIP model to take into account these elements. All HIPs, however, need to be “intentionally designed and delivered” with instructors working to seek “iterative feedback…from all those involved” (Kuh, O'Donnell & Schneider, 2017, p.15) in the learning experience.

Have further questions about High Impact Practices? Contact the Teaching Support Centre’s Curriculum Team .


Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. AAHE Bulletin, 39(7), 3–7. Retrieved from http://www.aahea.org/bulletins/articles/sevenprinciples1987.htm

Hattie, J. A. C., & Donoghue, G. M. (2016). Learning strategies: a synthesis and conceptual model. Science of Learning, 1, 1–13. http://doi.org/10.1038/npjscilearn.2016.13

Finley, A. & McNair, T. (2013). Assessing underserved students’ engagement in high-impact practices. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Kuh, G. D., O'Donnell, K., & Schneider, C. G. (2017). HIPs at Ten. Change: the Magazine of Higher Learning, 49(5), 8–16. http://doi.org/10.1080/00091383.2017.1366805

Hu, S., & Kuh, G. D. (2002). Being (Dis)Engaged in Educationally Purposeful Activities: The Influences of Student and Institutional Characteristics. Research in Higher Education, 43(5), 555–575. http://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020114231387High Impact Practices