The Association of American Colleges & Universities offers a good snapshot on the value of high-impact practices here. The beauty of most high-impact practices is that they reflect what many of you are already doing in the classroom! The CHIP Micro-grants are intended to provide “seed money” that can support curricular, co-curricular and professional development opportunities in alignment with the high impact practice framework outlined by the CHIP committee. High impact practices engage students in active learning, contributing to their holistic development and long-term flourishing by deepening their learning in and outside the classroom. This includes:
The highest-quality first-year experiences place a strong emphasis on critical inquiry, frequent writing, information literacy, collaborative learning, and other skills that develop students’ intellectual and practical competencies.
Encouraging integration of learning across courses and to involve students with “big questions” that matter beyond the classroom. Many learning communities explore a common topic and/or common readings through the lenses of different disciplines.
Collaborative Assignments and Projects
Collaborative learning combines two key goals: learning to work and solve problems in the company of others, and sharpening one’s own understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences.
Improving Campus Climate/Awareness
Many colleges and universities now emphasize courses and programs that help students explore cultures, life experiences, and worldviews different from their own. These studies—which may address US diversity, world cultures, or both—often explore “difficult differences” such as racial, ethnic, and gender inequality, or continuing struggles around the globe for human rights, freedom, and power.
College and universities provide a rich array of opportunities for undergraduate students of all disciplines to engage in research experiences. Whether it is through individual research in response to a course project, a group research project, or working with a faculty research initiative, these experiences involve students with actively contested questions, empirical observation, cutting edge technologies, and the sense of excitement that comes from working to answer important questions.
The idea is to give students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve problems in the community. A key element in these programs is the opportunity students have to both apply what they are learning in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences.
Whether they’re called “senior capstones” or some other name, these culminating experiences require students nearing the end of their college years to create a project of some sort that integrates and applies what they’ve learned. Capstones are offered both in departmental programs and, increasingly, in general education as well.
Creating an integrated approach to professional development and personal discernment is a distinct aspect of Valpo’s culture. Projects related to vocational exploration—reflecting a sense of calling and not only suitability—are a valuable part of making sure students across disciplines have a chance to see their skills put to use in meaningful ways.