“HIP” Teaching

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At a recent Teaching and Learning Conference sponsored by the University System of Georgia, I was struck by the number of presentations focused on HIPs:  high impact practices. HIPs are described by George Kuh and Carol Schneider in a 2008 book as evidence-based teaching practices that can transform the lives of students who participate in them. The list of practices includes first-year seminars, internships, capstone courses, e-portfolios, and service learning (among others). The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) has developed training for HIPs through an annual Institute.  


The HIPs are not meant to be small tweaks tagged onto existing course structures; rather, they require the intentional design of experiences—often multi-semester experiences—that engage students in deep, active, and reflective learning.  Some of the exemplary models suggest a strong level of institutional commitment to implement the HIPs—from personnel and training to technology (for e-portfolios) and scheduling resources.   

Photo by Scott Graham on UnsplashPhoto by Scott Graham on Unsplash


But while the adoption of one of the HIPs can seem daunting to individual faculty, there is a second HIP publication that is equally important—but not always as well known. In a 2013 publication, Kuh and O’Donnell outline eight characteristics that make a practice “high-impact.” It’s not that all HIPs demonstrate all eight traits, but they all involve some combination of these:

  1. Performance expectations set at appropriately high levels
  2. Significant investment of time and effort by students over an extended period of time
  3. Interactions with faculty and peers about substantive matters
  4. Experiences with diversity, wherein students are exposed to and must contend with people and circumstances that differ from those with which students are familiar
  5. Frequent, timely, and constructive feedback
  6. Periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning
  7. Opportunities to discover relevance of learning through real-world applications
  8. Public demonstration of competence


Even without significant institutional investment of time or resources, instructors of FYC/corequisite and stand-alone developmental courses can ensure their students have access to “HIP classrooms” and learning experiences shaped by these eight elements.  


Over the past two years, for example, I’ve seen the power of inviting Writing Fellows (junior and seniors) into the corequisite classroom to talk—and listen—to non-traditional and multilingual students. For our FYC students, such embedded tutoring covers element #3 (interactions with peers); for the Fellows, it covers #4 (experiences with diversity). Both groups then reflect and revise #6 (periodic, structured opportunities to reflect).  


What does your HIP classroom look like? Are you making intentional changes to be more HIP-focused? I’d love to hear about it.

About the Author
Miriam Moore is Assistant Professor of English at the University of North Georgia. She teaches undergraduate linguistics and grammar courses, developmental English courses (integrated reading and writing), ESL composition and pedagogy, and the first-year composition sequence. She is the co-author with Susan Anker of Real Essays, Real Writing, Real Reading and Writing, and Writing Essentials Online. She has over 20 years experience in community college teaching as well. Her interests include applied linguistics, writing about writing approaches to composition, professionalism for two-year college English faculty, and threshold concepts for composition, reading, and grammar.