High-Impact Practices and the Library

Lately it seems like I have been hearing a lot of instruction talk about high-impact practices (HIPs) and how valuable they are in enhancing student learning.  High-impact practices are principles associated with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU’s) LEAP Initiative.  HIPs are a set of educational activities that have been researched by George D. Kuh and identified as activities that correspond to higher levels of student performance.  Some examples of HIPs are:

  • First year experience and seminars
  • Learning communities
  • Internships
  • Undergraduate research
  • Capstone courses and projects
  • Common intellectual experiences

High-impact practices require students to invest a considerable amount of time and effort to participate in personally meaningful activities that are designed to encourage collaboration and feedback from peers and others. These activities are designed to strengthen skills that would correlate to “real-world” applications or wider educational experiences.

To learn more about how high-impact practices can be incorporated into the instruction that takes place in libraries, I attended SCIL Works 2015, a workshop through the Southern California Instruction Librarians (SCIL) titled Let me take you higher: How libraries use High Impact Practices to engage students.   As an example, Matt Cook a librarian at CSU Channel Islands is integrating HIPs into library instruction by co-teaching an inter-disciplinary course with a political scientist in which students begin their undergraduate research experience with processing primary source material in special collections.  Students begin their research by working with letters from the Vietnam era.  Once these letters are grouped into categories they then analyze how the tone and content of the letters may have been influenced by political and war events that they research using secondary sources.   In this way students learn about the different types of information sources in an organic way throughout the course.

What struck me about the high-impact practice presentations at the workshop was that each librarian had spent a considerable amount of time championing librarian-led instruction so that a co-teaching type of relationship could exist between the librarian and the instructor.  This relationship seems to be the foundation on which the design of HIPs is built.  These types of activities occur when librarians are embedded into the curriculum and are teaching research skills as an integral part of a course.  As many of us know, building relationships with faculty and creating library instruction buy-in is not a process that happens overnight.  Perhaps it’s best to start with faculty we know and determine if there are ways in which we can take library instruction to the next level by working together to create high-impact practices even if on a small scale.  What ideas do you have for HIPs within the library? What are some high-impact practices that you are a part of?

Want to learn more?

Kuh, G. D. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.


One thought on “High-Impact Practices and the Library

  1. I’m trying to start a new First Year Experience idea of having students in several different classes examine the same thing (especially a crisis or cause of some sort) from different disciplinary lenses. I have some ideas, and worked on a list of materials that we have in our archives/special collections, but I need to see if there is any faculty interest first.


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