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.


First Year Experience Recap

During this past Fall Quarter, Learning Services had the opportunity to participate in the First Year Experience pilot program that was designed to help students from the six colleges maximize their experience at UCSD by providing them with an introduction to campus resources and services.  As you may recall, students participated in a mobile scavenger hunt type activity in the library that introduced students to library resources, services, and spaces.

We are in the process of analyzing data (both assessment and evaluation) and we are excited to present the project at three upcoming conferences:

  • 34th Annual First Year Experience Conference in Dallas, TX, which takes place Feb. 7-10th (Crystal Goldman)
  • ACRL 2015 in Portland, OR, during a TechConnect presentation on Thursday March 26th (Amanda Heath and Lia Friedman)
  • LOEX 2015 in Denver, CO which takes place April 30th – May 2nd (Crystal Goldman, Amanda Heath, Lia Friedman and Dominique Turnbow)

Additionally, we will be hosting a Lunch N’ Learn in April for all who are interested in learning more about this project and seeing the results.

The design, development and implementation of the First Year Experience was certainly a team effort and wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our library colleagues.  Thanks again to everyone who supported us to make this pilot possible. We are looking forward to using student and other stakeholder feedback to improve the scavenger hunt as we prepare to be a part of this pilot again in Fall 2015.

Using Padlet for Classroom Engagement

In this post, let’s take a breather from our Kirkpatrick series reflections and look at a fun free technology tool that you may choose to investigate and play with in your next instruction session that can be used to increase class engagement and provide a way for you to conduct formative assessment. I discovered this tool through LOEX Quarterly (Vol. 40: Iss. 4) in an article titled The Writing is on the Wall: Using Padlet for Whole-Class Engagement by Beth Fuchs.

Padlet is a free online multi-media “wall” that can be used collaboratively in your classroom instruction. This tool creates an online space that enables anyone with the URL to post text, images, and links to the online space anonymously. Learning Services recently test-drove Padlet during the MMW121library instruction sessions this past fall quarter to encourage participation in a collaborative class brainstorming session involving keywords. It was successful enough that I thought I would share it here with you all.

Here is how we used it. We created a Padlet wall and wrote a research question on the wall. We then asked students to go to the wall URL and as a group post to the wall keywords they may use in a search for the research question. These posts provided us with a sharable list of keywords that we could then discuss in terms of their search effectiveness.


In terms of enhancing classroom engagement, Padlet provided a way for the entire group of students to actively participate in developing search strategies and because the posts are anonymous, Padlet removes participation barriers associated with shyness or the fear of answering incorrectly. The class activity also allows instructors to check student understanding using formative assessment.

I encourage you to give Padlet a try, it just might be your new favorite tool in your instruction tool kit.