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Members of the Division of Student Success attend Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success

August 02, 2017
The York College of Pennsylvania sign on main campus

A group of York College faculty and administrators – a number from the Division of Student Success – applied for and were invited to attend the Association of American College & Universities (AAC&U) 2017 Institute on High-Impact Practices (HIPs) and Student Success in June at Boston University. The opportunity was funded by Provost Laura Niesen.

“The application described a proposal for the HIP-related work that we wanted to perform at York College,” said Associate Provost Josh Landau, who leads the Student Success Division. He was joined at the conference by Cynthia Crimmins, director of the Center for Academic Innovation; Renee Sefton, coordinator of Student Success Initiatives in the Academic Advising Center; and faculty members Jessica Nolan, associate professor of Biology, and Randi Shedlosky-Shoemaker, assistant professor of Psychology. “Cindy Crimmins took the lead on creating our proposal, which focused on cataloguing all the HIPs that are in place at York College.”

AAC&U research has pointed to a handful of education practices – HIPs – that greatly improve student engagement and learning. They include:

  1. First-Year Seminars and Experiences - seminars or other programs that bring small groups of students together with faculty or staff on a regular basis.
  2. Common Intellectual Experiences - set of required common courses or a vertically organized general education program that includes advanced integrative studies and/or required participation in a learning community.
  3. Learning Communities - encourage integration of learning across courses and to involve students with “big questions” that matter beyond the classroom.
  4. Writing-Intensive Courses - emphasize writing at all levels of instruction and across the curriculum, including final-year projects.
  5. Collaborative Assignments and Projects - combine 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.
  6. Undergraduate Research - experiences for students in all disciplines.
  7. Diversity/Global Learning - courses and programs that help students explore cultures, life experiences, and worldviews different from their own.
  8. Service Learning, Community-Based Learning - field-based “experiential learning” with community partners.
  9. Internships - provide students with direct experience in a work setting—usually related to their career interests—and give them the benefit of supervision and coaching from professionals in the field.
  10. Capstone Courses and Projects - 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.

“We are offering all of these HIPs at York College though our curriculum and cocurricular activities,” Landau said. “At the Institute, we determined that our next logical step is to document who is engaged in HIPs and to especially help students to recognize and showcase their own involvement in HIPs.” 

To do so, York College plans to create an experience transcript to record which students are engaging in what HIPs; create a central “database” for HIPs; and create reflection points by embedding the experience transcript throughout the student experience. “By collecting this information, we can make adjustment to our HIPs offerings and make sure that all students have access to a variety of HIP experiences,” Landau said.

“We focused on how we fit this in throughout a student’s entire experience, not just junior or senior year,” Landau said. “We believe we can weave the concept of HIPs and students reflecting on these throughout the four years, starting with GenNext, a check-in midway, and finally at the Senior Capstone.” 

A cocurricular transcript is an initiative that is currently being pursued by Matthew Randall, executive director of the Leadership Development Center (formerly the Center for Professional Development), which is part of the Student Success Division. The project has been tentatively named Spartan Experiential Transcript (SET).

Landau and his team will present their findings to faculty this fall and seek support for their initiative, which is designed to create a truly distinctive student experience. “We are carefully examining the elements and behaviors of the HIPs that improve learning and engagement,” he said. “Our plan is to document and expand our HIPs-based offerings, because we believe that this will increase student success.”




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