High Impact Practices

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Welcome to High Impact Practices at San Antonio College. In 2019 a group of SAC staff, faculty, and administrators attended the AAC&U 2019 Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success. As an extension of that experience, this website has been designed to help SAC faculty and students explore High Impact Practices and integrate them into the learning experience at San Antonio College.

Basic High-Impact Educational Practices with examples and definitions:


High-Impact Practices (HIPs) are educational practices that research has shown to increase rates of student retention, student engagement, and persistence to graduation for all students across diverse backgrounds. Faculty are strongly encouraged to utilization one or more of these HIPs whenever possible in order to improve active learning. This page provides a brief overview of the basic HIP approaches along with examples of how they may be incorporated into course designs.

Common Elements of HIP strategies

  • Requires student effort and commitment to learning
  • Helps students build substantive relationships with peers and faculty
  • Helps students engage one another across differences thus challenging students to develop new ways of thinking and responding to new people and situations
  • Provides students with rich, useful feedback helping them to see feedback as a tool for growth and improvement
  • Helps students apply what they are learning and adapt the information to new situations
  • Affords students the opportunity to self-reflect and become aware of themselves as a person as well as encourages life-long learning

Capstone Courses and Projects

Definition: Also called “senior capstones” these experiences allow students to create a project that integrates and applies their learning.

Example: Research projects, portfolio, performance, or art exhibit

Collaborative Assignments and Projects

Definition: Collaborative assignments and projects serve to teach students how to work as part of a team effort. In addition, they help students see different perspectives outside of their own.

Example: Course-based study groups, group writing assignments, projects, research.

Common Intellectual Experiences

Definition: This concept evolved from the idea of a “common core” into common experiences that include student goals and learning outcomes that often involve broad themes, such as technology and society and global interdependence, with a variety of curricular and co-curricular options for students.

Example: Faculty can help students utilize common courses such as composition, history, mathematics, etc. to help them better understand their educational interests and how these common courses impact other aspects of life.

Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs)

Definition: Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs), by definition, are learning experiences in which whole classes of students address a research question or problem with unknown outcomes or solutions that are of interest to external stakeholders (Dolan 2016). A longstanding staple in the science disciplines, undergraduate research is now being used in various disciplines to help students learn the process of inquiry and observation.

Example: Research projects with the goal of exploring answers to real-world questions.

  • Project BUILD is a Title III, Hispanic Serving Institution STEM grant funded by the Department of Education. Project BUILD is designed to significantly improve San Antonio College’s capacity to provide academic support to Hispanic and otherwise underrepresented STEM majors students who are enrolled in high-challenge STEM courses to increase their chances of progressing to on-time graduation and/or transfer in STEM.

    A major component of Project BUILD is to incorporate Course Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) in STEM courses taught at San Antonio College. Our resource site is designed to provide an overview of the application and onboarding process for STEM faculty committed to implementing CUREs.

Diversity/Global Learning

Definition: These assignments allow students to learn about world views that differ from their own. Common topics include racial and ethnic differences or gender inequality.

Example: Study abroad or Collaborative Online International Learning, (COIL)


Definition: ePortfolios allow students to create an electronic representation of their learning and experiences over the course of their time at the college. ePortfolios can be especially beneficial to employers when seeking to hire recent graduates. They are also helpful in allowing students to reflect on their learning over time.

Example: ePortfolio of student experiential learning.

First-Year Seminars and Experiences

Definition: This approach brings first-year students and faculty together on a regular basis in a seminar format allowing faculty to assist students in learning how to develop critical inquiry, writing skills, information literacy, collaborative learning and other skills that develops students’ intellectual and practical competencies.

Example: First-year students can be enrolled in a one-hour seminar based on common educational interests where the faculty incorporate readings, discussion points, group activities, and test taking strategies to help students understand what is required of them beyond high school expectations for successful completion of college.

Other Examples: Extended orientation and basic study skills seminars


Definition: Internships are designed to give students practical experience while learning on the job. Students have the added benefit of working closely with mentors and possibly future employers.

Example: Assignments with business or industry affiliated with a student’s course of study

Learning Communities

Definition: Two or more courses that are linked together based on a common intellectual theme that are taken together or students that are linked together in a cohort. This allows for the exploration of topics and readings through the lenses of different disciplines. Service learning may also be a component of learning communities.

Example: Paired or clustered courses, student cohorts

Service Learning, Community-Based Learning

Definition: Service learning is a form of experiential learning where students are involved in some community program often related to their area of study. They help students gain valuable experience while also teaching them the benefit of giving back to their communities. Application of concepts and reflection on learning are key components.

Example: Helping a local community-based program, working with a community partner.

Writing-Intensive Courses

Definition: Writing should be implemented at all levels of instruction and across multiple disciplines within the curriculum. Students are encouraged to create a variety of forms of writing with different audiences in mind.

Example: Engage students in a writing assignment which helps to create meaning. Must provide clear expectations and a grading rubric is recommended.


Q: What are HIPs?

A: HIPs stands for High Impact (Educational) Practices. HIPs have been shown to help increase student retention and engagement. Many pedagogical practices can be included in the general category of HIPs but for a list of examples, click here


Q: Who benefits from HIPs?

A: All students can benefit from HIPs but research shows that students from traditionally underserved populations stand to benefit the most.


Q: How are HIPs beneficial?

A: HIPs can help students understand how the content they are learning is relevant to their individual education and career goals.


Q: Where can I find more information about HIPs?

A: Check the resource list on this website for more information about HIPs.

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

Invitation for Participation:

Faculty Participation: If you are a faculty member who has incorporated innovative strategies to help improve student success, engagement, and retention then we want to hear from you. The button below will direct you to a form where you can upload information that can be shared among your faculty colleagues at San Antonio College.

HIPs Faculty Survey

Student Participation: If you are a student who has taken a class where your professor has incorporated innovative strategies to help improve student success, engagement, and retention then we want to hear from you. The button below will direct you to a form where you can upload information that can be shared with other faculty members at San Antonio College. 

HIPs Student Survey

Other Resources