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University of Wisconsin-Superior
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At UW-Superior, HIP stands for "high-impact practices." They're not aerobics classes - or hockey workouts.
High-impact practices are widely tested learning and teaching strategies that help ensure undergraduates engage deeply in their own education. When they engage, students absorb both the deep and the broad skills that prepare them to thrive in a rapidly changing economy and society.
At UW-Superior, high-impact practices include:
- First year seminars and experiences
- Writing-intensive courses
- Global awareness and education
- Undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity
- Academic service-learning
- Senior year (or capstone) experience
Taken together, "They provide students a unique way to connect their education with liberal arts and real learning experiences that are more in depth than they otherwise would be," says Dr. Suzanne Griffith, a professor of education and coordinator of first year seminars at UW-Superior.
Since being introduced a few years ago, high-impact practices are spreading through the curriculum. The first year seminars, for example, have grown from 10 classes reaching 132 students in 2007 to 31 courses reaching 430 students this year.
For example, Dr. Eleni Pinnow's "Psychology of Dogs" applies psychology and biology principles to explore how dogs learn and how to train dogs using the most effective techniques. Pinnow says students use such knowledge to work directly with animals at a local shelter two hours a week to help make the dogs more adoptable.
Besides offering engaging content and hands-on experiences in the class, Pinnow, assistant professor of psychology, coaches first-year students on the ins and outs of college in general - from how to read a course syllabus to what's considered college-level work.
By design, first year seminars also tend to feature more discussion than typical in other courses, something freshmen aren't necessarily ready for at first. "Sometimes it does take a bit more prodding to get the FYS students to really dig in deep," Pinnow says. "But when they do, you can see their academic growth so clearly. It's so rewarding!"
Pinnow's class also happens to be an example of another high-impact practice - academic service learning. Academic service-learning courses bring UW-Superior academic knowledge to bear on community needs, benefiting both community and student.
Other high-impact activity includes:
- First Year Experiences and Seminars: Along with the seminars, first year experience includes events throughout the year that orient incoming high school students to college life and learning.
- Writing-Intensive Courses: The Writing Across the Curriculum program leads this effort on campus with help from the Writing Center, which uses well-trained students as mentors for fellow students.
- Global Awareness and Education: The Office of International Programs, the World Student Association, the World Languages, Literature and Cultures Department, and the Global Studies Minor offer programming in and out of the classroom to bring international context to UW-Superior.
- Undergraduate Research, Scholarship,and Creative Activity: Emphasizing faculty research more in the teaching process pays benefits to undergraduates. UW-Superior has expanded offerings beyond the natural sciences, extending the opportunity to all students.
- Academic Service-Learning: The Center for Academic Service-Learning brings faculty members and local groups together to meet community needs by having students apply their academic skills and knowledge.
- Senior Year (Capstone) Experience: Since the idea was introduced in 2007, all UW-Superior departments now offer or require seniors to present a complex project that exemplifies and integrates their college learning experiences.
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