Due to their positive associations with student learning and retention, certain undergraduate opportunities are designated "high-impact." High-Impact Practices (HIPs) share several traits: They demand considerable time and effort, facilitate learning outside of the classroom, require meaningful interactions with faculty and students, encourage collaboration with diverse others, and provide frequent and substantive feedback. As a result, participation in these practices can be life-changing (Kuh, 2008). NSSE founding director George Kuh recommends that institutions should aspire for all students to participate in at least two HIPs over the course of their undergraduate experience—one during the first year and one in the context of their major (NSSE, 2007).
NSSE asks students about their participation in the six HIPs shown below. Unlike most questions on the NSSE survey, the HIP questions are not limited to the current school year. Thus, seniors' responses include participation from prior years.
- A one page handout describing the Engagement Indicators and High-Impact Practices for easy reference.
- The HIPs were adapted from the former Benchmark "Enriching Educational Experiences."
- Summary tables of HIPs by student and institutional characteristics.
- A sample of the High-Impact Practices report.
Participation in a High-Impact Practice is reported as the percentage of students who responded "Done or in progress" for all HIPs except service-learning, for which they reported at least "Some" of their courses included a community-based project. Thus, a HIP score of 26 means that 26% of respondents had participated in the activity.
NSSE reports participation in learning communities, service-learning, and research with faculty for both first-year students and seniors, and also reports participation in internships or field experiences, study abroad, and culminating senior experiences only for seniors.
These High-Impact Practice items were formerly part of the NSSE Benchmark called Enriching Educational Experiences, but are no longer combined into a single scale. For details on the transition from Benchmarks to Engagement Indicators and High-Impact Practices, see this document.
Although HIPs are already included in each institution's NSSE data file, an SPSS syntax file to generate a table of HIP participation by student characteristics is available here.
HIP participation varies more among students within an institution than it does between institutions, like many experiences and outcomes in higher education. As a result, focusing attention on overall participation rates amounts to examining the tip of the iceberg. It's equally important to understand how student engagement (including HIP participation) varies within your institution. The High-Impact Practices report provides an initial look at how HIP participation varied by selected student characteristics. The Report Builder—Institution Version and the Major Field Report offer further perspectives on internal variation and can help you investigate your students' HIP participation in depth.
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.
National Survey of Student Engagement (2007). Experiences that matter: Enhancing student learning and success—Annual Report 2007. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research.