Assessing Quality and Equity in High-Impact Practices

Assessing Quality and Equity in High-Impact Practices (HIPs) project

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

The Assessing Quality and Equity in High-Impact Practices (HIPs) project, supported by Lumina Foundation, builds on NSSE’s key role in catalyzing interest in HIPs, assessing HIPs, and supporting colleges and universities to use NSSE data to improve HIP quality and equity. It also builds on our longstanding commitment to study and advance effective educational practice and student success. It promises an approach to address the current urgency to make HIPs more widespread while assuring their effectiveness, as well as to develop long-term strategies for studying and assessing HIPs.

The first phase of research supported the most comprehensive data yet on HIP implementation and equity, exploring the extent to which HIP experiences incorporate elements theorized to account for their educational benefits and equitable access to high-quality HIPs. The initial summary of project findings, "Assessing Quality and Equity in High-Impact Practices: Comprehensive Report" was delivered July 2020.  

Read the initial summary of project findings, "Assessing Quality and Equity in High-Impact Practices: Comprehensive Report" (July 2020). 

The HIP Quality Follow-On Project, beginning in July 2020 through December 2021 will deepen the investigation by collecting even more contextualised data through purpose-built surveys keyed to specific HIP experiences. Investigation of the equity dimensions remains a central focus, and the new grant will include qualitative research into the experiences of racially minoritized students in HIPs. 


Madonna University


  1. Performance expectations set at appropriately high levels
  2. Significant investment of time and effort by students over an extended period of time
  3. Interactions with faculty and peers about substantive matters
  4. Experiences with diversity wherein students are exposed to and must contend with people and circumstances that differ from those with which students are familiar
  5. Frequent, timely, and constructive feedback
  6. Periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning
  7. Opportunities to discover relevance of learning through real-world applications
  8. Public demonstration of competence
Source: Ensuring Quality & Taking High-Impact Practices to Scale by George D. Kuh and Ken O'Donnell, with Case Studies by Sally Reed. (Washington, DC: AAC&U, 2013).

Project Rationale

Interest in HIPs and their educational benefits remains high. Processes for tracking participation, disaggregating who experiences HIPs, and developing HIP standards and taxonomies have expanded. Awareness about the value of HIPs, attention to equity, and overall HIP activity have become more widespread. However, it is well known that HIP implementation matters more than the labels attached to these practices, and many institutions, state systems and member- and consortium-based organizations (e.g., HIPs in the States, the National Association of System Heads’ (NASH) Taking Student Success to Scale (TS3), and the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ (AAC&U) Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence) have raised concerns about assuring HIP quality and equity. In particular, we lack evidence about the eight vital elements that typify HIPs and need to assure that historically underrepresented students have access to high-quality HIP experiences. There is also strong interest in exploring specific HIPs in depth to discover more about the features that contribute to student learning and success. Most of all, institutional and collective initiatives to elevate and expand HIPs need straightforward measures to assess HIPs, study their effectiveness, and inform implementation efforts.

Given the popularity of HIPs in higher education and the keen interest of a range of higher education member organizations (including AAC&U, NASH, AASCU, etc.), employers, and the public in high-quality experiential learning, there is great interest in anything having to do with HIPs. Attention by higher education media outlets remains high, evidenced by the recent research and opinion piece, “What Really Makes a ‘High-Impact' Practice High Impact?” featured on May 1, 2018, in Inside Higher Ed.

Current Project Activities

Activities related to the administration of the HIP Quality Experimental item set began in February 2019 and concluded May 15, 2019. The standalone Qualtrics survey option wrapped up June 15, 2019. Data and reports were provided to participating institutions in August 2019.  

A fall 2019 Qualtrics administration option was available September – December 2019. Interested institutions completed the HIP Quality Assessment Participation Form

Participate in the HIP Quality Qualtrics option

Results from the HIP Quality Experimental item set and the Qualtrics administration of more than 20,000 students (whose HIP was either finished or ongoing for at least 4 weeks to ensure sufficient exposure) at 57 institutions is being analyzed.

The initial report from the HIP Quality and Equity Project "Assessing Quality and Equity in High-Impact Practices: Comprehensive Report" summarizes the project purpose, research design and questions, development and testing HIP quality instrument, and early findings about assessment feasibility, evidence of elements of HIP quality, measuring high-quality HIPs, and evidence of equity. The report also explores measures of students' satisfaction with their HIP experience, differences by racial identity, and evidence of high quality and equity by HIP.  




Evidence-Based Improvement in Higher Education

Center for Postsecondary Research
Indiana University
School of Education
201 N. Rose Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405-1006
Phone: 812.856.5824