Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic

Defining High Impact Educational Practices

The UFV Fund for Innovative Teaching (FIT) defines high impact educational practices as summarized by George Kuh in his High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter, American Association of Colleges and Universities 2008.

These practices have been widely tested, can take many forms, are adaptable to the learner characteristics of students from multiple backgrounds, and can be tailored by institutions to meet strategic priorities.

First-Year Seminars and Experiences

High quality first-year experiences emphasize critical inquiry, writing, information literacy, applied research opportunities, and collaborative learning. 

Common Intellectual Experiences

A common intellectual experience can take a variety of forms, such as core curriculum courses that can be vertically or horizontally integrated into a range of programs, integrative studies, or participation in a learning community.  Such experiences can be co-curricular or curricular and are often developed to enhance student competencies to understand and address contemporary issues that cut across disciplinary boundaries.

Learning Communities

Learning communities encourage the integration of learning between or across courses or programs and dialogue between students and instructors.  They are often structured to create the common intellectual experience by exploring a common issue through different perspectives.

Writing-Intensive Courses

In writing intensive courses, students create and revise various forms of writing designed for different audiences in different disciplines.  Iterative practices in writing may also be adapted to different kinds of quantitative analysis, oral communication, and even ethical reflection. 

Collaborative Assignments and Projects

Collaborative learning is learning that solves problems in the company of others and informs your understanding of issues by active listening, especially to those with different backgrounds and life experiences. Examples of collaborative learning include learning communities, study groups within a course, team-based assignments and writing, or cooperative research projects.

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research provides even the most entry-level students opportunities to actively participate in the answering of questions that are relevant and timely, perfect their empirical and qualitative observational skills, and critically use or apply technology.  Most importantly, such opportunities have been shown to enhance the excitement of learning, and increase retention.

Diversity/Global Learning

Programs and courses that help students explore and understand cultures, differential life experiences, and alternative worldviews enhance awareness, sensitivity to difference, attitudes of respect and responsibility, and good citizenship.  Such learning is supported by opportunities to study abroad and address the challenges of racial, ethnic, and gender inequality, or struggles for human rights and freedoms.

Service Learning, Community-Based Learning

Field based or experiential learning is an instructional strategy that gives students direct experience outside the classroom.  Both curricular and co-curricular, such learning includes practica, study tours, work study and other kinds of place-based research experiences that give something back to the community and help prepare students for life and work after graduation.


A specific form of service or community based learning, internships are specifically designed to provide students the benefits of supervision and professional guidance related to their own career interests.  Often taken in the form of directed or independent studies, internships allow students to engage in undergraduate research and collaborative learning.

Capstone Courses and Projects

Capstones are culminating experiences that require students nearing graduation to create a project that integrates and applies what they have learned throughout their undergraduate program or degree.  A capstone might be a research paper or honours thesis, a performance, or an exhibit of artwork. Increasingly, it may involve the creation of an e-portfolio.

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