High impact learning practices don't just improve students' experiences within the Adelphi community—they also prepare students for their postcollege careers.
Seminars and lectures provide strong course foundations, but students should have access to hands-on learning experiences such as internships, research opportunities and study abroad programs for the opportunity to apply their lessons to the real world.
That’s why Adelphi University has been incorporating high-impact educational practices into its curricula for more than five years. And we’re just getting started.
According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), high-impact practices are “teaching strategies and designs that researchers have proven to be beneficial for student success, retention and engagement.”
These practices don’t just improve students’ experiences within the Adelphi University community—they also prepare students for their postcollege careers.
“Most schools recognize the importance of high-impact practices, but the challenge is how to thoughtfully embed these practices into the curriculum,” said Peter West, Ph.D., associate dean of academic operations and general education for the College of Arts and Sciences at Adelphi University. “Do students have the opportunity to experience these practices when they arrive at campus? Will they have access to more opportunities as they continue to explore their major?”
Adelphi University is committed to answering these questions and building even more engaging experiences for its students through high-impact educational programs.
Inside Adelphi’s high-impact educational practices
The AAC&U lists 10 traditional high-impact educational practices. Adelphi offers programs in each category, including:
“Every undergraduate student takes a First-Year Seminar in their first semester,” said Chris Storm, Ph.D., associate provost for faculty advancement and research at Adelphi. “Students come together from all different disciplines and have rich discussions with an engaged instructor on a topic that’s not strictly restricted to one field.”
Collaborative projects such as study groups and team-based assignments empower students to be better listeners, team members and problem solvers. For example, Adelphi University’s Collaboration Project hosts community-based discussions and events about social justice efforts, including Black Lives Matter, peace and human rights, and gendered violence.
Adelphi’s annual Research Conference invites students and faculty to submit their original research projects across all disciplines, including the life, physical and social sciences, as well as nursing, humanities and the arts.
Adelphi strives to create a safe environment for diverse communication and collaboration. That’s why the Center for Student Involvement and its Multicultural Affairs section host a range of initiatives, such as the Dinner and Dialogue Series.
Adelphi University’s internship and service learning program helps students gain real-world experiences at local businesses and nonprofits. Through the Jaggar Community Fellows Program, for example, undergraduate students can apply to earn a competitive, paid position at a local nonprofit for the summer.
Service Learning and Community-Based Learning
Outside of the classroom, students should be able to see how the practices and issues they’re studying affect their communities. At Adelphi, for example, students in the nursing program can gain hands-on learning experiences in local hospitals and clinics. And student teachers are given opportunities to observe professors as well as teach classes themselves.
Capstone Courses and Projects
At the end of the university experience, Adelphi offers Capstone Courses in all of its programs. These courses help students take the lessons they’ve learned throughout their college career and combine them into one thesis paper.
“Students might have made quite interesting discoveries in individual classes,” Dr. Storm said, “but they may not have had the opportunity to put those together and reflect upon them. That happens in the Capstone Course.”
A brighter future
In 2016, more than 65 percent of Adelphi’s undergraduate students completed an experiential learning practice.
“That’s a great number, but I think we can go even higher,” Dr. Storm said. “How do we take this promise of high-impact practices and make sure that every one of our students can be engaged?”
Starting in Fall 2018, high-impact learning experience icons will be added to course listings so students can see available programs.
“We’re also trying to refashion our first-year seminars,” Dr. West said. “For example, this semester we scheduled two first-year seminars to meet at the same time in rooms that are right next to each other. So periodically they can join and compare ideas across different disciplines.”
Dr. Storm, Dr. West and their colleagues will continue to find ways to integrate high-impact practices into the university experience.
“Building these practices requires constant and well-coordinated effort, but it’s why we do what we do,” Dr. West said. “It’s all at the heart of making sure students have access to the most engaging and rewarding experiences possible.”
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