Monthly blog shows University students more engaged than at peer institutions

Morgan Gisholt Minard, News Layout Editor

Another installation on the University-run DataBytes blog released statistics on High-Impact Educational Practices (HIPs) on campus on Feb. 10. The statistics show that University students have participated in more HIPs than the national average in comparison to peer institutions.

The data was collected through a survey led by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), and was distributed via email to all class years in April 2014. While all students were polled about their engagement in HIPs on campus, only information about the first-year and senior class (as of 2014) was released in the most recent DataBytes post.

HIPs, as stated by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), encompass a large number of extracurricular engagement activities on campus, including service-based learning, internships or field experience, study abroad programs, research with a faculty member, first-year seminars, residential colleges, writing-intensive courses, diversity/global learning, collaborative assignments and projects, and culminating senior experiences.

“High-impact learning happens when students take ownership in the educational process and when their learning goes beyond the classroom to be applied in their personal and professional lives,” Assistant Provost for Institutional Research & Assessment Kevork Horissian said.

The data showed that 59 percent of first-year students and 99 percent of senior students had participated in at least one HIP at the time they had participated in the survey. The difference in these figures can be attributed to the limited availability of some of these HIPs to first-years.

“First-year students cannot partake in study abroad, or be a part of the Greek community that might have a service requirement, or participate in a senior culminating experience,” Director of Civic Engagement & Service Learning Janice Butler said. In fact, only 44 percent of first-year students at top liberal arts institutions had participated in HIPs in comparison.

There are many opportunities at the University and Lewisburg communities in terms of the incorporation of service in on and off-campus learning. Many courses offered include a service component, such as Introduction to Organization and Management (MGMT 101), where a service-based aspect is an integral part of the class. Other departments, such as Economics, Linguistics, and Engineering, have included service-based learning in their course offerings, as well as many alternative break trips offered by the Office of Civic Engagement that place equal focus on active learning and service.

While many groups and offices on campus are responsible for the cohesive efforts demonstrated by the pervasive nature of HIPs on campus, the Office of the Provost is ultimately accountable for the coordination of the countless opportunities for student engagement on campus. Horissian says that these practices are “grounded in the core belief that ‘Bucknell educates men and women for a lifetime of critical thinking and strong leadership characterized by continued intellectual exploration, creativity, and imagination. A Bucknell education enables students to interact daily with faculty who exemplify a passion for learning and a dedication to teaching and scholarship’ (Excerpt from Bucknell’s Mission Statement). Our faculty and staff work closely with students to make those opportunities available to them.”

Assistant Director of Institutional Research Rita Liu says that the findings revealed by the NSSE survey demonstrated “a high degree of correlation between HIPs and students’ deep learning, self-reported gains, level of academic challenge, collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, and supportive campus environment. The overall pattern shows the advantage in engagement and self-reported outcomes favoring HIPs participants from different backgrounds and majors.”

“Compared to National Liberal Arts peers, Bucknell freshmen had a higher participation rate in every single HIP: 12 percent higher in participating in learning communities, six percent higher in participating in service learning, and eight percent higher in doing research with a faculty member. These high participation rates reflect our strategic plan goals of strengthening the academic core and residential learning experiences and Bucknell’s commitment to be a student-centered institution,” Liu said.

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