Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology

Integrating High-Impact Practices

High-impact practices often flourish in learning environments such as capstones, internships, and courses designed around a common intellectual experience. Such environments often provide students with sustained and authentic and engagement with course content. However, high-impact practices can also flourish in other educational settings as well. As measured by the National Survey of Student Engagement, high-impact learning is supported by the following indicators, which can be woven into most teaching and learning contexts:


For a list of all 47 indicators, see the NSSE’s Engagement Indicators and Items:

Higher-Order Learning

Designing learning experiences that require students to:

  • Apply facts, theories, or methods to practical problems or new situations
  • Analyze an idea, experience, or line of reasoning in depth by examining its parts
  • Evaluate a point of view, decision, or information source
  • Form a new idea or understanding from various pieces of information

Reflective & Integrative Learning

Designing learning experiences that require students to:

  • Connect their learning to societal problems or issues
  • Include diverse perspectives (political, religious, racial/ethnic, gender, etc.) in course discussions or assignments
  • Try to better understand someone else's views by imagining how an issue looks from his or her perspective

Learning Strategies

Designing learning experiences that require students to:

  • Identify key information from reading assignments
  • Review their notes after class
  • Summarize what they have learned in class or from course materials

Quantitative Reasoning

Designing learning experiences that require students to:

  • Reach conclusions based on their own analysis of numerical information (numbers, graphs, statistics, etc.)
  • Use numerical information to examine a real-world problem or issue (unemployment, climate change, public health, etc.)
  • Evaluate what others have concluded from numerical information

Collaborative Learning

Designing learning experiences that require students to:

  • Ask other students to help them understand course material
  • Explain course material to one or more students
  • Prepare for exams by discussing or working through course material with other students
  • Work with other students on course projects or assignments

Discussions with Diverse Others

Designing learning experiences that enable students to engage in discussions with people:

  • from a race or ethnicity other than their own
  • from an economic background other than their own
  • with religious beliefs other than their own
  • with political views other than your own

Student-Faculty Interaction

Designing learning experiences that strongly encourage students to:

  • Work with a faculty member on activities other than coursework (committees, student groups, etc.)
  • Discuss course topics, ideas, or concepts with a faculty member outside of class

Effective Teaching Practices

Reinforcing well designed learning experiences by:

  • Clearly explaining course goals and requirements
  • Teaching course sessions in an organized way
  • Using examples or illustrations to explain difficult points
  • Providing feedback on a draft or work in progress
  • Providing prompt and detailed feedback on tests or completed assignments

Campus Environment: Beyond Individual Courses 

Cal Poly faculty and staff can work together to foster high-impact learning practices by:

  • Providing support to help students succeed academically​
  • Encouraging student to use learning support services (tutoring services, writing center, etc.)
  • Encouraging contact among students from different backgrounds (social, racial/ethnic, religious, etc.)
  • Providing students with opportunities to be involved socially
  • Providing support for students’ overall well-being (recreation, health care, counseling, etc.)
  • Helping students manage non-academic responsibilities (work, family, etc.)
  • Encouraging students to attend campus activities and events (performing arts, athletic events, etc.)
  • Encouraging students to attend events that address important social, economic, or political issues


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