Creative Activity as Undergraduate Student Research

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Many institutions, including my own, include creative activity from art, music, theatre and other disciplines as part of undergraduate student research. Given the creative nature and output of these disciplines, what can this look like?

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PROJECT UPDATE: New Asian Drama Digital Humanities Project


OMO!: Korean and Chinese Drama and Commentary is my newest digital humanities project, which curates information on dramas and the global response to them in the form of reviews. It represents not only resource creation but also an examination of how global audiences make meaning of this transnational popular culture.

The project also includes the work of undergraduate researchers, providing the valuable experience of working on a research project. The first exhibit, City Hunter (2011), includes an analysis of the promotional poster as well as an overview as well as short-form and longer reviews compiled by De’siree Fairley, undergraduate research assistant. Users can view complete reviews in Evernote. As the project includes more dramas, we hope that we can determine a pattern in the consumption of dramas by global audiences.

The Role of Implementation in High Impact Practices

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The mere existence of high impact practices does not produce results. Much depends on the way such practices are implemented.

High impact practices are a set of experiences that have been shown to improve student learning. Recently, Inside Higher Education reported on research published in The Journal of Higher Education that suggests that such practices do not lead to improved learning and higher graduation rates.  Marjorie Valbrun reports that the study concluded that “the graduation rates at colleges that incorporated all the practices were not higher than those that used few if any of the practices.” Such conclusions suggest that “examining the connection between the recommended practices and institutional outcomes was important because of the widespread use of the practices ‘at the expense of other possible offerings'” (Valbrun). This could lead some to suggest that we abandon high-impact practices for other types of activities.

Soon after, George Kuh, author of High Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter (2008), and Jillian Kinzie penned a response in Inside Higher Education, raising an important, overlooked aspect of the study. In addition to the circumstances of the students, they argue that “simply offering and labeling an activity a HIP does not necessarily guarantee that students who participate in it will benefit in the ways much of the extant literature claims.” In other words, the high-impact practice needs to be deliberately structured to achieve certain results. Its mere existence will not create positive results for students.

Much like when we teach classes, we need to envision what we hope to accomplish when we embark on a high impact practice in our institutions and how we seek to meet those goals. More importantly, we have to think about how such experiences will impact the student and what the student will take away from the experience. Are we simply adding a line to a student’s resume for a job or a cv for graduate school? Are merely creating data points for institutional data? Or, are we providing an experience and tangible products from that experience that students can share?

This is something I’m working on as I continue to implement our institution’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for reaccreditation, which is undergraduate research, a high-impact practice. Creating ways to leverage these experiences will also make them more meaningful to students, who sometimes overlook the continued benefit of the experiences for later in their lives and focus on just doing them. One possible approach is combining high-impact practices. In addition to undergraduate student research, the overview of “High-Impact Educational Practices” published on the Association of American Colleges & Universities site lists other HIPs that may reinforce the positive impact of undergraduate research. I’m thinking of how making undergraduate research collaborative and culminate in projects or encouraging students to create research portfolios from their classwork may increase the positive impact of undergraduate research.

What is clear is that we must give careful thought not just to implementing such practices, but how we implement such practices.

 

Sources

“High-Impact Educational Practices.” Association of American Colleges & Universities  https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2018/05/01/kuh-and-kinzie-respond-essay-questioning-high-impact-practices-opinion (10 May 2018).

Kuh, George D. “What Really Makes a ‘High-Impact’ Practice High Impact?” Inside Higher Education 1 May 2018. https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2018/05/01/kuh-and-kinzie-respond-essay-questioning-high-impact-practices-opinion (10 May 2018).

Valbrun, Majorie. “Maybe Not So ‘High Impact’?” Inside Higher Education. 25 Apr 2018. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/04/25/study-questions-whether-high-impact-practices-yield-higher-graduation-rates (10 May 2018).

 

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The Role of Implementation in High Impact Practices by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.