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High-Impact Practices

NSEE Best Practices in Experiential Education

The National Society for Experiential Education has laid out eight principles of good practice for all experiential learning activities. These practices include Intentionality, Reflection, Monitoring and Continuous Improvement, and a number of other effective and necessary elements for any applied learning experience. For more detailed information on the NSEE Eight Principles, see the NSEE website:

AAC&U High Impact Practices

As an AAC&U LEAP campus, UNCW emphasizes High-Impact practices all across campus and especially within applied learning experiences.

  • Performance Expectations set at appropriately high levels
    Projects, problems, and other work assigned to students should challenge them appropriately, encouraging them to go beyond their current levels of achievement and ability.
  • Significant investment of time and effort by students over an extended period of time
    Whether it's as part of a semester long course or an intensive study abroad experience, students should spend a significant amount of time on a given project and if possible, work in progressive stages that culminate in a final project that incorporates all that they have learned in the project.
  • Interactions with Faculty and Peers about substantive matters
    Regular activities or meetings, either in-class or out-of-class, which encourage students to engage with their material such as in learning communities, seminars, or discussion groups.
  • Experiences with diversity, wherein students are exposed to and must contend with people and circumstances that different from those with which the students are familiar
    Students should have exposure to diversity, both through experiences with people and cultures different than their own and through exposure to people, ideas, and perspectives that they have not encountered before.
  • Frequent, timely, and constructive feedback
    Providing students with constructive feedback during an applied learning project supports their ability to critically reflect on their learning, find ways to improve, and get a sense of the project's overall impact.
  • Periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning
    Through Intention and Critical Reflection, as well as continuous reflection throughout each experience, students examine their own learning and experiences, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and establish goals for future learning.
  • Opportunities to discover relevance of learning through real-world application
    Internships, practica, field experiences, or research are all great examples of high-impact practices which provide students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and understanding to 'real-world' problems and challenges.
  • Public demonstration of competence
    This can be a presentation, an article submission, or any number of public discussions of their work that allows students to demonstrate their skills and knowledge .

Source: Categories adapted from Ensuring Quality & Taking High-Impact Practices to Scale by George D. Kuh and Ken O'Donnell, with Case Studies by Sally Reed. (Washington, D.C.: AAC&U, 2013).