Proposals for the third annual conference on High-Impact Practices in the Classroom were due from faculty and staff on Nov. 15. Proposals ranged from poster designs to digital presentations. The conference is scheduled for April 30, 2014.

High-Impact Practices (HIP) started in 2011 as a program devoted to giving students a different experience in the classroom that involved more creativity and critical thinking than the average class. Its mission is to help students learn and gain experience by using their creativity and practical skills to help prepare for the post-college life. 

“The conference is designed more as an exhibition for instructors to design a poster on their high impact theme in their course,” Ashley Schmitt, administrative assistant for HIP, said. “They can talk about their experiences in this program and how it’s affected them as an instructor.” 

As well as instructors, students will also be able to present their experiences at the conference.

“HIP incorporates a number of platforms,” Schmitt said. “We focus on collaborative learning, mentored undergraduate scholarship and field-based learning.” 

Students typically experience more diversity in HIP classes such as frequent feedback from instructors and on/off campus projects. 

“Collaborative learning is basically the internal structure of working in a group,” Schmitt said. “It’s not just working in a group by itself and having group members do certain things and putting it together, it’s having all group members working on it equally, having a consensus about what they are doing and interacting with one another.”

The collaborative learning program targets freshman students taking SFA 101. The mentor undergraduate scholarship program and field-based learning program is geared towards juniors and seniors in their major coursework. 

In the category for mentored undergraduate scholarship, undergraduates may conduct research activities in collaboration with a mentor. The three components to be present here consist of the dedicated work with a chosen mentor, the students’ engaging attitude throughout and the scholarly project conducted in any discipline. 

“In field-based learning they would be working on some activity in the field. Maybe they’re working with an accounting firm creating accounting plans, or they’re teachers working in a classroom helping other teachers,” Schmitt said. 

Faculty and instructors participating in HIP have the first semester to meet and talk among participants and generate ideas and plans. The second semester, their plans are implemented in their classrooms and offices. 

Dr. Christopher Sams, assistant professor of linguistics and coordinator of English education, has participated in the program for three years. 

Sams’ interest in the program boiled down to being able to learn what other resources he could provide for his students. 

“I wanted to meet colleagues who were doing things similar to what I was doing in my classroom,” Sams said. 

During the first semester in the program, the faculty meets every two weeks to read articles and discuss teaching methodologies. 

Sams admits there is a lot of time involved in the HIP program, but the positives outweigh the negatives. 

“The goal is to make ourselves more effective teachers and to be able to offer more to our students,” Sams said. “At the end of the day it’s what we can do for our students.”

Sams, as well as Schmitt, hope to see more faculty and staff taking part in HIP.

“I think there’s something to be said about our field of teaching.,” Sams said. “We have been doing this for over 2,000 years and we still haven’t figured it out. Education has been around for a long time, and we are still improving on it.”

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