High-Impact Practices Unify Campus Community

As we begin the 2024 semester, there is no better time to plan for the exciting year ahead. The U of A has provided multiple ways for the campus community to promote personal growth and success through high-impact practices (HIPs). HIPs are pre-identified practices shown to promote student success, persistence and graduation. They also encompass research-based teaching and learning strategies that represent enriching educational experiences that have been widely tested and are beneficial for college students from many backgrounds.* From the upcoming HIP Show and Tell event on Feb. 13, to one-on-one writing help, book clubs and service learning, there are many ways to get creative juices flowing and prepare for a brighter year ahead. 

One Book One Community (OBOC) is a common reads program on campus that encompasses many student, faculty and staff book clubs. "It really started as a way to engage the campus on an intellectual level," explains OBOC committee chair Dr. Lauren Copley Sabon. "We're intentional about the types of books or even the themes. What would resonate with students? What are issues that we're facing right now as a society?" Books utilized by OBOC in the past few years include The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, which have both been turned into feature films. "High-impact practices don't necessarily just have to be about the classroom," explains Copley Sabon. "They're building additional skills that people need...flexing those particular muscles. Reading is a muscle. All of the things you get out of reading, tidbits of information, connection to others, contribute to this high-impact practice. 

A recent tour de force collaboration between OBOC, the Writing Studio at the Student Success Center and the Fulbright Student Success Center hosted a keynote speaking event, lunch panel and writing competition for writer and disability advocate Rebekah Taussig. Sitting Pretty: The View From My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body was written by Taussig and chosen by OBOC as their 2023 campus read.  

The writing competition portion was facilitated by the Student Success Center. "The idea began when OBOC reached out to the Student Success Center to see if we would like to participate in the programming for Sitting Pretty," explains Dana Turner Blair, Writing Studio Coordinator. "We love collaborating with campus partners, and I appreciate the unifying work of OBOC, so I definitely wanted to join in. Organizing a writing contest seemed like a great way to get students engaged with the wonderful themes of the text while also creating an additional creative opportunity on campus for students who enjoy writing." The Student Success Center plans to publish the short stories, poems and essays of their top nine writers via links in an upcoming Arkansas News article as well as the Writing Studio website. 

The Writing Studio offers multiple services that can be tailored to specific needs across the campus community. "Our most direct method of supporting the HIPs is through our collaborative work with faculty on Writing Intensive Courses," Blair says. "We work directly with faculty to help create or refine writing assignment prompts and rubrics, sequence content for larger assignments, present class workshops, facilitate class feedback sessions and connect students with our services. Because writing is a necessary and useful skill for learning, we also have the opportunity to promote and support additional HIPs." 

Lisa Bowers, director of the Service Learning Initiative, also attended the OBOC programming with students enrolled in her designated service-learning course. "Our class community partners are members of the deaf community, and attending the OBOC event with disability advocate Rebekah Taussig was a way to expand upon what my students were experiencing in their service-learning activities. It really was icing on the cake as a learning experience that strengthened academic content while promoting advocacy for all individuals."  

As newly promoted assistant dean of Student Success for Fulbright College, Deborah Korth, along with her team, aim to support students by meeting their personal and professional goals. "We collaborate with several members of the campus who are involved in the High Impact Practices," Korth explains. "We are especially active with the members of the HIPs Collaborative. Our goal is to connect students with the high impact practices on their road to becoming successful graduates."  

In assisting OBOC and the Writing Studio in their collaborative effort, Korth sees a brighter future for the campus community. "The committee who leads the OBOC program has a record of choosing books that promote important conversations on campus," Korth says. "This year's focus helped create a conversation to explore ways to make campus accessible and inclusive for all members of the campus community. It encouraged empathetic dialog to help members of the campus community better understand the experiences of others." Bowers also hopes to continue to integrate more service learning opportunities with other HIPs on campus. "There is so much synergy between the HIP groups that resonate as meaningful learning opportunities for our students."

On Feb. 13, 2024, the Fulbright Student Success Center will be joining with members of the HIP Collaborative for the HIP Show and Tell in the Connections Lounge from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.  This event coincides with the Career Fair and Study Abroad Fair. "This gives students a one stop shop to explore the High Impact Practices occurring on our campus," Korth says.

No matter what level of preparedness you find yourself come 2024, the organizations available on campus can provide the mental stimulation and assistance to achieve the goals that make HIPs a valuable part of your life. "My favorite moments are times when I can see that we have helped lighten someone's load," Blair says. "I love knowing that we have helped someone through such a stressful part of their student careers." 


 Article written by Noelle Kingsbauer, Service Learning Coordinator, svclrn01@uark.edu


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