A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to serve as one of the faculty for the AAC&U High Impact Practices Institute. If there ever was an indication that colleges and universities are serious about student achievement, it is the number of institutions that brought teams to the University of Wisconsin for the Institute.
While there, the teams dedicated themselves to developing a plan to bring coherence to the high impact practices in which they are engaged. They were committed to insuring that all students would benefit from proven practices, and they were passionate about the contributions of all educators at the college or university. They were resource conscious and democratic in their thinking about who could do what for what purpose. Most of the teams were comprised of faculty, student affairs staff, and administrators.
I had the privilege of being one of the faculty for the leadership track, and in the session I led, I broke the group up into four topics according to my summary of all the teams’ applications. I asked participants to choose the topic they wanted to discuss: assessment; collaboration; retention; and the following together—e-portfolio, first-year experience, and sophomore seminar. The largest number of participants wanted to discuss collaboration.
I was encouraged that there is an increasing understanding that as educators, we should all be contributing to student achievement. What the participants in the Institute understood was that there had to be conversations to determine who would contribute what for what purpose and how to bring the rich resources together in a manner that would be coherent for students to access. I think the Institute was an excellent opportunity for a group of people from the same institution to become a team in pursuit of a common purpose. I wish all of them success in their endeavors.