Instructure Blog

A consistent challenge for colleges and universities is to create meaningful experiences and coursework that allow students to learn beyond the classroom and the major.


As a solution, many colleges and universities have implemented high-impact practices (HIPs), which are designed to create experiences that positively affect a student’s educational outcome. Utilizing several teaching and learning practices that have been widely tested across many different educational institutions, HIPs have proven to benefit a diverse body of students.


While there were initially ten HIPs, in 2016 the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) added ePortfolios as the eleventh HIP, with some suggesting ePortfolios could be the most valuable HIP.


The Initial HIPs

These were the initial HIPs defined by George Kuh, Founding Director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, and his colleagues at the AAC&U:

  1. First-Year Seminars
  2. Common Intellectual Experiences
  3. Learning Communities
  4. Writing-Intensive Courses
  5. Collaborative Assignments and Projects
  6. Undergraduate Research
  7. Diversity & Global Learning
  8. Community-Based Learning
  9. Internships
  10. Capstone Course and Projects

These practices were outlined for their ability to enhance student learning and success. While not every college or university implements the same HIPs, they all provide enduring learning experiences for students, which can be utilized in a multitude of settings both in and out of the classroom.


The Addition of ePortfolios

The AAC&U describes ePortfolios as the ideal format for collecting evidence of student learning and allowing students the opportunity to analyze and reflect upon their learning experiences. Additionally, ePortoflios have allowed students a relevant method to showcase their skills and abilities for higher purposes such as graduate school and job applications.


The AAC&U’s decision to add ePortfolios as a HIP is based on research from multiple sources. Several studies that support the AAC&U’s decision can be found in the editorial “ePortfolios – The Eleventh High Impact Practice,” where the authors advocated in favor of ePortfolios citing the results of the four years of data collected from 24 colleges and universities participating in the Connect 2 Learning Project. Some of the findings were:

“Average grades for students taking the required first-semester ‘mission’ course at the Rutgers University Douglass Residential College improved from 3.2 to 3.5 after nine semesters of ePortfolio practice.

At the San Francisco State University Metro Health Academy, a learning community for high-risk students, ePortfolio practice was linked to a ten percent bump in the four-year graduation rate.


Students in the required First Year Academies (thematic learning community) at CUNY’s Queensborough Community College using ePortfolio had a 98% first-to-second year persistence rate, compared with 88% for other First Year Academy students, and much greater than the 65% overall Queensborough persistence rate” (Chen et al. 2016).


What the Future Holds for ePortfolios

It has been suggested ePortfolios could be the one HIP that ties the others together. In the article “Reflective E-portfolios: One HIP to Rule Them All?” it’s stated that ePortfolios allow students to showcase the growth in their learning while being able to narrate and determine which experiences will be displayed (Hubert et al. 2015). In response, colleges and universities can see how the other HIPs have impacted a student’s learning experience through how they build and display their ePortfolio.


The faith some colleges place in ePortfolios as a HIP can be seen by recent requirements made by Salt Lake Community College and Chattanooga State Community College. Both colleges have put ePortfolios at the core of the student experience, assigning students the task of archiving their work through ePortfolios and reflecting on what they’ve learned. The expectation is that students will use ePortoflios as a way to expand upon basic classroom learning and improve their retention of knowledge.


There are many great opportunities for students when colleges and universities implement ePortfolios as a HIP. With ePortfolios, students have an outlet to preserve their work, reflect on what they’ve learned and accomplished, and develop lifelong learning experiences that will guide them in their future endeavors.


This article was written by Roberto Sanchez as an assignment for Portfolium, Inc.

The ePortfolio example used as the image for this blog is Nairee Bedikian's, you can view it here:




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