Extensive national research has identified a set of educational experiences that have particularly high value for all students. Engaging in these experiences has been shown to promote deep learning, increase student engagement, raise student performance, and increase persistence and graduation rates.
Participating in more than one of these experiences produces greater gains – think of it as a cumulative effect. And, participation has been shown to be especially beneficial for first-generation students and students from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds.
These experiences are referred to as “high-impact educational practices,” and there are numerous ways to take advantage of them at BU. You will notice that several of the high-impact practices have been built into the BU Hub, so that all undergraduates will experience them. Others, however, must be sought out intentionally. Research suggests that purposefully engaging in these practices will deepen your learning, improve your overall academic performance, and increase your satisfaction with your education.
For a list and descriptions of all eleven high-impact educational practices, see the website for the Association of American Colleges & Universities.
High-Impact Educational Practices at BU
First-Year Seminars and Experiences
FY 101 is an optional first-year seminar that can introduce you to a group of peers and help you transition successfully to BU. Transfer students, remember that there are FY 101 sections designed for you! Your First-Year Writing Seminar is another opportunity to participate in a small class, get to know a faculty member, and receive frequent and substantive feedback on your work.
Learning communities can be created through teams of students taking more than one course together and through residentially based learning opportunities. BU offers faculty-led living-learning communities, such as the Core Curriculum House, Global House, and Earth House, and specialty communities, where you can live with peers who share your academic interests.
Remember, you can search for Writing-Intensive Courses using the advanced search option of the BU Course Search. Consider taking more than just what is required by the BU Hub. Writing an honors thesis offers another Writing-Intensive opportunity (and is also a capstone project – see below).
Collaborative Assignments and Projects
While the BU Hub will require you to meet learning outcomes for Teamwork/Collaboration, remember that this is another area where more is better! Consider taking additional courses that carry this Hub unit, or look for courses and experiences that incorporate group projects, study groups, or other types of collaborative work. Athletics, musical ensembles, and theatrical productions are other great ways to practice teamwork. Teamwork skills are highly sought after in the job market.
Undergraduate research is not just for STEM majors (although there are many opportunities for STEM students). UROP, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, enables students from all majors to apply to engage in research with a faculty member for academic credit or for a monetary stipend. You can also explore opportunities through BU’s Office of Research, through summer research opportunities, and by reaching out directly to a faculty member whose research interests you. CGS students can also explore opportunities through the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning.
While Study Abroad is often the first experience that comes to mind when we think of Global Learning, there are a number of ways you can explore diversity and engage in global learning without leaving Boston. Courses that carry Hub units in The Individual in Community or in Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy are an excellent place to start. Language classes, including American Sign Language classes, and Global House offer other avenues for exploring different cultures. The Howard Thurman Center, the Newbury Center, and BU’s Office for Diversity & Inclusion provide diversity programming, and BU has many student groups that create community around diverse identities.
Service Learning, Community-Based Learning
BU’s Center for Community Service offers an array of service-learning opportunities, including one-time and weekly opportunities as well as the popular week-long Alternative Service Breaks. You can also experience community-based learning in internships, practicums, and field-based coursework. Finally, check out the different sections of the BU Hub’s Cross-College Challenge, many of which incorporate community-based learning.
Internships can provide excellent learning experiences and be helpful in career exploration. BU’s Center for Career Development has information on how to search for and how to apply for internships. They also administer the Yawkey Nonprofit Internship Program, which provides funding for sophomores and juniors pursuing unpaid internships at nonprofit organizations. In addition, COM, ENG, SHA, and Questrom have school-based career advising services that can advise you on internships. Faculty mentors also may be able to point you towards internship opportunities. Some internships may be pursued for academic credit.
Capstone Courses and Projects
The BU Hub’s Cross-College Challenge, the CGS Capstone Experience, the Kilachand Keystone Project, a departmental honors thesis, research with a faculty member, upper-level experiential projects – these are all capstone experiences that enable you to integrate the learning you’ve done throughout a program and apply it to a particular problem or question. Some pathways at BU have a built-in capstone experience, but if your major doesn’t require one, you should consider the elective opportunities available to you. Students often find these culminating experiences particularly rewarding.