Service Learning High Impact Practices

Kuh (2008) identified ten “high impact practices” (HIP). HIP support student learning and development in the professional/academic and personal spheres. In reviewing the high impact practices Kuh does not address the interactions between them, which we find limiting. Therefore, we have shown how service learning can and does support the various HIPs and encourage faculty members and administrators to examine how they may incorproate the various HIPs and service learning into their practice. We’ve documented the various ways in which service learning connects with the other practices beneath the model.


  • First Year Seminars and Experiences– these often fall into two categories: courses focused on developing the necessary skills necessary for academic and personal success in higher education or exposure to cutting edge research from the faculty member instructing the course. A highlight of both models is an intimate learning environment for first year students. It is our belief that service learning pedagogy can be integrated into both models of the course when done at the appropriate development level. Williams Howe Coleman, Hamshaw, & Westdijk (2015) offer a three phase model of service learning that can help inform first-year student service learning experiences.
  • Learning Communities– are housing communities that are based on a common theme or academic question. There are usually courses connected with this community, and there remains an opportunity for service learning to be part of the course experience to support the holistic development goals of learning communities. Moreover, community service is frequently used with learning communities already, giving a foundation for SL and LLCs.
  • Internships- The dominant model of internships is focused on students entering a workplace and supervisors providing training and mentoring. The focus is usually on just student learning, however, if a community partner has identified a need that can be filled by a student intern there is an opportunity for the internship to be in service to both the student and the organization. For pre-professional disciplines, there is a strong potential for this linkage as documented by Rheling (2000).
  • Common Intellectual Experiences– often are initiatives such as a “common read.” For faculty using the UConn Read’s selection as a core course text, the link between the book’s  themes and social issues provide a ripe experience for service learning.
  • Collaborative Assignments– focus on collective effort that focuses on learning to work with others and the role of the self in groups.  Project-based service learning is a strong vehicle for project creation in addition to the built in pedagogical practices that support reflection.
  • Diversity-Global Learning– Kuh asserts that often the aims of increasing knowledge of our diverse world occurs in community-based contexts acknowledging the integral role service learning plays in supporting diverse learning. Additionally, study abroad experiences taught by UConn Faculty can include service learning as a framework for increasing student learning in an intentional and rigorous manner. Campus Compact has assembled resources for those interested in global service learning
  • Capstone Courses– perhaps one of the best utilizations of service learning is using the pedagogy for a culminating experience in their degree program. By using service learning in the capstone experience, students are able to apply four years of learning to a community-identified need. Students are often able to fill a critical skill-based need for organizations while reflecting on their learning and its applications as rising professionals.
  • Undergraduate Research– historically has been a dominant practice in the hard sciences, is now increasingly open to more students across a variety of disciplines. While often viewed through the co-curricular, a service learning course grounded in community-based research can provide students across many disciplines with the opportunity to engage in the scientific process while using service learning as a framework to promote development toward the common good. Stoecker, Loving, Reddy,  & Bolling, (2010) provide us with a useful conceptual model to rethink service learning and community based research.
  • Writing Intensive Courses– service learning can be integrated as a pedagogy within writing curriculum. Service Learning can be a vehicle for to propel students to practice writing for different audiences- community partners, the general public, policy makers, and themselves through reflection. Composition has its own body of research regarding service learning that can help guide faculty members integration of service learning in writing courses.