High Impact Practices Purpose of Teaching

Signature Experiences

In a previous post, I announced an upcoming workshop on High-Impact Practices 2.0. In this post, I want to consider some of the ways we can facilitate what we might think of as “signature experiences” for students related to these high-impact practices.

Leon Botstein, President of Bard College, writes in his book Jefferson’s Children: “A college ought to be measured by the extent to which the curriculum influences dining hall conversation and the kinds of entertainment students choose.” I love this idea, but it remains just an idea unless we put it at the center of our course design.

When I think about a signature experience that college students should have, I think about the quality of conversations that our courses should make possible. And to make it more likely that students talk about our courses once they leave our class, we should do things like (1) assign readings that are genuinely interesting and that provoke divergent viewpoints; (2) end the class with an explicit question that we’d like them to ask a friend or to continue talking about after class; (3) give them assignments where they have to talk with people from outside of our class, normalizing the idea that what a student learns doesn’t live and die within the walls of our classroom.

The biggest compliment a student ever gave me was that they forwarded our course reading to their parents and a friend from high school.

What about you? What signature experiences do you want your students to have, and how can these be built into our courses and our majors/minors/programs? Having conversations outside of the classroom is should one thing we can aim for. What are others?

I look forward to seeing anyone who can meet on Friday 10/21 at 1 pm in the CTL (this is on the main floor of ODY library, near our special collections and across from the WORD Studio).