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Component Descriptions

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Applied Learning Experiences:

Applied learning experiences are those in which instruction is augmented and made more relevant through contextual experiences not generally associated with a traditional classroom setting. Applied learning experiences include internships, field experiences, co-ops, practica, clinical assignments, project-based learning, service learning, or any other experiences that connect learning with real-world context, application, and practice. Applied learning experiences can occur in or out of the classroom and often encourage students to integrate and extend the knowledge they have acquired through coursework. They can also help prepare students for life beyond college through the development of the background, skills, and perspective necessary for success in the labor market.

Assessment of Student Learning:

Learning assessment is the systematic process of examining multiple forms of evidence of student learning and development outcomes within and across courses, academic programs, high-impact practices, general education curricula, and co-curricular experiences in order to ensure that colleges and universities are meeting their institutional missions, commitments to equity, and fulfilling their promises to parents, students, policy makers and the public to prepare students for future work, life, and citizenship.

Done well, assessment:

  • Is rigorous without being rigid, embracing and engaging in a range of methodologies, from quantitative to qualitative approaches;
  • Not only measures student learning but also fosters students’ development of deep and flexible knowledge and the ability to use such knowledge through engagement in tasks that are varied, relevant, and authentic;
  • Considers the full range of possible cognitive, behavioral, affective, and social outcomes for undergraduate and/or graduate education, civic responsibility, and workforce success;
  • Provides evidence of learning for all students through transparent and robust examination of disaggregated data;
  • Catalyzes candid conversations about quality and equity across the institution—including with students themselves;
  • Leads to informed change designed to enhance student success.

Definition provided by AAC&U

Equity-Minded, Asset-Based Teaching: 

Equity-Mindedness includes being informed by current statistics on demographics of students, faculty, and staff and monitoring intersectional inequity at the course, program, and campus levels such as across race, ethnicity, gender, social class, disability, etc. (Bensimon, as cited in Zamani-Gallaher, 2020).

Asset-Based Teaching incorporates approaches such as employing culturally relevant materials and assignments through the use of culturally responsive pedagogical practices. Asset-based teaching does not perpetuate deficit perspectives and consciously acknowledges students as a resource that provides intellectual capital and contributions to teaching and learning (Civil, as cited in Zamani-Gallaher, 2020).

Zamani-Gallaher, E. M. (2020). Ensure students are learning: A definition of equity-minded, asset-based teaching. Center for Community College Student Engagement & Office of Community College Research and Leadership.

High-Impact Teaching Practices:  

High-impact teaching practices are pedagogical practices that can influence students’ success. They can take many different forms—from the incorporation of tutoring into a course to using collaborative assignments to help students learn to work effectively with others. Because “high-impact teaching practices” encompasses so many impactful practices, the component has been sub-divided into 10 areas.  

  • Alert and intervention 
    Early academic warning processes typically are triggered when faculty members identify students who are struggling and notify others in the college who step in to support the students. Colleges might follow up with students by e-mail, text, social media, or telephone and encourage them to access services, such as tutoring, peer mentoring, study groups, and student success skills workshops.  
  • Tutoring 
    Tutoring can be offered in multiple ways and provide a range of benefits in terms of student engagement. For example, group tutoring can build relationships among students; one-on-one tutoring often serves both tutor and tutee; and technology-enhanced tutoring can maximize resources by focusing assistance where it’s needed while helping to build students’ engagement with the subject matter itself. 
  • Supplemental instruction 
    While tutoring usually is conducted one-on-one, supplemental instruction typically involves a regularly scheduled, supplemental class for a portion of students enrolled in a larger course section. Supplemental instruction may be taught by the class instructor or a trained assistant, often a former student who was successful in the class. Supplemental instruction, like tutoring, may increase the impact of classroom instruction by providing extra time for skill practice. 
  • Writing intensity* 
    In writing-intensive courses, students are encouraged to produce and revise various forms of writing for different audiences in different disciplines. The effectiveness of this repeated practice “across the curriculum” has led to parallel efforts in such areas as quantitative reasoning, oral communication, information literacy, and, on some campuses, ethical inquiry. 
  • Collaborative assignments and projects* 
    Collaborative learning combines two key goals: learning to work and solve problems in the company of others, and sharpening one’s own understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences. Approaches range from study groups within a course, to team-based assignments and writing, to cooperative projects and research. 
  • Research experience** 
    Participation in undergraduate research has been found to be an effective method for developing students’ problem-solving skills and work habits, connecting classroom experiences to the world of work, and improving student retention. Community colleges play a significant role in preparing America’s work force. The skills students develop through undergraduate research—such as the ability to work in teams, communicate effectively, and solve problems—are skills that are needed in any job (Hart Research Associates 2015). As more and more students are completing the first two years of their education at community colleges, providing undergraduate research opportunities at community colleges becomes increasingly important. 
  • ePortfolios* 
    ePortfolios enable students to electronically collect their work over time, reflect upon their personal and academic growth, and then share selected items with others, such as professors, advisors, and potential employers. Because collection over time is a key element of the ePortfolio process, employing ePortfolios in collaboration with other high-impact practices provides opportunities for students to make connections between various educational experiences. 
  • Service learning* 
    In these programs, field-based “experiential learning” with community partners is an instructional strategy—and often a required part of the course. The idea is to give students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve problems in the community. A key element in these programs is the opportunity students have to both apply what they are learning in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences. These programs model the idea that giving something back to the community is an important college outcome, and that working with community partners is good preparation for citizenship, work, and life. 
  • Internships* 
    Internships are another increasingly common form of experiential learning. The idea is to provide students with direct experience in a work setting—usually related to their career interests—and to give them the benefit of supervision and coaching from professionals in the field. If the internship is taken for course credit, students complete a project or paper that is approved by a faculty member. 
  • Capstone projects* 
    These culminating experiences require students nearing the end of their college years to create a project of some sort that integrates and applies what they’ve learned. The project might be a research paper, a performance, a portfolio of “best work,” or an exhibit of artwork. Capstones are offered both in departmental programs and, increasingly, in general education as well.

* Excerpted from High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter, by George D. Kuh (AAC&U, 2008) via

** Excerpted from

Student Engagement:

Student learning, persistence, and attainment in college are strongly associated with student engagement. The more actively engaged students are—with college faculty and staff, with other students, with the subject matter they are studying—the more likely they are to persist in their college studies and to achieve at higher levels. The Center for Community College Student Engagement (the Center) measures engagement for students in their first term in six key areas and measures engagement for students in the spring term in five key areas.