As universities consider programming that is appropriate for students in contemporary higher education contexts, they would do well to consider the expectations of those in industry and the professions. According to Kuh (2007) “…there is growing evidence that – when done well – a handful of selected programs and activities appear to engage participants at levels that boost their performance across a variety of educational activities and desired outcomes…” (p. 7). The impact of such pedagogy often correlates into enhanced learning outcomes, regardless of previous achievement. For example, first-year students who engaged in High-Impact practices in their first semester all saw an increase in their first-semester GPA. The largest effect was seen among students at lower levels of academic preparation, particularly those students who had been historically underrepresented in universities. In addition, among each group, there was a direct correlation between the number of High-Impact experiences they had and their first-semester GPA. High-Impact Practices (HIP) have the potential to engage students with the academic and social content needed to function as both responsive and adaptive professionals. Kuh (2009) identified ten of the more promising “high-impact” practices, including a mix of learning opportunities such as first-year seminars, common intellectual experiences, learning communities, service learning, undergraduate research, study abroad and other experiences with diversity, work integrated learning/internships, and capstone courses/projects. While many of the practices branded high impact have been discussed independently in the literature, six common attributes were identified that spanned across the practices and contributed to the high levels of learner impact. This paper will provide an overview of these six attributes and discuss specific strategies for their intentional inclusion within the undergraduate experience. Educators attending the session will increase their ability to provide relevant educational experiences resulting in the graduate attributes demanded by employers in the 21st century and beyond.
According to the Australian Department of Employment (2014), employers have become more selective in their hiring processes over the past year, even passing up applicants who would have been deemed acceptable for a given position previously. While applicants appear prepared on their applications, there are key skills that are of particular importance for emerging professionals. Possessing these skills is of critical importance to employers’ hiring decisions. In a recent survey (AAC&U, 2013), 93% of employers indicated that skills such as critical thinking, effective communication, and problem solving were more important than a candidate’s undergraduate major. In addition, approximately 90% of the employers expressed a desire to hire candidates that demonstrated “ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning”. Pedagogy used in contemporary higher education must ensure that emerging professionals are equipped with these skills upon graduation. They can be considered the tools needed to effectively respond and adapt to the complex society in which they reside. This paper will discuss appropriate pedagogy that aims to address maximum learning outcomes and the development of graduate attributes that are crucial to students’ future success and life-long learning journey.