High-Impact Educational Practices to Promote International Students' Engagement and Development: Evidence from Large, Public Research Universities

High-Impact Educational Practices to Promote International Students' Engagement and Development: Evidence from Large, Public Research Universities

Krista M. Soria (University of Minnesota, USA) and Shane M. Lueck (University of Minnesota, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9749-2.ch015
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The purpose of this chapter was to investigate whether international students' participation in high-impact educational practices was associated with students' development of academic skills and academic engagement. Data from a multi-institutional survey of international students enrolled at 13 large, public research universities in 2013 were analyzed utilizing hierarchical multiple regression. Results suggest that participation in first-year seminars, learning communities, service-learning and community engagement, and common book reading programs are positively associated with international students' academic engagement and academic skills development. Enrollment in diversity-related courses was also associated with students' academic skills development while engagement in creative forms of scholarship was positively associated with academic engagement.
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While there are many ways for college students to become more engaged and invested in their academic pursuits, high-impact educational practices have been singled out for their unique, enriching, and powerful effects on students’ experiences (Kuh, 2008; Soria, 2015; Soria & Troisi, 2014; Stebleton, Soria, & Cherney, 2013). Examples of high-impact educational practices outlined by Kuh (2008) include learning communities, first-year experience programs, common book reading experiences, service learning and community service, diversity experiences, student-faculty research collaborations, senior capstone experiences, writing intensive courses, and internships.

Kuh (2008) suggested high-impact activities are uniquely beneficial for several reasons. First, these practices require students to spend significant time and energy in the completion of intentionally-designed experiential activities, assignments, and tasks. Second, high-impact educational practices require students to have frequent and engaged interactions with faculty and peers as they are embedded in active forms of learning; concomitantly, students who participate in these activities are more likely to experience diversity by working with others from diverse backgrounds.

Furthermore, Kuh (2008) proposed that students who participate in high-impact practices typically receive regular feedback on their performance, a factor which could enhance students’ academic engagement and development of academic skills. Within high-impact educational practices, students are more likely to receive opportunities to apply their learning within practical, real-world settings, in turn, seeing how learning functions in a variety of different and dynamic contexts. Through their design and successful implementation, then, high-impact educational practices hold the potential to bolster international students’ engagement in the classroom and acquisition of academic skills students can utilize in post-undergraduate careers or graduate education. Broadly speaking, high-impact practices are proposed to enhance undergraduates’ engagement, development, and retention (Brownell & Swaner, 2010).

Emergent research provides evidence regarding the rate at which undergraduates may participate in high-impact educational practices in colleges and universities across the United States. Examining a longitudinal sample of undergraduates from 17 liberal arts institutions, Kilgo, Ezell Sheets, and Pascarella (2015) found that 72.80% of students participated in a first-year seminar, 34.72% in undergraduate research, 43.33% in study abroad, 53.125 in service learning, 69.76% in an internship, 51.11% in a capstone course, and 59.97% in writing-intensive courses.

A number of scholars have begun to investigate the potential benefits of high-impact educational practices on college students’ learning and development outcomes. For instance, Kilgo et al. (2015) recently discovered that some high-impact practices—including active and collaborative learning and undergraduate research—have broadly-reaching impacts on students’ development in areas such as critical thinking and intercultural effectiveness. The authors also found positive effects from students’ involvement in study abroad, internships, service-learning, and capstone experiences on students’ learning. While these opportunities for student involvement may be particularly effective in promoting college students’ development, active learning, deep learning, engagement, and retention (Kuh, 2008), few studies have explored whether these outcomes are also obtained by international students who engage in high-impact educational practices. Evidence suggests that some of the effects of high-impact educational practices may be conditional based upon students’ race/ethnicity; consequently, it is important to examine the potential impacts of high-impact educational practices on subgroups of college students (Seifert, Gillig, Hanson, Pascarella, & Blaich, 2014).

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