National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Spring 2017


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Spring/Summer 2017, Volume 18. Number 1.


Copyright 2017 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


High-impact educational practices (HIPs) have long been central to honors pedagogy. From undergraduate research to service learning, study abroad, internships, and writing-intensive courses, these practices shape the honors educational experience and influence retention successes in honors. These practices also inform the synergy between honors and national scholarships by helping students to develop the skills and experiences necessary to compete for prestigious scholarships.

Across the United States, university and college administrators expend tremendous time and energy worrying about student retention, persistence, and graduation rates. Recently, university communities have focused considerable attention on the potential of HIPs to address these issues and improve student performance. Research indicates that HIPs improve student retention and engagement, but according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), “on almost all campuses, utilization of active learning practices is unsystematic, to the detriment of student learning.” Our experiences at Western Kentucky University (WKU) demonstrate that honors and national scholarship collaborations can provide an authentic and aspirational organizational framework for HIPs and create a multiplier effect for other leading retention strategies. The planning process for developing scholars, integral to our honors/national scholarship partnership, is an ideal way for universities to systematize and integrate HIPs in a campus-wide strategic process to increase retention, persistence, student learning, and graduation rates.