Assessment of High Impact Learning on Student Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Science Programs

Presented by: Suzanne Lang, Pat Crawford, Trish Machemer

High impact learning claims to connect learning across courses and disciplines, and between campus and community to prepare students for making informed decisions in their personal, professional, and civic life. Student learning is demonstrated by intellectual, personal and disciplinary development through understanding and connecting knowledge from multiple fields, applying theory and practice to various settings, utilizing diverse and even contradictory views, and understanding issues contextually. We test the hypothesis that high impact curricula structure enhances student learning and cognitive development over the relatively short duration of a baccalaureate degree program by measuring the differences among student learning outcomes. Two survey instruments were used to assess students’ skill acquisition, cognitive development, and ability to connect knowledge: the Learning Environment Preferences instrument; and the Cognitive Development instrument measures students’ cognitive development with a paper and pencil Piagetian test. Based upon two years of data significant numbers of students need to increase their cognitive development in order to reach employers’ expectations of work performance. Students need exposure to more learning experiences that require them to process information that is dramatically different from the mental structure they currently have, so as to incorporate it into their mental structure.