BCC Participates in National High-impact Practices

BCC Participates in National High-impact Practices (HIP) Institute with Goal of Improving Student Success

Community colleges like Berkshire Community College (BCC) are a great way for students to get a quality, affordable education. However, what makes students stay in school — and succeed — once they have been accepted?

Research shows that when students feel engaged, retention rates improve. With this in mind, BCC completed a rigorous application process to participate in the 2021 Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success, presented by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). The virtual session, held last month, featured in-depth workshops led by experts in the field.

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Fall classes begin September 7, 2021.

Learn more about Fall 2021

High-impact practices (HIPs), designed to increase rates of student engagement and retention, include first-year experiences, writing-intensive courses, collaborative projects, diversity/global learning, community-based learning, and internships. According to the AAC&U, HIPs have proven to be particularly beneficial for historically underserved students who often do not have equitable access to high-impact learning. 

At BCC, nearly three-quarters of students are part-time, and 54% are non-traditional college students (aged 23 or older). Many juggle families and jobs while continuing their education.

Some of our students face life challenges or crises that can impede their ability to remain in college or devote the time needed to remain in college"

 Laurie Gordy, BCC Dean of Humanities, Behavioral & Social Sciences

George Ambriz, BCC Director of Academic and Career Advising, underscored the need to implement HIPs carefully. “We must ensure that we do not create additional barriers for students  and that we make these HIPs available to students early in their educational careers,” he said.

Gordy, who led the BCC HIP team, said she and four other team members attended the four-day HIP Institute session to learn about designing, assessing and implementing equity-minded HIPs. The team subsequently prepared an action plan that they plan to share this fall when faculty return to campus.

We want to help students feel more connected to the college and be better equipped for success" 

Julia Curletti, Assistant to the VP of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management and Division Support Manager, said, “Our plan will help us facilitate collaboration among faculty and staff, allowing us to deepen our holistic approach to supporting students.”

“BCC has renewed its efforts to be more intentional in collecting, analyzing, discussing and using data to reduce equity gaps in student success outcomes,” Gordy said. 

In addition to Gordy, Ambriz and Curletti, the BCC HIP team included Julianna Spallholz, Professor of English, and Gina Foley, Associate Professor of Life Science.