Thursday, June 2, 2011 myBiz Blog
High-impact practice opportunities at UW-Madison by Katie Coon

Want to increase your chance of having a high GPA, increase your rate of student-faculty interaction, and improve your critical thinking and writing skills before you even start your first course at UW-Madison? Read on to find out how. (NOTE: this applies to current UW students, too!)

High-impact practices are educational experiences that make a significant difference in all of the areas (and more!) mentioned above.  Fortunately, UW-Madison offers many high-impact practice opportunities from freshman to senior year.  Review the following opportunities and be prepared to discuss the opportunities you are interested in with your academic advisor at SOAR.

In the first year:

-          First-Year Interest Groups (FIGs)

  • Group of 20 first-year students who live in the same residence hall or "residential neighborhood" and who also enroll in a cluster of three classes together. Each FIG cluster of courses has a central theme; the central or "synthesizing" course integrates content from the other two classes
  • Each FIG is a learning community that complements the classroom experience. Being in a FIG allows new freshmen to meet other students with similar interests. FIG students also get to connect with faculty in a small seminar environment.
  • 58 FIGs available this fall with topics ranging from Classical Myth and Modern American Culture to Contemporary Brazilian Society to Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom: Eating for Sustainability and Social Justice
-          Residential Learning Communities (RLCs)
  • Bring together faculty, staff and students around an explicit focus within University Residence Halls
  • Seminars and course sections that meet in a student’s residence hall produce smaller communities that set a student up for success
-          Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS)
  • Provides first- and second-year undergraduates the opportunity for hands-on experience in research or other creative endeavors by working with UW faculty and research staff
  • UW–Madison ranks as one of the most prolific research universities in the world, placing third among American public universities for research expenditures.  Get involved as an undergrad!
  • Opportunities available in sciences, engineering, the arts, and the social sciences
Other opportunities available throughout college:

Which high-impact practice are you most interested in? FIG RLC URS Study abroad Other

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Sources: Bronwell, J & Swanner, L (2009). High Impact Practices: Applying the Learning Outcomes Literature, Peer Review, Spring. Aaron Brower, Teaching and Learning Excellence at UW-Madison

Keyword: High-impact practices