High-Impact Learning In Action

Discover more about how Mary Baldwin University is guided by the high-impact learning practices set forth by Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) to transform your passion into life of purpose:

  • First-year seminars and experiences
    • Each first-year student chooses from among several interest-based Leadership Gateways that incorporate group discussions, outings, and hands-on activities.
    • Participation in Mary Baldwin 101: Orientation to College during the first semester on campus.
  • Learning communities
  • Common intellectual experiences
    • Mary Baldwin’s annual theme — a central idea, such as Power, Courage, or Voices — provides a framework for academic and extracurricular activities.
    • Recent revisions to the college’s core curriculum ensure that all students develop understanding in three core areas: the liberal arts and sciences, the self in relationship with to the broader community, and the ability to make a positive difference in the world.
  • Writing-intensive courses
    • Writing emphasis courses within all major included frequent (usually weekly) smaller writing assignments and at least two projects that require multiple revisions based on peer and instructor feedback.
  • Collaborative assignments and projects
    • Students are encouraged to engage in study groups and team-based research, helping them solve problems collectively and listen seriously to the insights of those with different backgrounds.
  • Undergraduate research
    • In labs and libraries, classrooms and offices, collaborative student-faculty research takes place throughout the academic year.
    • The Summer Research Fellows program encourages students and professors to dive into intensive projects when classes are not in session.
    • Numerous opportunities to present work at national and international conferences, where Mary Baldwin students often earn top honors.
  • Internships
    • One of the most tried-and-true methods of real-world learning, Mary Baldwin faculty members are experts at networking and connecting students with area professionals who help integrate and apply classroom learning.
  • Capstone courses and projects
    • As a junior or senior, every Mary Baldwin student designs and carries out an original research project, or thesis. The annual spring Capstone Festival highlights outstanding projects with the opportunity to present their work to the campus community and the public.


The Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement coordinates many efforts related to high-impact practices: 

  • Diversity and global learning
    • On campus, students explore racial, ethnic, and gender issues as well as struggles around the world for human rights, equality, and power through conversations with our artists-in-residence; the Quest interfaith program; varied events sponsored by student organizations; and interaction with students and faculty from Rwanda, Bolivia, Ireland, Wales, Japan, and more.
    • A majority of Mary Baldwin students study abroad for the three-week May Term, a semester, or more. Scholarships are available to help cover costs.
  • Service- or community-based learning
    • With nearly 100 community partners, it is easy to find a way to combine scholarship and service.
    • Most majors require at least one credit hour of volunteer work.
  • The college’s first High-Impact Engaged Education grants were awarded in 2014. The new High-Impact Engaged Education Fund accomplishes one of several goals of the Spencer Center Endowment, part of Ever Ahead: The Campaign for Mary Baldwin University.

These 10 strategies were developed based on the work of George Kuh in his book High-Impact Educational Practices. Kuh offers insight on what it is that makes these activities meaningful parts of the college experience:

  • They are effortful, requiring daily decisions that deepen students’ commitment to their academic program and the college.
  • They help students build meaningful relationships while interacting with faculty, staff, and peers.
  • They provide students with frequent feedback.
  • They encourage students to apply and test what they are learning in new situations.
  • They provide opportunities for students to reflect on the person they are becoming.

* LEAP is a program of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.