Academic Engagement and Student Success: Do High-Impact Practices Mean Higher Graduation Rates?

Sarah Randall Johnson, Frances King Stage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the relationship between 10 high-impact practices and graduation rates at four-year public colleges and universities in the United States. The Association of American Colleges and Universities defined high-impact practices as especially effective for student learning, engagement, and career preparation in the 21st century. While advocacy for these practices and their inclusion in undergraduate curricula is growing, little research has examined their relationship to institutional outcomes. Based on data from 101 participating institutions, this study used both primary and secondary data to investigate whether offering high-impact practices as required for all students, required for some students, or optional was related to an institution’s four or six-year graduation rate. The findings suggest that high-impact practices are in widespread use across different institutional types but have limited relationships with graduation rates. This study contributes to the body of literature on college completion. Findings suggest that offering high-impact practices may not lead to increased graduation rates at public institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-781
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Higher Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2018


  • Academic engagement
  • college completion
  • high-impact practices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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