Texas Tech University


Provost Galyean's Vision: By 2025, every undergraduate will engage in a transformational learning experience under the mentorship of TTU faculty and staff.

High Impact Practices (HIP)

High impact practices include experiences that involve active engagement of faculty/staff and students in producing work that:

  • contributes to the utilization or application of invention, creation or knowledge;
  • contributes to the discovery of new knowledge or transforms our current understanding;
  • involves creative endeavors that produce new or newly interpreted works of literature, music and the fine arts;
  • engages knowledge, information, and creative endeavors in service to the community;
  • synthesizes existing knowledge or information across disciplines, across topics within disciplines, or across time;
  • studies the systematic study of teaching and learning processes.

High Impact Practices and Deep Learning 

The National Survey of Student Engagement collects data to determine the relationship of specific high impact practices and deep learning. The chart displays senior relationships, controlling for student and institution characteristics. While all high impact practices have the capability to effect deep learning, undergraduate research and service-learning appear to have the largest influence. The following high impact practices (HIP) have been determined to have the greatest potential to provide a transformative learning experience at Texas Tech University: undergraduate research and creative activity, service learning, experiential learning, study away.

Campus Wide Inventory of HIP

During the fall of 2019, TTU began a campus wide inventory of HIP. Associate Deans were asked to work with their faculty to provide a comprehensive list of courses and extracurricular activities which employ high impact practice that might lead to a transformative learning experience for undergraduate students. As part of this inventory, TTU colleges and departments were also asked to report the percentage of students engaging in undergraduate research and creative activity.


Undergraduate research and creative activities exist on a continuum – all levels of this continuum could be considered high impact practice, but only the higher levels would meet the minimum criteria above and create the greatest likelihood of a transformational learning experience. At a minimum, high impact practices that might lead to a transformational learning experience include:

  • Meaningful faculty involvement
  • Discipline appropriate product
  • Significant time commitment (100+ hours suggested)

Defining Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity

As a faculty member, you have an operational definition of research and creative activity. You also acknowledge and appreciate that activities that demonstrate research and creative activity are unique to each discipline. In many ways, these same understandings can be applied to undergraduate research. Students conduct research in the same discipline specific ways as their faculty, employing the same methods and techniques, in order to contribute to knowledge in their field.

The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) defines undergraduate research as: "An inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline." With regard to undergraduate students, the research process also includes the education and developmental components students go through as they learn what it means to conduct academic research and/or engage in creative activity. Undergraduate research should produce some sort of project, report, publication, or presentation, but the overall experience — the learning, the intellectual growth and development, the acquisition of skills, the maturation of thought and self, and the fostering of an inquiring and critical mind – is paramount.

This is where the real difference between research conducted at the undergraduate level and that which is conducted at the graduate level and beyond is revealed – it is the pursuit of not only the answers to the research question, but also the pursuit of the positive outcomes associated with student learning and growth. It involves maintaining the ideals of rigorous and ethical research while simultaneously developing students as scholars. Therefore, how we think about undergraduate research and creative activities is more important than how we define it.

Council on Undergraduate Research. (2012) Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research (COEUR). Retrieved from https://www.cur.org.

Undergraduate Research

This category includes the process of inquiry and analysis and communication of results when they are appropriate to the field of study. Examples might include studying oral histories or community artifacts, building a data analytics engine, analyzing the effects of arts practices on cognitive functionality, user-testing designs, examining dust particles, using a motion capture lab, or an investigation of media. The outcomes of this work might lead to presentation, publication, strategy/intervention, funding, invention, patent, etc.

Creative Activities

This category includes conception, development, and exhibition of creative works when they are appropriate to the field of study. Examples might include exhibiting at an art show, conducting a choral clinic, performing a dance or musical piece, generating a design proposal display, or creating a chapter of poetry.


Below are just a few examples of activities that might exist on the undergraduate research and creative activity continuum. The farther an activity reaches into the better and best areas of each example, the more likely a transformative learning experience will occur.

Activity Good Better Best
Undergraduate research course An entry level research course in which students learn about research terminology, methods, and approaches (e.g. introductory research course).  A research course in which students, working independently or in teams, identify a problem, follow appropriate methods to collect data, perform analysis, and communicate the results (e.g. action research course, intermediate research methods course). A course in which students make discoveries that are of interest to stakeholders outside the classroom (e.g., the broader academic community). The work is open-ended, meaning there is no "book" solution to the problem at hand. The work may also be iterative, meaning students must trouble-shoot, problem-solve, and repeat aspects of their work for the research to progress. New research questions and directions are generated each term and the course is unlikely to look the same from year to year. The work students do builds off and has the potential to contribute to a larger body of knowledge in the discipline (e.g. Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience – CURE).
Faculty mentored research 

(E.g., co-curricular, independent study, capstone course, etc.)
Student works with a faculty member or within a research team, gaining basic understanding of the research process and completing basic research tasks. Student works with a faculty member or within a research team on a significant aspect of a faculty member's research project and communicates the results of that work in some public way. Student receives mentoring from a faculty member as they identify their own unique research question, collect data, perform analyses, and share results through the production of a discipline appropriate product.
Creative activity Student works with a faculty member or within a creative team, being immersed in the approaches and techniques of the discipline and beginning to practice in the discipline's tradition. Student works with a faculty member or within a creative team, participating in a creative activity led by a faculty member or fellow student's and is privy to the process for developing and exhibiting the work. Student receives mentoring from a faculty member as they determine their own unique creative concept, perform related research and analysis, and create and exhibit a new work.

Conceptualizing Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Across the Disciplines 

TrUE is working with colleges to provide discipline specific, contextual examples of undergraduate research and creative activity. 

Human Sciences

Undergraduate research and creative activities in the College of Human Sciences are formal opportunities for students to engage in guided learning experiences while developing research/creative skills under the guidance of faculty mentors. The expectation is that these experiences will result in tangible deliverables for the students involved (e.g., participation in conferences, exhibitions, and/or publications).

Visual and Performing Arts


In the Dance program at TTU, undergraduate students have multiple opportunities to engage in creative activity. Perhaps the most prominent of the opportunities are learning and performing choreography and choreographing then producing original dance. Because the latter is what we would consider a capstone experience in the Dance program, I'll provide some more detail here: as creative activity, developing, staging, and fully producing original choreography generally involves a lengthy educational process in which students learn, in didactic courses, the skills necessary to make and produce dance. Many students spend a full two long semesters generating their choreographic idea(s) and then a third semester developing the idea(s) into fully-realized dance works. That process involves multiple phases of external review and critical feedback, revision, and presentation. By the time a student's work has been formally performed for a paying audience, it will have undergone numerous reviews and revisions. Choreography as a creative process also involves developing the skills necessary to identify the design components of a dance: costume, lighting, sound and, if applicable, set pieces and/or props. This is not done in a vacuum and requires the choreographer to be competent enough in those named areas to converse with professionals in those fields who assist with the design components of the student works. Production of original student choreography happens twice annually at TTU.

Examples of undergraduate research in dance might include: examining intersections between arts and other disciplines; analyzing the effects of arts practices on cognitive functionality; studying relationships between arts modalities across certain periods (e.g., postmodernism, romanticism); using a motion capture lab to study the efficiency of traditionally recommended movements, stances, and/or gestures.