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Washington State University
Carson College of Business High Impact Learning Experience Explained

High Impact Learning Experience Explained

A high-impact learning experience has many traits. It demands considerable time and effort, facilitates learning outside of the classroom, requires meaningful interactions with industry, faculty and community, it encourages collaboration with diverse others, and provides frequent and substantive evaluation and assessment. As a result, participation can be life-changing. (adapted from NSSE)

Much different than a basic workshop or info session, a high-impact learning experience requires more engagement. Here are some ideas:


An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent. Criteria for an experience to be defined as an internship (Nace, 2011):

  • The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
  • The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
  • The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
  • There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals for student’s academic coursework.
  • There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
  • There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
  • There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.

*If you participate in an internship, you are required to complete the CCB Internship Learning Agreement.

Study Abroad:

Living and learning abroad provides students the opportunity to develop highly sought-after professional skills-adaptability, communication, self-awareness, independence and confidence just to name a few. A quality study abroad experience:

  • Provides opportunities for students to immerse themselves into another culture.
  • Provides opportunities for students to further their foreign language.
  • Helps students understand the increasing globalization and exposes them to developing critical thinking, problem solving, and strong written and oral communication.
  • Students will have a competitive edge for job searches, interviews and promotions.
  • Help build a global network and create lifelong relationships

Research Project:

These experiences offer a unique way for students to build their academic depth and consider how graduate school may play a role in future paths. Research opportunities:

  • Build skills and increased knowledge around a particular topic.
  • Work closely with faculty and Ph.D. candidates to gain the perspective of a researcher.
  • Opportunity to write proposals and learn the fundamental of research.
  • Offers experience in the processes of collecting and analyzing data.

Boeing Scholars (Pullman & Everett Campus) or Frank Scholars (Pullman Campus):

  • Provides experience working with professionals from a range of disciplinary backgrounds.
  • Students pursue different ways of thinking creating solutions to some of today’s most challenging problems.
  • Encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration and integrative learning.
  • Enables student to develop critical thinking skills.
  • Promotes students who analytically and creatively embrace new ideas.
  • Presents “real world” opportunities for growth.

Workplace Special Projects:

In collaboration with your organization organize, lead and help execute company projects that may fall outside the scope of regular duties. Specific responsibilities and purpose of projects vary, depending on the need of your company or organization. Special projects:

  • Provide students opportunities to learn new skills and using their existing skills in different ways.
  • Allow employees to connect with colleagues or groups with whom they might not otherwise work.
  • Bring tangible benefits to the company in processes, procedures or new products.

Independent Special Projects:

Proposal/plan created by students independently to benefit their own workplace, business or organization. Proposal/plans should be executable with “real world” benefits, but do not have to be put into place to receive credit.

  • Provides students opportunities to learn new skills and using their existing skills in different ways.
  • Allow employees and entrepreneurs to research and analyze company/organizational needs and develop programs/plans to meet these needs.
  • Utilize the knowledge gained in coursework to tackle “real world” business issues.
  • Workplace Proposal: Use your skills to identify opportunities for growth/improvement within your current company and create a proposal to address these issues, using the PRISM format.
  • Business Plan: Use Research, existing Industry Knowledge and classroom learning to create a Business Plan for your existing or future business. Research Business Plan development standards as part of this requirement.

Student Club/Organization Projects:

Participating in a student club/organization competition or presenting for a conference gives you experience working in teams or presenting your work in a professional context. Presenting your work at a conference or participating in a competition:

  • Allows you to receive constructive feedback from others and encourages you to continue developing and improving.
  • Builds capacity for working in teams and communication skills for presenting to diverse audiences.
  • Provides resume building experiences enhancing your ability to address your strengths.
  • Improves collaboration within student organizations and have an impact on the broader community.

Community Service Projects:

Work done by a person or group that benefit others.

  • Helps students connect to others. Increasing social and relationship skills.
  • Increases self-confidence, problem solving, collaboration, time management, communication and leadership.
  • Provides opportunities to increase transferable skills and networking.
  • Helps to build career path connections and gain a perspective into the career field.

Business Growth Mentor and Analysis Program (Vancouver Campus)

In conjunction with classmates and an assigned mentor from the Southwest Washington/Portland Metro business community, research, develop and present business growth opportunities for a local business (client) participating in the Business Growth Mentor and Analysis Program. Students will complete multiple presentations and reports as a part of the ENTRP 492 capstone course.

  • Research and identify challenges facing a business and communicate why those challenges are significant.
  • Develop solutions that will allow the business to address these challenges, and create an implementation plan for those solutions.
  • Update the client on findings regarding the diagnostic assessment and solutions report in a clear and convincing manner. Complete a formal presentation for the implementation plan report to the client.


CFA Stock Research Challenge (Pullman)

A team of 4-5 undergraduate CCB students participate in the CFA Stock Research Challenge—Spokane Region (9 universities in Idaho, Washington, and Montana). It is a 2-part competition: (1) a written stock research report on a regional publicly-traded company (this year was Banner Bank) due in January, and (2) a stock pitch competition in Spokane in February.

DECA (Pullman)

This competitive collegiate club prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Collegiate DECA’s Competitive Events Program allows students to put their experience, skills and knowledge to the test while representing their college or university. Students compete for top international honors in one of 25 different competitions. Collegiate DECA competitive events recognize student achievement, provide opportunities for traveling to conferences and networking with peers. The Collegiate DECA Competitive Events Program is recognized for helping to prepare students for their professional careers. Students are judged by business and industry professionals in all Collegiate DECA competitive events.

Global Case Competition (Pullman)

This competitive group works through assigned international business case scenarios each week for 10 weeks. Working in teams of three, they prepare strategic analysis and develop 15-minute presentations to address the problem posed in the case study. Time management, team work, and presentation skills add to students’ self-confidence in international economics, supply and demand, business strategy, design, data collection and analysis, consumer behavior, technical support and development and much, much more.

Business Plan Competition (Pullman)

If you’re a student entrepreneur or aspiring business owner, the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies presents the WSU Business Plan Competition – an unparalleled opportunity to practice entrepreneurship in a real-world setting and receive guidance as you launch a new venture, plus a chance to win thousands of dollars in prize money.

ACG CUP Competition (Vancouver Campus)

Gives student an opportunity to solve a real-world issue in a high-pressure setting. Students are challenged to find solutions for a finance-related case in the field of mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, financial advisory and private equity. After the teams analyze the case and agree upon a course of action, the students make presentations to a panel of judges comprised of successful corporate executives in the field of finance. The team works all semester outside of class to be able to give a finance proposal to a room of board members.

Terry Sparks Program (Pullman)

This scholarship program helps students start their entrepreneurial journey at WSU! Intended for freshmen and sophomores of all majors with an interest in entrepreneurship, this program offers professional development programming and introduces young student entrepreneurs to campus resources and a community of support. In addition, students with their own business or non-profit idea can apply for the opportunity to receive dedicated mentorship and seed funding so they can test out that idea and see where it goes! Applications open April 1.

EDGE Innovation Pathway (Pullman)

The EDGE Innovation Pathway is a program in development at the CES, designed to help you move through the WSU entrepreneurship landscape in a systematic and purposeful way. Through the program, you will be connected with a peer advisor, your Trail Guide, who will help you prepare for your entrepreneurial journey; ensuring you access resources and participate in programs and events that will help you realize your entrepreneurial dreams, both in college and beyond.

Jones Milestone Accelerator (Pullman)

You have your team. Your beta test was a success. You know your market. You are ready for the next step. The Jones Milestone Accelerator is it. This six-month accelerator program that helps student-led ventures set a path to success. Accepted teams will be coached by a personalized team of entrepreneurial mentors, receive stipends to support their work, connect with WSU’s extensive network of corporate and community partners, gain access to legal credit through Lee & Hayes, and have access to a coworking space on in The Den on WSU’s campus. Upon completion of the program, teams who have met their milestones will also receive up to $20,000 in grant funding to get their ventures to the next growth stage.

Intercollegiate Wine Business Invitational (Pullman & TC)

Teams from participating universities and colleges will compete to create business plans, cost of goods and pricing financials and a label for a table wine of their choice (origin, variety/blend, red/white/rose at team’s discretion) that will retail for $25-40.00 USD. Takeaways include understanding the wine supply chain and learning what the financial effects of key decisions at any point along the supply chain has on cost of goods, pricing and marketing a wine. The additional benefit is learning more about, and gaining a greater appreciation for, wine language, viticulture, winemaking and more detailed aspects of what truly goes into the production of a bottle of wine.

ProSales Competition (Vancouver Campus)

Competitors perform role plays. Members of the local professional sales community serve as judges of the competition.

  • Students are given an opportunity to solve a real-world issue in a high-pressure setting.
  • Students are challenged to find solutions for a sales/ marketing related case in the field of business with the student being a salesperson.
  • Helps students connect to others. Increasing social and relationship skills.
  • Increases self-confidence, problem solving, collaboration, time management, communication and leadership.
  • Provides opportunities to increase transferable skills and networking.
  • Helps to build career path connections and a gain a perspective into the career field.