Assessing the Impact of High-Impact Practices on African American Students

Dana Williams, Ph.D.

February 15, 2012


Either as a professor of English or Chair of the English Department, Dr. Dana Williams has been actively involved in what the Association of American Colleges & Universities calls "High-Impact Practices." She has helped coordinate the Freshman Seminar in the College of Arts & Sciences. She has helped organize the Common Text Project in the English Writing Program and Division of the Humanities. She has promoted undergraduate research, at one point, advising more students than any other faculty member in the College's Undergraduate Research Symposium. She has helped foster learning communities and facilitate collaborative learning as a member of the Mellon Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Program. She has led groups of students to Egypt and South Africa for summer study abroad and engaged them in blogging so that they could reflect on their learning. She has taught the English Senior Thesis course and directed the English Department's Honors Program, both of which prepare students to produce a capstone project. And, of course, as an English professor and department chair, she has actively supported the Writing across the Curriculum Program.

A daughter of Howard, Dana earned her Ph.D. in African American Literature from the University in 1998. Afterward, she received a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Scholar award to conduct research at Northwestern University and a John Hope Franklin Humanities fellowship to pursue research at Duke University. In 2009, she assumed the helm of the Department of English. Given Dana's first-hand experience and her knowledge of the research supporting High Impact Practices, she is uniquely qualified to speak about the impact—past and potential—of High Impact Practices on African American students, especially at Howard.

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