QEP Concept Papers

Title: A Proposal for Interdisciplinary Multi-Semester Cohort Experiences

Type: Full Proposal*


I propose a program to encourage and facilitate interdisciplinary study, conversation, and collaboration among students, faculty, and staff. New students will be encouraged to opt-in to a four-semester interdisciplinary cohort track in a selected theme related to diversity, broadly defined. Each track will be led by a program coordinator and a taught by a cohort of faculty and staff collaborating to ensure continuity across classes and develop new perspectives on individual areas of expertise. These themes could include race and ethnic studies; queer studies; disability studies; technology and society; interdisciplinary approaches to health; teaching, learning, and cognition; and others. Each theme will be defined in such a way that it would incorporate aspects of at least four distinct disciplines represented on campus from at least two different colleges. Tracks will also incorporate classes to fulfill general education categories to allow students to participate without creating many additional requirements. 

Incorporating explicitly interdisciplinary work and relationships into their college experience will help our students translate their academic success into professional and personal success. Participation will build community among students and faculty from different departments and even colleges. The program will also encourage students and faculty to consider complex issues from a multitude of perspectives, develop skills for communicating outside of disciplinary conventions, and recognize the value of expertise from diverse areas. It will also give new students a community of peers beyond their own departments, facilitating their integration into the university community. 

Title: Bridging People, Places, Programs, and Partners for S.U.C.C.E.S.S.
(Students Uncovering Curricular and Co-curricular Experiences that Support Systematic change)

Type: Full Proposal*


Collective Impact is the commitment of cross-sector partners to a common agenda for solving specific social problems using a structured form of collaboration--challenges too big for one entity to address on its own. The idea in this proposal is for UTC and its community partners to employ a collective impact model to unite around a common goal: to address UTC’s graduation rates and retention rates. UTC’s graduation rate is currently 53% and retention rate is 73%. The key components of this approach involve creating a structured system of collaboration utilizing existing on- and off-campus partners and resources and establishing new partnerships to close achievement gaps and increase graduation and retention rates for UTC students. 

Bridges to Success will help “bridge” the processes, people, programs, and partnerships that enable students to transition from semester to semester more seamlessly. The systems change approach will inevitably will have a campus-wide effect, but the focus in the first 2 years will be 700 undergraduate students (full and part-time, first-time freshman, first-generation who identify as students from an underrepresented group). By working better together, we will build a stronger campus community. For example: there will be an intentional and strategic focus to connect students with the DRC, SSS, MCC (to name a few) with other resources that support increased engagement and success. This proposal can link to other QEP proposals and partners attempting to accomplish similar goals. 

Title: Cohort 2025

Type: Full Proposal*


When the incoming class of freshmen arrive at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for fall semester 2021, they found a campus environment unlike any freshman class had found before. This fall’s freshmen made up the inaugural class of “Cohort 2025,” a new approach to building community through cohort groups of incoming students around their main interests. 

The Cohort 2025 project was so named to signify that the incoming freshman class will be the first to complete all four undergraduate years—by 2025—fully as members of cohort groups. There are three general categories for the program 

1. Residential Learning Communities 

2. Learning Communities (to include commuter students) 

3. Connections Cohorts: communities built around shared interests in extracurricular activities. 

While the initiative is intended to increase student retention and graduation, Chancellor Steve Angle says he also wants it to become part of what “defines a UTC experience.” “In terms of a high-impact practice that works, there’s a lot of data, nationally, to show that retention and graduation rates are higher for students who get more connected with the institution and other students,” Chancellor Steve Angle says. “It is something that I’ve been focused on for a while.” He announced the initiative during his September 2020 State of the University address: “We will expand programs that bring together groups of incoming students in cohort experiences. We have set an aggressive goal to offer every incoming student such an experience beginning fall 2021.” 

Title: Creating a Chattanooga-Based Project

Type: Full Proposal*


Employers who hire UTC graduates have indicated that they want employees to have skills in problem solving, teamwork, clear communication, and understanding/navigating diverse perspectives. The Chattanooga-Based Project would be a focused effort to help students develop those skills. As the focus of our new QEP, the Chattanooga-Based Project (CBP) would create the infrastructure to help UTC realize a number of its goals in our recently approved strategic plan: 

  • It would employ one or more high-impact practices as students work in cohort partnerships with community organizations, government entities, and area nonprofits to address a local or regional problem. 
  • It would offer a “distinct educational experience” unique in the state to UTC students. 
  • It would be a learning space in which students hear and learn from multiple diverse perspectives that contribute to addressing a complex concern.  
  • With the resources afforded to the QEP, it would expand access to faculty development that supports meaningful community-engaged learning opportunities. 

A CBP director would be appointed to understand existing community-campus partnerships, cultivate new opportunities, and maintain relationships with community partners. Beyond cultivating and maintaining relationships, the coordinator will also need to ensure that sufficient seats are offered every semester to allow students to progress to graduation. As such, this position has interests in both Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. Students could potentially complete the CBP as part of their major program or in a multi-disciplinary cohort that satisfies a university requirement. 

Title: Second Year Experience @ UTC

Type: Full Proposal*


Since 2010, data collected through the Sophomore Experiences Survey have proven a steady increase in the percentage of sophomores struggling with aspects of their second-year experience, with one-third of respondents in 2017 reporting that they are “barely surviving” this critical transition year (Schreiner, 2018). During the second year of college, students begin to take on added responsibilities and make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. Students struggle with selecting an academic major, academic self-efficacy, career development, making faculty connections, being motivation, maintaining financial viability, participating in social activities, developing a purpose, or developing an identity during this year. The second year is intentionally being used instead of sophomore. Sophomore standing is based solely on credit hours. When creating programs and services to help second-year students thrive, the university must pay attention to more than the course credit earned. 

The Second Year Experience at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (SYE@UTC) will serve an average of 2100 residential and commuter students who identify as second-year at UTC or transferred from another institution. SYE@UTC is designed to help second-year students navigate this pivotal year by supporting, challenging, and empowering them to find their sense of purpose, sense of community, and sense of self. The program will offer a variety of support, resources, events, and opportunities for students to become involved and engaged on campus, explore their academic and career options, engage with faculty, and develop a blueprint for success. 

Title: The Mocs Living Learning Community: A Comprehensive and Collaborative UTC First-Year Student Experience and Living Learning Community

Type: Full Proposal*


A comprehensive, collaborative plan to place all incoming first-year UTC students not already in an existing or planned residential community in one living learning community with common academic and experiential elements that can be scaled. The first iteration of the Mocs LLC will include 500 first-year West Campus residential students and 150 first-year commuters. Mocs LLC students will take a common course that meets a general education requirement and emphasizes diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as overall health and wellness; each section of the common course will be linked to another first-year class. The residential curriculum will give place and face to the issues introduced in the course by way of a variety of activities (many that already exist) co-planned and executed by faculty and residential staff in the hall, on campus, and in the city. All activities will be open to and intentionally inclusive of commuting students. 

The Mocs LLC will eventually touch the majority of our campus’s students. Phase 2 will focus on transfer students and the degree-granting colleges. The budget covers: 10 tenure-track faculty from different disciplines (TBD by Academic Affairs) hired to teach 3 fall sections each of the common class; professional development for all participants to facilitate the class’s creation and experiential components; programming; 4 GAs tasked with assessment; a coordinator. All outcomes for the Mocs LLC lead toward better retention and graduation rates as well as contributing to the animation of our campus and the loyalty of our future alumni. 

Title: Transforming the UTC experience with Open Education Resources

Type: Add-on*


Open Education at UTC will effectively meet the multifaceted QEP objectives of cohorts, collaboration, and diversity, as well as the strategic goal of community engagement. Increasing adoption of Open Education principles will improve educational access and achievement while promoting equity, inclusion, and community engagement in course materials, and supporting engaging pedagogical approaches. Open Educational Resources also support diversity by allowing users to adapt materials to include locally relevant or more diverse materials. High impact practices like Open Pedagogy, where students create educational materials, can increase diversity, and reflect the Chattanooga experience. 

UTC is well-positioned to develop strong Open Education programs on campus. Tiered funding for grants would support individuals or teams working on single- or multi-section courses textbook adoptions and adaptations, creating resource banks for disciplines, integrating Open Pedagogy, or authoring new OER materials. Funding would be awarded based on alignment with QEP goals and the number of participating faculty members, complexity, and student impact. Additional programming will include professional development, and support for campus publishing capabilities. 

Widespread adoption could allow creation of “Open Pathways,” which could integrate with cohorts. Students could select low- or no- cost courses to meet all general education requirements. Open Pathways would draw students looking for an engaging and affordable college experience. Units could make program-level commitments to Open Pathways in their programs for core requirements or entire majors. Transforming the UTC experience through Open Education with a local and diverse focus will result in engaging and affordable education, improving student achievement and progression. 

Attend a QEP Roadshow

Southern Writers Room - 440, UTC Library

Wednesday, January 18, 10:00am
Wednesday, January 18, 5:00pm
Thursday, January 19, 1:30pm
Monday, January 23, 3:00pm
Tuesday, January 24, 9:30am
Thursday, January 26, 6:00pm
Friday, January 27, 12:00pm
Monday, January 30, 12:00pm
Wednesday, February 8, 2:00pm
Thursday, February 9, 10:00am
Tuesday, February 14, 1:00pm
Wednesday, February 15, 4:00pm
Monday, February 20, 11:00am

Planning Evaluation and Institutional Research

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