LEAP State: Tennessee

Member Organization:  the 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology that comprise TBR – the College System of Tennessee

Year Joined: 2020

LEAP Mission:  The LEAP State Tennessee membership, which is comprised of the community and technical colleges within TBR: The College System of Tennessee, is dedicated to upholding the overarching commitments of AAC&U LEAP including the LEAP Vision and Essential Learning Outcomes and consistently strives to achieve systemic educational reform by addressing access and equity through purposeful inclusion of high impact practices into the curriculum, as well as by providing students with academic foci, corequisite remediation, accessible online learning, and guided degree and transfer pathways.

Featured Engagement Strategy:  Since 2014, the TBR Office of Student Success, has focused the System’s work around the priority strategy of “Community, Belonging, and Inclusion” as part of TBR’s Completion Agenda. Within this priority strategy, the System Office has worked diligently to support students’ academic success by addressing access and equity through purposeful inclusion of high impact practices into the curriculum. From the beginning, this work has been underpinned by the AAC&U LEAP Vision and Essential Learning Outcomes. Specifically, the TBR HIP work has encompassed:

  • Developing HIP taxonomies. HIP taxonomies were created by TBR faculty committees to provide minimum definitions of each HIP for course coding and statewide data tracking and analysis processes in the student information system. The staged milestones within each taxonomy serve as institutional implementation and self-evaluation tools that help identify areas for growth. Currently, nine curricular and two co-curricular HIP taxonomies have been developed and approved. These can be found online at www.tbr.edu/student-success/tbr-high-impact-practices.
  • Providing HIP professional development for faculty. TBR has provided online faculty learning communities (FLCs) to support HIP course revision and aid lead faculty in developing local campus FLCs in addition to holding annual regional and statewide HIPs conferences. Campus faculty development sessions about HIP Quality Dimensions, LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes, and VALUE Rubrics that facilitate HIPs “done well” and facilitate improvements in student success in all courses is provided each semester. Additionally, all 13 community college Coordinators for Teaching and Learning are supported in their campus faculty development efforts through convenings, monthly conference calls, and online resources including a HIP Quality Assurance Tool to use when evaluating and coding HIP courses at the departmental level.
  • Embedding HIPs into pathways. TBR’s goal is to have each student experience at least 3 HIP courses along their degree or transfer pathway to graduation. These efforts were supported by pilot work that enabled five TBR community colleges to redesign six pathways to embed HIPs and to share learnings from the pilots with faculty within those disciplines at three statewide convenings in order to scale the work statewide.
  • Providing students with badges to indicate HIP participation and competencies. In conjunction with the CLR work, TBR has created student-facing HIP badges for inclusion in course catalogs and on course syllabi so students can more easily identify HIP courses they may wish to take. Companion marketing materials have also been provided to institutions for use as they expand their own HIP offerings.

Other Initiatives:

The TBR Completion Agenda has also prioritized strategies to achieve student success goals including:

  • Implementing corequisite remediation. While maintaining academic rigor, the TBR System Office has worked with faculty to redesign gateway math and English courses through a co-requisite remediation model that has been implemented at scale. The adoption of co-requisite instruction along with the scaling of high impact practices across the system is one important reform effort to increase and close skills gaps for underserved.
  • Instituting guided pathways. As a measure to support student academic focus areas, TBR institutions have developed default degree-maps for each degree program and for each of the 56 Tennessee Transfer Pathways (TTP). The TTP degree maps, or guided pathways, were constructed to ensure that students who change from one pathway to another experience minimal credit loss. Within these guided pathways students are advised to attempt at least 9 hours of credit in their academic focus area within the first year. These guided degree and transfer pathways scaffold course-taking patterns that positively impact student success, retention, and graduation rates.
  • Implementing academic focus areas. Refocused advising functions from outreach to career services guide students to identify a specific major and career focus upon enrollment which aligns their scholastic journeys and advising experiences throughout their chosen academic degree or transfer pathway. Research investigating the effect of early engagement in focus area courses to student success in the TBR system showed incoming Freshmen who successfully completed at least 9 hours in their focus area during their first academic year showed a dramatic increase in graduation rates over those who did not.
  • Improving academic mindsets. In partnership with the UVA Motivate Lab, TBR has launched an Academic Mindset Initiative that seeks to broaden statewide understanding of the multiple noncognitive factors that play a role in student success. Conference sessions, workshops, and Mindset Minute emails have educated faculty and staff about the psycho-social factors related to student success and teaching. A conversation has begun around developing classroom interventions and a system-wide implementation strategy to emphasize this essential element of student success. TBR's work on this initiative has leaned heavily on the works of David Yeager at the University of Texas at Austin and Carol Dweck at Stanford University. 
  • Increasing the use of open educational resources. In 2019, TBR launched the Digital Engagement Initiative employing an inclusive access (IA) model to offer electronic course materials to students. The purpose of the project is to reduce course material costs for students, make materials available on day 1 of class, and employ digital textbook options to maximize student learning.
  • Incorporating the use of culturally responsive campus practices.  Each of TBR’s 13 community colleges are members of Achieving the Dream, an organization that helps community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their goals of academic attainment by supporting whole-college reform which results in increased completion rates for all students. Through this work, TBR institutions are developing innovative ways to work with other colleges to share knowledge and facilitate an exchange of ideas about evidence-based reform strategies.

Contact: Dr. Heidi Leming, Vice Chancellor, TBR: The College System of Tennessee, heidi.leming@tbr.edu


For more information, contact Eddie Watson, Associate Vice President for Quality, Advocacy, and LEAP Initiatives, at watson@aacu.org