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Success Grant

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is committed to helping every student achieve success through innovative, evidence-based teaching that maximizes learning and promotes well-being. 

In support of the university’s new Strategic Vision, UT has committed funding to prioritize active, inclusive, and sustainable learning environments to increase academic achievement and support UT faculty in reimagining learning experiences from this perspective. Desired results for Student Success Grants include:  

  • Reducing DFW rates in high-enrollment, entry-level courses 
  • Enhancing student well-being 
  • Closing academic achievement gaps 

Grant Summary 

Grants are awarded to departments to redesign a course or a set of sequenced classes. Priority is given to courses with high DFW rates, gateway courses, and courses with high enrollment, and collaborative support is provided by the Division of Student Success and the office of Teaching and Learning Innovation. The redesign should focus on department/curricular priorities and how to achieve those priorities through evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning. Successful grants to date have included:  

  • A collaborative effort across the department, including faculty who have recently taught the course as well as those teaching in future years. 
  • Teams including representation from multiple faculty ranks and graduate students.  
  • A department representative to serve as the lead to oversee the strategic direction.  
  • Evidence-based curricular or instructional strategies.  
  • A change management plan and a detailed budget.  
  • A commitment to provide interim updates and a final report to the vice provost for Student Success, including artifacts that demonstrate changes to the course and its implementation.  

Current Student Success Grant Awardees

Course(s): Biology 150 and Biology 160 

Project Leads: Dr. Caroline Weinhold & Dr. Randall Small 

Awarded: Fall 2021 

Project Goals:  

Improve student success by: 

  • Enhancing learner support programs in collaboration with the Academic Success Center; 
  • Re-aligning and re-focusing the learning objectives and pedagogical approaches used in the courses; and 
  • Creating a culture of continuous pedagogical reflection and innovation framed within positive psychology for faculty and staff.  

The long-term goal for all three prongs is to create a sustainable approach to Supplemental Instruction and faculty development in large team-taught courses. 

Course(s): Engineering Fundamentals 141 and 142 (Introduction to Physics and Modeling for Engineers I and II)  

Project Leads: Dr. Erin McCave and Dr. Darren Mackza 

Awarded: Spring 2022 

Project Goals: Our primary goals for this project are as follows:  

  • Develop student self-awareness specifically focusing on how positive or negative thoughts impact students’ performance in the classroom. 
  • Develop increased confidence(self-efficacy) in ability to achieve in math and physics concepts. Specifically focusing on development of good study skills and self-regulated learning strategies. 
  • Understanding how mindfulness can impact physical, mental, and emotional well-being and can be incorporated into the academic classroom. 
  • Develop student skills related to academic stress management. 
  • Increase student engagement through small class sizes and individual faculty-student check-ins throughout the semester. 

Course(s): English 101, English 102, English 131, English 132 

Project Leads: Dr. Sean Morey, Dr. Jeff Ringer, Megan Von Bergen 

Awarded: Summer 2022 

Project Goals:  

Improve student success in first-year seminar courses by:  

  • Rethinking grading practices to reflect promising research on equitable approaches to writing assessment, and  
  • Providing continuity for equitable assessment practices within the First-Year Seminars program by making resources available to all instructors.  

Project Partners

Dr. Sally Hunter, the Volunteer Experience faculty director

Dr. Virginia Stormer, the associate director for curriculum development and design in the office of Teaching and Learning Innovation. Stormer serves as a key facilitator of the success grant project, providing professional development, curricular redesign support, and partnership on research initiatives.  

Dr. Patrick Biddix, who serves as professor of higher education and program coordinator in the Higher Education and Administration program, as well as the associate director of the Postsecondary Education Research Center (PERC), serves as a faculty fellow for the Division of Student Success. In this role, he serves as the lead for assessment and research activities relevant to the success grant program.