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Press Release

CHAPEL HILL, NC – The University of North Carolina General Administration announced Monday that it has awarded a total of $150,000 to five of its campuses and to the University Librarians Advisory Council to assist innovative programs that have shown positive results in one of three areas of innovation: academic innovation for affordability; enhancing student success; and financial aid innovations.

The initiative is called Actualizing Innovations Meant to Scale, or AIMS. Each of the selected AIMS programs showed promise for scaling up and were selected from a group of 14 proposals. The three areas of innovation demonstrate two of the five pillars of University’s recently approved strategic plan – student success and affordability and efficiency.

Junius Gonzales, senior vice president for Academic Affairs at UNC General Administration, said each of the winning project submissions was selected because the innovative approaches and tangible results that should be able to be replicated on a larger scale. The UNC system grants provide the ability to gather additional supporting evidence across different and larger populations. All institutions provided matching funds.

“To achieve great results in the future, we are investing in these scalable programs targeting the very heart of our UNC strategic plan – student success and affordability,” he said. “Once we see the expected  results, these programs may be shown to work on multiple campuses and perhaps system-wide.”

The awards are:

Enhancing Student Success

  • East Carolina University AIMS funding will supplement the Embedded Tutor Model to transform academic tutoring support for high impact science courses.  ECU will augment ETM with embedded coaches who will promote student development of critical thinking skills and understanding of key course concepts in Chemistry 1130, Biology 2140, and Biology 2150.
  • Fayetteville State University FSU has used Peer Academic Leaders for several years to assist Freshman Seminar instructors and students.  Funds will augment PALs using a hybrid coaching/supplemental instruction model called the University Peer Academic Coaching program.  Selected Freshman Seminar students will attend weekly sessions focusing on reflection, goal setting, and time management.
  • The University of North Carolina at Greensboro UNCG will implement a new Online Supplemental Instruction Live Streaming Program (OSIP), modeled after a highly successful program at the University of Central Florida.  They will use the program in several high drop/withdrawal courses, with a goal to increase student participation in online supplemental instruction by 30% (1170 students).  The program will allow participants to review weekly course materials and supplement their classroom learning with online tutoring and videos, targeting the topics that historically give students the most difficulty.  The program will benefit students who cannot use current UNCG supplemental instruction programs due to time constraints.  Students can review the sessions online at their leisure.

Financial Aid Innovation

  • UNC Asheville Although primarily a financial aid innovation, this program also includes many elements of Enhancing Student Success models.  The “Back on Track” program will offer scholarships for selected students, who would not otherwise qualify for senior status due to not meeting the 15 credit hours per semester needed to graduate in four years, to take two summer classes (HUM 324 and HUM 414).  The scholarships will fund student tuition, fees, and housing to enroll in Summer Term 1.
  • Western Carolina University WCU’s first generation in college students exceeds 30% of the total student population, and many of these students identify as current or former foster children. Many do not have parents or parents who can provide financial support, and 50% of the first-generation students come from low income families.  WCU will offer 70 $500 scholarships to this targeted group who have been at WCU for a year but have not met the 30 semester hours to stay on-track for four-year graduation (but have a 3.0+ GPA), or to incoming students to take Catamount Gap, an early-enrollment summer program, which includes six to eight credit hours.  WCU believes the program will improve retention and graduation rates.

Academic Innovations for Affordability

  • University Librarians Advisory Council (ULAC) Since 2006, the costs of college textbooks has increased by 73%, and students spend more than $1,000 per year on textbooks ($3 billion per year in the U.S.).  A 2016 study found that 66% of students in Florida did not buy textbooks, due to the costs.  University libraries around the country are working on high-impact, low-cost or free course resources.  UNC system institutions participating in current efforts, referred to as Open Educational Resources, include ECU, NC State University, UNC Charlotte, and UNCG.  In the first two years, the NC State effort has saved its students approximately $250,000 in textbook costs.  ECU and UNCG estimate their savings at $240,000 and $214,000, respectively.  One course saved 215 students a total of $36,765.  A similar system effort in Georgia has saved students an estimated $31.4 million since 2015.  The UNC ULAC will take steps to build the Open Educational Resource capacity at all system institutions.  Using $15,000 of the AIMS grant, ULAC will purchase system-wide membership in the Open Textbook Network, and hold a series of faculty and librarian workshops for participants from all 17 institutions to “train the trainer,” who will conduct additional workshops at their home campuses.  The workshops will be made available on the UNC GA website as well.  The overall goal is for the initial efforts to grow into system-wide programs to benefit all UNC students and create communities of practice for different academic disciplines.  UNC institutions and Hunt Library will match the grant with travel expenses for participants to attend the workshops; contributions of space, staff, and video recording resources for the workshops; and library staff member time to develop online materials.