College educators participate in 5th annual High Impact Practices Conference for students success, including first class of HIP Ambassadors

5th annual TBR High Impact Practices Conference

College faculty, advisors and staff from across the state participated in the College System of Tennessee’s 5th annual High Impact Practices Conference Thursday, sharing information on teaching and learning activities that help students succeed.

High impact practices (HIPs) are evidence-based teaching, advising and student-experiential practices and activities that help students learn, advance and graduate. The integration of HIPs into the curricular and co-curricular work of colleges and universities helps students become more globally aware, solution-oriented and workforce-ready graduates. They increase student engagement and retention, across all socioeconomic and educational backgrounds.

HIPs at Tennessee’s public community and technical colleges, which comprise the College System of Tennessee, include advising, industry and skills certifications, first-year seminars and experiences, global cultural awareness, honors education, learning communities, peer mentoring, service learning, student employment, study abroad, technology enhanced learning, undergraduate research, and work-based learning.

The colleges, led by the Tennessee Board of Regents, are nationally recognized leaders in HIP work. “Our system was not on the radar nationally when we started this work five years ago but now we’re regularly cited in studies and national articles about the great work we’re doing in Tennessee to scale up high impact practices,” Dr. Heidi Leming, TBR vice chancellor for student success, told the conference’s 280 in-person and online participants.

“When I reflect back on where we have been in the last five years, I’m really grateful for the hard work of our faculty, who have not only embraced the development of high impact practices but also for their enthusiasm to get other faculty on board and to keep pushing the envelope in offering high quality HIPs,” she said.

2022 HIP Conference theme

This year’s conference, themed “Sparking a Teaching Revolution,” featured the inaugural class of 20 HIP Ambassadors – educators selected competitively to serve as consultants to faculty across the system, answering questions, leading convenings, sharing best practices, and advocating for HIPs. (Members of the first class of HIP Ambassadors and their colleges are listed below.)

The ambassadors will also work as part of the system’s new Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning, a clearinghouse for professional development, other learning opportunities and information to help college faculty, advisors and other educators serve their students more effectively.

“This year’s inaugural class of HIP Ambassadors is another step that we hope builds sustainability for the HIP work across the system,” Leming said. “It really is an honor to be part of the inaugural cohort. These faculty will be available to not only facilitate monthly connections across the system but they will also be available for individual consultations with faculty interested in scaling a particular HIP.”

The TBR Office of Student Success that she leads also developed an HIP Strategic Plan to guide activities through 2025. This year’s work includes each college mapping all HIPs they currently offer and developing a plan for expansion of high impact practices so that all students will have opportunities to participate in at least two HIPs before they graduate. The office will also conduct student focus groups to identify barriers to participation and develop action plans to remove those barriers.

Also planned for this year are development of systemwide HIP Dashboards to give faculty quicker access to data on student participation in HIPs, and demonstration of new comprehensive learner records. Comprehensive learner records are a TBR initiative that will supplement regular student transcripts by including other student activities, experiences and learning outcomes that will help graduates market their skills and provide employers with broader views of what they have learned.

Members of the inaugural HIP Ambassador Class of 2022, their HIP specialties and their colleges are:


Debbie Simpson, Motlow State Community College

Tammie Bolling, Pellissippi State Community College

First-Year Seminars/Experience

Lauren Jordan, Pellissippi State Community College 

Nancy Hamilton, Roane State Community College 

Global/Cultural Awareness 

Nona Shepherd, Northeast State Community College

Oakley Atterson, Pellissippi State Community College

Honors Education

Sara Amato, Cleveland State Community College 

Tabetha Garman, Northeast State Community College 

Learning Communities

Andrea Green, Motlow State Community College 

Ryan Stembridge, Southwest Tennessee Community College 

Service Learning 

Tracey Farr, Pellissippi State Community College 

Angie Elkins, Walters State Community College

Study Abroad 

Anna Esquivel, Jackson State Community College 

Lacey Benns, Columbia State Community College

Technology Enhanced Learning 

Charles Whiting, Motlow State Community College 

Raquel Adams, Southwest Tennessee Community College 

Undergraduate Research 

Elvira Eivazova, Columbia State Community College 

Eric Niemi, Chattanooga State Community College 

Work-based Learning 

Sandy Kirby, Cleveland State Community College 

Walter McCord, Motlow State Community College

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.