Tennessee Pathways With Purpose


Tennessee's goal is for 55% of adults to obtain a post-secondary degree, but not even that percentage of adults make it through their first semester of college. The problem is especially severe at community colleges, where 40% of students drop out after only one semester.

In an effort to understand the root of students’ motivation and barriers to success, the Motivate Lab has partnered with the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), which governs all 13 community colleges and 27 technical colleges in Tennessee and serves more than 100,000 students each year. Researchers at the Motivate Lab held focus groups and meetings at three different pilot institutions across the state and led a design charrette to involve stakeholders in the research process.

Currently, Motivate Lab is working with three community colleges to pilot interventions in co-requisite math and first year experience classes. Together, they are infusing classrooms with purpose and value and encouraging students to connect their personal values to their education. Motivate Lab and the Tennessee Board of Regents have committed to working together  to identify ways to support Tennessee students’ motivation and adopt supportive practices.

Project Status: 2016-2020

Funding Source: Gates Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Tennessee Board of Regents

Principal Investigator: Stephanie Wormington