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The Finish Line Project at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) is designed to ensure more first-generation college students (FGCS) access, persist, and complete postsecondary study through the implementation and investigation of multifaceted programs and supports. The project is funded by an over 3 million dollars grant awarded through the U.S. Department of Education’s competitive program called The First in the World. This program provides grants to higher education institutions to spur the development of innovations that improve educational outcomes and make college more affordable for students and families, and to develop an evidence base of effective practices. An overview of all of the projects awarded a First In The World grant in 2014 is provided in this publication: Spotlight on Innovation: Colleges and Universities That Are Making a Difference.

On average, 3,000 undergraduate First-Generation College Students (FGCS) enroll in UNC-CH each year.
FGCS contribute to the great cultural and intellectual life of our vibrant and diverse undergraduate
community. The Finish Line Project is dedicated to making UNC-CH a place where FGCS thrive.
The Finish Line Project will serve as a model to be replicated at other institutions of higher education.

Through the support of the Center for Faculty Excellence and the Office of Arts and Sciences Information Services (OASIS), we engaged over 40 STEM faculty members in the process of a course redesign that included participation in a faculty learning community in which instructors could learn from each other and engage in activities to support their redesign efforts. We are excited to share some of our successes and continuing challenges!

Shahriar Nirjon

Mobile Computing Systems


“I planned to expand the purview of this course, focusing on more than one platform of programming.”

Karl Castillo

The Marine Environment


"The primary driver here is that I can see that students are more engaged in the lessons and that they are actually having fun and learning as they share and communicate with their colleagues."

Donna Surge

Introductory Geology


"The experience I gained this semester has given me the confidence to try new active-learning techniques!"

Amy Cooke

Water Resource Management and Human Rights


"I’m becoming more aware of what I want every class period to do."

Laura Miller

Introduction to Quantitative Biology


"The students particularly enjoyed labs and activities that combined data collection with mathematical analysis. Overall, the students were more interactive this semester, both in lecture and in labs / group activities.

Erik Hanson

Human Physiology


"I was happy with this experience and feel it improved my teaching style and approach."

Alan Weakley

Local Flora


"Giving a Powerpoint lecture with no real interaction is easy and comfortable. Stepping out from behind the lecture and flying more extemporaneously, less so."

Kris Jordan

Kris Jordan

COMP110 Introduction to Programming


"I believe the insights gained on student performances has allowed me to identify changes needed at the curricular level which will better serve women and minorities in the class."

Michael Fern

FYS Data Ethics


“I believe this course design helped first generation college students because my interactive approach engaged all students on an inclusive and equal basis.”

Chip Konrad

Introduction to Weather and Climate


"The polling software has proven to be especially has given me insights into the different ways students reason through difficult concepts."

Debra Murray

Personal Health


“I believe I am much more conscious of the challenges facing First Generation College Students.”

Gary Bishop

Introduction to Scientific Computing


“I added problem solutions in class and that helped stimulate questions and improved engagement!”

Erika Wise

The Blue Planet: An Introduction to Earth's Environmental Systems


"I benefited most from interacting with the other professors in the Faculty Learning Community. They had great ideas!"

Brent McKee

Earth Systems in a Changing World


“This experience allowed me to view my class from a fresh new perspective. Based on student feedback, it made the course much more fun and engaging for the students. Most surprisingly perhaps was that I found this to be an overall very enjoyable experience.”