Ideas, Information, and Inquiry (Triple-I)
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Each Triple-I course brings together three outstanding professors from different departments across the university so that students can study a common theme from several perspectives. These courses offer unique opportunities for students to join some of UNC’s top scholars as they investigate big ideas, while making connections and drawing distinctions between diverse disciplines and approaches. Students will develop key critical-thinking skills with lasting impacts on their future studies and life experiences. Triple-I courses demonstrate the power of multi-disciplinary thinking in an increasingly complex world.
Alongside the three-credit Triple-I, students register for a corresponding asynchronous remote one-credit Data Literacy Lab. This largely workshop-style class introduces students to the ways in which professional data analysts think about and manage data, as well as the techniques and considerations that are involved in transforming data into information to support a claim, perspective or proposition. The Data Literacy Lab runs autonomously and is not the responsibility of the primary Triple-I teaching team.
Triple-I + the Data Literacy Lab are First-Year Foundations components in the IDEAs in Action Curriculum. All incoming first-year students are required to complete a Triple-I and the corresponding Data Literacy Lab in the first year of their undergraduate career.
Most academic units in the College of Arts and Sciences have a minimum number of faculty that must teach Triple-Is each academic year. This is set through an agreement between the College of Arts and Sciences and each department. Every fall, the Senior Associate Deans in the College review the Triple-I Minimums and follow up with each department to confirm Minimums for the next academic year. At the same time, the College sends out a survey to units to get their expected Triple-I participation for the upcoming academic year.
Triple-I Criteria & Requirements
- Introductory-level courses structured for first-year students. Only first-year students (and transfer students who completed fewer than 24 hours of post-high school college coursework at another institution before their first semester at UNC) may enroll.
- Taught by three faculty members from three different academic disciplines.
- Scheduled with an enrollment cap of 333 in a standard time-slot meeting at least twice a week (i.e., Mon/Wed/Fri or Tue/Thu).
- Triple-Is have four TAs assigned to them but do not have recitations.
- Departments and instructors proposing a new Triple-I must agree to offer the course at least three times in the five years beginning when the course is first taught.
- Each College department/unit is credited with one-third (1/3) of the registered students per participating instructor.
- Triple-I must meet four learning outcomes.
- Triple-Is should have workloads appropriate to first-year students. Triple-Is may include writing assignments, but they are not required to include 10 pages of writing. The Triple-I program has examples of current and previous course syllabi to help with this.
- As with all undergraduate courses, Triple-Is must include a final assessment and utilize the final exam period for instructional hours.
Propose a New Triple-I
Steps for New Course Proposal
- Instructors propose a topic and develop their team
- Teaching team confirms with their departments and chairs
- Departments must agree to offer course at least three times in the next five years beginning when the course is first taught.
- Teaching team submits the Triple-I Prospectus Form
- Due October 1 for the following fall and March 1 for the following spring.
- Triple-I Course Committee reviews proposal and follows up with approval and/or recommendations
- Undergraduate Curricula identifies an available IDST number and submits course proposal in CIM on behalf of teaching team
- College’s Course Committee and Administrative Boards review proposal and approve or rolls back with recommendations
- Triple-I is added to the IDST course inventory in ConnectCarolina (course is now officially approved)
Please feel free to contact Megan Plenge, Associate Dean for the Triple-I program, with any questions or for help with developing your idea. You do not have to have a fully formed concept or teaching team to get the ball rolling!
Triple-I Prospectus Form
Submit the form below to propose a new Triple-I course. Before you fill out this form, please be sure that you have
- Read through the “Triple-I Criteria & Requirements” section above
- Completed a draft of the course syllabus
- Written a 75-word course description for UNC Catalog entry, a 150-word course description for advertising, and 150-word instructor bios for all three participating instructors
- Received form with endorsements from all involved department/curriculum chairs with an agreement that this course will be offered at least three times in the next five years beginning when the course is first taught. When a UNC faculty member from outside the College of Arts and Sciences teaches a Triple-I course, the overload rate is $15,000 or the faculty member can have a course buyout for $15,000 plus benefits.
- Discussed with participating department business officers and identified the coordinating unit for the course (see “Coordinating Unit” section)
Triple-I teaching teams must identify a Coordinating Instructor and Coordinating Business Officer in the Coordinating Instructor’s home unit. The home unit for both will be the Coordinating Unit. The Coordinating Unit must be in the College of Arts and Sciences.
- The Coordinating Instructor will be the primary point of contact for communication with central offices regarding class scheduling, registration, course revisions, etc.
- The Coordinating Business Officer will be the primary coordinator for TA hiring and allocation of funds and instructional resources for the class. This includes the $5,000 development grant for first-time offerings (see “Course Development Fund” section below for details) and the four TA appointments each time the class is offered (see “Triple-I Teaching Assistants” section below).
- Each Triple-I offering shall have four TAs. The College will provide funds to support all four TAs. Each participating academic unit is responsible for identifying one TA per participating instructor from their unit. The Coordinating Unit is also responsible for identifying the fourth TA (see “Triple-I Graduate Teaching Assistants” section below for details).
- Each semester the class is offered, the Coordinating Unit is welcome to coordinate with business officers and instructors on their Triple-I team and faculty administrators in participating units to establish a new coordinating officer/unit. Please note, this must always be a College unit. If the Coordinating Business Officer/Unit changes, please notify Michelle Blackwell, Ben Haven, and Katrina White.
Course Development Fund
- Upon approval of a new course proposal, the College will make available to the Coordinating Unit a $5,000 course development fund. This one-time fund should be used to support costs related to course development. Examples include the purchasing of resources and costs related to the instructor’s work together. The Triple-I teaching team will decide the best use of funds and will notify the Coordinating Business Officer (which must be in the College of Arts & Sciences) of allocation and spending decisions.
- Unspent funds may be carried over for no more than one additional fiscal year (e.g., if funds are awarded in July of 2021 (FY22), they must be spent by June 30, 2023 (FY23), if funds are awarded in February of 2022 (FY22), they must be spent by June 30, 2023 (FY23).
- Funds will only be made available once the proposal and syllabus has been submitted and approved. Any fall 2022 teams who have yet to receive their funds shall receive them immediately.
- No additional development funds will be awarded from the College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Office. For instance, if a new instructor is added to the section in later years, the Dean’s Office will not provide further course development funds; however, the home department may do so if they customarily provide course development funds for required courses in their curriculum.
- Please contact Katrina White with questions about this process.
Triple-I Graduate Teaching Assistants
The College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Office (DO) will provide funding to support the Triple-I graduate teaching assistants (TAs). The $36,000 instructional support budget will allow the Triple-I faculty to hire four TAs for a student-to-TA ratio of 83:1. TAs are generally responsible for grading, the facilitation of in-class activities, and student communications. Triple-I courses do not have recitation sections.
- TAs must meet minimum eligibility requirements per the Graduate School
- TAs must attend training sessions specified by the course and/or instructor, if applicable. Appointment will be canceled if TA does not attend training sessions.
- Weekly work load = 15-20 hours
TA Payment and Support
- Each Triple-I TA will receive a standard stipend of $10,000 (effective spring 2023).*
- TA stipends will be processed for each student through the Office of Undergraduate Education (UE).
- The College and the Graduate School will support through state funds the full cost for the assistantship (stipend, in-state tuition, and fees).
- Tuition fees and remission for out-of-state graduate students will remain the responsibility of the department/school.
- For professional school TAs, please note that only the on-model in-state tuition will be covered. Any school-based tuition will be the student’s or their home department’s responsibility.
- The processing of the student’s tuition fees and remission and GradStar will be completed by UE for the department (contact Michelle Blackwell with additional questions).
*Prior to spring 2023 the stipend was $9,000.
- Triple-I instructors should coordinate with their DGS/chairs/associate chairs etc. to identify graduate TAs to support their Triple-I.
- Each participating academic unit is responsible for identifying one TA per participating instructor from their unit. The Coordinating Unit is also responsible for identifying the fourth TA.
- Units should identify graduate students in their department/school. If a unit is unable to identify one or more required TAs, the other participating units can provide additional TA/s to make up the difference. If necessary, the fourth TA may be from any academic unit at UNC-Chapel Hill.
- If help is needed with this process, please contact Megan Plenge.
Steps to Appoint and Schedule TAs
- Triple-I Business Officer Team confirms Coordinating Unit with Michelle Blackwell and Katrina White.
- Each participating instructor, in collaboration with their home unit, identifies one TA. The Coordinating Unit, in collaboration with the instructor team, identifies the fourth TA. This information is communicated to the Coordinating Unit (i.e., Coordinating Business Officer).
- Using the Triple-I TA Contract Template, the Coordinating Unit issues the appointment contracts for all the TAs and sends them to each TA and their home units (chair and/or DGS) for final sign-off. Once all four TA contracts are completed, the Coordinating Business Officer uploads them to the Triple-I and Data Literacy TA MS Teams site in the appropriate semester folder. The Triple-I TA Appointment Contract template is available on the Triple-I and Data Literacy TA MS Teams site. Send requests for access to this site to Michelle Blackwell.
- Michelle Blackwell will hire the TAs, process tuition and fees, and notify departments once these action are completed.
- Each TA’s home department will be responsible for processing and communicating to students regarding health insurance.
- Once FERPA and terms of Service are confirmed, Ben Haven will add TAs to the IDST instructor tables and schedule them in ConnectCarolina as TAs of record.
The Office of Undergraduate Curricula (OUC) works with the instructor teams and Registrar’s Office to schedule Triple-I classes. If you have any questions about scheduling Triple-I, please contact Ben Haven, not your department’s student service’s manager.
- Triple-I courses are scheduled using the Interdisciplinary Studies (IDST) subject code. Each Triple-I is scheduled with a corresponding Data Literacy Lab (e.g., IDST 111-001 = Triple-I; IDST 111L-001 = corresponding Data Literacy Lab)
- Triple-Is are scheduled during standard meeting times and do not have recitations.
- Triple-Is are scheduled in the following three large classrooms. You can preview them here.
- Genome Science G100 (426 seats)
- Hamilton 100 (403 seats)
- Stone Center 103 (353 seats)
Steps to Scheduling a Triple-I
- Once a course is confirmed to be offered in a future term, the Triple-I Program follows up with instructor teams to fill out a form to provide meeting pattern preferences.
- Fall form deadline = October 24
- Spring form deadline = March 15
- Fall form deadline = October 24
- Using instructor team preferences, the Triple-I Program works with the Registrar to schedule sections in ConnectCarolina, secure classrooms, and schedule the Data Literacy Sections. The Triple-I Program then follows up with instructor teams and their home units to confirm each Triple-I meeting pattern and classroom.
- Fall schedule complete = November 1
- Spring schedule complete = April 1
Cancelling or Changing Scheduled Triple-I
Triple-Is are extremely complicated and it is very difficult to cancel or move a Triple-I once it is confirmed for a future term. Departments should try to provide a back-up instructor for each participating instructor that teaches in the Triple-I Program. Please contact Megan Plenge as soon as possible if a participating instructor will not be able to teach as scheduled.
It is very difficult to change a Triple-I once is scheduled in ConnectCarolina. If an instructor team must change a significant aspect of the class (e.g., meeting pattern/time, instructor, etc.), please notify Megan Plenge and Ben Haven as soon as possible.
First-year students in their first year at UNC (i.e., first 2 full time terms in residence) are eligible to register in Triple-I and the Data Literacy Lab. This group includes
- Incoming and continuing first-year students.
- transfer students (including Carolina Global Launch students) who completed fewer than 24 hours of post-high school college coursework at another institution before their first semester at UNC
- Connect Carolina restricts registration in Triple-Is to eligible students only. This prevents non-first-year students from registering for these classes. Note: Connect Carolina class rosters classify students by credit hours, so a first-year student with by-exam (BE) credit and/or articulating transfer credit may appear as a sophomore or junior on a roster.
- Students must register for both the Triple-I and its corresponding Data Literacy Lab section, and they may not take more than one of each.
- Triple-I courses must be taken for a letter grade.
- No Waitlists: Triple-Is do not have waitlists. Students must enroll in the Triple-I and the corresponding Data Literacy Lab simultaneously, and ConnectCarolina is unable to support this enrollment procedure through the automated waitlist system.
- Last day to add a Triple-I/Data Literacy Lab = 5th day of classes.
- Incoming first-year students: Most seats in Triple-I sections are reserved for incoming fall first-year students. These students fill out the Pre-Registration Survey. They have the option to select their top 4 Triple-Is. Based on survey results, students may be pre-registered for a fall Triple-I. Remaining seats are released by the Office of the Registrar evenly across New Student Orientation (NSO) registration sessions in July to ensure equal access to seats. We can not enroll students into Triple-Is during this period. During Open Enrollment in early August, all FY students are free to register into any remaining Triple-I seats.
- Continuing first-year students (i.e., spring first-year admits) will register for fall Triple-I during their designated registration sessions in Waves 1 and 2.
- If first-year students have issues registering for a Triple-I with open seats, have them contact Ben Haven.
- Incoming first-year students can register for spring Triple-I sections as soon as they matriculate and are term activated.
- Continuing first-year students can register for spring Triple-I sections during their assigned registration sessions in Waves 1 and 2.
- If first-year students have issues registering for a Triple-I with open seats, have them contact Ben Haven.
Communications to Instructors
Prior to registration each term, the Triple-I Program follows up with instructors and course scheduling officers to update faculty bios, expanded course descriptions, and other elements to make sure our published Triple-I Brochure is accurate. This occurs in October for subsequent spring terms and March for subsequent fall terms.
Each semester, the Triple-I Program generates a listserv to communicate with Triple-I instructors. Messages are sent with timely information that is relevant for the success of our Triple-I classes and our first-year students.
Student Evaluations of Teaching
End of semester student evaluations of teaching (SET) for all Triple-I are conducted using an evaluation form administered through the Explorance Blue Course Evaluation System. To encourage maximum participation, please schedule a 15 minute block of time at the beginning of one of your class meetings and ask your students to bring a laptop on the designated day.
The Associate Dean receives a summary of the course evaluations for each Triple-I, and if the student evaluations are outside of the expected range, communicates with the instructor to discuss strategies for making optimal use of student feedback.
Please see the Office of Undergraduate Curricula’s Student Evaluation of Teaching page for more details.
Each term, the Triple-I Program creates an online Brochure on the IDEAs in Action website listing all Triple-Is in the term. We use this list to advertise to first-year students.
Prior to registration each term, the Triple-I Program follows up with instructors and student services managers to update faculty bios, expanded course descriptions, and other elements of the Triple-I to make sure our advertisements are accurate. This occurs in October for subsequent spring terms and March for subsequent fall terms.
|Megan Plenge, Director of the Triple-I Programfirstname.lastname@example.org||Developing new Triple-I • department planning for Triple-I offerings|
|Caitlin Smith, Director of the Data Literacy Programemail@example.com||Data Literacy Teaching|
|Ben Haven, First-Year Curriculum Specialistfirstname.lastname@example.org||New Triple-I course proposal process • scheduling and registration • fall semester first-year pre-registration • Triple-I Brochure • Triple-I webpage|
|Michelle Blackwell, UE Business Officeremail@example.com||Hiring Triple-I TAs • Triple-I TA student fee & tuition awards|
|Katrina White, Budget Analyst||Katrina_White@unc.edu||Course development grant|
Timeline and Important Dates
- Mid-September: SADs/College follows up with chairs to confirm Department Minimums and send survey for departments to indicate next AY Triple-I offerings
- October 1: New fall course proposals due (new teaching teams submit prospectus forms)
- October 2: Upcoming AY Triple-I offerings survey due
- October 2-13: Triple-I Committee reviews new fall course proposals and follows up with departments
- October 16: Triple-I Team confirms fall and spring offerings with participating departments
- October 16-31: Triple-I Team coordinates with instructor teams/Registrar to schedule fall classes and reserves rooms in ConnectCarolina
- November 1: Fall Triple-I classes scheduled; participating departments notified
- March 1: New spring course proposals due (new teaching teams submit prospectus forms)
- March 1-14: Triple-I Committee reviews new spring course proposals and follows up with departments
- March 15-30: Triple-I Team coordinates with instructor teams/Registrar to schedule spring classes and reserves rooms in ConnectCarolina
- April 1: Spring Triple-I classes scheduled; participating departments notified