University of West Florida


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Emerge: High Impact Practices at UWF

The College of Professional Studies (COPS) at the University of West Florida (UWF) is committed to providing intellectually engaging and effective educational experiences for our students. The Emerge Initiative was developed to help faculty design and utilize High Impact Practices (HIPs). By using a combination of techniques that have been shown to deepen student learning and engagement, these HIPs raise levels of performance, retention and success for all students. The Emerge Initiative is giving our faculty new and effective tools to instill the knowledge and skills that are essential for success in the 21st century.

Students selected for the Emerge Study Abroad in Japan

Students Selected for Study Abroad in Japan

The University of West Florida College of Professional Studies Emerge Program recently selected 15 students to participate in a college–wide, interdisciplinary study abroad opportunity in Japan in May 2014.

The Japan Study Abroad Program is hosted in collaboration with the Jikei Group of Colleges and led by Paula Rappe, assistant professor of social work, and Dr. Kimberly Tatum, associate dean of the College of Professional Studies and associate professor of legal studies. It emphasizes the development of 21st Century skills related to career development, such as global awareness, initiative and self–direction, flexibility and adaptability, social and cross-cultural skills, critical thinking and problem solving.

Read the full story in the UWF Newsroom.

See more pictures of the selected students on the Emerge Facebook page.

Featured Project: Classwide Peer Tutoring Project

Students at Ferry Pass Elementary School are increasing their reading skills as a result of the collaboration of 5th grade teacher and UWF alumnus Philip Ebert and UWF professor Dr. Keith Whinnery, serving as an example of the strong partnership between the UWF School of Education and the Escambia County School District. Read more about the Classwide Peer Tutoring Project

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High Impact Practices

Studies have shown that engaging practices within the classroom, such as team-based learning, can contribute to retention and help students reach the learning outcomes developed for the course. Beyond the classroom, students can find academic engagement with study abroad, service learning, and undergraduate research projects. Our goal is to help bring students and faculty together in developing even more activities for students that are academically engaging.

First-Year Seminars and Experiences

Many schools now build into the curriculum first-year seminars or other programs that bring small groups of students together with faculty or staff on a regular basis. The highest-quality first-year experiences place a strong emphasis on critical inquiry, frequent writing, information literacy, collaborative learning, and other skills that develop students’ intellectual and practical competencies. First-year seminars can also involve students with cutting-edge questions in scholarship and with faculty members’ own research.

Common Intellectual Experiences

The older idea of a “core” curriculum has evolved into a variety of modern forms, such as a set of required common courses or a vertically organized general education program that includes advanced integrative studies and/or required participation in a learning community (see below). These programs often combine broad themes — e.g., technology and society, global interdependence — with a variety of curricular and cocurricular options for students.

Learning Communities

The key goals for learning communities are to encourage integration of learning across courses and to involve students with “big questions” that matter beyond the classroom. Students take two or more linked courses as a group and work closely with one another and with their professors. Many learning communities explore a common topic and/or common readings through the lenses of different disciplines. Some deliberately link “liberal arts” and “professional courses” others feature service learning.

Writing Across Campus

These courses emphasize writing at all levels of instruction and across the curriculum, including final-year projects. Students are encouraged to produce and revise various forms of writing for different audiences in different disciplines. The effectiveness of this repeated practice “across the curriculum” has led to parallel efforts in such areas as quantitative reasoning, oral communication, information literacy, and, on some campuses, ethical inquiry.

Collaborative Assignments and Projects

Collaborative learning combines two key goals: learning to work and solve problems in the company of others, and sharpening one’s own understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences. Approaches range from study groups within a course, to team-based assignments and writing, to cooperative projects and research.

Diversity/Global Learning

Many colleges and universities now emphasize courses and programs that help students explore cultures, life experiences, and worldviews different from their own. These studies — which may address U.S. diversity, world cultures, or both — often explore “difficult differences” such as racial, ethnic, and gender inequality, or continuing struggles around the globe for human rights, freedom, and power. Frequently, intercultural studies are augmented by experiential learning in the community and/or by study abroad.

Undergraduate Research

Many colleges and universities are now providing research experiences for students in all disciplines. Undergraduate research, however, has been most prominently used in science disciplines. With strong support from the National Science Foundation and the research community, scientists are reshaping their courses to connect key concepts and questions with students’ early and active involvement in systematic investigation and research. The goal is to involve students with actively contested questions, empirical observation, cutting-edge technologies, and the sense of excitement that comes from working to answer important questions.

Service Learning, Community-Based Learning

In these programs, field-based “experiential learning” with community partners is an instructional strategy — and often a required part of the course. The idea is to give students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve problems in the community. A key element in these programs is the opportunity students have to both apply what they are learning in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences. These programs model the idea that giving something back to the community is an important college outcome, and that working with community partners is good preparation for citizenship, work, and life.


Internships are another increasingly common form of experiential learning. The idea is to provide students with direct experience in a work setting usually related to their career interests — and to give them the benefit of supervision and coaching from professionals in the field. If the internship is taken for course credit, students complete a project or paper that is approved by a faculty member.

Capstone Courses and Projects

Whether they’re called “senior capstones” or some other name, these culminating experiences require students nearing the end of their college years to create a project of some sort that integrates and applies what they’ve learned. The project might be a research paper, a performance, a portfolio of “best work,” or an exhibit of artwork. Capstones are offered both in departmental programs and, increasingly, in general education as well.

Source: High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter by George D. Kuh, (Washington, DC: AAC&U, 2008). For information and more resources and research from LEAP, see

Emerge Faculty Fellows

In June of 2013, the College of Professional Studies named 23 faculty members as Emerge Faculty Fellows. The faculty members are participating in the COPS Emerge Experience in order to develop high-impact learning activities including travel study, community-based projects, faculty-student research, capstone experiences, and experiential learning. The activities developed will be implemented during the 2013-2014 academic year.

Please join us in congratulating our first Emerge Faculty Fellows:

Upcoming Events

Contact Us

Emerge Coordinator:
Ms. Chelsea Boling

Ms. Chelsea Boling

Do you have questions about the Emerge Program at the UWF College of Professional Studies?

  • Email:
  • Phone: (850) 474–2669
  • Emerge Office: Room 110/Building 86.

UWF Campus Map showing the Emerge Office

Click on the map above for a higher-resolution PDF

Emerge with more than a degree!

Emerge as a MEMBER of the Emerge Learning Community by building substantive relationships, engaging across differences, and applying knowledge in deep and meaningful learning experiences.

Emerge with a PORTFOLIO that demonstrates the practical experiences and professional skills that will prepare you for the complex job market.

Emerge with distinction as an Emerge SCHOLAR upon graduation.

Emerge offers students an opportunity to participate in high-impact experiential learning activities and to develop professional and leadership skills desired by employers to contribute to and be successful in a 21st Century global society.

What are HIPs?

High Impact Practices, or HIPs, are experiential learning activities tied to the curriculum that employ the following characteristics that make the practices “high-impact”:

  • Effortful
  • Help students build substantive relationships
  • Help student engage across differences
  • Provide students with rich feedback
  • Help students apply and test what they are learning in new situations
  • Provide opportunities for students to reflect on the person they are becoming


What are Professional Skills?

Professional Skills are necessary for success in the 21st century workplace:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Information & Media Literacy
  • Social Responsibility
  • Problem Solving
  • Self-Directed Learning
  • Accountability & Adaptability


Levels of Involvement in the Emerge Program:

Emerge as a MEMBER of the Emerge Learning Community!

All UWF College of Professional Studies students, faculty, and staff interested in participating in high–impact practices and promoting professional skills that have been shown to increase student engagement and success are eligible to become a member of the Emerge Learning Community.


Emerge Portfolio

Emerge with a PORTFOLIO!

Students can participate in Emerge Learning Community opportunities to build a professional portfolio based on High Impact Practices and Professional Skills.

Emerge HIP Folder

Emerge High Impact Practice Activities

  • Faculty/Student Research
    Faculty guided systematic investigation and research experiences including presentation of findings.
  • Diversity/Global Learning
    Experiential learning to help students explore diversity and world cultures including study away and study abroad.
  • Service/Community Based Learning
    Field based learning in collaboration with community partners that allows students to apply learning in a realistic setting while “giving back” to the community by analyzing and solving relevant problems.
  • Internship, Field Experience
    Direct field experience in a work setting related to career interests, with supervision and guidance provided from professionals in the field.
  • Capstone Course/Projects
    Culminating experiences near the end of the degree that allow students to integrate and apply content from their program of study.
  • Collaborative Assignments and Projects
    Learning activities that combine two key goals: learning to work and solve problems in the company of others, and sharpening one’s own understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others including team-based activities, cooperative projects and research.


Emerge Professional Skills Folder

Emerge Professional Skill Experiences


Students must attend one Leadership Assessment Meeting with UWF Leadership and Service To schedule an appointment, please email Tara Kermiet, Assistant Director of Leadership & Service, at 

  • Engagement: Engage in an active leadership role for one semester. Leadership positions include employment, registered student organizations, UWF and community activities, and other approved leadership positions.

  • — OR —
  • Education: Develop leadership skills through one of the following:
    • One semester of an academic course based on Leadership Development
    • o Attend UWF Leadership Gauntlet
    • Attend five Leadership Development Workshops (e.g. Read and Lead, Leadershops, Student Leaders Summit, Employee Training Program, other approved activity)

Social Responsibility

Contribute 50 community service hours to communities including COPS, UWF, local and international communities. Service hours must be logged through JasonQuest.

Career Development

Attend two professional development workshops offered by Career Services, Emerge Office, or other approved professional development workshops.



Emerge Portfolio Requirements

High Impact Practice #1

  1. Complete one of the Emerge HIP Experiences
  2. Reflect the HIP Experience through a reflection piece
  3. Present HIP Experience (includes conferences, Student Symposium, Emerge forums, etc.)

High Impact Practice #2

  1. Complete one of the Emerge HIP Experiences
  2. Reflect the HIP Experience through a reflection piece
  3. Present HIP Experience (includes conferences, Student Symposium, Emerge forums, etc.)


Emerge Professional Skill Experiences

  1. Complete the Emerge Professional Skill Experiences
  2. Reflect the Emerge Professional Skill Experiences
    • Career Development Paper
    • Leadership Paper
    • Social Responsibility Paper
  3. Complete Career Development Toolkit
    • Professional Toolkit containing Resume, Cover Letter, Business Cards, References, Letters of Recommendation. Submit these through an Optimal Resume web page.
  4. Present Professional Skills
    • Student will present their Professional Skills at a mock interview event hosted by Emerge.



Emerge Mortarboard

Emerge as a SCHOLAR!

Students can graduate with SCHOLAR distinction upon completion of their Emerge Portfolio. Emerge Scholar distinction includes an Induction Ceremony, graduation regalia, and recognition on transcript.

If you are a UWF College of Professional Studies student (major or minor), and would like to recieve more information about getting started, please contact the Emerge Office at

College of Professional Studies | Bldg. 85 | 11000 University Pkwy. | Pensacola, FL 32514 | (850) 474-2769 | | Campus Map | Text Only