What is a QEP?
A QEP is a Quality Enhancement Plan. Our regional accrediting body, SACS, requires that we develop and implement such a plan within the next five years. According to SACS, “the QEP describes a carefully designed course of action that addresses a well-defined and focused topic or issue related to enhancing student learning.”
What is our QEP topic?
Our QEP focuses on improving student writing. In short, we want our students to
- Understand writing as a process
- Use writing to explore, reflect, and develop sound arguments
- Produce writing suitable for academic purposes
- Integrate and properly document reliable and relevant research
- Produce writing free of serious grammatical and mechanical errors
How will the QEP improve student writing? (In other words, what will be new?)
The QEP proposes actions in three areas:
- First-Year Composition: Reshape the curriculum, including English 101, 102, and Liberal Arts 102
- Writing Center: Improve and Expand Services and Resources
- Teaching/Learning Environment: Improve training and support for teachers of writing
As part of the plan, the existing writing center will be converted to the Center for Writing and Rhetoric (CWR), an academic unit devoted to improving student writing. Composition courses will be housed in the CWR, along with student tutoring and support services.
When will all this happen?
After an affirming visit from SACS, we are now implementing the QEP! In the spring of 2009, the College of Liberal Arts conducted a national search for the Founding Director of the CWR. The search committee chose Dr. Bob Cummings from an impressive group of candidates; Dr. Cummings is now on campus and hard at work. During the 2009-2010 AY, Dr. Cummings will lead the effort to achieve six goals: 1) Investigate and purchase a suitable e-portfolio system; 2) Plan the writing placement process for incoming freshmen; 3) Design and seek approval for a new course, English 100; 4) Begin planning the transition to sequenced first-year writing courses; 5) Launch a campus-wide conversation about writing values; and 6) Develop working groups of writing instructors to redesign all composition courses. For more details on the schedule of the QEP, please consult the timeline or the QEP document itself. Both are available on this website.
Is this only about freshman composition?
In its early stages, the QEP does focus on establishing a firm foundation by creating effective first-year writing courses. In its middle and later stages, however, the QEP broadens its focus by improving Advanced Composition and by creating support for writing within the disciplines. Also, the enhanced tutoring services offered through the CWR will be available to students at all levels.
Why this topic and not another for our QEP?
The Topic Selection Task Force and other committees worked for more than two years to decide upon and develop the QEP topic. Why did these faculty, staff and students choose “writing”?
- Was the No. 1 response in the faculty and staff survey
- Was cited in Student Focus Groups as a major weakness
- Dominated discussions of the Topic Selection Task Force
- Was identified by Dr. Patrick Quinn, English department chair, for urgent consideration
- Is a nexus of critical thinking and research skills
- Is part of UM’s current pedagogical framework
- Is essential to students in all disciplines
- Is valued by alumni, employers and graduate schools
- Is deeply connected to our institutional history and mission
Who Developed the QEP?
In every sense of the word, the QEP was a “team” effort. Hundreds of people—faculty, students, staff, alumni, and others—have been involved in the development of the QEP. Many of their names appear in the QEP document.
How will the QEP be judged?
The QEP is a core requirement of our re-affirmation process, which occurs every 10 years. Because the QEP is a new requirement, this will be our first QEP. In February 2009, a team of evaluators (peers from other institutions) reviewed our QEP. We have received very positive feedback, and we will receive official notification of the evaluation results in December 2009.
The SACS team of evaluators will judge our QEP using a fairly elaborate set of criteria. These criteria are sometimes framed as “guiding questions,” and they include the following:
- Has the institution provided a comprehensive and clear analysis of the crucial importance of the QEP for improving the learning environment?
- Has the institution demonstrated that various institutional constituencies have been involved in the identification of the topic for the QEP?
- Has the institution identified a significant issue related to student learning and justified its use for the Quality Enhancement Plan?
- Does the QEP provide evidence of careful analysis of the institutional context in which the goals will be implemented and of consideration of best practices related to the topic?
- Has the institution provided evidence of sufficient financial, physical and human resources to implement, sustain and complete the QEP?
Perhaps most importantly, the QEP must center on clearly defined student learning outcomes that are achievable and assessable.