What is a QEP?
QEP stands for the Quality Enhancement Plan that is a requirement for Western’s reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The plan must focus on enhancing student learning and must involve significant segments of the campus. We will be monitored regularly to see how well our plan is working. In five years (2012) and then ten years (2017), SACS will examine our QEP to determine if the university is making good progress on the plan.
What is WCU’s QEP?
“Synthesis: A Pathway to Intentional Learning at WCU.” Our plan is committed to enhancing student learning especially as it relates to students synthesizing their university experiences. The plan will guide undergraduates as they develop personal learning and career goals and mentor them throughout their time at WCU as they reflect on how their academic and co-curricular experiences contribute to their goals after graduation.
How was this topic chosen?
The process began with a large open forum in September 2004 that generated more than 150 ideas. Throughout 2005, the QEP Committee focused on choosing a topic, soliciting more ideas/feedback from across campus as well as making visits to over 30 academic and staff units. In November 2005, the present topic was adopted by the committee. Since then it has been refined and presented to multiple units across campus (students, faculty, staff, and administration), approved by the Faculty Senate, Executive Council, Staff Forum, and numerous other groups, and endorsed by the Chancellor.
Will all students at WCU be involved in the QEP?
The implementation of the QEP will be carefully controlled (possibly beginning with as few as 100-150 students) to better manage and test the efficacy of the different elements of the plan. As the QEP Steering Committee assesses the early implementation of the QEP, it will continue to develop structures to involve more students and encompass broader segments of the campus. Units that have impact on student life such as Residential Living, Orientation, Advising, Student Support Services, as well as programs that directly impact the academic life of students, for example, the Faculty Center for Teaching Excellence, Career Services and the Center for Service Learning, will become increasingly involved in the implementation of the QEP. These units will be requested to develop specific goals that are aligned with the plan and foster synthesis in our students.
When will the QEP begin?
In December 2007, after SACS has approved the plan in its final form, implementation will begin. At that point the QEP Implementation Committee will implement the plan and begin monitoring the plan’s progress and making adjustments as needed to strengthen the plan’s outcomes. In January 2008, key advisors, staff, and volunteer faculty members for the pilot study will begin training. The first group of students will be introduced into the pilot study in fall semester, 2008.
How will it affect faculty and staff?
During the pilot, faculty whose classes are part of the pilot will be introducing synthesis into their class structure. Advisors assigned to the pilot will be begin the mentoring process using the Education Briefcase. This electronic portal will facilitate student interactions with faculty, advisors, and career counselors and will serve as a repository for sharing learning plans, resumes, academic and co-curricular transcripts, templates, questions and suggestions from the advisor, student reflections/essays on university activities, and other synthesis-related documentation. Students will use the Education Briefcase to chart their educational progress, social activities, experiential learning, and future educational/career plans. Advisors and instructors will use the additional information available in the Education Briefcase to understand more fully the student’s total education to better advise and guide a student through her decision-making processes.
As the QEP continues, more programs will be introduced involving more faculty, faculty advisors, advisors in the Advising Center, the Faculty Center, and Career Services. Eventually, synthesis will become a core focus in most academic programs and many supplemental programs.
How will it impact students?
Over time, the intent of the QEP is to develop students who are intentional about the choices they make in their academic work, their co-curricular experiences, their internships and co-ops, and their long range career goals. By focusing on synthesis, students will develop a context for their learning and their experiences, leading to a deeper mastery of their discipline and a more comprehensive view of their learning. Students who develop a set of goals early in their career and who are guided to reflect on what they are experiencing are more inclined to persist to graduation and achieve more throughout their careers as citizens of the world.
What are some of the goals?
1. Students will identify their aptitudes, abilities, and interests and articulate their future goals and aspirations.
2. Students will modify behaviors and values in response to knowledge and skills gained from their academic and co-curricular experiences.
3. Students will recognize the synthesis of their university experiences and evaluate those experiences relative to their future education and career plans.
How will these learning outcomes be assessed?
The outcomes are recognized as being developmental over the student’s academic career. Beginning with the pilot study, the QEP implementation team will assess how student learning has been impacted by the QEP at first-year, sophomore, junior, and senior levels. Students will deposit documents and artifacts from their experiences into an Education Briefcase where they will be guided through reflection on their experiences to develop and modify their goals leading toward their long range career plans and through which they will be able to collaborate with their advisors and other significant mentors. After the pilot study is assessed in multiple ways, the plan may be modified to better achieve the QEP goals.
How do I get a copy of the QEP?
Please download an electronic copy (PDF). This document was prepared in collaboration with Brian Railsback and Scott Philyaw, co-chairs of the SACS QEP Committee.