Tag Archives: Quality Enhancement Plan

Quality Enhancement Plan is important, and here’s why

If it seems like it’s been awhile since you’ve heard about the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), you’re right. But that doesn’t mean nothing’s happening.

“We did a huge marketing campaign with Phase One, and we’ve been a little quieter recently because we’ve been working,” said Mickey Williford, Director of Accreditation and QEP Project Co-Chair. “But we need everyone to know that it isn’t going away and it’s going to be part of our world for five years.”

Five years is a long time, which is why Williford and the various team members are working so hard to make sure they get it right.

But what exactly is a QEP? In short, the Quality Enhancement Plan is one of the two parts the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requires for accreditation. Not only must a school prove compliance with a set of defined standards, it must also provide a QEP, which is a proposal to enhance student learning in a specific, measurable way.

In Phase One, which ran from February 2014 until January of this year, a team was chosen with representatives from all the colleges across the university. The team’s goal was to determine what data existed specific to GRU that could demonstrate what student learning needs were and how successful the school was at meeting them.

While it might seem an easy chore for an institution of higher learning, quantifying it was complicated by the consolidation of two very different schools with two very different student pools.

“That was a very difficult task because ASU was predominantly a liberal arts undergraduate school with several masters programs, and what was then Georgia Health Sciences University had very few undergraduate students,” said Cathy Tugmon, Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the project’s other co-leader. “In the end, we said we have some areas we were maybe consistently weak in, particularly on the undergraduate campus. One of them had to do with community engagement and experiential learning.”

In April, the GRU community was invited to submit themes. The committee received 54, and from those themes, 10 topics were identified, many of which included some form of experiential learning. Therefore, the committee decided the QEP’s theme would be experiential learning, with sub themes of leadership, research and scholarship, and community engagement.

By September, there was a call for proposals, which took those themes and then turned them into potential QEPs. In the end, six were submitted and evaluated by the committee. Of the six, two were forwarded to the leadership panel, which consisted of the Provost, the Deans, the University Senate Chair, the EVP for Administration and Finance, and key officers from academic and student support units. Both targeted leadership, with one focusing on community engagement and the other focusing on community-based research.

In January, the leadership team recommended synthesizing the two plans into one QEP, and that idea was endorsed by Dr. Caughman and President Azziz.

Now, the process has entered Phase Two, and the committee has expanded significantly. Teams include Design, Assessment Planning, Engagement/Awareness, Literature/References, and Resources, all of which report to a Core Team who oversees the project’s progress.  More information about each team, including membership, is provided at gru.edu/QEP.

The main thing both Williford and Tugmon want to stress, however, is that there is a lot of work going on, even if it is somewhat behind the scenes.

According to Tugmon, they’d like to have as many of the plan’s details fleshed out as possible by May, with some tweaking going on over the summer. They would begin to write it up once everyone returns in the fall.

What Tugmon finds exciting about this QEP is its potential to impact students on a variety of different levels as well as the community. The teams are currently pursuing ways to engage students and community members in addition to faculty and staff in the development process.

They will submit the report to SACSCOC around February 2016, and SACSCOC will send an onsite review team in March.

Williford also emphasizes the importance of everyone on campus becoming familiar with the QEP. And by everyone, she means everyone.

“The urban legend in the SACSCOC world is that if a reviewer walks up to a landscaper, that landscaper should be ready to talk about the QEP,” Williford said. “Whether or not that ever actually happens is not important, but that’s the standard you want to try to hit.”

For more information or to keep up-to-date with the latest developments, visit the QEP site here.

Quality Enhancement Project picks two proposals, moves forward

After a one-year assessment-driven, broad-based process by faculty, staff, and students to identify a plan that could be further developed in a second phase of the Quality Enhancement Project (QEP), a recommendation by the leadership panel was made to Dr. Caughman that ACE (Academic Community Engagement) and LEAP (Leadership, Engagement, and Professionalism) be combined.

Using a prescribed logic model, the authors of the two proposals presented their ideas to Provost Gretchen Caughman and other members of a specially appointed Leadership Panel earlier this month. The feedback was that both proposals were excellent and each had the potential to significantly impact student learning and foster collaboration and buy-in across multiple programs, while also having the feasibility to be implemented in the timeframe that will be expected by the SACSCOC.

The consensus of the panel, which included all nine deans as well as officers representing academic, student, and administrative support services, was that LEAP was the stronger overall proposal, but that the ACE plan’s integration of community engagement was more fleshed out. The panel discussed the possibility of combining the proposals to leverage the strengths of both, and based on its input, Caughman recommended that a QEP should be further developed based on LEAP’s overall framework with the ACE plan’s structure for community-based research and Study Away integrated as part of the capstone experience.

On Jan. 20, President Ricardo Azziz agreed, giving Caughman the go-ahead to move forward with the next phase of the QEP project: A team of faculty, staff, students, and community members will be selected to participate in the development process of what Dr. Azziz said he believed “will become a transformative GRU program.”



Finalists selected for QEP

Leadership, Engagement, and Professionalism (LEAP) and the Academic Community Engagement (ACE) have been selected as finalists for the Quality Enhancement Plan.

“After reviewing the proposals, the QEP Core Team felt these two best embodied the theme of experiential learning as well as met the SACSCOC expectations for a QEP,” said Cathy Tugmon, QEP Project Co-Leader and Associate Professor of Biology.

LEAP is a supra-disciplinary program concentrated on professionalism, responsible inquiry, effective communication, critical and creative reasoning, and community engagement. The program has three levels of involvement — innovative courses, service learning, and a certificate of completion. The goals for all students who participate in the courses are to:

  • demonstrate habits that distinguish competent professionals
  • evaluate the quality and credibility of various sources of information
  • develop and defend critical and ethical viewpoints using clear, evidence-based reasoning
  • communicate effectively in oral, written, and visual forms of expression
  • collaborate effectively to develop creative solutions to problems
  • develop themselves by soliciting feedback and devising a clear plan for self-improvement

The Academic Community Engagement Program is designed to foster student engagement and leadership within three contexts: the academic department, the Augusta community, and a study away community. The components of the ACE Program include local service-learning research days, a study away experience, INQR 1000 paired with a core course (for rising sophomores), and a newly developed one-credit leadership course (for juniors and seniors).

During the ACE study away experience, students increase awareness of their leadership and scholarship potential, while exploring cultural competency. The study away programs will be student-led by trained juniors and seniors who received leadership training during the spring semester prior to the summer study away trips.

The authors of the proposals will present their concepts for consideration to the leadership panel during the first week of January. The panel is comprised of the President, Provost, Deans, University Senate Vice Chair, Vice President for Administration and Finance, key officers from academic and student support units, and subject matter experts on the selected themes.

Following the presentations, the QEP topic will be selected by the President and Provost. Once selected, Phase II, the development phase of the QEP, will begin.

To read the proposal abstracts on LEAP and ACE or to submit comments, visit gru.edu/qep/abstracts.php.


QEP Proposal Deadline Extended to Nov. 12

The QEP Core Team is pleased to inform you that the deadline for submitting QEP Proposals has been extended to Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Members of the team have heard many excellent ideas from faculty, staff, and students for plans that incorporate the principal theme of Experiential Learning and one or more of the subthemes of Leadership, Research and Scholarship, and Community Engagement. We want to ensure you have ample opportunity to express your ideas in the proposal format, and our hope is that the additional time will provide that opportunity.

The Core Team is available to assist you with developing your proposal. If you are planning to submit a proposal, please contact either one of the team members or QEP@gru.edu as soon as possible so we can arrange to provide you with any guidance or assistance you need when completing your proposal.

Both the QEP Proposal Guidelines as well as the list of Core Team members can be found at gru.edu/QEP.

Submit your QEP proposal

Experiential Learning has been selected as the theme for our QEP, and now it’s time to submit your proposal. The QEP Core Team is currently calling for proposals that meet the expectations of SACSCOC for a Quality Enhancement Plan. The deadline for submissions is Monday, Nov. 3.

This process is open to all members of the GRU community. To learn more about the QEP theme, subthemes, and the required learning outcome, visit gru.edu/QEP.

The next QEP drop-in workshop will be Monday, Oct. 27, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in Terrace Dining, Magnolia/Dogwood rooms, on the Health Sciences Campus. For information on parking and other logistics, contact qep@gru.edu.

The QEP is more than an accreditation requirement; it is an important university initiative to impact student learning. The plan that is selected and developed will be implemented over a five-year period, and its effects will last even longer.

If you are unable to attend the workshops, please contact a member of the Core Team to schedule special assistance.

Be a key part of the QEP process through your ideas

Do you have a great idea to enhance student learning and experiential learning? If so, you could have the foundations for the next Quality Enhancement Plan, and you are invited to submit your proposal.

“We are hoping that we have as diverse involvement in this process as we had with the theme submission process” Cathy Tugmon, QEP Project co-leader, said. “Just as with the themes, anyone who is a stakeholder in GRU is invited to submit proposals — this includes students, faculty, staff, and alumni.”

But you should review the process and understand a little more about Quality Enhancement Plans, before you start. To find out more about experiential learning and the three subthemes, visit gru.edu/qep/.

“The committee is here to help you as you prepare to submit a proposal,” Tugmon said. “Our names and email addresses are on the QEP website, please feel free to contact us. The QEP website has resources on experiential learning, leadership, research and scholarship, and community engagement to assist with the proposal process and to spark ideas.”

The team wants the process to be a collaborative discussion which you can join by leaving your feedback on the website.

“Please feel free to use the resources available or add to them as you find new ones,” she said. “I know each and every one of you have some great ideas, that if developed, would impact student learning; this is your opportunity to submit that idea for potential development.”

The deadline for submissions is Nov. 3 at 11:59 p.m.

There are also three subthemes that the QEP Core Team identified, and one or more of them should be incorporated into the planning: leadership, community engagement, and research and scholarship. Also, proposals should have written and oral communication skills included in learning outcomes.

To find out more about QEP, the themes or the subthemes, visit gru.edu/qep. Updated information on theme profiles and proposal guidelines will also be posted.

Two QEP workshops will be held:

  • Oct. 2, 1 to 3 p.m., Washington Hall Towers, Summerville Campus
  • Oct. 27, 11 to 1 p.m., Magnolia/ Dogwood Room at Terrace Dining, Health Sciences Campus

Join the virtual discussion on the QEP principal theme: Experiential Learning

EXP learning logoFor GRU’s first Quality Enhancement Plan, the QEP Core Team has selected Experiential Learning as the principal theme and the subthemes of Leadership, Research & Scholarship, and Community Engagement.
Each week leading up to an open call for QEP proposals starting Sept. 15, we will host a virtual discussion on each of the themes/subthemes, featuring various information resources. Please visit the QEP Website regularly to review the information we have collected and provide your insights on these topics.
  • Principal Theme: Experiential Learning
  • Subtheme: Leadership (available 8/27)
  • Subtheme: Research & Scholarship (available 9/3)
  • Subtheme: Community Engagement (available 9/10)

Experiential learning is principal theme for next QEP

After reviewing more than 50 theme ideas, the QEP Core Team has selected experiential learning as the principal theme to enhance student learning in a specific, measurable way.

“Most of the suggested ideas submitted either directly or indirectly dealt with experiential learning, and we believe it is a key part of the learning process,” said Cathy Tugmon, Associate Professor of Biology and Project Co-Leader. “It is vital to a student’s success, and we believe there is a lot to gain by focusing on this as our QEP theme.”

The team also wants to include three subthemes throughout the process:

  • Leadership
  • Community engagement
  • Research and scholarship

“Experiential learning can be such a wide-sweeping topic, we felt some further direction was needed,” Tugmon said. “These three subthemes strike at the heart of not only our educational focus, but also the kind of student we want to produce at GRU and our goals as an institution.”

Over the next few weeks, the team will examine each subtheme and how each relates to both experiential learning and GRU’s mission.

In September, the team will open an invitation to staff, faculty, and students to submit a detailed QEP proposal putting this theme as well as one or more of the subthemes into action.

“We are really excited about the themes’ potential, and we believe that much like the topic, it can make a difference in the lives of our students,” said Tugmon. “But we need you to be a part; we need you to think about how we can make a difference and share your ideas with us.”

To find out more about QEP, visit the gru.edu/qep. Updated information on theme profiles and proposal guidelines will also be posted.