Quality Enhancement Plan Activities Are Underway

By Keith Mellinger, QEP Director
Even though the Quality Enhancement Plan that Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) deemed as acceptable doesn’t officially start until fall 2014, we’re gearing up for a second QEP pilot study to be run this spring.  The pilot is designed to test-drive two online learning modules and to help us refine them before application on a broader scale. A big thank you goes out to the several faculty – Helen Housley (Theatre), Jackie Gallagher (Geography), Hai Nguyen (Physics), Janet Asper (Chemistry), Chad Murphy (Political Science), and Neil Tibert (Geology) – who have expressed interest in incorporating the QEP on-line learning modules into their first-year seminar courses this spring.

More volunteers are welcomed, especially those working in areas that diversify the disciplines represented in our pilot group.  Contact me by email if you would like to join the group.

You may recall that one primary goal of the QEP is to serve our changing demographic of students through the development of high-quality on-line learning modules that address basic skills necessary for success in a rigorous academic environment. As the report by the Reaffirmation Committee noted when they reviewed our proposal: “The QEP brings opportunities for UMW to learn more about what works for its own students in terms of building information literacy, speaking, and writing skills, and in terms of the FSEM courses themselves.”  Development of effective writing and speaking, bolstered by a strong foundation in research and information literacy, are cornerstone elements of our first-year seminar courses and provide valuable grounding content and experiences that will help guide our students successfully through an academic program.

There will be a luncheon on December 9 to discuss the two modules being piloted this spring, one on information literacy and another on communication apprehension. The information literacy module, spearheaded by Rosemary Arneson and used during the prior pilot study, has been revised and improved based on feedback gathered from that prior experience. The communication apprehension module, spearheaded by Anand Rao, has just been developed and we are looking forward to unveiling it and gathering some useful feedback. The modules are designed to move some introductory content from class meetings into an on-line delivery environment, thereby leaving more class time for discussion and other activities. Students will work through the modules on their own schedule and pace in coordination with assignments in the course designed to integrate the module elements.

We’ll also spend some time at the luncheon charting an initial course for the development of our QEP over the next several years.  Everyone teaching a course that fulfills the first-year seminar requirement is welcome to attend any of the QEP events scheduled.  Please email me ASAP at kmelling@umw.edu if you are interested in joining the group on December 9.

A more robust follow-up for the faculty who are piloting the modules will take place in early January.  There will be additional opportunities to learn more about the QEP this spring as we proceed with forming the QEP advisory board and develop plans for additional lunch meetings and workshops to help us best implement this important part of our continuing affirmation of our accreditation.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or concerns as we move forward with the implementation of the QEP.

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