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QEP Frequently Asked Questions

What is a QEP?
A Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is a plan that a university develops to improve student learning in a measurable way.

The QEP is an accreditation requirement for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) that represents a "carefully designed and focused course of action that addresses a well-defined issue or issues directly related to improving student learning." While it is technically a mandate from SACSCOC, the QEP represents an exciting opportunity for us to work together as a community to best support our students.

SACSCOC  Requirements
According to SACSCOC, in order to maintain accreditation, all schools must satisfy Core Requirement 2.12:

The institution has developed an acceptable Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that (1) includes a broad-based institutional process identifying key issues emerging from institutional assessment, (2) focuses on learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplishing the mission of the institution, (3) demonstrates institutional capability for the initiation, implementation, and completion of the QEP, (4) includes broad-based involvement of institutional constituencies in the development and proposed implementation of the QEP, and (5) identifies goals and a plan to assess their achievement.

What is Shaw's QEP topic?
Adventures in Writing: I came. I WROTE. I conquered! is the title of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for Shaw University. It is a program designed to enhance student learning by focusing on the process (adventure) of writing.

What is the Goal?
The purpose of the QEP is to enhance student writing competencies through awareness and application of the writing process. There are two expected Program Outcomes:

The Program Learning Outcome we aim to achieve is increased student ability to identify and apply elements of the writing process in order to create effective papers. Simply put, students will write strong papers through the use of the writing process.

We have an additional Institutional Outcome to provide students with increased access to one-on-one writing support through the development of a Writing Center.

Why choose writing?
The QEP addresses a pressing and well-documented need on our campus; various assessments have revealed that Shaw's students fall below national norms, and the University community has also articulated a desire for improvement of writing skills.

Developing writing skills will help students in several other areas of learning, such as critical thinking, communication, and reading. Writing skills are vital in for those going on to graduate school, and many employers look for new hires who are strong communicators.

What activities will be implemented?
The QEP calls for two major strategies to facilitate student learning. Developing the Writing Center is one of those strategies. The Center allows for more one-on-one support for students to engage in the writing process. We hope that everyone on campus will take advantage of this resource, and that its presence opens up discussions about what effective academic writing is.

The second strategy, the heart of the plan, targets ENG 110, our basic composition course. Students in this course will be required to take part in a special Supplemental Program in the Writing Center. The program will delve into all aspects of the writing process, but emphasize revision and critiquing strategies. Students in this course will spend one class period each week in a small group setting focused on their own writing. They will also be required to visit the Writing Center for individual consultations.

What are the expected outcomes?
Since the QEP is focused on student learning, the expected results are called Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs). These are the skills and knowledge that a student will be expected to have gained after going through the ENG 110 Supplemental Program. Shaw's QEP has five Student Learning Outcomes. Students will

(a) develop a controlling idea appropriate for purpose,
(b) use patterns of development appropriate for purpose,
(c) use an academic style appropriate for audience,
(d) demonstrate standard use of grammar and mechanics, and
(e) exhibit thoughtful, significant revision between drafts. 

By enhancing the writing skills of Shaw's students, the QEP will also help them to speak and think more effectively.  Effective writing has the power to change the lives of our students so that they can become contributors on the national level.

How will the outcomes be measured?
An important aspect of the QEP is that we measure improvement in student learning. We'll use a specially designed rubric for portfolios that examines all five student learning outcomes. Surveys, standardized tests, and course-embedded assessments will also be used to provide qualitative and quantitative results to analyze.

At the beginning of each semester, students will be administered a pre-test (in both essay writing and grammar) in order to provide a benchmark for end of semester data.   At the end of each semester, portfolios, surveys, and Writing Center usage data will be collected. 

Where are we in the process? 
The QEP, a 75-page document, was submitted to SACSCOC in February, 2013. As part of their visit to Shaw from March 25-28th, the SACSCOC On-Site Committee will discuss their analysis of the plan and make recommendations for the program.

To ensure that Shaw is ready to implement the plan after the On-Site Committee’s evaluation, some stages of the process are already underway. The Writing Center opened Fall 2012 for all students, whether through face-to-face or online consultations. Additionally, in Spring 2013, a pilot program began with five English classes.

The full program will be implemented in Fall 2013, after the results from the pilot have been examined and any necessary modifications have been made. Assessments and will be given regularly to ensure that this program does enhance writing skills.

Who is responsible?
The QEP Co-Directors are Dr. Lisa Blair and Dr. Carol Bunch. The Steering Committee and all sub-committees are comprised of individuals from every constituent group (faculty, staff, students, alumni, administration, and community).

How does it affect students?
The goal of the QEP is to enhance student learning. All students are encouraged to use the Writing Center and to engage in purposeful revision of their assigned papers.

It's also important that all students know and talk about the QEP. This is a plan that Shaw is putting in place to improve the quality of learning, and the value of your education. Additionally, members of the SACSCOC On-Site Committee expect that every person on campus be knowledgeable about the QEP.

How does it affect Faculty/Staff?
All faculty and staff are encouraged to take part in the QEP, whether by joining a sub-committee, urging their students to go to the Writing Center, or developing multi-draft writing assignments. Faculty and staff serve as representatives of the University, and should be knowledgeable about methods Shaw is taking to improve and develop.

How does it affect the larger Shaw Community?
The QEP is one way that Shaw strives to enrich the experience of its students. It will help provide an image of academic excellence to employers and the wider community.