QEP Co-Directors: Dr. Ren Denton, Associate Professor of English, and Professor Jessica Todd, Professor of English and Spanish
Fall of 2020, EGSC presented a plan for building student learning communities as a high impact practice that bolsters student success. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) approved the plan, which builds on the previous QEP “Critical Thinking.” EGSC has a five-year plan to create a cohesive first-year experience that includes interdisciplinary learning, critical thinking, and an increased sense of social belonging.
What is a Quality Enhancement Plan/QEP?
The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is a long-term plan that focuses on improving (or enhancing) student learning, performance, and student success. It is an integral component of the reaffirmation of the accreditation process. The QEP topic is derived from an institution’s ongoing comprehensive planning and evaluation processes. It reflects and affirms a commitment to enhancing overall institutional quality and effectiveness by focusing on an issue the institution considers important to improving student learning outcomes and/or student success.
Why do we need a QEP?
East Georgia State College’s accreditors require a QEP. SACSCOC is the accreditation council for degree-granting institutions such as East Georgia State College. SACSCOC is committed to improving education by making sure each institution meets high academic standards. Thus, they require institutions to evaluate each component that impacts student learning and success and identify areas that need improving.
Who picks the topic?
Since the QEP is seen as a continuous improvement activity of the institution, the topic selection process MUST involve input from EGSC's Foundation Trustees, faculty, staff, students, and our community.
How do we pick the topic?
There must be a review of the strategic plan, student data, faculty discussions about the academic needs and performance of their students, and student input about what they believe is missing from their academic experience or career development preparations. The topic must emerge from the strategic planning process, data, and institutional goals. The topic must focus on student learning outcomes and/or student success, as the topic is selected in the spirit of seeking continuous improvement. Thus, the QEP is a course of action that is specific to an institution and its mission. It is intended to be part of self-identified needs at a particular institution.
Why Student Learning Communities as a QEP Topic?
Student Learning Communities (SLC), generally defined as a cluster of linked courses that share the same cohorts, significantly impact learning, academic success, and retention. Other benefits for students include a smooth transition to college life, exposure to diverse viewpoints and experiences, and a sense of belonging to a diverse community. Through student learning communities, East Georgia State College focuses students on integrating knowledge so that they can make multiple, interdisciplinary connections that lead to application skills like problem-solving and analysis. Thus, East Georgia State College’s Quality Enhancement Plan is designed to support traditional and nontraditional students for academic success while ensuring a high-quality academic experience that prepares graduates for lifelong learning. In short, if students come to EGSC to “get associated,” then EGSC should teach them how “to associate.”
What are the goals for the QEP Learning to Associate?
The goals for Student Learning Communities: Learning to Associate are to improve student learning and increase student course success and retention by developing a curriculum designed to integrate knowledge across the disciplines so to strengthen the quality of academic engagement and by creating opportunities that connect students to a network of peers and faculty for support in persisting in their degree programs.
What are the results so far?
Students in student learning communities involving gateway courses such as English Composition are successfully completing their courses with higher success rates than students not enrolled in student learning communities, and they report higher satisfaction with their learning experience and sense of social belonging.