As Covenant approaches its re-accreditation date in 2017, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) mandates that every member institution submit a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that in some way improves student learning or the environment supporting student learning within the college.
An ad hoc committee (containing eight members) were tasked with soliciting the entire Covenant community for suitable QEP topic ideas, then recommending one of those submitted ideas to senior administration. Submission was open to anyone - students, faculty, and staff, in order to show that everyone has a voice in improving Covenant College.
Potential topics for the QEP were received by the committee from October 2014 through March 2015. About two dozen potential QEPs were submitted, and the selection committee used a variety of criteria to make a final recommendation.
Following several months of deliberation, the selection committee decided to recommend this topic as the college’s next QEP: “Improving Undergraduate Reading and Writing Skills.” The subject was submitted by Professors Sarah Huffines, Bill Davis, and Daphne Haddad who were in correspondence over the summer as they collaborated on their idea, finally submitting the proposal in September.
Professor Huffines explained that this plan will help students become better at reading in their specific majors, which in turn will help them improve writing skills. “There is an unevenness in how students progress and learn about writing in their majors,” said Huffines, and the goal of the QEP she helped come up with is to fix that.
Initially, the plan Huffines, Davis, and Haddad had in mind was focused solely on writing, but in the end they decided to expand it and combine it with a focus on reading skills. The plan is now dedicated to improving overall literacy among undergraduate students.
The QEP is centered on “using student’s paths throughout their disciplines as points of contact to improve writing within their disciplines,” said Professor Huffines. “It will ensure that they learn what they need and want to learn.” She hopes that the plan will help students make intentional progressions toward proficiency in reading and writing within a given major.
The plan will be more of a curriculum-based means of teaching reading and writing skills. The process will take place over the next five to six years, and steps will be taken to assess and leverage the work that is being done. Professor Huffines expects that expert speakers will be brought in to aid and teach students and professors throughout the process.
Now that their plan has been selected, Professors Huffines, Davis, and Haddad will become part of a new committee responsible for carrying it out. This new implementation committee will work out more of the QEP’s details, make changes, determine personnel and budget, and work on measuring its success when the plan begins.
They will write an official report on the QEP to be submitted to SACSCOC in December 2016. SACSCOC will evaluate the suitability of this new QEP in February 2017 through a peer review process that is conducted on campus.
After senior administration accepted the topic proposal, the selection committee announced its decision in a series of meetings and emails to the faculty, Board of Trustees, and staff.
One of the critical requirements of the QEP is the ability for its success to be measured. A core aspect of the plan is managing and measuring its broad impact on undergraduate students. The QEP is designed to be measurable so that the college can ensure that it is truly improving student learning. Accordingly, the QEP’s implementation will take place over five years, with regular assessments.
Be sure to talk to Professor Huffines, Dr. Davis, or Dr. Haddad to find out more about the Quality Enhancement Plan. Though it is possible that the implications of the QEP may not affect the current student body, we can rest assured knowing that over the coming years Covenant College will continue to improve in its educational standards and faithfulness in raising up academically competent students.