In the next few months, MGA will embark on a student-centered Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). This plan, currently in development, is intended to enhance learning within a significantly sized student population, and can help set the direction for our institution to evolve. It’s a college-wide project and it is very important to us to involve everyone.
We need your help in the development of this new plan. We’ve already heard from faculty and students—now it’s your turn to share your expertise and thoughts with the QEP Development Team. We have narrowed the field down to three general options—undergraduate research, collaborative learning, and service learning—and we know that your experience and perspective can provide us with valuable information as we develop our recommendation for the Provost.
Below are handouts that explain the topics and the development process in a bit more detail. In addition, we are conducting a series of information/feedback sessions specifically for MGA staff members. Dates and times are listed below as well:
Warner Robins: Thursday, Dec. 4, 1:00-2:00 pm (WRC Administrative Services Building, room 217)
Warner Robins: Thursday, Dec. 4, 2:00-3:00 pm (WRC Administrative Services Building, room 217)
Dublin: Monday, Dec. 8, 2:00-3:00 pm (LIB 202)
Macon: Tuesday, Dec. 9, 10:00-11:00 am (PSC 112)
Macon: Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2:30-3:30 pm (PSC 112)
Eastman: Wednesday, Dec. 10, 10:00-11:00 am (City of Eastman room)
Cochran: Wednesday, Dec. 10, 3:30-4:30 pm (Dillard Hall Auditorium)
Macon: Thursday, Dec. 11, 10:00-11:00 am (PSC 112)
Macon: Thursday, Dec. 11, 2:30-3:30 pm (PSC 112)
I sincerely hope to see and learn from as many of you as possible at these sessions. Please let me know if you have any questions :
Stephen W. Taylor, Ph.D.
QEP Director and Associate Professor of History
Middle Georgia State College
100 College Station Drive | Macon, GA 31206-5145
Macon Campus: Phone (478) 471-5749 | Fax (478) 471-5756 | Office 364, Teacher Education Building
Notes on the QEP development process:
Data used to develop QEP Topic Proposals
- NSSE 2014 results for Middle Georgia State College indicated statistically significant deficits in four of six High Impact Practices compared to USG institutions, designated peer institutions, and the overall NSSE survey population for 2013-14. The practices in which MGA showed deficits were:
- Research with faculty
- Internship or field experience
- Study Abroad
- Culminating Senior Experience
- Interviews with deans and chairs identified principal areas of concern as (1) communication, (2) problem solving, and (3) collaboration.
- Survey of faculty indicated principal areas of concern as (1) disengagement, (2) communication, and (3) critical thinking.
- Responses from student focus groups
Based on the data and institutional values articulated above, the QEP Development Team has selected three topic areas for further investigation:
- Undergraduate Research
- Collaborative Learning
- Service Learning
A list of readings on each of these topics will be posted on the QEP website.
Alignment with institutional mission: Each proposed Quality Enhancement Plan would involve students working on real-world problems in both individual and collaborative fashion through application of the institution’s core values of stewardship, engagement, adaptability and learning.
- Stewardship: “marshal our time, talents and resources for the Common Good.”
- Engagement: “collaborating with those on our campuses and outside our doors”
- Adaptability: “lead and manage change, not simply be affected by it passively”
- Learning: “stay abreast of expanding and changing fields of knowledge“
A note about implementation
- Individual departments and schools would be responsible for deciding how their programs would participate in the QEP, including
- Which courses would incorporate QEP components
- At what stage of the program the QEP components would be completed (usually junior or senior year)
- While it’s possible that not all departments or programs would participate in the QEP, our hope is that the QEP will gain broad support from faculty, students, administration and staff as well as other stakeholders
- Implementation will most likely take place in stages, over a period of several years.
QEP Topic Proposal #1: Undergraduate Research
The Council on Undergraduate Research defines undergraduate research as “an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original, intellectual, or creative contribution to the discipline.”
“A powerful method of undergraduate education is the integration of teaching and research. . . Integration of teaching and research can increase student engagement, help recruit students for participation in undergraduate research projects, and allow faculty to build research supervision into their teaching load.” (Hensel 2012)
A QEP in Undergraduate Research would improve student learning by increasing and enhancing faculty-mentored student research, scholarship, and creative activities. The plan is intended to (1) establish a clearer connection between knowledge acquired in lower level courses and the demands of the major (Karukstis 2010); (2) encourage a sense of continuity in student educational progress/process, and thereby improve retention, progression and graduation (Cejda 2009); (3) facilitate development of interpersonal collaboration skills (Barkley 2014; Cuseo 2002; Michaelsen 2003); (4) facilitate development of analytical/critical/systematic thought processes (Sweet 2012; Cooke 2011); and (5) emphasize the obligation of a university to serve its community, as a resource for the development and dissemination of knowledge (Boyd 2009; Fink 2003; Cuseo 2002).
QEP Topic Proposal #2: Collaborative Learning
Kuh (2008): “Collaborative learning combines two key goals: learning to work and solve problems in the company of others, and sharpening one’s own understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences. Approaches range from study groups within a course, to team-based assignments and writing, to cooperative projects and research.”
Such an approach not only obliges team members to carry out research but demands they communicate and collaborate effectively in order to solve problems. The focus on engagement too extends to the instructor because of the interactive role that he or she assumes when facilitating the application of research to problem-solving activities. Individual and team occasions for service learning, research with faculty, and capstone projects flow from the adoption of this learning environment that individually and collectively builds knowledge through taking a seat at the table.
A QEP in Collaborative Learning would strengthen students’ ability to solve problems collaboratively in and/or outside the classroom; to collaborate and research with community partners, faculty, or peers to produce an end-of-semester or capstone project; and to communicate and interact professionally with community partners, faculty, or peers of diverse backgrounds.
QEP Topic Proposal #3: Service Learning
Service learning opportunities are defined as community service experiences linked to a specific class and designed to reinforce classroom knowledge. This educational approach enhances the total learning experience, as students are encouraged to consider their service within the context of the larger social, political, cultural and economic issues that impact their project, thereby creating a reciprocal learning environment. In other words, students apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world situations, and bring what they learn in those real-world situations back to the classroom.
Kuh (2008): “The idea [of service learning] is to give students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve problems in the community. A key element in these programs is the opportunity students have to both apply what they are learning in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences.”
A QEP in Service Learning would improve student communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving, civic engagement, leadership, and openness to diversity. By embedding structured reflection activities into service-learning courses, students connect their service experience to the academic content, ultimately resulting in demonstrated improvement in the targeted student learning and shared project outcomes.