Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)
The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is required of all Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission of Colleges (SACSCOC) member institutions undergoing Reaffirmation of Accreditation. The QEP is a carefully designed and focused course of action that addresses a well-defined issue directly related to enhancing student learning. For Asbury Theological Seminary’s last accreditation reaffirmation the QEP was Christian Formation Process (modification for SACSCOC 2012).
Summary of Asbury Seminary’s QEP
Asbury Theological Seminary’s mission focuses on the preparation of theologically educated, sanctified, Spirit-filled men and women. Producing graduates who can communicate the gospel creatively through speaking and writing is an important aspect of this mission. To enhance this mission, in spring 2012 the Seminary established a multi-disciplinary committee representing its community. This committee began its work in September 2012.
To determine an appropriate focus for the QEP, we collected qualitative data through in-depth discussions and interviews with the various constituencies of the seminary, including academic schools. We also collected quantitative data through a faculty survey that assessed writing needs. This was completed on March 2014. From this survey we discovered that over 80% of faculty lower grades for grammar and stylistic errors. Additionally, a similar percentage of faculty explicitly inform students that the quality of writing will impact grades and actually lower grades for problems in this area. Finally, nearly 89% of faculty consider providing writing assistance to students useful or very important.
Besides this data, in 2012-2013, there were a few students who mentioned the need for writing assistance on the Graduating Student Survey and the Entering Student Survey. Combined with the many anecdotal stories that support the need for a writing service, the need for a focus on graduate level writing became evident. As a result, the QEP committee focused on the following student learning outcome: to enhance graduate level writing, informed by creativity and critical thinking as the core competency. We envision the QEP unfolding in five major phases, beginning with a development phase through summer 2015. The five phases end in 2025 with the completion of the ten-year report (see Timeline in Appendix).
The QEP envisions a multilayered program delivered in both an online and on-campus format and making creative use of available technology. We propose the initial establishment of an online format for helping students in every phase of the writing process with the goal of enhancing graduate level writing. In addition to its own materials, the online format would provide links to established writing resources and sites such as the Owl writing lab at Purdue University and the Writing Center at The University of Wisconsin – Madison. Furthermore, we propose to identify and train writing assistants selected primarily from among students who demonstrate quality graduate level writing. We will provide these writing assistants appropriate training in the art of writing. Subsequently, the writing assistants will assist students with all aspects of the writing process through online consultation and in face-to-face interaction.
To facilitate the identification of students needing this assistance, we will designate writing courses within the curriculum. Initially, we propose to utilize MS501, completed by most students within the seminary’s programs. In later phases, we will designate additional writing courses. From MS501 and future designated courses, faculty may identify students who need writing assistance. Students may also self-refer.
Ideally such a program would be housed within the library facilities and run under the auspices of the library director. Additionally, as the program grows and the need is demonstrated, we may need to hire a coordinator/director to manage the program.
Assessment comprises an essential part of the program. This assessment process takes several forms including:
- Tracking data from the face-to-face or online contact with writing assistants. This entails writing assistants completing an assessment form based on their contact.
- Having students who utilize the writing service complete a survey on the use and effectiveness of the service.
- Adding additional items to student course evaluations to determine whether they used the service and its helpfulness.
- Adding a possible writing related item on graduate surveys after consultation with the IEA team.
- Using a writing related item as part of a class rubric in the initial and future designated courses. We will select the latter courses at the mid and ending points of the students’ seminary journey.
- Providing an assessment of critical thinking utilizing the online Critical Thinking Test in later phases of the QEP