The QEP is a part of the reaffirmation process under way at the college, which all institutions must submit as part of their reaccreditation. It focuses on a “forward-looking” topic or issue related to enhancing student success. To meet this objective, the overarching goal of the freshman seminar will be to increase student knowledge and use of available academic resources.
The logic behind a downsized QEP
Originally, Learn to SOAR called for a multi-pronged approach to address student motivation and success in the form of a first-year academy that targeted all first-time-in-college associate of arts degree-seeking students. The proposal, tagged with an estimated cost of more than $1.6 million over three years, featured intensive student intervention by teams of faculty, advisors, career coaches, co-curricular staff and peer mentors who, together, would help students familiarize themselves with college resources, establish career goals, education plans, and peer and institutional support systems. Dr. Tom Bellomo, committee co-chair, said, however, that as the development team delved into a literature review, researched best practices and conferred with SACS officials and institutions that have already been through the QEP development process, members realized that the original pre-proposal had to be narrowed in scope.
“The research called into question the breadth of the original proposal as it applied to the SACS QEP requirements,” he said. “We concluded that less is more. Instead of our QEP covering so many campus resources, we would restrict it to a few essentials and focus on application and engagement.”
Elements of the original QEP proposal, Bellomo emphasized, may still be added as complements to existing student outreach efforts such as orientations and a student success course, or brought forth as new initiatives via the college Planning Council.
Charlene Latimer, chair of the School of Student Life Skills, who participated in drafting the original Learn to SOAR QEP pre-proposal, agreed. “Elements of that original pre-proposal that, because of the need to reduce the scope of the QEP, have been removed from consideration, such as a more refined student orientation and teaching students about financial literacy; these things are still going to happen, just a little differently,” she said.
Research points to enhancing writing skills
To address the SACS requirement for feasibility (having sufficient personnel and financial resources to implement the plan), Rhodella Brown, associate vice president of retention, assessment and analysis/academic affairs, suggested that the QEP target students who hover at, or just above, the cut-score on the writing section of the PERT placement test. The PERT replaced the College Placement Test (CPT) in 2011, and determines whether new students have sufficient math, reading and writing skills to succeed in college-level math and English courses. Characteristics of students placing slightly above a particular score and those placing slightly below are not dissimilar. However, those who just missed making the cut receive the benefit of an intervention in the form of remedial writing; those just making the cut receive no such aid. The difference between these two groups is evident when comparing pass rates in ENC 1101 (Table 1).
Pass rates* correlated to PERT score
Those just below the cut score had a greater success rate in ENC 1101 than those who narrowly passed. It is believed that the intervention received (Dev. Writing) prepared students for ENC 1101.
Placed into Dev. Writing.
Placed directly into ENC1101
It is not until students obtained a score of 105 that they mirror similar success rates as those noted above. Hence, those at or slightly above the cut-score will be the targeted group to receive the intervention: a one-credit hour SLS course where students learn and apply targeted campus resources.
Bellomo said the original pre-proposal called for the inclusion of a new SLS course. Based on the needs of the new QEP targeted population, the focus of the course will have these students optimizing academic resources that will help them succeed in ENC 1101. This will address the goal to increase the success rates of students in gatekeeper courses, which is cited in the college Retention Committee’s 2012-2013 plan.
“If the SLS course will support students taking ENC 1101, and if SOAR essentials are to be fewer based on our research and conference with SACS and other institutions that have been through the process, resources most suitable for Freshman Composition would come from the Learning Commons,” Bellomo said. “Having students learn about and access the library, writing center and Academic Support Center as they apply their knowledge to their writing assignments will provide for contextualization, engagement and a narrowed focus that will enhance their learning experience.”
The seminar basics
The one-credit hour seminar is planned to be a seven-week course. Students will be tasked with assignments that have them visit and become comfortable with resources available in the three Learning Commons areas. “The idea is to make the course experiential so the students will become more comfortable and likely to use the services provided by the institution as they continue their studies,” said Dr. Max Nagiel, who is co-chairing the development team along with Bellomo.
While the mechanism for how to link the freshman seminar with ENC 1101 has yet to be determined, the committee is incorporating a core premise of the original QEP proposal to be the basis for its ultimate plan: That active engagement with academic resources will lead to increased student motivation, success and retention.
“We have developed SLOs (student learning outcomes) for the seminar,” Bellomo said. “Students will select and use academic resources to achieve academic success and will value those resources as a means to achieve overall success in college and beyond.
What SACSCOC evaluators want to see in the QEP
Daytona State’s QEP will be submitted to SACS for review in August, just prior to the accrediting body’s site visit this fall. During the site visit, evaluators will determine if the QEP is feasible and can be sustained.
Evaluators will be looking for specific criteria in the QEP, including:
- Is the topic appropriate;
- Can the SLOs be realized;
- Has the topic been thoroughly researched;
- Has an action plan been implemented;
- Has a timeline for implementation been established;
- Has an organizational structure been established to ensure the plan’s success;
- Have necessary resources been identified;
- What assessment measures are in place to ensure the plan’s success.
For now, questions or comments can be forwarded to Bellomo and Nagiel, or any development team member:
- Benjamin Graydon(English faculty)
- Evan Rivers(School of Humanities and Communication)
- Bruce Cook(Student Development Services)
- Charlene Latimer(School of Student Life Skills and Counseling Services)
- LeeAnn Davis(Academic Advising)
- Cheryl Kohen(Library Services)
- Joanne Pinkston-McDuffie(English faculty)
- Joy Colarusso(Business faculty)
- Ravi Samitamana(Business faculty)
- Robert Saum(Instructional Resources)
- Roxanne Lewis(TRiO Student Support Services)
- Theodore Sofianos (Resource Development)
- Brianna Gray (Resource Development)