Below you will find several commonly-asked questions regarding the Millsaps Quality Enhancement Plan. If you need more information, please email Patrick Hopkins, Chair of the QEP Committee.
What does QEP stand for?
What is a QEP?
Why are we doing a QEP?
What is SACS?
What is the purpose of accreditation?
What are the parts of a QEP?
Who is in charge of the QEP?
Who is on the QEP Steering Committee?
Who is the head of the QEP Committee?
How did the QEP Committee members get chosen?
What should the QEP be about?
Does the QEP have to affect every student?
Does the QEP have to be an entirely new plan?
What is the main goal of the QEP?
What is meant by "student learning" in the QEP?
Do we have to prove that the QEP actually does enhance students' learning?
What is a "learning outcome"?
What is an example of a learning outcome as opposed to a learning experience?
How do we measure learning outcomes?
What kinds of QEPs have other schools chosen?
How will our QEP be chosen?
Who has input into what the QEP will be?
If I put in a proposal do I have to do all the work myself?
What is the timeline for developing the QEP?
Why does it take so long to develop the QEP?
When will the QEP be implemented?
What do we have to turn in to SACS?
Will developing a QEP do us any good?
Who should I contact with questions about the QEP?
Do I need to know anything about the QEP?
How can I be involved in the QEP process?
Can a Level 2 proposal be entirely new, or does it have to be a revised Level 1?
What is the QEP for Millsaps?
Quality Enhancement Plan
It is a new plan developed by the college community that will enhance student learning in some specific measurable way.
It is required by the organization that gives us our accreditation. That organization is called The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, or SACS for short.
It is the main organization that accredits schools and colleges in the Southern United States.
The main goals are to help us maintain high academic standards, foster public confidence in our academic value, and make us eligible for certain grants and federal aid programs.
The main part is an explanation of what we want to do to enhance student learning and how the plan we come up with will work. The QEP also has to include a budget, a specific list of learning outcomes for students, a way to measure whether or not those outcomes happen, and a review of the research that has already been done on the kind of learning we are trying to enhance.
There is a QEP Steering Committee, but the Committee does not come up with the QEP. It just organizes the process. The QEP will come from members of the college community through a series of proposals. The QEP Steering Committee will select the final official QEP but only after lots of input from the entire college community on the proposals that have been sent in.
The Committee is composed of members of the entire college community including students, faculty, staff, administration, trustees, and alumni. These include: Stephen Passman, Jami Pittman, and Kendall Gregory (students); Patrick Hopkins, Holly Sypniewski, Blakely Fender, Molly McManus, Tracy Sullivan (faculty); Scott McNamee (staff); David Davis, Brit Katz (administration); Ricky James (alum); and Monica Harrigill (alum and trustee).
Patrick Hopkins is the Chair of the Steering Committee
Our SACS liaison, David Davis selected a small group of faculty to attend a large conference on accreditation in December of 2009 where we learned about the QEP. After returning, Dean Davis asked Patrick Hopkins to lead the QEP Steering Committee. Davis and Hopkins discussed the membership of the committee and selected potential members with an eye toward covering all parts of the college (students, staff, divisions, faculty, alumni, administrators, trustees), recruiting people who officially represented various parts of the college (Staff Council President, Student Body President, Deans), and who were available to focus on this important task.
As long as the QEP can enhance student learning, has measurable learning outcomes, is affordable, and is the result of a process that includes the whole college community, it can be about anything.
No, but it should be extensive enough to affect a large percentage of the students over time. Some schools have chosen QEPs that focused on freshmen, or on work-study students, or made enhanced learning opportunities available for a large portion of the general student body.
No. We might choose a plan that would improve something we already do well. The important thing is that the plan enhances student learning.
To enhance student learning.
Any measurable positive change in students' knowledge, skills, behaviors, or values.
The QEP does not have to be successful in order to be acceptable, but it should have good evidence behind it that strongly suggests it can enhance student learning. We have to submit an Impact Report in 5 years that will demonstrate whether and how the QEP worked. That means that the QEP cannot be simply a "good idea." It must specify learning outcomes and ways to measure whether or not those outcomes are achieved and in 5 years we have to actually prove whether or not it worked.
Learning outcomes are directly tied to the idea of "student learning." Since student learning is defined as changes in the knowledge, skills, behaviors, or values of students, a learning outcome is a specific, focused, and measurable change in one or more of those 4 qualities. While we might want to have students participate in a new program or expose students to a new educational technology, for instance, those do NOT count as learning outcomes. Those are just experiences. Only the specific changes that occur as a result of participating in a new program or being exposed to new educational technology counts. The question is: What will students learn as a result of the QEP that they didn't already know?
Here's an example: a QEP focusing on study abroad might greatly increase the number of students who visit other countries and take classes abroad. That experience itself does NOT count as a learning outcome; it is only an experience. A learning outcome for such a QEP might be something like: Graduates will be able to describe the fundamental elements of the social, political, and economic reality of a country other than their own. Another example: A QEP that focused on mathematics literacy might develop new courses or practical experiences but simply taking those courses or having those experiences are NOT learning outcomes. A relevant learning outcome might be: Graduates will succeed in passing higher-level math courses at a significantly higher rate than before.
Both qualitative and quantitative measures need to be used. A successful QEP will have to specify assessment instruments, how and when baseline data will be acquired, timelines for testing, and proof that the measures used are both reliable and valid.
Many schools have selected QEPs that focus on enhancing specific skills for their students, including critical thinking, writing, reading, communications, and mathematics. Others have chosen topics that affect students' experiences, including improving work-study programs or teaching various psychological coping strategies. Some have chosen topics that dealt with general student welfare, such as advising, retention, freshman orientation, or online instruction. For some examples, see:
Keep in mind however, that these are just options. Our goal is to choose a QEP topic that is specifically beneficial for our students and their particular needs
We are asking for proposals from anyone in the college community who is interested in the QEP. There are 3 levels of proposals that will be asked for at different times in the fall semester of 2010.
Level 1 is just a short summary of your general idea. These will be posted so everyone can see what ideas are out there and get together with people who have similar ideas. We hope working groups will form that will pool their time and ideas for later proposals.
Level 2 is a somewhat longer proposal, outlining the reasoning behind the idea, the way the idea would work, the learning outcomes of the plan, and some general sense of how the outcomes could be measured. These will be posted and people will give feedback on them. The most promising will be invited to be turned into Level 3 proposals.
Level 3 is a full proposal, explaining the plan in more detail, including justification, costs, learning outcomes, how to measure those outcomes, and a preliminary literature review for the plan.
The college's official QEP will be chosen from these proposals by the QEP Steering Committee. This will not be the "winner" however, since by this point some or all of the Level 3 proposals may wind up being implemented and put into the college's strategic plan.
Everyone in the college community - students, staff, faculty, administrators, alumni, trustees. All the QEP proposals will come from these people and everyone will be able to discuss and rate proposals whether they had a part in coming up with one or not.
Please note, we are aware that members of the campus community are concerned that possible additional work might be added to their load if they submit a proposal. Please don't let this concern prevent you from submitting a proposal. We assure you that just because you submit a proposal, you are not responsible for fully fleshing out the idea or for coordinating or implementing the program. This is how it works:
- Level 1 proposals are very simple and do not require any research, just your idea.
- Level 2 proposals are fairly simple and do not require any research other than thinking about learning outcomes and possible assessment tools.
- From Level 2 proposals, the QEP Steering Committee will invite the most promising to be worked up as Level 3 proposals, which will include a moderate literature review and a preliminary budget.
- To help with that, each group that is invited to submit a Level 3 proposal will receive $1500, to be used primarily to pay a research assistant to do basic research and a short write-up on a literature review, best practices review, and comparative summary of other programs that exist that are similar to the proposed one (if there are such things).
- From Level 3 proposals, the official QEP will be chosen.
- All Level 3 proposals, whether chosen as the official QEP or not, will be formally presented and reviewed before a Strategic Planning Committee that will be set up next year. In that way, you can be assured that even if the proposal you are working on is not chosen as the official QEP, it will be given formal and serious attention as something that could be worked into the next strategic plan. The time and effort you spend on a Level 3 proposal will not be wasted.
- When the official QEP is chosen, various appropriate subcommittees composed of people from all college constituencies will be set up to prepare the QEP proposal for SACS submission, including subcommittees on learning outcomes, budget and resources, literature review, assessment, publicity, implementation, institutional needs assessment, and appropriateness for Millsaps culture.
- While those people who worked on submitting the QEP proposals may be asked to serve on a committee, they will not be responsible for any large portion of the work themselves. This will be a widely shared college community effort.
In August and September of 2010 we will have information sessions on the QEP.
In September of 2010 we will have the request for Level 1 proposals.
In November of 2010 we will have the request for Level 2 proposals.
In February of 2011 we will have the request for Level 3 proposals.
In March of 2011 we will choose the official QEP.
In April of 2011 we will begin planning how to do the QEP.
In December of 2011 we will turn in a report on the QEP to SACS for review.
In April of 2012 a SACS committee will come to campus to review and judge our QEP.
In December of 2012 SACS will tell us whether or not we get our accreditation renewed.
Since the QEP is meant to be something the entire college community participates in, it takes a long time to get everyone#s ideas, comments, and ratings in. The process is as important as the final QEP.
We will begin planning how to implement the official QEP in April of 2011. We will begin some parts of the QEP in the fall of 2011. However, since the QEP is still just a proposal to SACS we will not fully implement the plan until we receive approval and reaccreditation from SACS. Practically that means the QEP will not be fully implemented until 2013.
A full proposal explaining exactly what we want to do, how we will do it, why we want to do it, and how we will measure the outcomes. In 5 years we also have to turn in a report on whether the QEP was successful.
Yes. While the QEP is required for accreditation, it gives us the opportunity and motivation to create a new plan that will really benefit our students. Also, since many good ideas may come up during the QEP process, even ideas that aren't selected for the official QEP may become part of the college#s strategic planning process. A lot of good can come from this.
The Chair of the QEP Steering Committee, Patrick Hopkins.
Yes. Since the QEP comes from the college community, even if you are not involved in writing, creating, or supporting any particular proposal, SACS expects everyone to understand what the QEP is and why we are doing it. The SACS committee that comes to campus to review our QEP may quite literally stop anyone on the sidewalk or in the elevator and ask them questions about the QEP and expect some real familiarity.
Come to information sessions, talk with other people about what ideas you have for enhancing student learning, write up a proposal or work with other people who are. When proposals are posted online, check them out and comment on them online. When we ask for people to answer surveys and rate Level 2 and Level 3 proposals, please do so.
No, a Level 2 proposal can be something entirely new, not previously proposed. New proposals are welcome.
We are just at the start of the process so our QEP has not been selected yet. When it is selected, we will have lots of information about what it is and how we will implement it.