What is a QEP?
The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) “describes a carefully designed course of action that addresses a well-defined and focused topic or issue related to enhancing student learning and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplishing the mission of the institution. The QEP should be embedded within the institution’s ongoing integrated institution-wide planning and evaluation process and may very well evolve from this existing process.” The QEP is a required component of the reaffirmation of accreditation process that “reflects and affirms the commitment of the Commission on Colleges to enhancing the quality of higher education in the region and to focusing attention on student learning.”
Quotes taken from Handbook for Institutions Seeking Reaffirmation, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, August 2011 edition.
When and what was the last QEP at Trinity University?
As part of Trinity’s 2007-2008 reaffirmation of accreditation, members of the campus community developed the Expanding Horizons: Using Information in the 21st Century quality enhancement plan.
Expanding Horizons focused on enhancing information literacy throughout the Trinity curriculum. Information literacy was selected as our topic through a broad process, similar to the one in which we are now engaged, in which about a dozen different topics were proposed. Additional information is available at the Information Literacy QEP website.
When is the SACSCOC reaffirmation of accreditation visit?
Trinity’s final QEP proposal, including a detailed implementation plan, a fully developed budget, and an assessment plan, will be due in December of 2017. The on-site review team will be on campus in the spring of 2018 to serve as advisors for our QEP and also to determine whether it meets the required standards. Currently we are engaging a process to select a topic that will be further developed into a final QEP proposal during the 2016-17 academic year.
What criteria will the SACSCOC visiting team use to evaluate the QEP?
There are basically five areas in which the visiting team will evaluate our QEP.
· Has the topic emerged from institutional assessment? The exceptional proposal will be directly related to institutional planning efforts, such as our Trinity Tomorrow strategic plan. The topic will be directly and strongly related to established institutional needs.
· Has there been broad campus involvement in the development of the QEP and will there be broad campus involvement in its implementation? The topic selection for an exceptional QEP will have involved a process that generated information and specific ideas from a wide range of constituents. All relevant constituencies will have direct involvement in implementing the plan.
· Does the QEP focus on learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning? The ideal QEP will include detailed student learning outcomes tied directly to institutional needs. There will be a clear relationship between the activities proposed in the QEP and the improvement of student learning.
· Does the QEP have specific goals whose achievement can be assessed? The best QEPs have goals that are clearly stated and that lead to specific, measurable outcomes. The QEP includes a plan to assess the achievement of these goals, using direct measures of student learning.
· Is the QEP within the institution’s capability to initiate, implement, and complete? An exceptional QEP will include very detailed budget information and an institutional commitment of funds. Job descriptions will provide details of the specific skills and abilities needed for key personnel. Responsibilities for carrying out the QEP will be clearly stated. A detailed timetable will be provided for year to year activities, including specific actions, budgetary expenditures, and assessment processes. The timetable will show that the QEP can be realistically implemented and completed in five years.
During the topic selection phase, we are not seeking all the details that the visiting team will be evaluating. We are seeking a topic for which all the details can be developed in our second phase, the implementation planning phase, which will take place in 2016-17.
How can I submit a proposal for the next QEP topic?
Once we pick a QEP topic, do we have to stop all work on that area of the strategic plan until after the spring 2018 visiting team has been here?
We will want to develop a QEP that will enhance or expand on efforts that will be going on between now and the visiting team’s arrival. We can be studying best practices and pilot testing possible plans of action. According to the Handbook for Institutions Seeking Reaffirmation, “The topic for the QEP need not be a brand new idea. For example, institutions might develop a QEP that extends, modifies, redirects, or strengthens an improvement that is already underway. Institutions might also develop a QEP around a project for which initial planning commenced shortly before the start of preparations for reaffirmation. Institutions may not, however, submit a QEP that describes initiatives that are fully realized.”
Quote taken from Handbook for Institutions Seeking Reaffirmation, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, August 2011 edition.