What is a Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP?

A Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP, is an initiative developed by a colleges or university to improve student learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning while accomplishing the mission of the institution. An acceptable QEP is one of the 12 Core Requirements of the reaffirmation of accreditation process administered by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The SACS Commission on Colleges is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states.

What is the focus or topic of Barry's QEP?

The focus or topic of Barry's QEP is personal and social responsibility. The actual title of the QEP is: “Fostering Personal and Social Responsibility through Experiential Learning.”

What do you mean by personal and social responsibility?

In the QEP, we define personal and social responsibility as “the obligation to strive for excellence, demonstrate integrity, develop competence in ethical reasoning and action, and contribute to the community as local and global citizens.” Elements of personal responsibility include taking responsibility for one's own learning and development, adhering to the academic honor code, reasoning and acting ethically to achieve one's goals and aspirations, and living a life that is aligned with one's moral principles. As students demonstrate personal responsibility, they achieve personal growth. Key elements of social responsibility are as follows: Becoming aware of the importance of contributing to the greater good; gaining civic knowledge and skills; and taking action with others to address issues affecting local, national, and/or global communities. Both personal responsibility and social responsibility involve taking seriously the perspectives of others – using others' points of view to inform one's own ideas and judgment; and engaging diverse perspectives for learning, citizenship, and work.

What really is experiential learning?

Experiential learning is often referred to as “learning by doing.” At Barry University, we prefer “learning by doing and reflecting.” In the QEP itself, experiential learning is defined as a process in which students acquire and apply knowledge, skills, and values in a relevant setting. The process involves linking theory to practice through student engagement complemented by critical reflection. Experiential learning encompasses high-impact practices such as service-learning, undergraduate research, diversity/global learning (through study abroad), internships, and capstones.

What are some forms of experiential learning?

Here's an alphabetic list of various forms of experiential learning: Adventure-based activity (e.g., ropes course, rock climbing); capstone courses and projects; community-based research; internships; practicum or field experiences, including student teaching and clinical placements; service-learning; study abroad; and undergraduate research.

What are the goals of Barry's QEP?

Barry's QEP has two major goals: (1) To facilitate learning that cultivates academic and personal integrity, perspective consciousness, and competence in ethical and moral reasoning; (2) To provide opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate socially responsive knowledge, values, and skills through engagement and collaboration with communities – local, regional, national, and global.

What are the intended learning outcomes of Barry's QEP?

There are three categories of learning outcomes: (1) Ethical and Moral Reasoning, (2) Engaging Diverse Perspectives, and (3) Community Engagement and Collaboration. Each category contains two specific outcomes. In the “Ethical and Moral Reasoning” category, the specific learning outcomes are: (1) Students take responsibility for their own learning and development, acting ethically to achieve personal growth; (2) Students examine the views and values that influence their own decision-making processes. In “Engaging Diverse Perspectives”: (1) Students gather, analyze, and thoughtfully use evidence and multiple perspectives to support their own ideas; (2) Students recognize the extent to which cultural standards, institutional practices, and values oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create/enhance privilege and power. In “Community Engagement and Collaboration”: (1) Students apply and explore the impact of the concepts, theories, and skills learned in class on issues affecting local and global communities; (2) Students take informed and responsible action, working collaboratively with others through a social justice framework, to address issues faced by the community.

Regarding the second “Community Engagement and Collaboration” outcome, what do you mean by “a social justice framework”?

Social justice is defined as involving ‘‘fairness and equity in resources, rights, and treatment for marginalized individuals and groups of people who do not share equal power in society because of their immigration, racial, ethnic, age, socioeconomic, religious heritage, physical ability, or sexual orientation status groups'' (Constantine et al., 2007, p. 24). A social justice framework is a basic conceptual structure that addresses the dynamics of power and privilege, various isms (i.e., oppressive and especially discriminatory attitudes or beliefs), and unjust institutional practices. Students critically explore social inequalities and such factors as race and ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status, ability, and sexual orientation. When students work collaboratively with others through a social justice framework, they band together to challenge inequities faced by marginalized communities and seek solutions to the root causes of social issues.

How will the learning outcomes be assessed?

Assessment of student learning outcomes will involve primarily a course-embedded approach. Faculty will assess QEP-focused outcomes as part of the regular assessment of learning outcomes from the course. Faculty understand that learning outcomes are explicit descriptions of what students will know, understand, and be able to do after completing the course. The QEP process will include the assessment (with a rubric) of student work products and reflection responses.

Will all students be involved in the QEP?

No; only new undergraduates will be involved in the QEP. To elaborate, all traditional undergraduates enrolled from academic year 2014-2015 will be involved in, or affected by, the QEP. They will take courses and take part in co-curricular programs or events that have been given the PSR (personal and social responsibility) designation.

Which courses have been given the PSR designation?

Several general education/distribution courses have been given the PSR designation. These include ENG 111: First-Year Composition, ENG 112: Techniques of Research, ENG 210: Writing about Literature, SOC 200: Perspective Consciousness and Social Justice, THE 201: Theology: Faiths, Beliefs, and Traditions. Courses in the majors also have been designated as PSR. These include CHE 490-01: Senior Seminar, CLB 440-01: Medical Microbiology, CS 305: Computer Science, ENG 404-01: Persuasive Writing, PSY 497-01 & 02: Senior Seminar, and SPA 315-01: Reading and Text Analysis Techniques. For a full list of PSR courses, see the Resources section of the QEP website.

What co-curricular programs and events have been given the PSR designation?

The following co-curricular programs and events have been given the PSR designation: College Brides Walk, Community Engagement Fair, Deliberative Dialogue, Emerging Leaders Program, Environmental Leadership Experience, Ethical Leadership Conference, Founders' Week Distinguished Lecture and Student Leader Dinner, Mission Town Hall, Psychology Research Forum, STEM Symposium, and the Undergraduate Mini Conference. (Freshman Experience Day, Science with a Twist, and the Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Colloquium were designated but were not implemented.)

What is the relationship between “PSR” courses and designated service-learning courses?

All designated service-learning courses are automatically designated as “PSR” because they meet at least one of the “Personal and Social Responsibility” criteria. In most cases, designated service-learning courses meet both criteria in the “Community Engagement and Collaboration” category.

What is the implementation schedule for Barry's QEP?

Implementation of Barry’s QEP began in academic year 2015–2016 and remains underway. In March 2020, the University submitted its QEP Impact Report to the SACS Commission on Colleges for review by its Committee on Fifth-Year Interim Reports. The major components of the initiative have been integrated into the undergraduate curriculum and into some co-curricular programs and projects.

How will the QEP as a whole be evaluated?

Evaluation of the QEP will draw heavily on student learning outcomes assessment data. In addition, two standardized instruments will be adapted for the overall evaluation of the QEP.

How may I obtain a copy of the QEP?

Whom should I contact if I need more information about the QEP?

Please contact the director of the QEP, Dr. Glenn Bowen: gbowen@barry.edu or 305-899-4711.