Each post-secondary institution which is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC; see Sec. 2.5.) is required to develop a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) every ten years. Each institution is asked to examine key issues which are emerging on campus and which have to do with student learning in the context of the institution’s mission. The institution then develops goals to address one or more such issues as a way of improving the academic life of the college or university. Institutions must also show that they have the means to implement and assess the effectiveness of the components of their plan, making use of broad-based campus resources and constituencies.
After examining the education mission and programs then in existence at Oglethorpe, and comparing those to what current research was saying regarding educational efficacy and student success, the QEP Topic Selection Committee (comprised of faculty, students and administrators) developed Oglethorpe’s first QEP during the 2006-07 academic year. Our QEP, “Fostering a Culture of Engaged Learning for First-Year Students,” has as its focus increasing the engagement of our first-year students with one another and with the institution, its curriculum and its co-curriculum. In 2013, Oglethorpe took a critical appraisal of the first five years of operation of the QEP and made some adjustments. These adjustments were phased in during the 2014-15 academic year.
As it is currently constituted, the goals addressed by Oglethorpe’s QEP are: To ensure a successful transition to college by achieving knowledge, skills and abilities pertaining to:
- Oral communication.
- Ethical reasoning.
- Information literacy.
- Active citizenship.
- Integrative learning.
Goals 1-4 are addressed in the course FYS 101 First Year Seminar (which is for new freshmen) and OGL 101 Introduction to Oglethorpe (which is for new transfer students). Goal 5 is addressed and reinforced through the Petrel Points program (see Sec. 10.18.) and through many of the projects and events affiliated with the center for civic engagement (see Sec. 10.3.).
Oglethorpe has begun developing its second QEP. It is centered on the theme of altering first-year advising to increase student success. Many details will be forthcoming during the 2016-2017 academic year. It is anticipated that this new program will become operational at the outset of the 2017-2018 academic year.