Guilford’s QEP tackles “Writing in the Majors

Members of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS/COC) will be on campus next week as part of the process of reaffirmation of Guilford’s accreditation.
Like other accredited institutions of higher education, Guilford undergoes a review every 10 years to ensure that it is in compliance with a common set of standards and requirements established by SACS/COC.
As part of that process, the college created a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), “Writing in the Majors,” which focuses directly on improving student learning.
“The students are the heart of the whole plan,” said Adrienne Israel, Vice President and Academic Dean.
The plan integrates writing into the academic majors as a way to develop critical thinking and communication skills that will prepare students for success in their chosen vocations.
“The data on vocational success is clear,” said Ken Gilmore, chair of the QEP working group and Political Science Department Chair. “Writing is necessary to one’s success and advancement, no matter what a student chooses to do.”
“Writing in the Majors” serves as a foundation for the two principle academic initiatives in the Strategic Long Range Plan: the Guilford Challenge and Principled Problem Solving.
“The QEP involves the Guilford Challenge because a lot of the challenge is about writing and reflection about what you learned and how that relates to your extra-curricular activities,” said college president Kent Chabotar.
The second initiative, Principled Problem Solving, involves the practical application of a Guilford education towards positive social change.
“The QEP engages Principled Problem Solving in both a student’s education and major,” said Chabotar. “Having learned how to write better in their major, they will become better Principled Problem Solvers.”
“Writing in the Majors” is a five-year plan with three phases. Starting with the adoption of common learning outcomes for the assessment of writing, the first phase will be a planning year, the second phase a pilot program involving two majors, and the third phase a full launching of the program with at least four academic programs being added in each successive year.
“It’s exciting to imagine the energy and intensity that could result as students engage diverse, innovative approaches to adapting and applying their ENG 102/HP-developed writing skills to the disciplinary genres demanded in their major courses,” said Cynthia Nearman, assistant Professor of English and Writing Director for the college. “The QEP promises student-centered learning taken to whole new level.”
Jerry Boothby, Vice President for Finance and Administration, noted that funding for the total proposed program includes a series of writing workshops and faculty development support, as well as opportunities for students and faculty to travel to academic conferences. The first year of the program is estimated to cost approximately $132,000 and is included in the college’s budget development process for FY 2007-08.
A new writing studio will be developed in the Learning Commons with professional and student tutors. Additional bibliographic support will also be available in the library.
Funding will also be used for further educational technologies, including the implementation of digital portfolios.
The five-year budget for the program is currently projected at approximately $859,000.
The QEP will not lead to faculty adding more writing to their course, nor does it mean that they will teach writing instead of the key concepts of their respective disciplines.
The plan will instead focus on the development of the common learning outcomes to transform the way they structure and employ reading and writing assignments. Through this, students will learn and use the central theories, methods, and foundational content of their majors with power, skill, and professionalism.
“My main hope is that students will see this as a tool for them to use in every area of life,” said Dean Israel.
SACS/COC will visit campus on Nov. 14 and 15. Members of the on-site committee will meet with students, faculty, and administration to discuss compliance issues. This includes walking around campus to ask students about their knowledge and support of Guilford’s QEP.