QEP encourages speaking up

Guilford College is getting re-accredited, and they need students’ help.

Every 10 years, Guilford is examined by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in order to continue being an accredited, degree-granting institution. As part of that process, they need to produce a Quality Enhancement Plan, focusing on improving one aspect of the College academically.

“I remember doing the last QEP on writing,” said David Limburg, professor of foreign languages and a member of the QEP planning committee, in a phone interview. “Most of the faculty that were involved really loved it — I did.”

As part of the re-accreditation process, representatives of SACS will be visiting the campus on Oct. 26 through 28 and may be asking students on campus about the QEP.

“Our accreditation as a college can be based on whether students are aware of the QEP,” said junior Gerardo Marcos-Ocampo, study body president, in a phone interview.

This time around the theme of the QEP is “Speak UP: Unifying Presentation for an Inclusive, Connected World,” with a focus on student presentations of all kinds. The topic was chosen as a result of a two-year process of collecting ideas from all different groups on campus and narrowing them down.

“You have to take a survey of what’s going on, what’s important on campus,” said Melanie Lee-Brown, professor of biology and chair of the QEP planning committee. “It has to be something we really feel is going to benefit the students, something we are good at but can get better at.”

The plan is listed in detail on Guilford’s website, with a link to it on the home page.

According to the website, “‘Speak UP’ is a motivating call to action. It conveys the critical importance of leveraging the full breadth and power of our communication skills and tools to help create a more inclusive, connected world.”

The QEP intentionally tries to embrace range of communication skills beyond what one might think of as a standard student presentation, including social media, video, storytelling and more.

“A presentation doesn’t have to be spoken,” said Limburg.

Also, the new focus on presentations does not necessarily mean that there will be a sharp increase in the number of presentations students are required to do. Instead, the focus will be on more effective teaching of presentation skills.

As part of this goal, Guilford is trying to implement Unified Design for Learning techniques in order to make sure that the presentations are as inclusive and relevant as possible, including incorporating accommodations for different learning styles or disabilities.

“It gives every student an equal opportunity to learn,” said Limburg. “We are going to learn how to make everything accessible.”

Among the new programs introduced as part of the QEP will be a one- or two-credit class on presentation and work on existing programs like Guilford Undergraduate Symposium, alongside the faculty development.

Within a year or two, the College also hopes to add a new video lab, called the Cube, to the library.

As faculty continue to develop new curriculum, students can give input on new or different ways of incorporating presentations.

“This is a time when students can have a second voice in the QEP,” said Lee-Brown.

Marcos-Ocampo looks forward to how “Speak UP” will be incorporated into classrooms and believes it will benefit students.

“We will be better prepared for the outside world,” he said.