What is a QEP?
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requires each university to have a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), which is a course of action for institutional improvement and the enhancement of student learning. Core Requirement 2.12, in The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, states that the institution must develop an “acceptable Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that includes an institutional process for identifying key issues emerging from institutional assessment and focuses on learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplishing the mission of the institution” (2012, p. 21).
Why is the QEP important?
The QEP is a plan of action developed by the faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni, and members of the larger Central Florida community that gives the university an opportunity to improve undergraduate student learning.
Who is working with the QEP?
Representatives from across campus should be involved in the QEP planning process and implementation, and everyone at UCF should be aware of related efforts. The QEP Coordinating Team is responsible for initial planning, and then the QEP Planning and Development Teams will develop the specific narrative, tasks, and assessment plan. The QEP process is supported by UCF’s SACSCOC Leadership Team, providing both human and financial resources.
Who will benefit from the a QEP?
Undergraduate students will be the primary beneficiaries of the QEP. However, graduate students, faculty, and staff can also benefit through the development of pedagogical skills, curricula, and new programs, as well as through the expansion of existing programs or additional research opportunities. Many of these benefits may also affect the larger Central Florida community.
How does the QEP benefit students?
The goal of the QEP is to focus on a specific area in which UCF can enhance undergraduate student learning. Because student learning is the core of the QEP and of UCF’s mission and strategic plan – the QEP is an opportunity to intentionally collaborate to address specific areas to improve student learning and the environments in which it takes place.
What is “student learning” in the QEP?
The QEP may be interpreted broadly by the university community and by SACSCOC. The SACSCOC website describes the QEP in the following manner:
The concept of quality enhancement is at the heart of the Commission’s philosophy of accreditation. Each institution seeking reaffirmation of Accreditation is required to develop a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). Engaging the wider academic community and addressing one or more issues that contribute to institutional improvement, the plan should be focused, succinct, and limited in length. The QEP describes a carefully designed and focused course of action that addresses a well-defined topic or issue(s) related to enhancing student learning. (http://www.sacscoc.org/genaccproc.asp)
This means that formulating student learning outcomes that demonstrate the impact of the QEP on students will be an integral part of the plan. SACSCOC defines student learning as changes in knowledge, skills, behaviors, or values.
What is meant by “student learning outcomes” in the QEP?
A student learning outcome is a statement of what students will learn during the implementation of the QEP. Student learning outcomes are the framework for the QEP and must be stated clearly, delineating what each student will learn as a participant in the QEP process. Additionally, student learning outcomes must be achievable and measurable.
An example of an achievable and measurable student learning outcome from the first QEP, What if? A Foundation for Information Fluency, based on the Information Literacy (Infolit) Modules follows:
Objective: Create or acquire accessible information literacy learning modules that can be used both by faculty and students.
Assessment: Learning modules will be pilot tested and retested at specific intervals by targeted groups to determine effectiveness and usability.
Measure: User survey will be employed at regular intervals. 90% of participants will rate the modules as “highly effective” or “effective.”
What are the elements of the QEP, and what constitutes a good QEP?
The QEP should be clear and concise and include the following basic elements:
- A concise descriptive title
- A topic that is relevant to the long-term improvement of undergraduate student learning with evidence showing why the topic was selected
- Goals for specific student learning outcomes to be accomplished by the end of the plan
- Evidence that QEP development process has engaged all appropriate UCF constituencies
- Consideration of best practices within the academy related to the QEP’s topic
- A logical task and assessment plan that includes necessary human and financial resources and a structure with detailed timelines, leadership responsibilities, resource allocation, and a detailed assessment schedule identifying both curricular and co-curricular participants
- A comprehensive plan for evaluating the QEP’s goals, with flexibility to make adjustments to achieve student learning outcomes
What was the first QEP at UCF?
What if? A Foundation for Information Fluency was the first QEP at UCF. The plan was completed between 2005 and 2011, and a report on the QEP was included in the Fifth-Year Interim Report approved by SACSCOC in December 2012. Many of the projects included in the first QEP have been institutionalized on campus, including the Information Fluency Conference, the Journal of Information Fluency, IF Travel Awards, Information Fluency Awards, the Information Fluency student awards through the John C. Hitt Library and the Burnett Honors College, and the Information Literacy (Infolit) Modules developed by the John C. Hitt Library and the Center for Distributed Learning with support from the Office of Information Fluency.
Why is UCF developing a new QEP?
A new QEP is required with each reaffirmation of accreditation by SACSCOC. UCF is scheduled for reaffirmation in 2016. A new topic will invigorate student learning across campus and provide a valuable focus for faculty development and curriculum enhancement.
Is it possible to stay with the previous QEP topic for this review period?
The SACSCOC Executive Council determined that an institution could utilize the original topic under the following conditions: The new QEP
- is derived from an assessment of its previous QEP,
- has distinct goals and institutional outcomes from its first QEP, and continues to focus on student learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning and quality enhancement. In any case, we expect that the infrastructures developed and lessons learned through the previous process will significantly shape our second QEP implementation in valuable ways as we continue to build excellence in undergraduate education.
Evaluation of the QEP
At the time of the reaffirmation process, the QEP will be evaluated on its focus, our institutional capability and commitment to implement the plan, our assessment plan, and the level of campus involvement in developing the plan. After the implementation period, UCF is required to provide a progress report to SACSCOC as part of the Fifth-Year Interim Report. External evaluators will use a rubric (SACSCOC Rubric for Assessing and Acceptable QEP) to inform their decision about whether the QEP is acceptable.
Answers to the Frequently Asked Questions come primarily from the following resources provided by SACSCOC.
Answers to the Frequently Asked Questions come primarily from the following resources provided by SACSCOC. Links to these sources may be found on the UCF QEP Resources page.
- The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, 5th ed.
- Resource Manual for the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, 2012 ed.
- Handbook for Institutions Seeking Reaffirmation, 2011 ed.