Frequently Asked Questions
What is a QEP?
A Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is a course of action for institutional improvement that addresses one or more issues contributing to the enhancement of student learning. SACS notes in their Handbook for Reaffirmation of Accreditation that "student learning is at the heart of the mission of all institutions of higher learning. . .”
Developing a QEP as a part of the reaffirmation process is an opportunity and an impetus for the institution to enhance overall institutional quality and effectiveness by focusing on an issue or issues the institution considers important to improving student learning. The QEP must emerge from the institution's current planning and evaluation processes and must be compatible with the university’s strategic plan. The QEP should not be seen as an "add-on" but rather it should become an integral part of the institution and its activities.
Why do we need a QEP?
Members of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) are coming to UNO in Spring 2015 to “reaffirm” UNO’s regional accreditation. We provide two major reports to SACS before that visit. The first, the Compliance Report, will detail how UNO meets all SACS standards for quality. The second is the QEP.
Who is working on the QEP?
Everyone. In Spring 2014, UNO will select a topic for the QEP. That effort is being led by Dr. Donna Dickerson and team of faculty, staff and students. Once the topic has been selected and approved by the University leadership, another committee will be charged with writing the actual plan.
How does the QEP help students?
Aside from being a major SACS requirement, the whole idea of a Quality Enhancement Plan is to prioritize one area where UNO can improve student learning, and spend 5 years making improvements in that area.
What is meant by "student learning" in the QEP?
According to SACS, "student learning is defined broadly. I may address a wide range of topics or issues such as changes in students' knowledge, skills, behaviors, and/or values that may be attributable to the collegiate experience. In all cases, the goals and evaluation strategies must be clearly linked to improving the quality of student learning.
This means that formulating intended student learning outcomes that demonstrate the impact of the QEP on students will be an integral part of the plan.
What is a student learning outcome?
An SLO is a statement of what students will learn during the QEP. Because the student learning outcomes (SLOs) frame the entire QEP, it is extremely important that SLOs be stated clearly in terms of what students will learn. In addition, an SLO must be achievable and measureable and plan.
In general, a Student Learning Outcome completes the sentence, “After completing this course or program, a successful student will be able to….”
What are the elements of a QEP?
The plan must be "forward looking" and launches a process that can move the institution into the future. Some have even called it “transformational.” It should be characterized by creative, engaging, and meaningful learning experiences for students. When the plan is written, it will include a literature review supporting the plan, statements of goals, student learning outcomes, descriptions of the means of assessment and evaluation, how the plan will be executed along with a detailed timeline, and a fiscal plan indicating adequate resources and institutional support for the activities outlined.
What is the scope of the QEP?
The QEP may focus on a current institutional challenge; however, it can also focus on a strength that we would like to enhance. It can also focus on a limited population of students, although it should be broad-based enough so that all academic units can participate in or benefit from the plan.
Evaluation of the QEP
At the time of our reaffirmation, the QEP will be evaluated based on its focus, our institutional capability and commitment to implement the plan, how the QEP will be assessed, and the level of campus involvement in developing the plan. After five years, the university is required to provide a progress report to SACS. External evaluators will use a SACS rubric to guide their decision about whether the QEP is acceptable.