The Quality Enhancement Plan that will be implemented in 2011 as part of the university’s reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is beginning to take shape.
A draft of the plan to offer academically rigorous first-year seminars for all incoming freshmen is online at the QEP Web site, www.qep.uga.edu, and Rodney Mauricio, chair of the Quality Enhancement Plan Team, presented the draft to University Council last week.
Throughout spring semester, members of the QEP Team—composed of more than 30 faculty and administrators plus staff, student and alumni representatives—will continue to hold discussions with various groups on campus as the plan is fine-tuned.
“A lot of work has already gone into the process of developing a focused plan to improve student learning and a lot more work lies ahead,” said Bob Boehmer, associate provost for academic planning and the university’s liaison to SACS.
The QEP Team has been meeting since spring 2008 and spent the 2008-09 academic year generating ideas from the university community for ways to enhance the academic culture. Forums were held and students and alumni were surveyed on their opinions. More than 30 pre-proposals were submitted, which the QEP Team winnowed down to four for further development. From those, senior administrators and faculty representatives who comprise the Leadership Team decided to focus on freshmen seminars.
“There was a lot of support for this particular focus, which aims to create bonds between faculty and students early in their academic careers,” Boehmer said. “It was also felt that these seminars could incorporate elements of some of the other ideas put forth to strengthen student learning.”
The current draft plan was developed during fall semester by a working group headed by David Lee, vice president for research. The plan calls for mandatory seminars for all first-year students to be taught by tenured or tenure/track faculty, including emeritus faculty, starting in fall 2011. The one-credit-hour seminars, with a maximum of 18 students per class, will have an academic focus to be determined by faculty teaching the seminars, based on their scholarship and interests.
“The seminars would be akin to those that have been offered by the Franklin College First-Year Seminar Program,” Boehmer said. “But this plan represents an expansion both in the number of seminars and in the specific components of the seminars.”
The draft plan encourages faculty to develop seminars that include discussion of research, public service and international programs at UGA. It also encourages faculty to introduce students to the concept of a portfolio and how one can be created and used throughout their academic career.
The QEP is due to SACS in late December.