Georgetown College designs a QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan) called “Spirit, Mind, Action” which will be implemented soon.By AVA JORDAN
Last year, the phrases “QEP,” “SACS” and “accreditation process” were spread around campus, though they were rarely explained in a way students could fully understand. At that point, Georgetown’s QEP, Quality Enhancement Plan, was still in its earliest stages.
The QEP is a new portion of the evaluation part of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation process.
This evaluation for reaccreditation occurs every 10 years, though this is Georgetown’s first experience with the QEP, a five-year plan that the college will produce, implement and assess.
Because of this, it is absolutely necessary that the plan focuses on learning outcomes and the ability to assess progress with measurable goals. The plan also has to be developed in such a way that everyone on campus can completely buy into, even if they are not directly involved in every aspect of it.
Because of the nature of the QEP and the associated planning process, Georgetown has formed two committees so far to address the issue. Last year’s committee was formed to choose the topic for the plan by soliciting feedback from students, faculty and staff regarding what they saw as important aspects of the college experience.
The surveys provided by Georgetown showed that students are more focused on civic engagement and social responsibility as a campus, whereas the faculty wanted a focus on critical thinking skills.
Rosemary Allen said, “I am very pleased that the campus has reached consensus on developing a QEP focused on civic engagement. In our recent revision of the general education curriculum, we identified that area as a weakness. The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) identifies civic engagement and responsibility as an essential learning outcomes that should be developed during a liberal arts education. We are looking forward to the opportunity to use the QEP to strengthen that essential learning outcome.”
In order to accommodate both student and faculty concerns, this committee eventually settled on the topic “Spirit, Mind, Action: Civic Engagement at Georgetown College.”
Though the exact form of the QEP is still a work in progress, this year’s QEP Design Steering Committee is working with the topic to come up with a plan that accommodates the school’s needs as described in the surveys of the previous committee as well as the accreditation guidelines.
Despite the actual plan being a work in progress, the committee does have some direction with which to work. The “Spirit, Mind, Action” topic is not meant to just be a pretty slogan, but to also guide the overall arc of the QEP.
“Spirit” will focus on the growth of the personal awareness of GC students through the civic engagement process. This will recognize and be built on the fact that Georgetown is a faith-based institution with a goal of helping students learn about and develop their own faith.
“Mind” will focus on the academic aspect of civic engagement projects. Civic engagement opportunities can include readings and discussions as well as the development and use of critical thinking skills. This aspect could also include reflecting on civic engagement and social responsibility, as well as the use of intellect in these.
“Action” will involve a process of learning through action. In this portion of the QEP, students will be able to be actively involved in a civic engagement activity such as partnering with local organizations to work on important issues while exploring concepts regarding diversity, activism, sustainable change and more.
Despite these guidelines, however, the QEP Design Steering Committee has not yet developed a formal plan. Further student and faculty input on the direction of Georgetown’s QEP is welcome and encouraged.
Allen said, “The project is still in development, and I encourage students to get involved. Students are invited to click the QEP link on the GC Life section of my.georgetowncollege.edu to learn more about the program as it develops. Students can also leave comments and feedback. We welcome the opportunity to hear your opinions and include your ideas.”
As Allen explained, all QEP plans are still works in progress and opinions are necessary to put together the best possible plan for Georgetown College. As Todd Hamilton, chair of the committee, explained, there are “tremendous possibilities” but “we have to plan carefully.”