SECTION 7: INSTITUTIONAL PLANNING AND EFFECTIVENESS
7.2 QUALITY ENHANCEMENT PLAN
The institution has a Quality Enhancement Plan that (a) has a topic identified through its ongoing, comprehensive planning and evaluation processes; (b) has broad-based support of institutional constituencies; (c) focuses on improving specific student learning outcomes and/or student success; (d) commits resources to initiate, implement and complete the QEP; and (e) includes a plan to assess achievement.
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In Fall 2018 the university began a conversation about its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). In the year that followed, the university appointed a faculty committee to guide the process of developing the QEP. The exploration of a theme included campus-wide surveys, focus groups of students, staff and faculty, and review of institutional data, leading to the topic of the QEP slowly emerging. The QEP for N.C. A&T is T.E.A.M—Toward Elevated Attitudes in Mathematics. Periodically, the QEP interim director updates the university’s SACSCOC Steering Committee on its work, and seeks advice and direction from the committee. The QEP Update from February 12, 2020, is provided.
In Spring 2018, institutional data showed that 33 percent of the students who enrolled in a general education mathematics course earned a D, an F or a W (they withdrew from the course). This means that the university’s DFW rate for its first math course was 33 percent. With one-third of its students failing or withdrawing from mathematics, and the focus groups most frequently identifying mathematics as a significant challenge for students, the institution decided to focus its QEP on mathematics, with a goal of decreasing the DFW rate in general education mathematics courses.
This QEP aligns very well with the university’s mission:
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University advances knowledge through scholarly exchange and transforms society with exceptional teaching, learning, discovery and community engagement. An 1890 land-grant doctoral research institution with a distinction in STEM and commitment to excellence in all disciplines, North Carolina A&T creates innovative solutions that address the challenges and economic needs of North Carolina, the nation and the world.
The institution is committed to distinction in STEM and excellence in all disciplines. Mathematics is a critical foundation competency.
(a) Topic Identified Through Ongoing, Comprehensive Planning and Evaluation Processes
Mathematics is a critical component in a college education. The university asserts that in order for the students at to function in the 21st century, they must know how math functions all around them.
The University held several listening sessions with faculty, staff, and students in which feedback was requested to the following question: If money were not a constraint, what would you do to improve the quality of undergraduate education?
Two themes emerged from the answers to this question:
1. Improve performance in mathematics.
2. Help students to do better mathematics so they are better prepared to progress in their academic programs.
Considering that these are essentially the same, it was clear that the university’s QEP should address student attitude toward mathematics and their performance in mathematics as a component of overall student success. The QEP topic, T.E.A.M.: Toward Elevated Attitudes in Math, allows the institution to focus both on improving performance in General Education math courses and in connecting improved performance to overall student success, which is characterized by improved graduation rates.
The QEP goals are to
1. improve student attitudes toward mathematics courses.
2. improve performance in mathematics, which will be demonstrated by decreasing DFWs in general education mathematics courses.
3. increase four-year graduation rates by reducing repeated attempts in general education mathematics courses.
4. reduce time to degree.
(b) Has Broad-Based Support of Institutional Constituencies
The university is committed to ensuring the success of this learning initiative. From the level of the Chancellor and the Provost, to the department chairs, faculty, and student leaders, the full force of the institution is behind this project. This support will include
1. appointing a full-time QEP Director, most likely a reassigned faculty member who is tenured and is at least at the associate professor rank.
2. providing at least two graduate assistants (Gas), who are highly skilled in mathematics and are well-versed in My Math Lab (or future textbook software), and SPSS software to support students outside of their regular classes and labs. These GAs will most likely be stationed in the library, 20 hours per week in the evenings.
3. embedding peer-tutors in general education math courses to support students who are experiencing learning challenges.
4. developing curriculum maps that will help students see how the skills learned in general education math courses will be used in upper-division courses.
5. updating and equipping of learning spaces to enhance comfort and provide state-of-the-art technology resources.
6. supporting the continued professional development of the math faculty, honing their teaching skills.
7. supporting the creation of new, more discipline-relevant courses, as well as half-semester courses, to provide students with more options for meeting their general education math requirements.
8. supporting the development or acquiring of appropriate assessment tools to gather data and measure performance in mathematics.
The resources listed above reflect the commitment of the university and will help ensure the success of the QEP. Assessments will be done annually or biennially to provide the information needed to guide the QEP initiatives.
(c) Focuses on Improving Specific Student Learning Outcomes and/or Student Success
The QEP will focus on student success with a goal of decreasing the DFW rate in general education mathematics courses. This QEP will be designed with the intent of instilling a desire to learn math and a desire to attend math courses regularly, while providing more mathematics assistance opportunities so that students have an abundance of resources to be successful in their courses.
(d) Commits Resources to Initiate, Implement and Complete the QEP
The university is committed to providing the financial and other resources needed to initiate, implement, and successfully complete the QEP. These resources will include:
1. Renovated space that will host mathematics labs and classrooms in Marteena Hall.
2. Salary and benefits for the QEP Director.
3. Consulting fees for the development and administration of assessments.
4. Stipends for Graduate Assistants and student tutors
5. Funds to purchase equipment, furniture, software and other educational materials to support the teaching of general education mathematics
6. Continued professional development support, on-campus and away for all who teach mathematics, both full-time and part-time
7. Review of policies and practices around the scheduling of extra-curricular activities to ensure that these activities are not conflicting with class schedules, which creates a serious dilemma for students.
The Provost will maintain an open-door to the QEP Director, to ensure that the project has the attention and support that it needs to be successful.
(e) Includes a Plan to Assess Achievement
The QEP will be assessed in two primary ways:
1. Learning will be assessed in each section of each general education math class, as is now done. Data will be mined from the university’s Banner System and will be used to determine the DFW rates for each general education math course, and overall for all general education math courses each semester. The data will show whether performance is improving, declining or holding steady. The data will also help the QEP and the Math Department to determine any corrective actions that may be needed, such as working with other campus units like the Center for Teaching Excellence.
2. The university’s Institutional Research unit will provide the QEP project with annual data on General Education Course Completion that highlight on-time completion of the Gen Ed math requirement.
Focus groups, held each semester, or at least once per academic year, will help to determine whether students’ attitudes toward mathematics are improving. These and other formative assessments will aid in adjusting strategies over the period of the QEP. Of course, the major QEP assessment report will be provided at the end of the fifth year of implementation.
The institution has demonstrated that planning for its QEP is in progress. A QEP topic has been identified through ongoing, comprehensive planning and evaluation; there is broad-based support from institutional constituencies; the initiatives will focus primarily on improving student success; the university has committed resources to initiate, implement and complete the QEP; and the planning includes assessment of achievement.
1. QEP Update—PowerPoint Presentation Slides
2. QEP Summary - T.E.A.M.: Toward Elevated Attitudes in Math