QEP seeks to foster pupil engagement

The clock is ticking down to Dec. 8, 2009 and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ (SACS) reaffirmation of Northern Kentucky University’s accreditation. The next step of the process is to finalize the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) and put it into effect on campus.

A draft of the QEP was sent to SACS for review Jan. 9 and will soon be made available to NKU students via the university’s Web site. General education, an area the university has been working to improve for the past decade, is the target of the QEP with ‘active learning’ as the catch phrase for the plan of action.

‘Active learning requires more than just passive listening and faculty passively lecturing,’ said Patrick Moynahan, Vice Provost. He explained that the current generation is socially plugged in and today’s students are not passive learners.

The plan is for more student engagement through ideas such as group presentations, field trips and in-class discussions. A simple example that was used is to have the professor lecture for 20 minutes and then take a small break for students to review their notes and promote a short discussion or debate on the lecture material. The idea is to get away from the model of a straight 45-minute lecture where the information goes in one ear and out the other.

Throughout the course of the year the administration will be looking for insight from students as to what they think works well and what they would like to see in the future. Examples of this have already been seen with the preliminary Senior Assessment Survey. There is also talk of a Facebook page specific to addressing the issues of QEP to further open the discussion up to students.’

‘The keyword is ‘engage,’ or to activate the thinker,’ Moynahan said.’ ‘The way students learn today is far different from when I was a pup. The QEP has provided a great introspection on what we can do for our students.’

The QEP changes to the general education curriculum are tentatively planned to roll out in fall 2010. An internal peer review of the requirements for SACS accreditation showed that both the core and federal requirements are in compliance with SACS policies.
Some of the comprehensive standards were found to be in partial compliance and one area, terminal degrees of faculty (meaning) the faculty member needs to hold the highest degree in their field), was deemed in non-compliance’ as of a Nov. 17, 2008.

Since then, the university has worked to rectify the issues by assisting faculty members in pursuing their degrees’ and feels there will be no problems with the SACS review. ‘
An on-site review of NKU will be done by SACS on Feb. 23 – 25. The response to this will be July 1, and give the university till Dec. 8 to make any corrections if needed.