The following is a list of QEP themes proposed by various constituents between March and April 2017.
A systematic effort to engage the university community in outstanding communication could take many forms, but among them would be 1) a reinvigoration of the university’s commitment to writing-across-the-curriculum, 2) a renewed emphasis on writing-intensive instruction in a digital age, one informed by best practices for introducing writing, speech, and other media in all disciplines today, 3) coordination of existing sources of co-curricular and extracurricular support for communication, 4) development of faculty institutes on the model of the Multicultural Course Transformation Institutes, with a focus on development faculty as teachers, writers, speakers, artists, and digital communicators, 5) sponsorship of writing groups and workshops for faculty, graduate students, and students, and 6) development of interdisciplinary research on the pedagogy and disciplinary applications of communication that bridging across the academic colleges, University College, the Honors College, and the Graduate College. Such programs would develop sequentially over the five years of the planning cycle and build on existing support services, curriculum, and foundations in University College.
The effects of the QEP will be measured by statistics concerning the number and demographics of members of campus community involved in one or more of the efforts to improve communication, the breadth of involvement across campus and the involvement of the community, and the effects upon student retention and, ultimately, their graduation rates. Communication can also be measured as a factor contributing to the research productivity of students and faculty.
This is a timely matter, as is evident by some recent studies/articles:
There is an organization that sponsors a Healthy Campus Award and here is an excerpt from their announcement of recent winning campuses: (from http://www.activeminds.org/about/media-center/press-releases/6-press-releases/1386-six-colleges-named-winners-of-2016-healthy-campus-award)
“In recognizing the healthiest college campuses in the nation, the Healthy Campus Award celebrates institutions that are transitioning from a traditional, infirmary model of student health care toward a public health approach to student well-being – a change of emphasis from getting healthy to staying well. This focus on awareness and prevention also encompasses multiple dimensions of health (not just physical health) to include mental, social, and financial well-being.”
1. A facility set aside for faculty, staff & students to gather for meetings, seminars, lectures & academic discussions.
2. A residential hall dedicated to graduate & doctorial students and their families to help establish the community.
3. Graduate & doctorial assistantships and Full scholarships for students to attend full time that will allow students to focus on their studies, research and to publish.
4. Involve graduate/doctorial students in grant writing & implementation across disciplines to expand their research & publications.
5. Funds for guest lecturers and visiting faculty.
6. Opportunities to study abroad conducting research or making presentation.
Currently students must search a variety of programs and departments to find the specific resources they need. I understand plans are underway to move most of these programs to the Alkek Library. But even with a common location, each program now operates independently, with little coordination to meet students’ holistic needs, or to preclude inefficient duplication of efforts. An expanded, coordinated program could offer expertise in diagnosing and triaging student needs and making recommendations for specific tutoring, labs, interventions, or mentoring to help students succeed.
The essence of the QEP would be to bundle existing programs so that students could easily find the support resource they need. The QEP would ensure that all programs are staffed, funded, and assessed to help all Texas State students (graduate or undergraduate) master the competencies (e.g., speaking, writing, computing, researching, calculating) needed to be successful. Both efficiency and effectiveness could be accomplished if there were greater coordination among these various successful programs. Each program could still be managed by those with the appropriate expertise (e.g., the Department of English would continue to provide subject matter expertise/leadership for the Writing Lab; the Department of Communication Studies would continue to provide leadership/expertise for managing the Communication Lab).
Texas State seeks to enhance its research profile. Additional student research competencies could be added to the TSSSC that are not currently targeted, such as assistance with student research projects (including survey, experimental, and qualitative research project design and implementation), assisting with research data analysis, and other comprehensive and specific research functions and tasks.
The TSSSC could also be allied with existing intervention programs embedded in PACE or even Career Services to enhance student learning, retention and career placement. This success of the program could be documented through a variety of direct measures of student learning outcomes in fulfillment of SACS requirements.
Knowledge of one’s own culture and the cultures of others is important. However, true multicultural competence requires more than knowledge, it requires in-depth understanding of the culture. Such deep understanding of the culture is best achieved through immersion in the culture and that usually requires linguistic mastery, personal relationships, and appreciation for the values and worldviews dominant in the culture.
More and longer study abroad programs would be a part of the plan. Faculty and student exchange programs formally established with universities in other countries would be part of the plan.
Although we teach new students how to tell the difference between a good and bad source for writing term papers, we need to extend the lesson to the use and analysis of information in everyday life and not relying on 144 characters to get the whole story, as well as how to use the powers of their own observation and reasoning. Yogi Berra reportedly once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching,” and whether or not he did, it’s powerfully true when it comes to identifying and questioning the information we get each day (http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/09/the-50-greatest-yogi-berra-quotes).
With current investigations into “fake news” intended to skew a national election [http://www.cbsnews.com/news/russian-bots-still-interfering-in-u-s-politics-after-election-expert/], and studies showing large portions of people who get their news from friends/social media rather than reputable news sources [http://www.journalism.org/2016/12/15/many-americans-believe-fake-news-is- sowing-confusion/], there is plenty of empirical evidence this is a legitimate problem today in our culture.
Educating students to be better “thinkers” not only enhances their learning experience directly, through truly understanding, but allows them to contribute to and benefit from a better shared learning environment by being able to fight falling prey to fear or fanaticism when confronted with the misinformation we see today (and perhaps without end), and thereby increases the overall effectiveness of the institution.
Opportunities for broad-based participation are wide-spread. For example:
Research opportunities are even more plentiful, with the side-benefit of improving things outside the university. For example:
Our perspective is based on our work creating the Transformative Service Collaborative at Texas State. Here is a link to our web site: http://marketing.mccoy.txstate.edu/collaborative.html
As we declare on our web site - “The Transformative Service Collaborative at Texas State is an innovative transdisciplinary collaborative for improving human well-being for individuals, families, cities, and society.”
We have broad goals of helping the world, but we have very local goals of helping Texas State students improve their well-being. Our video makes an important connection to our famous graduate President Lyndon Johnson’s concept of a Great Society.
We think there are five important aspects of student well-being that deserve the focus and effort that a QEP theme would create:
Finally, all five of these important aspects of student well-being are part of essential services that students need to succeed at Texas State. Our university should work on student well-being from a systems perspective to fully support student success on every aspect of well-being! We should also think seriously about how our student well-being affects the well-being of San Marcos and work with the City of San Marcos to help San Marcos help our students improve their well-being.
The next QEP Theme should be Student Well-Being! Texas State can and should work with our students to make sure that their personal well-being is no worse (or perhaps even better) than when they started at Texas State!
Finally, we think Student Well-Being would be a unifying theme for every student, faculty, and staff member. It is notable that many different parts of our Texas State colleges, departments, and support services concern some aspect of student well-being!
Number of publications
Number of undergraduate theses
Number of graduate theses and dissertations
Increases in graduate school applications
Increases in student application to research programs (URF, Freeman Fellows, etc.)
Increases in professional degrees
Increases in financial resources from external sponsors
Increases in internships
Increase in retention rates
Increase in graduation rates
Quality of incoming freshman classes
According to Texas State’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Overview document, an effective QEP encourages actions that support the mission, addresses and area of challenge, targets a substantial portion of the student body, and yields measureable change.
One challenge posed by the ever-present nature of ethical issues and values is developing ethical sensitivity, the awareness of the ethical and value dimensions of situations, decisions, behaviors, processes, and outcomes. All-too-often the ethical dimensions of a situation or decisions go unnoticed. A second challenge is living and working in ethically responsible ways. We have some support in this pursuit in codes of ethics, honor codes, professional codes, and law, but none of these is a substitute for ethical reasoning and judgment (in fact, following a code or law requires reasoning and judgment). Faced with these challenges, and the lack of clear guidance or support for developing and nurturing ethical responsibility, people often settle for a compliance approach – determining what will keep them from trouble, legal or otherwise.
We can do better than this! Texas State University could be a national leader in creating ethical culture by cultivating a culture of ethical research and academic integrity and an ethical community for all Bobcats. We can develop resources and skills for faculty members who want to better integrate ethics into their courses, we can nurture ethical community from the residence halls to administrative decisions and shared governance, we can further a culture of academic integrity by building on our existing Honor Code and Honor Code system, and we can be an model of research integrity as we grow our graduate and research programs toward R1 status. A QEP focused on creating and nurturing ethical culture would build on many existing partnerships on campus, many stretching across departments, schools, or colleges.
Gallup Research recently published a study focused on student success and how it’s measured, highlighting a broken link between higher education and the work force. In 2015, “98% of Chief Academic Officers rate their institution as very/somewhat effective at preparing students for the world of work,” while “11% of business leaders strongly agree that graduating students have the skills and competencies their businesses need.” So how do we mind the gap?
“If graduates strong agree that they were ‘emotionally supported’ during college, the odds that they are engaged in their work and thriving in their overall well-being doubled”
“Graduates who had ‘experiential and deep learning’ have a higher likelihood of being engaged in their work (59% vs 38%), and more are thriving (14% vs. 10%)”
“Graduates who interacted with people from difference backgrounds on a regular basis in college are 2.2x as likely to say their education was worth the cost” --Gallup, Inc. 2015
So how do we fare at Texas State? After a very brief analysis of the 2016 results from the National Survey of Student Engagement conducted here at Texas State University, it appears we fared pretty well. The good news is: our students don’t look incredibly different from those at other large Texas public universities and other Emerging Research Institutions, but we certainly have areas we can improve. Relative to other ERUs, Texas State seniors fared lower at a rate statistically significant among the following:
For decades, research has shown us that increased student engagement can lead to increased retention and graduation rates—but today, research is continuing to show us that student engagement can not only lead to increased student success while on a college campus, but even beyond life after Texas State. If we can further prepare our graduates for success through increased student engagement, I believe we will not only see increased graduation rates, but we will likely see increased job and graduate school placement rates, alumni participation, but most importantly, our graduates will see the value of a Texas State education.