QEP Proposed Themes
The following is a list of QEP themes proposed by various constituents between March and April 2017.
- Extend our commitment to PACE. Since it's inception we've focused on career counseling, yet we don't have a robust effort to connect students to jobs. Career Services does an admirable job for the number of people and space they have, but that area would benefit from additional resources and new programs.
- University-wide promotion of communication, an essential component of university education since its inception in Paris and Oxford, and one that extends to every unit on the campus, one that Texas State has affirmed in its core curriculum and has institutionalized in its writing-intensive requirement, support for curricular and co-curricular communication activities and centers. Effective communication in writing, speech, and varied digital and arts media pertains to every student on campus, from the remedial through the doctoral, and it extends to all faculty and staff as well.
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.
- Global interdependency, everything from the physical environment to the global food chain to cultural interaction, cross-fertilization, and intermingling. Such an approach will involve all disciplines and transform Texas State University into a leading center of research, teaching, and service that embraces the world in all of its integral dimensions--physical, aesthetic, geographic, spiritual, and cultural. I believe with such a dynamic QEP, Texas State will become a world-class university for the study of theoretical science, technology, social science, humanities, the arts, applied arts, engineering, and business, and show simultaneously how these many disciplinary approaches to understanding life and earth are complementary and synergistic.
- Improve writing across the disciplines. Students always seem to struggle with writing, especially at the introductory levels. They also get confused by differing expectations and standards
- Student wellness. Given our student demographics and the higher rate of obesity in several minority populations that now make the majority of our students, perhaps student wellness should be our QEP theme. There are certainly thinks all divisions and academic programs can do to foster a climate of support for holistic wellness (exercise, nutrition, psychology, recreation, health care, ...). We ranked well as a physical activity promoting university on the first national survey primarily because of our size and low number of universities that responded with full data. The pool will only depend in the future and a theme like this will be attractive to students/parents who want a supportive undergraduate experience, not just a face in the crowd. The poor job schools like Penn State, Baylor, and BYU have done with major athletics scandals, leaves an opening for schools like ours to establish a brand that is supportive of the whole student—protecting their current and future health.
- Transforming students. Not only providing students an education or a career path, but transforming them into intentional, critical, and engaged citizens. There is a book focused on this responsibility of Higher Education. https://jhupbooks.press.jhu.edu/content/transforming-students
- Expanding student research and creative activities; instruments for learning
- Preparing today's students for tomorrow's professions
- Cleaner restrooms. Men's restrooms in the Derrick Hall are in horrendous and unacceptable condition. Third world public bathrooms smell and look more tolerable than those.
- Improving student writing. Here are links to some universities who have a writing-related QEP:
- “Improving Student Writing” at The University of Mississippi: http://www.olemiss.edu/qep/qepfaqs.html;
- ”Writing to Learn Matters” at Columbia State: http://www.columbiastate.edu/qep;
- “Writing Excellence Initiative” at Elon University: http://www.elon.edu/docs/e-web/administration/provost/qep/QEP%20Report-Writing%20Excellence%20Initiative.PDF;
- “Developing Academic Writing Skills through the Study of Critical Issues within the Disciplines” at Erskine College: https://www.erskine.edu/erskine/qep/
- Information literacy. Alkek Library has begun incorporating the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)'s new Framework for Information Literacy into our library instruction classes across the curriculum. The more that faculty, staff and students understand the importance and implications of information literacy, the better equipped they will be to evaluate information - both online and otherwise.
This is a timely matter, as is evident by some recent studies/articles:
- Student wellness. There is great need to bolster student success (including retention) by supporting student wellness. This could easily be accomplished by weaving most divisions of the university, bringing faculty and staff together to build a culture that supports student overall wellness (which would include strategies to support 8 dimensions; physical, social, spiritual, financial, environmental, intellectual, emotional, and occupational).
- Professionalism. Beyond the Classroom: Enhancing Professionalism with Sharp Skills
- Student well-being. The wellness of our students cuts across all colleges and divisions as the students are the reason we are here. Well students are better performing students in all ways – academically, athletically, socially, emotionally, health, etc. (just like well people are better performing people in all ways). We have a very supportive and nurturing culture already, and we can do more to intentionally support the well-being of our students.
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.”
- C-GREAT: Colloquium - Graduate Research & Educational Academy of Teaching. Develop a community of graduate faculty and students at the masters & doctorate level working together researching, publishing, developing concepts and implementing new programs of study as the university strives to become the top research institution in Texas, the United States and globally.
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.
- STEM and the system of international units. On campus I have noticed general ignorance and hostility to SI units, the units used in STEM. All courses should be required to use SI units, PERIOD.
- A focus on graduating seniors. Following the success of the first QEP that focused on academic and career exploration, it would be appropriate to continue that progression by bookending the process with a focus on graduating seniors. Specifically, developing with a program devoted to helping students with the next step whether it is finding a job, pursuing an internship, considering graduate school, or doing volunteer work. It could also focus on becoming a contributing member of the community and staying connected to Texas State.
- A comprehensive plan for undergraduate research (UGR) across colleges. Many studies have shown the value of undergraduate research programs in attracting high ability students to an institution and also their value in retaining students. Below are some more specific ideas, none are original with me. It may be the case that TXSU is already engaged in some or all of these ideas in which a QEP would help amplify their visibility and impact.
- Establish an undergraduate research office that is more visible by aligning it with the Research Office
- Name some incoming freshmen as “undergraduate research fellows” and work hard to find research experiences for them
- Develop a list of faculty who are interested in UGR, maintain the list, and publish this list through the UGR Office
- Find out who/what/where is already engaged in UGR either through REUs or NIH Bridges programs or LBJ Stem Institute or other types of programs
- Develop large proposals to fund UGR programs, most likely, this would be coordinated through the UGR Office
- Provide data and other types of support for faculty who are writing UGR into their proposals
- Provide funds for undergraduate research and creative opportunities (URCO) proposals and for undergraduate travel to conferences
- Promote “posters on the hill”
- We might be able to distinguish our UGR program from others in the state and nation by understanding how first-generation to college students and underrepresented minority students come to participate in UGR programs and the extent to which they programs make a difference in their retention and career trajectories
- Participate in the Council on Undergraduate Research
- Working hard for inclusion of all persons (WHIP). Texas State University, like most universities has been challenged by hate directed at marginalized communities. An educational experience that exposes our students to the diverse multicultural world and engages them in the concepts and ideas will best prepare them for their post university future. In addition, as a majority, minority school, we are in a particularly good position to embrace the diversity in which we live and build upon the conversations that are already taking place on our campus surrounding all forms of diversity. WHIP will strive to drive inclusion into all areas of student life and build a rich and diverse educational experience.
- The sophomore experience. To build on our successful freshman supports and encourage retention into the junior year.
- New literacies, digital literacies, critical literacy, and data literacy, for all students for 21st century skills.
- Technology in student learning and success. We could have one [QEP] that would incorporate the use of technology in student learning and student success and that the Learning Commons could be a part of that.
- Student mentoring with alumni. Involving our alumni in mentoring students for student success, career counseling and career placement.
- Texas State Student Success Center (TSSSC). This program would facilitate the integration of all existing university-wide labs (e.g., Writing Lab, Communication Lab, Math Lab, SLAC, and other student-focused behavioral and cognitive development programs) to help students learn essential skills and competencies. All labs that are currently supported with funds from either campus-wide (such as student service fees) or department-specific funds would be enhanced with additional resources to augment the coordinated support provided to help students learn.
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.
- Multicultural competency via study abroad and international exchange of faculty and students. Mark Twain said it well about 150 years ago: “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts” (Twain, 1869, p. 498).
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.
- Focus on internationalization. If we want to be competitive in our increasingly globalized world as an institution of higher education, we should prioritize a focus on internationalization. We should expand our study abroad initiatives, promote new avenues for the international circulation of faculty and students through exchange programs and other formulas, and strengthen our international profile through initiatives that give us more visibility abroad. Considering our status as a HSI, our location in the proximity of Mexico's border, and the Hispanic background of a high percentage of our students, we should strengthen ties with institutions in Spanish-speaking countries, and target the population from those countries as potential international students in our university.
- Critical thinking. Floating in a Turbulent Sea of Information: Creating a Culture of Critical Thinking to Separate Fact from Fiction. With the preponderance of fake, biased, and poorly written/researched “news” and information across a smorgasbord of all media outlets (including “legitimate” news sources) [http://www.journalism.org/2016/12/15/many-americans-believe-fake-news-is-sowing-confusion/, and http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/], and the trust of the news media at an all-time low [http://www.gallup.com/poll/195542/americans-trust-massmedia-sinks-new-low.aspx], it is critical we teach our future leaders how to think, reason, and use common sense and observation to ferret out and separate the truth from opinion (or satire). The fate of our republic depends on a public that is not only “educated” through memorization of information, but also able to think and reason-out the truth for themselves when more information (not all of which is factual) is available than can be processed/self-researched. Not to do so risks a public that is able to be swayed simply by whatever they hear/read the most. Exacerbating that, is the fact that the abundance of media sources we have today (many of which are biased) allows people to only go the sources that tell them what they want to hear, and not necessarily what they NEED to hear.
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:
- Philosophy and Math departments teach logic and statistical analysis. (We all know how statistics can “lie” by leaving critical details out.) Both Statistics and Critical thinking classes could be made mandatory for all students.
- Freshman Seminar can include similar elements and the Office of the Dean of Students can stress these principles through mentorship of student organizations and the Leadership Institute.
- The College of Education can reinforce the need to grow critical thinking skills among school-age children among their teacher candidates.
- A steady and proactive dissemination of factual information from all branches of university leadership will also strengthen the perception of the learning environment and lessen the impact of any potential negative actions from the few.
Research opportunities are even more plentiful, with the side-benefit of improving things outside the university. For example:
- The College of Education can work with primary and secondary schools to instill critical thinking early and evaluate things like you find in this story: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/29/health/school-kids-fight-fake-news- trnd/?iid=ob_homepage_deskrecommended_pool.
- The College of Business Administration can look into effective business models for news outlets that are more concerned with telling the story right, rather than first (usually with incomplete and often speculative or misleading information), or employing sensational and misleading headlines just to generate revenue by counting clicks and hits on-line.
- The College of Fine Arts and Communication can investigate better ways to tell the whole important story (both as general information sources, or from a management and leadership perspective [in conjunction with the McCoy School and Leadership Institute], and to fight fake or misleading information.
- Globalization. Students need to be prepared to deal with the diversity of cultures, ideas, and peoples around the world. This is a theme that would cut across all disciplines and colleges. It would have both theoretical and practical applications.
- Student well-being. There are many news stories about the challenges of being a student at an American university today. As a leader in diversifying our student body and in freshman preparation, Texas State should pursue a broad strategy of helping our students maintain or improve their well-being as they maximize their potential as a Texas State student.
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:
- Food/Nutrition - Food insecurity has been identified as a growing problem at American universities. There are two different research projects ongoing at Texas State that investigate student food insecurity. Our Transformative Service Collaborative started one of the projects (http://marketing.mccoy.txstate.edu/collaborative/currentprojects.html), and we subsequently learned that Nutrition faculty in the School of Family and Consumer Science were simultaneously working on the same topic. Both of our groups have found clear evidence of food insecurity affecting Texas State students. Our groups are now working to combine our energies on this topic. We hope that Texas State will agree with the importance of reducing food insecurity, but we know that food and nutrition are only part of student well-being.
- Health - Student health includes both physical health and mental health. The many challenges of being a college student tests the physical and mental health of every college student. We know that more Texas State students are facing mental health challenges than ever before. Texas State needs stronger systems to help students stay physically and mentally healthy.
- Housing - Housing is a major expense at Texas State. We know that students struggle to find affordable housing, and we have learned that many summer school students struggle to keep an apartment while in summer school. We have even had students tell us about being temporarily homeless in the summer because their apartment complex wouldn’t let them rent during part of summer school Session II. Texas State needs stronger systems to help students find affordable housing on campus or off campus.
- Finances - The national press reports that the average debt level of American college students has become a serious burden on college graduates and may even be causing delayed marriage and delayed home ownership. As Texas State has diversified our student body, we are admitting more students whose parents are less affluent than previous parents in other decades. Texas State needs stronger systems to help students find financial support (loans, scholarships, part-time work, etc.) and to learn personal financial management to minimize their financial debt when they graduate.
- Safety - With so many American universities under public scrutiny over campus safety problems, Texas State needs stronger systems to help our students stay safe whether on campus or off campus.
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!
- Achieve R1 status. Enhancing student learning outcomes and post-graduation success by achieving R1 research university status.
- Number of presentations
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
- Global engagement. In this increasingly competitive environment for higher education, expanded global engagement is crucial for the continued success of our students and faculty, for the quality of our academic and extra-curricular programing, for the health and vibrancy of our campus and extended community, and for the strengthening of our institutional reputation and ranking in the U.S. and abroad.
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.
- Global engagement. It fulfills Texas State’s mission of creative, engaging and meaningful learning experiences for our students, affects a significant and broad spectrum of our students, and has clear, logical and measureable goals. Texas State lags behind its peer and aspirant schools in internationalization efforts. This QEP would help to rectify that situation and put Texas State on the pathway to establishing itself as a world institution
- Creating an ethical culture. At Texas State University faculty members in the Department of Philosophy have primary responsibility for teaching ethics, starting with the introduction of ethics through the philosophy requirement in the General Education core. This is a primary responsibility, a starting point, and most other programs at the university teach ethics, either through stand alone courses, or by addressing issues of value and professionalism throughout their curriculum. Philosophers have systematic training in ethics as part of their professional formation in graduate school, and even then teaching ethics – guiding students to think carefully and systematically about difficult and often controversial topics, and helping them articulate, share, and defend reasons for their views – is poses significant challenges. Faculty members in other disciplines regularly encounter ethical issues in their teaching and professional work. Students regularly encounter ethical issues in their academic work and everyday life. The work of members of the administration and staff is fairly characterized as full of value decisions and implications.
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.
- Revised entry-level mathematics. All students are required to take a mathematics course to satisfy their 020 common core requirement. Most do so as a freshmen. The nature of how entry level mathematics courses are run might need to change rather significantly in the near future in response to proposed legislation. Unfortunately, I cannot give a detailed description of how they would change, since that will in part be determined by which proposals pass and in what modified form. However, I can say that our department has been running pilot sections of courses using innovative teaching techniques and is collecting data on student success, so we have a significant head start on whatever changes need to be made. We also have access to outstanding researchers in mathematics education to assist us in making the changes. We had been planning to phase in improvements slowly as data indicated and funds allowed, but depending on the legislative results, we might be making the changes more quickly than anticipated in a time frame that conveniently aligns with the next QEP.
- Global engagement.
- Internationalization. The internationalization of Texas State University would provide a forward-looking framework for our Quality Enhancement Plan. Just like it is now acknowledged by all parties that having a Bachelor Degree ensures better qualifications, employment prospects and lifelong compensation rates, contributing to a generally better quality of life, the next frontier in a global environment is to give university students access to international resources. An international experience—be it fluency in a second language, time spent studying or working abroad, multicultural literacy, applied knowledge of global trends and issues, humanitarian work, to mention but a few directions an international experience can take—has already proven to increase student engagement and academic success, employability after college, and adaptability to various and diverse work environments. Campus internationalization continues and expands on the “college promise” that currently “makes or breaks a career”. The next step up the ladder of a valuable undergraduate education, the internationalization of American higher education is the new paradigm that will accelerate the democratization of American society and offer ever more equal opportunities to broaden one’s outlook on life.
- Global engagement. I'm writing to register my enthusiastic support for the QEP proposal on global engagement. Four (of many) reasons for my support are as follows: First, globalization is a strong and persistent theme in college strategic plans for 2017-2023. A QEP that aligns with those plans would engage faculty and students across disciplines and would efficiently tap into already-established goals and initiatives. Second, there is compelling evidence that global engagement supports students' academic performance and success; it is not merely an "enhancement" but rather a fundamental resource for intellectual development. Third, global engagement dovetails with a core university value: our commitment to diversity. Our location in an increasingly diverse, multi-lingual state with an international border speaks to the need for our students to think globally. Fourth, because we are living in a time of renewed and aggressive nationalism and even xenophobia, it is more urgent than ever to foster in our students a global perspective, to give them a wide and open window on the world.
- Student engagement. More and more emphasis is being placed on college outcomes—from the White House to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to Joe and Jane’s mom or dad. People want to know college is worth the investment.
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:
- Held a formal leadership role in a student organization or group while at Texas State
- Participate in a learning community or some other formal program where groups of students take two or more classes together
- Work with faculty on research
- Participated in co-curricular activities
- Participated in study abroad.
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.
- Marketable skills. Texas State should ensure that our graduates have the marketable skills necessary to become successful in their careers. This topic supports the third goal of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s 60x30TX Higher Education Plan: “All graduates from Texas public institutions of higher education will have completed programs with identified marketable skills.” It also supports Initiative 1.6 of the university’s new 2017-2023 Plan: “Ensure marketable skills are incorporated into curricular and co-curricular experiences.”