Memo: QEP Progress Report
On behalf of the 25-member Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Steering Committee, I am sending you an update. Community engagement is the topic of QEP. This choice enables the University to enhance student learning in an intentional way, increase our engagement with the community, and better assess the impact of these multi-faceted partnerships. Recognized with the Community Engagement Classification in 2015 by the Carnegie Foundation, UHD has established an infrastructure conducive to experiential learning. Implementation of the QEP will foster a culture of inquiry wherein students explore societal questions and problems, connecting their academic work with real-world situations.
Carnegie Foundation Definition of Community Engagement
Describes the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.
The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, creative activity; enhance curriculum teaching, and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.
Scheduled to be implemented for entering freshman in fall 2016 and those in succeeding years, the QEP scaffolds a comprehensive set of experiences as the students progress toward graduation. The QEP has three major components: co-curricular, curricular, and a special student track. All require student reflections.
An array of co-curricular community engagement activities will be available, including invited speakers, performances, panels, workshops, and established events open to all students. The Freshman Common Reader, the Freshman Convocation theme, and the co-curricular activities associated with them will be aligned with community engagement. Having faculty teaching the Freshman Seminar be involved with the selection of the Freshman Common Reader was discussed at a meeting earlier this month. Also mentioned was the possibility of identifying a "Major Question" related to community engagement that could provide a context for the academic year.
In Year 1 of the QEP, a minimum of 25% of the freshman cohort will enroll in designated Freshman Seminar sections that incorporate community engagement. As these freshman cohorts advance through the University, courses with the community engagement designation will be made available. Faculty deciding to teach such courses will have specialized opportunities to apply for Teaching Circles; internal grants; funding for faculty/student conference presentations arising from community engagement projects; annual symposium presentations; awards; etc. Following existing University processes, specific guidelines will be established for community engagement classification. Courses classified as service learning, one of the many categories within community engagement, will automatically have both classifications.
For members of the freshman cohort who seek more intensive engagement with the community, a special track is being created. Required to complete a specific number of curricular and co-curricular experiences, they will compile their reflections and artifacts in an e-portfolio to be defended in the senior year. Annual celebrations of meeting milestones include badges, certificates, annual field trips or retreats, and graduation cords. Moreover, they will be encouraged to present at the University's QEP annual symposium and to receive designations on their transcript/diploma for community engagement.
Student Learning Outcomes: Students will be able to
- Critically analyze community issues with respect to different perspectives, theories, and solutions,
- Assess and evaluate issues in the context of their impact on communities to inform community engagement experiences,
- Make connections between their academic knowledge/experience and community engagement experiences,
- Apply ethical reasoning to address ethical issues arising from or related to community engagement experiences, and
- Employ a self-reflective process to articulate the impact of community engagement experiences with respect to personal and academic perspectives.
This summer a draft QEP document will be developed. It is to be presented to the UHD community in early September. Based on the feedback, the QEP Steering Committee will make revisions. Please send comments to QEP@uhd.edu.
Chris Birchak, Ph.D.
Chair of the QEP Steering Committee