Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Overview
The decision to create a unique version of a first-year experience course as the focus of the Edison State College (Edison) Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) resulted from a collegial, thoughtful and deliberate process among faculty, administration, students, and staff over a two-year period beginning in August 2008. Campus constituencies met regularly to explore potential topics and debate the way forward. The need to increase student success and focus on first-time-in-college students was identified through the College’s on-going planning and evaluation process, and confirmed by supplemental studies and a thorough literature review.
As a parallel initiative, approximately 120 faculty and staff began serving on a task force In August 2009 to undertake a nine-month externally guided self-study using Foundations of Excellence® in the First College Year model. A vision for enhanced learning and retention of first-year students emerged, affirming that the broad topic which could singularly and most substantively impact student learning at Edison was improving students’ first-year experience. On April 16, 2010, a combined QEP committee and Foundations of Excellence® committee narrowed the QEP focus to creating a unique version of a first-year experience course. The course is central to Edison’s evolving first-year program, Foundations of Self-Reliant Learning, which addresses the needs of increasingly diverse, first-time college students, many of whom are underprepared.
The Cornerstone course will empower new students to enhance their learning and self-reliance at Edison and beyond. The QEP Steering Committee chose Cornerstone to illustrate the significance of this gateway course and its four theoretical anchors supporting retention, academic success and lifelong learning:
- Relevancy: Students will enter the course on a pre-major track based on personal interests. Purposeful faculty-to-student and student-to-student connections will engage students in their transition to college.
- Applied Learning: Successful students reinforce what they’ve learned in the classroom by applying it in other courses. Faculty teaching linked courses will emphasize relevant concepts and coordinate assignments to maximize learning.
- Success Strategies: Students will demonstrate competencies and skills supporting college-level work. Trained tutors will sit in class so they are fully prepared to assist students. They will communicate to the faculty member observed behaviors that may be impeding success, such as poor note taking or personal distractions.
- Critical Thinking: Metacognition is arguably the most important ability college students learn. Students will demonstrate how to use particular strategies for learning or problem solving. Trained faculty will guide students in learning to think for themselves and to analyze their own thinking in any situation.
Academic success in Cornerstone will be bolstered by the comprehensive and coordinated support initiatives of Foundations of Self-Reliant Learning. Effective organizational structures and policies will enhance the new student experience and govern the implementation of the first-year experience program components including college orientation, the early alert system, and in-take processes such as admissions and advising. Employee training and assessment activities will be ongoing.