The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Core Requirement 2.12 requires the development of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) based on institutional assessment that focuses on learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning and on accomplishing the mission of the institution. The development and implementation must incorporate broad-based involvement of institutional constituencies while embracing a closed loop assessment plan.
Starting in 2007 and continuing through the present, Tarleton State University, a member of the Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), has been engaged in a QEP development process driven by the faculty, staff, and students (constituents). The development process was led by the QEP Committee, who followed a deliberate and methodical series of steps to take the development process from the brainstorming stage through topic selection and into implementation. The process resulted in the selection of "Keeping it REAL: Real-world Experiences Applied to Learning" as Tarleton's QEP.
"Keeping it REAL" is focused on baccalaureate students. This initiative will enhance undergraduate education by integrating applied learning experiences in undergraduate research, service learning, leadership, internships/practicum experiences, and/or study away into the students' undergraduate experience. Students will develop a distinguishing e-portfolio presentation of their efforts and will be rewarded with special recognition at graduation. The QEP incorporates a set of measurable student learning outcomes and participation outcomes, as well as a plan to assess achievement and impact, thus demonstrating the overall success of the QEP.
What makes REAL initiatives different from existing initiatives is the e-portfolio content related to applied learning. One of the requirements for an experience to count towards recognition is that the students must submit a written reflection in their e-portfolio that answers three prompts. These prompts correspond directly to the student learning outcomes: describe how this applied learning experience helped them integrate their curriculum; how they applied their holistic curriculum/collegiate learning to a real-world experience; and how the applied learning experience broadened their academic, political, social, cultural and economic global view. Compelling the students to think critically about the broader impact of the experience will enhance their overall collegiate experience and better prepare them for life beyond college.
"Keeping it REAL" is fully aligned with the university's mission and strategic plan. A priority of the university is to develop initiatives that are engaging and transformative in nature and provide a distinctive experience for the students. The QEP will create connections and further engage students in broader university learning outcomes, including writing, critical thinking, diversity, and technology. In this way the QEP will facilitate deeper learning and increase the value and engagement of the Tarleton baccalaureate experience.
The complete report can be found here.