Palm Beach Atlantic University

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April 23, 2014

Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)

Q: Why is Palm Beach Atlantic University creating a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)?
A: The QEP is a plan for ongoing improvement that directly impacts student learning at PBA. Our regional accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), requires a reaffirmation of accreditation every ten years, and part of this process is the implementation of a QEP. During research for PBA’s plan, the faculty identified improvement in critical thinking and in writing skills as primary needs for the students at this university.
 



Q: What is the PBA’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)?
A: Think for Yourself—Write for Others is PBA’s five-year plan to improve the critical thinking and writing skills of undergraduate students at Palm Beach Atlantic University through initiatives in three areas:

  • Instruction and Assessment—including critical thinking and writing skills in selected general education classes, using common learning outcomes and grading standards in all the classes
  • Faculty Development—providing training, resources, and incentives to support the improved teaching of critical thinking and writing skills
  • Academic Support—establishing a Center for Writing Excellence to provide writing instruction and support beyond what is received in the classroom set to open in the Fall of 2008.
     

 

Q: Which general education classes will be affected by this plan?

  • Composition I and II
  • Exploring the Bible
  • Public Speaking  
  • Freedom in American Society
  • Humanities I, II and III  
  • Christian Values and Biblical Faith
  • First-Year Experience (Day Program) or Leadership for Academic Success (Evening Program)
     


Q: What tools will be used to further help students develop critical thinking and writing skills?
A: The following texts are planned for use throughout the multi-year cycle of the QEP:
 

  • Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of your Professional and Personal Life, Richard Paul and Linda Elder
  • The St. Martin’s Handbook, Andrea A. Lunsford
     


Q: How will the plan work?
A: Each year, approximately 12 faculty members will participate in a series of workshops in the spring semester on the topics of critical thinking, writing and assessment. The culmination of each faculty member's spring will be a modified course syllabus including methods for applying the QEP learning outcomes in that course. Each fall, a new faculty group and a new student group will experience the modified course syllabus. Various assessment tools will be used along the way to determine effectiveness of the interventions (MAPP, CAP, PBA-developed rubrics for critical thinking and writing, surveys, etc.).

Each group of faculty will become resources for the next group. Students in each year's group of new freshmen will take six of the courses during their first year. They will be encouraged to take the remaining three in QEP format during their time at PBA.
 



Q: What is the definition of critical thinking for the QEP?
A: The continual improvement of critical-thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving skills is essential not only to intellectual development, but to the development of the sense of self, the worldview, and the calling of the individual.

Critical thinkers understand the:

  • Nature of ideas: they are able to synthesize ideas to their essences;
  • History of ideas: they gain a thorough understanding of ideas by discovering their origins and contexts;
  • Consequences of ideas: they know how ideas are applied to their lives and to their view of the world.
     


Q: What are the QEP learning outcomes for critical thinking skills?
A:The student:

  • Identifies and interprets evidence and reasoning used to support an idea, and evaluates its validity to the argument
  • Articulates concepts underlying the understanding of an idea in the proper context
  • Places ideas in context and understands other points of view that derive from opposing positions and differing contexts
  • Identifies intellectual traditions and causal relationships among ideas
  • Makes appropriate use of ideas to reach valid conclusions
  • Improves and deepens his or her thinking, worldview, and calling by the application of fully processed ideas
     


Q: What are the QEP learning outcomes for student writing skills?
A: The student:
 

  • Demonstrates use of the conventions of Standard Written English, including proficiency in grammar, mechanics and syntax
  • Demonstrates familiarity with writing as an open, multi-layered process including prewriting and drafting, evaluation, and revision
  • Demonstrates awareness of and attentiveness toward audience expectations, as well as the purpose and basic requirements of various rhetorical situations
  • Demonstrates effective critical thinking in his or her engagement with various subjects, including the analysis of texts and construction of written arguments
  • Evaluates sources and conducts relevant research, incorporates outside sources and ideas appropriately and thoughtfully into their own writing and properly cites and documents those sources without even unintentional plagiarism 
  • Incorporates a Christian perspective in his or her engagement of various subjects and writing situations
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