A major academic step for Samford University is happening in March as part of a site visit by a review team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). And, it involves everyone on campus.
Level Up: Transformative Learning through Powerful Assignments is the university’s new quality enhancement project (QEP) that is being submitted for approval by SACSCOC.
The QEP is an important step in SACSCOC’s 10-year reaccreditation process. A team from the university, led by Eric Fournier, director of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Scholarship, has been working to refine the proposed QEP for more than a year. The proposal focuses on the connection between increased investment in faculty development and improved student learning.
Fournier notes that the QEP involves the entire university community, and that SACSCOC expects everyone to know about the program and its basic goals. He is encouraging the community to be familiar with the proposed QEP.
Fournier and his team have been communicating information about the project in recent weeks and will continue to do so leading up to the site visit March 21–23. The reaccreditation process is being led by Katrina Mintz, assistant provost for assessment and accreditation.
The major emphasis of the new QEP is helping faculty develop powerful assignments, Fournier explained.
“A powerful assignment is one where students understand what is expected and that is tied to specific learning goals,” he said. “It may be integrated with other classes, developed specifically to include information literacy and critical thinking. These will be developed collaboratively across discipline lines and include librarians as partners in development of assignments.”
Primary student outcomes will be related to information literacy and critical thinking, Fournier said. “Some of the urgency comes from reports in the last few months of people determining whether information is correct, susceptibility to fake news and confirming liability of resources.”
Initially, the plan will be used in Communication Arts and Cultural Perspectives classes in the core curriculum, but the ultimate goal is to incorporate across the undergraduate curriculum.
“This is a plan,” Fournier said, “but like all plans, it is expected that it will evolve over time. If your plan doesn’t change, then it means you are not responding to data that you are getting and the feedback that you are receiving.
“It is important to understand that this has been a faculty-driven process,” Fournier added. “Feedback from the faculty and staff have helped shape the plan, and it has been more of a grassroots effort and not administration-driven.”