If you don’t know what a QEP is, you will very soon, as NOVA is about to launch into our SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools—our accrediting body) reaffirmation process, which includes identifying an area we wish to focus on improving over the coming 10 years at our college. This area of focus, and our plan on how to address it, is our QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan), and we’ll all be asked in the coming spring term to be a part of the process of deciding what NOVA’s QEP should focus on.
I’ve just returned from the SACS annual conference, where many of the sessions were presentations of the results from other colleges’ QEP efforts. The most interesting one I saw was from a North Carolina community college that had chosen to focus on student writing skills for their QEP. They worked to improve student writing skills by creating a Writing Center, using paired courses (like the learning communities we have in place at NOVA for our Achieving the Dream project), and, most interestingly, implementing a digital storytelling component in their English composition courses.
In the selected courses, students were required to complete a final project where they told a personal, cultural, historical, or social narrative in a 3-4 minute digital story (a video with photos, music, and script read by the student). The presenters provided strong preliminary evidence of how much the project increases student engagement, teaches strong writing skills (such as brevity, audience, and the drafting and revision process), improves students’ understanding of citing sources, increases technology skills and critical thinking abilities, and helps students gain self-confidence. It was a pretty impressive project! You might want to read more about their work and how they guide students through the process (maybe you’d even like to get your students working on projects like this!). It’s inspiring, and surely the type of engaging and challenging project we want our students to do.