Topic and Potential Areas of Emphasis
The central idea for the Quality Enhancement Plan is described below.
- Improve critical thinking/real-world problem solving skills through the use of active learning strategies.
Although there are many ways units can address the central idea, several specific areas of emphasis have been identified that complement the focus described above. These additional areas of emphasis are identified below.
- with emphasis on communication skills
- with emphasis on teamwork skills
- with emphasis on creative thinking
Units can develop plans related to the main topic, the main topic with an area of emphasis, or any combination.
The SACS QEP subcommittee identified various potential topics that would be appropriate for our University to pursue in its Quality Enhancement Plan. These topics had to satisfy numerous SACS criteria to be a viable focus for the QEP (see the powerpoint presentation on the Current Status link for more information on these constraints).
The list of potential topics was presented to various focus groups across campus including the Faculty Senate, the SGA, the Deans' Council, and the SACS Steering Committee. The feedback received from these groups helped narrow the areas of potential focus to the topic and areas of emphasis identified above.
The two areas that were most popular in the focus groups were critical thinking and real-world problem solving. Both of these topics are strongly related to TTU's Vision of improving the life-long success of our students. Many would argue that effective problem solving and critical thinking are strongly interrelated. Although there are clearly some definitions of each concept that include the other term, there are other definitions that are not as inclusive. We have included both terms in our statement to make it clear that we are attempting to improve skills needed for both effective critical thinking and real-world problem solving.
The University is now ready for individual units to select the potential areas of focus that they feel their units can best address. The University will select areas of emphasis from the list above that provide the broadest possible campus participation in the QEP.
A sample of strategies that are proposed by individual units across campus will be included in the final QEP proposal submitted to SACS. These strategies will also become part of each unit's strategic plan beginning in fiscal year 2007 (the QEP will become one of the University's Strategic Goals for 2005 - 2010).
Units can request additional funding to implement some of the plans they propose. The funding of these requests will be selective and will be accomplished with help from the TTU Foundation.
Methods of Assessment
The University has tentatively identified several types of assessment indicators that can be used to measure progress on these topics. Individual units may elect to use these same indicators or they may select indicators that are more suited for their particular strategies. Relevant objectives on the IDEA instrument and relevant questions on the NSSE survey would include those items related to critical thinking/problem solving and those related to communication, teamwork, and creative thinking if a specific area of emphasis is selected.
|Indicator||What it Measures||Time Frame|
|Frequency relevant IDEA objectives chosen by instructors||Faculty initiating efforts||Early indicator|
|Student progress on relevant IDEA objectives||Student perceptions of progress||Middle indicator|
|NSSE ratings of student engagement on relevant activities||Student perceptions of engagement||Middle indicator|
Student performance on critical thinking/problem solving tests
||Student performance||Late indicator|
|Employer surveys||Employer perceptions of graduates||Late indicator|
|Alumni surveys||Graduates' perceptions of preparation||Late indicator|
Examples of Possible Strategies
The QEP subcommittee identified numerous strategies that could be used more frequently to improve students' skills in the areas of focus and emphasis outlined above. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but merely an attempt to illustrate the variety of pedagogical strategies that could be adapted to enhance students' skills in these areas. Many of these strategies can be combined with others in the list. If your unit wants to pursue a strategy that it does not have expertise in, you may request assistance from other units on campus or from external consultants as part of your plan.
Real world projects, real world projects that involve teamwork, case studies, original research, simulations, using technology effectively to solve problems, using information technology effectively to solve problems, debates, role playing, seeing other points of view, collaborative learning, alumni mentoring, coops, projects that involve written or oral presentations, service learning experiences, student ambassador experiences, professional presentations, creating a campus culture where critical thinking/real-world problem solving is important.