Topic Selection

Selecting the QEP: A year-long and college-wide initiative

The assessment criteria for an institution’s Quality Enhancement Plan by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) include whether the institution has (1) “a topic identified through it its ongoing comprehensive planning and evaluation processes” and (2) “broad-based support of institutional constituencies”.

From the beginning of the QEP process, Columbia State Community College has strived to exceed both criteria.

To do so, the college:

  • Created a QEP Research Team with a mandate to (1) research potential topics and areas of improvement in student learning outcomes or student success and (2) guide the college selection process of the QEP topic.
  • Conducted a research review of potential topics and an analysis of internal student success measures and student learning outcomes.
  • Initiated a college-wide discussion of QEP topics via an introductory FAQ and preliminary survey sent to all college staff and faculty.
  • Hosted focus groups – titled “QEP Input Groups” – for faculty and staff across four different dates during February 2021. Over 80 faculty and staff members from across the college attended the QEP Input Groups.
  • Developed an online survey to gather student input on potential QEP topics. The survey was framed in terms of how each QEP might affect the student experience and had almost 250 students from across the college participate.
  • Gathered feedback from multiple constituent groups during the development and planning of the QEP initiative, including: Faculty Senate, support staff, students, COLS 101 (College Success) director and staff, and President’s Cabinet.
  • Involved college faculty and staff in selecting a title for the QEP; and hosted a college-wide student art contest to develop a poster and logo for the QEP.

Critical Thinking: Support at every step

Critical Thinking emerged from the above process as the clear candidate for the college’s next QEP.

  • Critical Thinking was consistently ranked highest throughout the selection process by college employees and staff.
  • Critical Thinking was supported as a QEP topic by students who viewed the topic as an inherently valuable part of their education and an improvable area of their learning experience at Columbia State.
  • An emphasis on Critical Thinking within the classroom mirrors the ever-present need for critical thinking in an age of over-saturated information and demanding, adaptable careers.
  • Throughout the topic selection process, college employees emphasized a desire to select a QEP that can be “equally embraced and fairly distributed across all disciplines” and “becomes a lasting part of the culture of the college.”
  • Critical Thinking is a timely, scalable, fitting, and worthwhile focus for the colleges next QEP topic.

You can find more information about the topic selection process employed by the college in the college’s QEP Report available here.