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UTC working to enhance student engagement

Faculty, staff and students at UTC are participating in a Quality Enhancement Plan to define student engagement on the campus. The effort is one of the requirements for the campus’ accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

“By reaching concensus on student engagement, we can come together to ensure the very best education for our students because it will be an engaged education,” said Vicki Steinberg, chair of the QEP Planning Team. “But that process must begin with an understanding of what it means to be engaged in learning—how to be engaged in the community—how to be engaged in the world, past, present and future?”

UTC’s QEP Planning Team consists of Vicki Steinberg, Foreign Languages and Literatures; Karen Adsit, Teaching Resource Center; John Fulmer, Business Administration; Barbara Norwood, Nursing; Stacy Ray, Theatre and Speech; and Joe Wilferth, English.

UTC is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and is scheduled for reaffirmation of its accreditation in the 2010-2011 academic year.

“Through the accreditation process, programs at UTC are formally recognized and our students are eligible for federal financial aid. In order to be accredited, our programs, indeed the University as a whole, must demonstrate quality, rigor, and accountability—all of which confirm the investments and confidence our students place in the institution,” said Steinberg.

To create a successful QEP, the Planning Team will work over the coming weeks and months to define student engagement. Additionally, the team will identify ways to measure student engagement and the means by which the campus ultimately promotes a truly academic culture at UTC.

To help ensure inclusive and significant participation of faculty, staff, and students across the campus, the Planning Team will work to prioritize key elements of student learning, namely elements such as those identified on the National Survey of Student Engagement. Then a QEP Development Team will be established to implement a defined plan and to develop an assessment model that focuses on UTC’s definition of student engagement.

In preparation for this effort, UTC students participated in the National Survey of Student Engagement for the first time last year.

“Taking the National Survey as our starting point, we are asking all faculty, staff and students to review these measures for their applicability to UTC,” said Steinberg. “

As a first step, UTC faculty, staff and students are participating in a survey to assess the engagement of students and to review and evaluate those criteria by which the campus measures engagement.

To get more input over the coming weeks and months, the Planning Team will use surveys, focus groups, open meetings, and web/e-mail solicitations.

“The difference this will make should be transformational, really big,” said Steinberg. “If everyone comes together, first to define and then to implement a vision of engagement, then everyone benefits—we'll all be working towards the same goals, but each in our own way.”

April 8, 2005

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