By MOLLY HODGES
Research. Write. Speak. The University of Mary Washington’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) aims to help first-year students cultivate skills in these areas during new first-year seminars that will incorporate online instructional modules focused on improving literacy, writing and speaking abilities with corresponding in-class assignments.
The plan, “UMW’s First-Year Seminar: Research, Write, Speak,” was developed as part of the University’s reaffirmation of accreditation process.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) requires all universities pursuing reaffirmation to create a QEP.
“The concept of quality enhancement is at the heart of the [Commission of Colleges’] philosophy of accreditation,” according to the SACS website.
In a letter to the Commission on Colleges, President Rick Hurley wrote, “This plan provides us with an important opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of the First-Year Seminar requirement, which is an essential and foundational component of our general education curriculum and the entire UMW academic experience.”
On April 15-17, the SACS On-Site Review Committee will visit UMW in order to determine whether or not UMW meets the requirements for reaffirmation and will also evaluate the QEP.
“This plan is the result of three years of investigation, development and refinement by several QEP Planning Committees consisting of faculty, administrative, staff and student representatives,” wrote Hurley in the letter.
The plan seeks to convert 45 of the 66 first-year seminars by the fifth year of implementation, according to John Morello, associate provost for academic affairs.
The plan will not affect the topical creativity of the first-year seminars offered at UMW, but rather “the student learning outcomes that are expected for first-year seminars have been modified,” according to Morello.
After the fifth year, the QEP Committee will determine and report the calculated effectiveness of the plan.
“I think that’s a great idea,” said Ylbania Johnson, a senior Spanish major. “Those are life-living skills.”
Isaac Herrera, a junior Spanish major, said the changes may be overwhelming for first-year students.
“It’s going to be like zero to 60,” said Herrera.