Minutes of the Meeting
(Meeting # 5)
December 1, 2010

President's Boardroom, 107 Samford

Sushil Bhavnani (Chair), Marcia Boosinger, Katelyn Boston, Raj Chaudhury, Drew Clark (SACS Liaison, ex-officio), Deedie Dowdle, Charles Eick, Stephen Erath, Kathryn Flynn, Paul Harris, Andy Gillespie, Amy Hecht, Constance Hendricks, Steve Inabinet, Kathryn Jarvis, Kim Key, Margaret Marshall, Kevin Phelps, Shirley Scott-Harris, David Weaver

The meeting began at 1:31. Minutes for the meeting dated November 10, 2010 (Meeting # 4) were approved as written.

Report from Focus Group Subcommittee: Charles Eick reported that focus group sessions have already begun. There will be seven groups total – two each with advisors, students and faculty and one with graduate students. The number of participants is slightly higher than expected, but the response was larger and it seemed wise not to un-invite people who had been invited and expressed a willingness to participate. Results from these groups will be ready in January, but it will require some work to transcribe and analyze the discussions. Drew Clark added that Iryna Johnson and Julie Huff, who have been conducting the sessions, had indicated to him that the faculty were a bit shyer than the students or advisors groups, but that there had been lively discussions in all of the sessions conducted so far and that diverse recommendations had emerged from these groups.

Report from the Information Dissemination Subcommittee: Kim Key reported that a small group had met to discuss specifics of what needed to be done next and had determined that the website was the first priority. Sushil had agreed to begin working on the headings for the website, and the group had identified content as including the timeline, documents of various kinds, links to other information like other QEP projects from other institutions, the NSSE data, etc., a FAQ section and a link to the survey that would be developed to provide another source of input on possible topics. The plan is to have the website functional for this committee to review on January 26th and launched shortly after that. Kim also noted that the group had discussed that the concourse event should be scheduled for early February and asked Katelyn Boston, the student representative, if that would be possible. There would probably be a banner for that event, but still to be determined is what the banner would look like, what questions would be asked and what technology would be necessary to do the survey event on the concourse.

Report from NSSE Data Subcommittee: Amy Hecht gave a powerpoint presentation outlining the work of the subcommittee to analyze the NSSE data. The group had worked both from the bottom-up looking to see what issues emerged from the data and from the top-down seeing if any evidence could be found to support topics that had been suggested. In looking at what the data suggested, the areas for greatest improvement included: level of academic challenge and student-faculty interactions for both first-year students and seniors; enriching experiences for seniors; and active and collaborative learning for first-year students. In examining what topics were supported by the data, the subcommittee looked for specific questions and compared Auburn results to other public institutions in the South, other institutions with the same Carnegie classification, and the institutions with the scores in the top 10% for that question. They identified level of academic challenge and student-faculty interactions as areas for greatest improvement for both first-year students and seniors, and active and collaborative learning (for first year students) and enriching experiences (for seniors) as other areas for improvement. The NSSE data also strongly supports the need for a focus on both diversity/globalization/international and communication. A current area of strength is citizenship and service. The subcommittee noted that the QEP could either build on our strengths or be targeted to improve an area where Auburn scores lower than other institutions. They also noted that the NSSE data provides very little information about quantitative reasoning/critical thinking even though there are reports that this is an area of weakness and that we may need another source of information to evaluate that area as a focus for the QEP.

Discussion: Sushil announced that our next step would be to pull together the work of the focus group subcommittee and the NSSE data subcommittee into a list of possible topics. Amy and Charles will work together on this task. The group agreed that the list should not be ranked since it could lead to the survey. It was pointed out that the list couldn't be too long, especially if the survey was going to ask people to comment on or rank each possible topic.

The other next task is to develop a call for short proposals and lay out the process whereby some proposers would be invited to develop a full proposal. Kathryn Flynn will chair the subcommittee to develop the call for proposals. There was considerable discussion of the time line for these steps that would yield a workable topic by the end of the spring term. Sushil and others will develop that time table. The group agreed that proposers should be given as long as possible, even if it meant that this committee had to work over a weekend to review submissions. We also agreed that the Call for Proposals should include the general process and make clear that a topic has not been pre-selected. We discussed the need to develop the criteria we will use to evaluate these proposals, which will need to include the elements from the QEP handbook, but might include other criteria as well. This led to further discussion of the balance between building on strengths and improving weaknesses. Drew cautioned that there is also a balance between weaving narrow topics together and yet having a specific enough focus that the QEP wouldn't look as if it were just trying to appease everyone. He also reminded the group that the QEP must be linked to learning outcomes, so the suggestion from the student group to work on parking was not a QEP topic, and that though we can't present what we've already completed as the QEP, we could certainly do something related to or building on various projects that have already been begun. A question about whether the QEP could be focused on graduate students was raised and Drew explained that it really depended on the institutional context and that given the proportion of undergraduates to graduate students, we would probably have a hard time selling a project that focused only on graduate students.

Committee members signed up for the new committees and the meeting was adjourned about 2:40.

The next meeting of the Committee was set for January 12, 2011, 1:30 p.m. in 107 Samford Hall.

Last Updated: Jan. 21, 2011

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