SACS QEP Exploratory Committee

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Quality Enhancement Plan?
The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is a required component of the SACS accreditation process. The QEP document describes a special project designed to enhance some well-defined aspect of student learning. Each SACS member institution selects its own QEP project, in keeping with its mission and goals. The QEP projects should emerge from the institution's ongoing, integrated planning and assessment process. Hence, a QEP arises from the university’s past and becomes a significant aspect of its future.
What is the purpose of the QEP?
Developing a QEP is an opportunity for the institution to enhance overall institutional quality and effectiveness by focusing on an issue the institution considers important to improving student learning. The QEP may advance a current initiative or begin a new one, but it must reflect careful planning for improving some aspect of student learning over the course of the project.

What are the characteristics of an acceptable QEP?
In order to be approved by SACS, an institution's proposed QEP must demonstrate that:

  • There has been broad-based involvement in the development of the plan;
  • A significant topic has been selected that focuses on student learning outcomes;
  • Sufficient resources have been identified to initiate, implement, sustain and complete the QEP;
  • Specific goals have been identified for the plan, including goals for student learning outcomes;
  • There is an assessment plan for the QEP that will monitor how its goals are being achieved

When is Auburn's QEP due?
Auburn's next SACS accreditation review is scheduled for 2012-13. The final QEP planning document will be due by January 2013. A draft for campus review is expected by September 2012. Because Auburn was last reaffirmed by SACS before the introduction of the QEP requirement, this will be our first QEP. A report on the impact of our 2013 QEP will be due in 2018.

How have our peer institutions addressed the need for a QEP?
Other institutions have responded to the need for a QEP in varied and innovative ways. Summaries of recent QEP projects are posted here on the SACS website.

How is Auburn's QEP being developed?
Auburn's QEP will be developed in two, year-long stages – topic exploration and plan development.
During the 2010-11 academic year, the QEP Exploratory Committee – a broad-based committee of faculty from every school and college, plus academic administrators, students and others –conducted an inclusive broad-based process that identified four promising ideas, from which Auburn's QEP could ultimately be developed. Ideas came from the strategic plan, studies of previous assessment results, focus groups, a campus-wide survey, and a call for formal proposals.

Once the final topic has been identified, a QEP Development Committee will develop the full working plan and prepare the document that will be submitted to SACS by January 2013.

What is the detailed timeline?

Fall 2010: The QEP Exploratory Committee was convened and charged. The committee studied the University's strategic plan and key assessment results, including the National Survey of Student Engagement, the Collegiate Learning Assessment and other sources. Details about many of these assessments are available at the website of the Auburn University Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. The committee also held eight focus groups with different campus constituencies to collect preliminary ideas.

Early Spring 2011: On the basis of these studies and focus groups, the committee developed a brief survey for distribution to the whole campus. The Committee invited anyone with a quick idea for a possible QEP project to submit it online. An event was also held on the Student Center Concourse in February 2011 to solicit additional input from students.

In mid-February, the committee issued a call and guidelines for brief pre-proposals or concept papers for possible QEP projects, similar to those required for many types of grants. Respondents had until March 8 to submit their pre-proposals in writing. The committee received 25 concept submissions and selected the eight most promising ideas to support for development with grant funds of up to $1,500 per project.

Late Spring 2011: Ultimately, seven full proposals were received by the April 22 deadline. At its final meeting, the QEP Exploratory Committee fulfilled its charge by recommending four projects as feasible candidates for development into a full QEP action plan:

  • Global Leadership Excellence
  • Communicating Learning through Electronic Portfolios
  • Financial Literacy for Today's Citizens
  • Undergraduate Research.

June 2011: At a meeting on June 1, the electronic portfolio project was selected as Auburn's QEP project by Auburn's SACS Leadership Team (President, Provost, Executive Vice President, elected Chairperson of the University Faculty and the campus SACS Liaison).

Fall 2011: The QEP Development Committee – a select committee of faculty and staff with interest and expertise in digital portfolios – was appointed. Their charge is to develop a full, actionable working plan for Auburn's e-portfolio project by September 1, 2012.

Early Spring 2012: The QEP Development Committee will likely solicit ideas and assistance from the full campus community in order to prepare the best plan possible within the resources available. Aspects of the development process where assistance may be needed include literature review, strategies for professional development, and planning for the necessary resources, marketing, and assessment.

Late Spring/Summer 2012: The QEP Development team will complete the final draft of Auburn's QEP plan document for campus review.

January 2013: Auburn's QEP document will be submitted to SACS.

March 2013: Auburn's QEP will be a major focus of the visit to campus by a team of SACS peer evaluators.

Last Updated: Sept. 26, 2011

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