QEP - FAQ
What is a QEP?
QEP stands for Quality Enhancement Plan. It is a key component of the SACS accreditation process. As stated in the SACS Principles of Accreditation, the QEP should be “a focused course of action that addresses a well-defined topic or issue(s) directly related to enhancing student learning.” You can find more information about the reaccreditation process and the QEP at this link.
What is NOVA's QEP?
NOVA chose to focus on helping students improve their academic planning skills. We want our students to learn how to determine their academic goals, and develop and implement an appropriate plan of action to achieve those goals. The title of NOVA’s QEP is “GPS for Success: Teaching and Learning through Academic Advising.”
How did we choose that topic?
Ideas from across the college were solicited last year from faculty, staff and students. Use of institutional data was instrumental in forming proposals. A committee with faculty and staff representatives from all the campuses selected the top ideas to submit to the Administrative Council. Two of those ideas, “Enhanced Academic Advising” and “Early Student Engagement,” were combined to form the genesis of the QEP.
What's so special about those two ideas?
An impressive body of research shows that early and continued engagement of students might be the most significant predictor of student success in college. The advising process provides a natural and logical way to insure that we stay in touch with students throughout their time at NOVA.
There seems to be a lot of initiatives focused on engaging students and enhancing student learning. Is the QEP going to replace them?
No. The QEP is a new initiative that will supplement NOVA’s other programs that focus on student success.
I’m confused. I’ve been encouraged to participate in New Student Orientation, SOAR, student activities, outreach to the high schools, First Year Experience, and Achieving the Dream . All support student success. Can’t we just make up our minds and stick to one plan?
There’s no single program or initiative that is the be-all and end-all for student success. And no one program will appeal to every student. We want to have a wide variety of initiatives and programs that focus on different aspects of early and continued engagement of students. All of the programs you’ve mentioned, and more, were designed to focus on part of the broad spectrum of a student’s involvement with NOVA. They all play an important role.
I remember hearing about the QEP last year and earlier this year, but I don’t see that anything has changed. Is the QEP just one of those things that produce a lot of talk but no action?
There’s a good reason that nothing has changed concerning the QEP. Until SACSCOC approves it, the college can’t implement it. They will review the plan and visit NOVA in November of this year. Once we have their approval, you’ll start to see changes (especially at Loudoun and Woodbridge, the two pilot campuses selected to begin implementing the QEP by the Summer of 2012).
What exactly does the QEP do? What’s the plan?
The students will learn planning skills, including how to select a program of study, how to develop a plan of action and timeline for completing their program, and how to reflect on their academic performance and make any required changes.
What’s the student learning associated with the QEP?
The plan is to help students complete their academic program of study though early and continued engagement with advisors. The college is creating new positions called Advising Specialists, who will help the students set an academic goal, select their program of study and work with them before and during the first semester. Then these students will be assigned to Faculty Advisors who will help them with course selection, scheduling, and reflection on performance. The Advising Specialists also will serve as “case managers” for the students and, along with the Faculty Advisors, help students develop the planning skills needed to complete their program of study. A software tool to keep track of student discussions with their advisors is being developed, too.
Some of my faculty colleagues have said they just aren’t comfortable advising students. They’re not sure what to say or do.
That’s consistent with the feedback given to the QEP team from faculty focus groups. One aspect of the QEP is to develop training and resources for the faculty to address that concern.
Don’t we already have counselors who advise students as you’ve described above?
In many cases, yes, and that’s one of the reasons for creating the Advising Specialist positions. Our Counselors often handle routine questions and issues for students that could be handled by others – in our QEP, by the Advising Specialists. This will allow Counselors to focus on their primary responsibilities. Counselors have specialized areas of support, such as retention, career, transfer, disability, and veterans’ affairs. These areas require expertise, which is what the counselors have. Routine academic advising can be handled by a specialist. The restructuring of NOVA’s advising process will allow counselors to focus on their specialties, which will allow them to help more students in a deeper way.
What does the GPS in “GPS for Success” stand for?
The acronym GPS is being used as a metaphor for an advising process that requires thoughtful input for useful output. With the name “GPS for Success,” we hope that it will bring to mind a means for our students to navigate their way through their college experience with NOVA and thereby achieve their academic goals.