The University of Mary Washington Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP, is designed to help improve our First-Year Seminar, producing better researchers, writers, and speakers. With the QEP we will implement 5 specific student learning outcomes for all First-Year Seminars. All students that complete a First-Year Seminar (FSEM) will:

  • Utilize a variety of research techniques to retrieve information efficiently, evaluate retrieved information, and synthesize information effectively to support their messages or arguments;
  • Improve development and organization of written arguments;
  • Demonstrate the ability to edit and revise in the writing process;
  • Apply the basic theories and principles of oral communication;
  • Communicate effectively in a variety of settings, including public speaking and group discussion.

UMW established First-Year Seminars in 2008 and all first-year undergraduate students are required to take an FSEM. This makes FSEM an important facet of our first-year students’ academic transition. FSEM courses vary in topic from “Mozart and Amadeus,” “Finding Fashion,” and the “Graphic Novel” to “Infographics,” “Cinderella and Harry Potter,” and “Energy Resources in the 21st Century.” While topic variety is rich, FSEM courses and these student learning outcomes will help students cultivate the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind necessary to succeed in all of their undergraduate courses and in their careers beyond graduation.

Our three academic support centers, the University Libraries, the Writing Center, and the Speaking Center, will be important partners with FSEM faculty in the QEP. As the learning objectives of the QEP fall within three skill areas,

  • Improving information literacy or research,
  • Improving written arguments, and
  • Improving effective oral communication,

each academic support center will help engage students with the QEP outcomes in the classroom and at the centers. The QEP will support staff and student tutors in each center through training to ensure they understand first-year student needs, both in general and in connection to QEP learning outcomes.

The QEP will design a series of online learning modules designed to introduce and reinforce students’ basic research and communication skills. Each module will be an interactive online application that focuses on discrete ideas and introduces a topic or a basic skill rather than provide an in-depth examination. Over a three-year period, the plan envisions the creation of at least twelve modules distributed among the three skills areas. UMW is developing and piloting an information literacy online learning module in five FSEM classrooms during spring 2013.

The QEP will support faculty development workshops in which FSEM teaching faculty will focus on the differences between the current FSEM curriculum and that of the QEP. QEP-participating faculty will:

  • add revised student learning outcomes to their FSEM course learning outcomes;
  • assign one or more online learning modules to all students in their course;
  • develop and implement student experiences that engage them in the QEP student learning outcomes;
  • encourage and support student interaction with academic support staff and/or student tutors about QEP student learning outcomes.

We are very excited about our UMW QEP as:

  • a significant update to our students’ transition during their first-year;
  • a strong program that advances our mission to support high quality instruction and experiences where faculty, students and staff share in the creation and exploration of knowledge;
  • a carefully designed course of action that addresses a focused topic related to enhancing student learning.

Please browse our QEP website and come back often. If you have any questions, you will find contact information on the website.