As quality is one of UWF’s institutional values, quality enhancement is an idea strongly embraced by the institution. In fact, faculty and staff at UWF regularly find ways to improve teaching, learning, and the student experience. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is interested in evidence that the University is working to enhance student learning and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplish the mission of the institution.
As a requirement for reaffirmation of accreditation, developing a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) provides UWF with the opportunity to enhance overall institutional quality and effectiveness by showcasing one targeted quality enhancement effort that UWF considers vital to the long-term improvement of student learning. It is essential that the QEP has broad-based university input in the selection of the topic and be accepted by the University community as having important value for the university in enhancing student learning. UWF QEP Fellows, Dr. Karen Rasmussen and Dr. Jim Hurd, led the Topic Selection Team through this process. Topic submissions were accepted through Friday, April 19, 2013.
Subsequently, the Topic Selection Team reviewed the results of a campus survey seeking input on topic preference and specifics related to student learning outcomes and strategies. The outcome of facilitated group discussions in September and October 2015 was that the 2015 QEP focus on student learning related to communicating the results of critical analysis in a professional setting. Professional communication skills are, by definition, purposeful. The effective professional, regardless of disciplinary background or career setting, is able to communicate ideas that are the result of expert thinking within the field. Expert thinking is the application of critical analysis and applicable disciplinary or professional content mastery to the problems and challenges of the real world. Critical analysis is, in this context, applied critical thinking informed by disciplinary or professional practice. Critical analysis skills, therefore, can be measured against disciplinary specific standards and conventions.
The QEP will provide an opportunity for disciplines to explore and enhance the linkage between critical analysis and effective communication within a professional or applied setting. Every discipline and profession has its own expectations and conventions for professional communication. The QEP will provide an opportunity for each discipline to explore and enhance studentsâ€™ applied communication skills within the framework of that discipline and related professions. The preliminary title was "Preparation for Professional Success: Communicating the Results of Critical Analysis in an Applied Setting." After presenting the concepts to the Cabinet the general consensus was positive. The (still preliminary) title to reads, "Communication for Professional Success: Delivering Results from Applied Critical Analysis." This more clearly puts the student learning focus on communication.
During the next phase of the development of the 2015 QEP, the development team may take that title and continue to refine it. The topic has coalesced around the notion that communication informed by critical analysis is a sufficiently narrowly focused learning enhancement.