The Erskine College Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Developing Academic Writing Skills through the Study of Critical Issues within the Disciplines, is achieved through a required sophomore writing course, The Write Course (WC 201).
College students are expected to communicate and learn through academic writing in all disciplines. Encouraging cooperation and coordination between students and faculty and among members of the faculty takes an active effort, especially when the needs of the students are a priority. The QEP’s approach to writing supports Erskine’s mission to equip students to “flourish as whole persons” through “an excellent liberal arts education.”
During the Initial Discussion Phase (2009) about a QEP at Erskine, faculty interviews revealed “common dissatisfaction” with the Erskine Seminar (a first-year experience course) and concern about student writing in general.
During the Identification Phase (2010-2012), the first QEP Committee was formed. Topics related to writing and critical thinking were presented to the faculty, and surveys indicated faculty’s desire to increase and improve writing opportunities for students. Survey results also indicated that 89.3% of faculty respondents viewed student writing as “very important.” The final results of the faculty forum showed that “rather than eliminate the Erskine Seminar altogether, faculty now indicated a greater desire to revise and improve the course.” The QEP Committee proposed the development of a sophomore writing seminar to be taught by representatives from all departments; 73.1% of faculty respondents agreed.
The Development Phase (2012-2013) involved the hiring of a QEP/Writing Program Director who would chair the QEP Committee. The QEP Committee proposed The Write Course (WC 201), and faculty approved the implementation of the new required sophomore writing course. The QEP Committee agreed on a set of Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) and created and revised a Common Assessment Writing Rubric to be used by all sections of The Write Course. The QEP Director trained faculty members to teach the new course and created a The Write Course (WC 201) Handbook to be used by faculty and students. The QEP Director worked with the English Department faculty to revise the EN 101 and EN 102 rubrics to serve as a bridge to the SLOs for QEP/The Write Course.
The Implementation Phase (2013-2015) involved scheduling of The Write Course for all second-year and transfer students. The college writing lab, The Write Here Center (WHC), was relocated to a high-traffic area on the first floor of Watkins Student Center. Web pages for The Write Here Center (WHC) and for the Seminary were created, and a special on-line submission option was created to meet the needs of off-campus seminary students. Staff at Erskine’s McCain Library created a research guide for students in WC 201. The QEP/Writing Program Director continued to plan and provide spring and fall workshops for faculty teaching The Write Course. Faculty members from the various departments teaching The Write Course were assigned to the QEP Committee. An annual “assessment day” in June was established to complete yearly assessment of The Write Course.
During the Institutionalization Phase (2015-2017), an emphasis on effective academic writing becomes a part of the culture at Erskine College. All second-year and transfer students enroll in a section of The Write Course taught by a faculty member representing various academic disciplines. The Write Here Center, now located in Watkins Student Center, expands days and hours of operation to meet the growing needs of students, faculty, and staff as indicated by student surveys. Faculty members from various disciplines continue to participate in spring and fall QEP/WC 201 workshops. During this phase, the Erskine College Theological Seminary adopts a version of the Common Assessment Writing Rubric for their graduate students. Both The Write Course and the Write Here Center increase visibility through promotional events, workshops, electronic media advertising (i.e., Facebook, college message board, college Web site), and campus-wide print advertisements; the Erskine College QEP Web page is created; and both internal and external assessments continue. The Write Here Center sees substantial annual increases in student visits, and more student readers are identified, trained, and hired to better meet this growing demand.
The fifth year (2017) will examine the overall effectiveness of the QEP. As a result of the QEP, stakeholders (students, faculty, staff, and alumni) will recognize a measureable increase in students’ ability to communicate effectively through academic writing, especially with respect to the following SLOs:
- Rhetorical Knowledge (focus on purpose, development of a thesis, and employment of rhetorical strategies)
- Critical Response (thesis support and source support integration)
- Writing as Process (planning, drafting, revision, and editing)
- Knowledge of Conventions (standard grammar, punctuation, and mechanics)
- Composition in Electronic Environments (location, evaluation, organization, and use of scholarly and/or electronic sources)
These SLOs will be assessed using the ETS Proficiency Profile Test (writing subsection) administered to all second-year students and transfer students enrolled in The Write Course and the Common Assessment Writing Rubric via an “assessment day” in June following each academic year.
See the Erskine College QEP timeline at a glance.