QEP Comments/Suggestions Received
1. Located in South Florida, FAU would be well-served by adopting a QEP including international/global competency with a focus on international education.
2. We need a QEP that is related to International and Civic Education, so that undergraduate students at FAU learn about their role in local and global communities.
3. I was pleased to hear Ed Pratt's presentation today before the engineering college faculty. Student writing skills is a subject of major concern to many of us in the college, as is critical thinking. Indeed, these are two skills that are probably of major concern across FAU. I suggest we address them in a single QEP program that requires all students to take a full semester course devoted to sharpening students' critical thinking and their ability to demonstrate such critical thinking in good writing. Engineering and science faculty might argue that there is insufficient flexibility in the curriculum to have a required course of this nature. I would argue that there must be sufficient flexibility. These skills are too important. We are graduating many, many students -- in engineering and science as well as in most other disciplines -- who cannot think critically and who cannot write anything but text messages.
4. Global competency or global awareness as an aid to student retention, higher GPA's and higher college graduation rates should be considered for the QEP. The recent Georgia GLOSSARI project showed that study abroad made a difference in all these areas and also that students with more marginal grades actually had a greater response and success rate than students already doing reasonably well in college. The FAUCIE and others are a possible group to take the lead along with OIP to develop a QEP in the area of global competency, global awareness and study abroad as a student learning tool.
5. To improve success rates in our classes without lowering standards, I would suggest that plans for assistance in group or individual to students be expanded. Failure, big or small, is distress. It is also depressive. Students are not attending an institution only for competition, but also to be prepared for everyday life.
6. It seems to me that the relative difficulty that many of our students face in expressing themselves clearly, organizing their thoughts, and identifying and structuring arguments for and/or against a particular point of view or belief – skills which are, surely unarguably, the necessary foundation for any proper education -- is a consequence of the fact that they have neither been formally expected to engage to any great degree in such activities in grade school, nor been extensively exposed to and/or engaged in such activities informally, for instance at home, or when interacting with their peers. Further, it appears to me that perhaps the best, and most effective, method of teaching such skills would be to have students both observe and directly participate in these activities. With this in mind I should like to suggest that all incoming frespersons be required to participate in seminars which will introduce them to, and require them to analyze, a different signif icant issue each week. Topics might include, for example "Arguments for and against a publically funded healthcare system", "My country right or wrong; is this a commendable view", "Why, in a world where we could feed everyone 8 times over, do upwards of 15 million people a year die of malnutrition and malnutrition related diseases", "Is the role of the University to reflect, or to reflect upon, the vlaues of society" etc.etc. Each student in the seminar would introduce at least one such topic per semester, and then students would discuss/argue about it, and, for homework, produce a brief summary of the major issues and argumens, indicating which view or views they accept, and which they reject, and why.This would enhance their their capacity to conceive of and articulate, both in speech and writing, often fairly complex ideas, and require them to reflect upon, and justify or reject, the views they hold. All, of course, recognized, at least since the Enlightenment, as central to education in general and the university in particular.
7. FAU has a unique position and history that has strong connections to both regional and global constituencies. Seems to me that we could merge a couple of topics such that an FAU focus for a QEP topic could be "Enhance global and civic literacy & engangement."
8. I went to the SACS site and read some of the other institutions' QEPs. They are all over the board and very institution-specific which I think is a great thing. For FAU, based on my short time here since 2006, I would say we need: 1) To roll out the excellent SLS program across ALL freshmen - this will enhance retention to some extent; 2) We need to do more at the sophomore year in terms of making sure students choose a major and actively meet with advisors up to 45 hours before being "set free" after the freshmen 30 hours limit; 3) We need to make our admissions process more open to choose a major upon entrance. I've had problems with this fact due to our "set up" with business. We admit all students as "pre-business". I don't mind that. But, when they are searching MAJORS at FAU, they do not even SEE hospitality management as a choice. For that matter, they don't see ANY business majors. I've talked to Barbara in admissions about having at least a "pop up" so when they click on PRE-BUSINESS they will see ALL the business majors. But, as an example, I've lost 4 students who wanted to come to FAU, went ot apply, didn't see hospitality management as a major even though they "heard" we had it, applied elsewhere, WENT elsewhere, and then had friends who came to FAU. I completely understand that we do not ADMIT directly into business, but for goodness sake, students often KNOW what they want to major in coming out of high school. Pick FIU, UCF, FL Gulf Coast, UF, ANY other and you can choose your intended major during the admissions process. I know this has cost me a few FTEs and it's just "antiquated". So, make admissions more CLEAR and let them know ALL our majors across campus coming in as an incoming freshmen...not until they're already here and have to meet with advising and go "pre-engineering" or "pre-business" or other "pre" nonsense which is more upper division entrenched mentality; 4) Have a faculty mentor program by college so that students with less than a 2.5 during their first semester are automatically contacted by a mentor - maybe each mentor with up to 10 students a piece. The mentors can be given some type of incentive to do this role and it is their job to meet one-on-one with these "at risk" students. NOT an advisor, but an actual faculty mentor in the college of the anticipated major. Again, this is why we should know their major coming in. Anyway, I'm rambling at Starbucks on a Sunday. I need to pick your brain about moving into administration of sorts later on because the more I see about assessment, student success, etc. the more I know that's my true passion.
9. In accounting there is a product called ALEKS which is part of a family of products offered by the ALEKS corporation. (The information page is: http://www.aleks.com/about_us/company_information). I use it in the intermediate accounting course to ensure that students have basic knowledge. The systems gives students an assessment of basic accounting skills and for topics they don’t have mastery of, takes them through exercises until they demonstrate mastery. ALEKS offers products for higher education in math, business, physics and chemistry. I think one way to improve quality university wide may be to use ALEKS as a tool to ensure a minimum level of competency in the math skills. Perhaps FAU could get a license for unlimited use and use these tools in the various disciplines. It is a great tool and requires minimal faculty time because the tool gives information to the student on how to master the topic. So, I would recommend having a institutional goal of having improved quantitative skills and use ALEKS to achieve that. I don’t know per se that there is institutional need in the quantitative area but I suspect there may be because of national trends.
10. I am an engineering professor and I am so proud of our university and college. One way to improve the quality of education is to have faculty exert more and/or different efforts. One way to make that happen is to make faculty and staff more connected to their own university. In essence, faculty and staff should feel/demand that FAU must be good enough for my own children and other family members. Well, let us give them incentive. If FAU gives, say, 10 credit hours annual fees waiver for family members, then faculty/staff have an incentive to make FAU the university of their relatives, then FAU must be at its best, and faculty will have more reasons to exert the extra needed efforts. Another way to look at it is that if FAU cannot give raises in this difficult economic time, then we give them a break in tuition for their relatives. An extra student or two in each class on campus will not hurt anyone. Actually, it will help our new great president expedite her goal of high total FAU enrolment, with quality students from our own precious faculty and staff.
11. If the University does believe that the ability to write well – to communicate clearly and concisely and to express complex ideas – is an important, indeed crucial, element of a college education, then writing needs to be a part of student coursework substantially beyond the core curriculum. To improve student writing at FAU, writing needs to be assigned and assessed in most upper-level courses, not relegated to the core or the classes in the humanities.
12. 1) SPOT online. Current response rates are terrible, often less than 9%. There needs to be a way to improve response rates and representation. Unfortunately, the only thing I could come up with is have the registrar withhold grades until each spot has been completed. 2) Technical proficiency for online instruction. A significant portion of our students are taking online courses without proper preparation. Additionally, they erroneously believe the instructor is their personal technical support person. This has been fostered by our outsourced help desk, leading to frustrated students, and faculty who are becoming increasingly unwilling to even consider online instruction. Proposed solution: require ISM 2000 for all freshmen, and make changes to the current outsourced help desk. 3) Basic processes. Our current grade change forms, many internal documents, etc. are currently paper. These can all be online PDF forms, and can include digital signatures. This would provide massive improvements in efficiency across campuses. 4) Registration: our interpretation of the current rule for students participating in the State Tuition waiver program is flawed. Nowhere in the law does it indicate STW students must register the last day. It only indicates that paying students have the opportunity to register first. Consequently, we lose a number of potentially bright in service professionals. Solution: Set up registration like most other universities: Week 1, graduate students and seniors, Week 2, Juniors and Sophomores, Week 3, Freshmen and non-degree seeking students, then immediately after everyone else including State Tuition waivers. This would provide at least a week cushion for scheduling, while maintaining the letter of the law. It has the potential to improve other processes by providing enough time to allow them to be less reactive.