by Dr. Wendy Sharer
This year marks the kickoff of ECU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), a key component of our reaccreditation with Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). While a QEP is mandated by SACS, it is more than a hoop to jump through or a way for an outside agency to check up on the university: it is an opportunity to develop forward-looking, long-term initiatives that will enhance the educational experiences of current and future ECU students. The goal of ECU’s QEP, entitled “Write Where You Belong,” is to integrate, align, and reinforce writing instruction for students from the day that they matriculate at ECU until the day that they complete their degrees and transition into the workplace or advanced study. More specifically, the university will expand individualized writing support for students, enhance instructional support for faculty, and revise the writing curriculum at ECU.
At the heart of the university’s efforts to increase individualized support for student writers is a substantial expansion of the University Writing Center (UWC) in Joyner Library. Consulting space will grow from a four-person table to a 2,700 square-foot dedicated space, complete with hardware and software to assist students in the electronic and multi-modal writing that many of them need to do in the 21st Century. Additionally, more writing consultants will be hired to use the new space and to participate in another QEP initiative, the Writing Mentors program. This program, scheduled to begin in fall 2013, will embed trained juniors, seniors, and graduate students as writing consultants in specific writing-intensive classes.
The QEP also includes several new professional support programs to help faculty. One such program, the Faculty Learning Communities program, will bring together faculty from the Writing Foundations program (currently English 1100 and 1200) and writing intensive course instructors from across the university to investigate issues in student writing and to share strategies for teaching writing.
Finally, planned curriculum revisions will address students’ difficulties remembering and applying writing strategies across contexts. Results of a QEP survey distributed to sophomores, juniors, and seniors in fall 2011 revealed that students often struggle to recall and adapt what they have studied in English 1100 and 1200 to later later coursework. In response, the QEP proposes to move English 1200 to the 2000-level and to structure it as a bridge between general academic writing and writing in disciplinary contexts. Beginning with the incoming class in fall 2014, students will have the opportunity in English 2201 to explore what writing looks like in their intended major area and to develop skills that will help them recall, adapt, and apply the general writing strategies that they learn in English 1100 to more specific disciplinary contexts.
As the QEP moves forward, I hope that ECU faculty, particularly faculty who teach writing intensive courses, will make students aware of new writing supports on campus, participate in Faculty Learning Communities, and share their knowledge of writing in different disciplines as we prepare to offer English 2201 for the first time.