The process of selecting the QEP began with campus-wide conversations in the fall of 2007 regarding ideas for improving student learning at Sam Houston State University. At this time, five town hall meetings were conducted to solicit ideas for the QEP. To reach as broad an audience as possible, the Associate Vice Presidents for Academic Affairs met with various groups to discuss the QEP and request input. The Associate Vice Presidents for Academic Affairs met with members of the Academic Program Council, the Alumni Board, and the Council of Academic Deans to discuss the QEP, to solicit ideas, and to inform the committees about the QEP process. In addition, input was solicited from the University Faculty Senate and the Staff Council, and a request for additional faculty input on student learning outcomes was made through the academic deans. Specifically, members of the faculty were asked by e-mail, “If there is one thing you could do to improve student learning on the SHSU campus, what would it be?” Subsequently, a website was created to encourage faculty, students and staff to contact the Leadership Committee, the Compliance Committee, or the QEP Committee to submit ideas.

After collecting the suggestions, the Vice President for Academic Affairs established the QEP Committee, consisting of 11 representatives from across campus, to review the initiatives. The QEP Committee consisted of the following members:

Rita Caso Director, Institutional Research and Assessment
Frank Fair Professor of Philosophy
Mark Frank Associate Professor of Economics
Marcus Gillespie Associate Professor of Geology
Marsha Harman Professor of Psychology
Joan Maier Associate Professor of Education
Carroll Nardone Associate Professor of English
Daughn Pruitt Associate Dean of Students
Mary Robbins Professor of Education
Keri Rogers Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences; Director, First Year Experience
Mike Vaughn Professor of Criminal Justice

The committee initially narrowed the list of QEP topics to the top six ideas. Each of the six ideas was assigned to a member of the QEP Committee to develop. Their task was to outline the basic strategy for implementing the idea and identify potential sources of data to substantiate the educational need. The criteria for consideration of the proposed learning initiatives were as follows:

1) There must be a perceived need for the initiative with supporting institutional data to demonstrate that need.
2) The initiative must be perceived by the faculty and students as a means of adequately addressing the need.
3) The objectives/outcomes of the initiative must be measurable.
4) The majority of the faculty and students must support the initiative.

Based on the presentations by the individuals advocating each topic, and a review of the data supporting each of the ideas, the QEP Committee selected three prospective QEP topics: reading, writing, and mastery of scientific reasoning. Three programs that addressed these concerns were then chosen:

1) Common Reader proposal
2) Writing to Succeed proposal
3) Foundations of Science course proposal

The three programs were then presented by their advocates at college-wide meetings in January, 2008. All members of the faculty were asked to attend the meetings of their respective colleges, and faculty members had a chance to ask questions about each of the suggested QEP proposals. Following the presentations, the members of the faculty expressed their opinions of the proposals by electronically submitting a ballot consisting of four Likert-style statements for each proposal. These statements were:

1) I think the project is aimed at a legitimate student need.
2) I think there is sufficient data to demonstrate student need in this area.
3) I think the project represents a reasonable effort to address the student need.
4) I think this is a project the campus community will support.

A total of 336 faculty members expressed their opinion on the initiative, out of approximately 900 faculty members. The Foundations of Science proposal received the greatest support on three of the four questions. Based on the results of this survey and subsequent discussion by the QEP Committee, the science course was selected by the QEP Committee as the QEP Learning Initiative that would be adopted by the University.

This QEP selection process is summarized in the diagram below:

Selection of QEP Topic diagram