Cumberland University

Quality Enhancement Plan

Scholarship, Learning and Academic Mentoring

The mission of Cumberland University to provide "a contemporary liberal arts education to students seeking a high-quality, personalized college experience" and the General Education mission to "provide foundational tools" such as critical thinking and enhancing literacy drove the development of the university's QEP focused on the academic transitions of first-year students. The central focus of "Scholarship, Learning and Academic Mentoring" is a new General Education Core course for all first-year students, entitled Foundations of Scholarship and Learning (FSL) 101. Co curricular activities, such as the Library's iRead (common reading) program, learning communities, and events that foster student-faculty interaction are used to support the central focus on the course.

QEP Steering Committee created student learning outcomes: That Support our Mission
  • Effectively apply academic library research resources through basic proficiency in information literacy: demonstrate understanding of the research process and use library tools and services.
To "provide a contemporary liberal arts education to students..."
  • Identify the function and use of recommended university support services (Academic Enrichment Center, Counseling Center and Career and Internship Services).
  • Demonstrate effective note taking and active reading abilities.
  • Identify and demonstrate time management skills and gain a stranger internal locus of control to improve academic performance.
"to thrive intellectually, professionally, personally and spiritually..."
  • Increase formal and informal interaction with faulty and identify faculty academic expectations.
" a high-quality, personalized experience"

Being proactive, gathering evidence, evaluating information, doing critical reflection, and participating in a  scholarly environment are all important aspects of the transition to college. The support of the campus community in nurturing and reinforcing these key academic transitions are and essential aspect of ensuring the success of the QEP. Engaging students in getting to know faculty, attending and reflecting on co0curricular events,a nd making connections with university support services are built-in to the course as ways to engage students witht he campus community.


Assessment: How of we know the QEP is a success?

We measure the success of the QEP both direct and indirect indicators of student learning. The direct indicators of progress towards our student learning outcomes come mainly from assignments in the Foundations of Scholarship and LEarning course such as an argumentative research paper, tests on student knowledge of campus resources and research tools, time management project, and study application assignments on active reading and reflective note taking. Within the course, students complete and online questionnaire of study strategies and behaviors that lead to academic success and effective learning in college. Indirect measures on learning include items and scales not he National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which students complete int he spring semester. Interviews with a  randomly selected group of first-year students also take place int he spring and inform the universities understanding of the particular needs of students with insights into how students are applying the concepts and behaviors they learned in FSL. We also look at the connections between study habits and strategies, characteristics of sub-groups such as athletes and cumulative GPA, which helps us make decisions about how to improve the QEP from year to year.


Selected Results:

  • Time Management: At the end of the fall semester, students scored in the 42nd national percentile in Time Management and in 53rd national percentile on Concentration (Fall 2012 data)
    • Of those who scored in the lowest third of the class in time management at the beginning of the Fall semester, 43% showed significant gains at the end of Fall semester.
  • Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (SAILS): students who participated in library instruction as part of FSL scored 12.6% higher than students who did not participate (Spring 2011 data).
  • Entry characteristics and FSL: Perceived academic preparation, high school GPA and FSL grade are all positive predictors of first semester GPA (Fall 2010 data).
  • Perceived success of FSL: Students whoa re more academically motivated are statistically more likely to agree that FSL has helped them make the academic transitions necessary to succeed in college (Fall 2011 data).