Southern University recently released details regarding its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The QEP was developed in order to remain compliant with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, SACS for short, which is the institute responsible for determining whether or not Southern University remains accredited. In the past, all three of Southern University’s campuses have faced accreditation problems, so rather than being reactive, Southern University administration is attempting to be proactive in its approach to how it is implementing its Quality Enhancement Plan.
To summarize the forty page packet outlining the Quality Enhancement Plan, the university is making a more concerted effort to help first-time freshman adapt to college better. The pass/fail rate for courses taken almost exclusively by first-time freshman shows a staggeringly high percentage of those students failing. Courses such as Math 135, Pre-Calculus, and Biology 104, General Biology, are the worst offenders with as much as seventy-seven percent of students failing the course. The QEP is intended to address this issue as well as increase the amount of academic support all students have, “[the QEP] was created to serve as a platform to achieve greater success in gateway courses inclusive of Developmental English, Mathematics and Biology… Incoming freshman will truly benefit from the QEP and course redesign due to its ability to not only change the way the curriculum is taught,” said Executive Director of First and Second Year Experience, Zackeus D. Johnson.
The Quality Enhancement Plan calls for an overhaul of the tutoring department on campus on two fronts: facilities and personnel and training. In order to ensure enough space to accommodate the expected demand increase, the department recently opened a writing center on the second floor of John B. Cade Library and has plans to open a new tutoring center in T.T Allen next fall alongside the old tutoring center in Stewart Hall. In conjunction with the space accommodation, the number of tutors is also expected to increase with graduate students being hired to help fill subject vacancies, ” We will mostly utilize our graduate tutors to tutor [subjects lacking undergraduate tutors]. Additionally, we are collaborating with the professors to offer study groups [for subjects such as Chemistry 132, General Chemistry],” said Executive Director of Center for Student Success, La’Trina Collins.
Drawing inspiration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the Quality Enhancement Plan calls for the implementation of a peer-led tutoring method called “supplemental instruction.” Rather than students going to one of the centers and getting help from a tutor, the tutor sits in on classes from day one and leads weekly, group study sessions and traditional, one-on-one tutoring as needed, with the idea being that tutors would be able to better assist students by taking the class alongside the students.
The success of the QEP, ultimately, depends on how well it can market itself. According to the QEP, focus groups revealed that the majority of students and faculty are unaware of many resources offered by the university, including the tutor center. As such, the QEP also includes a marketing campaign to get the word out to students and faculty but, as it is not very detailed or extensive, it is too soon to say whether or not it will be effective, “The university] needs to do a better job making sure students get help, and it starts by making sure that the students know where to go to get help,” said sophomore, business marketing major Safari Thompson.