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Broad-based Support

Broad-based support

Throughout the fall of 2014 and the spring of 2015, University-wide competitions led to the winning proposals from faculty and staff members about sustaining the success of the student learning communities, a legacy of the first QEP. The existing QEP Committees – Executive and Implementation -- from the first QEP then combined these initiatives and priorities to create an executive summary draft. At the end of 2016, the new QEP Committee assumed responsibility. The new committee revised the draft to make it focus on the acquisition of an academic skills rather than on retention or graduation rates. While learning communities had focused on retention and graduation, the draft moved to assessment, particularly to analyzing the assessment data from the first QEP.

From spring 2017 through fall 2018, the University focused on the development and scope of its QEP.  A QEP Development Committee was established to oversee this work. The Development Committee included faculty, staff, and administrators, as well as the members of the Selection Committee.  All of the five school/colleges were represented; committee members included the Dean of Students, representatives from the Dr. Patricia Lynch Stith Student Success Center, the Lyman Beecher Brooks Library, and the Office of Extended Learning. The size of both the Selection and Development committees increased during 2018 to include more faculty, staff, and, for the first time, student leaders. The two student leaders were nominated by the Dean of Students; the additional faculty and staff members were recommended by their relevant Deans and Vice-Presidents. Currently, the Selection Committee has twenty-eight members with six of those members on the Development or Writing teams as well. The Committees membership list is provided in the Appendices.

Beginning in the spring of 2017, this Committee started drafting executive summaries to refine our focus to emphasize measurable and attainable student learning outcomes, to guarantee that our Plan explicitly addressed University-wide assessment data, and to make sure that the new Plan was not too ambitious.  At the Opening Session of the fall 2017 semester, a two-hour workshop was conducted with the full-time faculty members University-wide on the development of the QEP.  Faculty provided feedback on suggested strategies and themes and chose read and writing as priorities, deciding against student learning communities as the vehicle to improve overall student literacy. 

In October 2017, the Committee asked visiting members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) whether they valued close readers and effective writers. In February 2018, the QEP Committee hosted a student forum whereby undergraduates gave their views on the relevance and importance of our proposed strategies. That same month, the Committee hosted a model reading of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, and faculty and staff participants offered their views of how the strategies employed could be used in their fields. Such continuous feedback allowed QEP committee members to flesh out the theoretical assumptions underpinning the plan, as well as to customize the measures of its potential success.  One point is key: the Committee was careful to avoid conveying to the campus community the notion that “better reading” meant only reading the “classics” or that little reading was occurring on campus. “Better Reading for Better Writing”—an earlier title for the draft— appeared too subjective to some faculty and to Committee members.   The QEP Committee did not want to alienate faculty and staff members who would be implementing these improvements; thus, after deliberation by multiple stakeholders, the QEP name was chosen:  Close Reading for Effective Writing (CREW). The name received overwhelming support from University stakeholders while its memorable acronym captures the collaborative nature of the innovative CREW program.

The Committee also wanted to avoid giving the impression that this QEP initiative would involve only English faculty.  Accordingly, the first close reading seminar (held during the Opening Session of the fall 2018 semester) focused on a seminal piece in ecological history -- the stirring introduction to Rachel Carson's call-to-arms, Silent Spring (1962). Participants discussed this text employing close reading techniques and questions and explaining how this text could be used in an undergraduate classroom.  Four panelists—a nurse, a biologist, a literary critic, and a historian—led the discussion, and 10 other faculty members from different disciplines participated in the discussion.  During the same Opening Session, the Committee also sponsored an Academic Showcase of some of the best reading and writing assignments from current NSU faculty leaders.  During the Showcase, a management specialist, a pedagogical expert, an interdisciplinary studies professor, and a sociologist demonstrated how and why the particular activities led to either close reading or effective writing or both. Their presentations sparked animated discussions and debates about best practices, including approaches to improving adult literacy in a sensitive manner.  These workshops promoted the series of lunchtime close readings of academic texts and materials from different disciplines held every other Wednesday at 12 noon in the Library for faculty and staff.  The academic texts and materials involved included a fiery editorial from abolitionist William Garrison, a secondary article on the origins of the FDIC written by business professors, a chapter from the Dalai Lama's The Universe in a Single Atom, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's State of the Union address from January 1944. The sessions were filmed, and the video recordings will be placed on the QEP website for broad exposure.  Inspired by reports of the faculty and staff sessions, student leaders decided to initiate their own close reading series.  They have planned a student-led reading of the lyrics from the music video by Childish Gambino designated for Black History Month in February 2019.

Furthermore, the QEP Committee has enlisted the support of the University's Office of Communications and Marketing to develop a comprehensive publicity plan for CREW.  Significant features of the plan include promoting the QEP/CREW through the timely release of information regarding the activities of NSU students, faculty, and staff; through collaboration with representatives from various community media; through an NSU QEP/CREW newsletter, the NSU annual report, the University’s magazine; and through internal and external partnerships that will benefit the student community.     

The QEP/CREW program will be hosted on two NSU websites.  The QEP/CREW Portal (Website) being developed in conjunction with the Office of Communications and Marketing will be hosted on the website to be accessible to the public.   Content will include the QEP/CREW Program, including the activities of NSU students, faculty, and staff and other pertinent information.  The QEP/CREW SharePoint Website is hosted on the NSU SharePoint website and is accessible to those with authorized usernames and passwords, such as members of the QEP Committee. It houses all QEP/CREW files:  documents, working documents, confidential documents, reports, etc.