Quality Enhancement Plan
History of the Project: CVCC's 2002-3 Quality Enhancement Plan
The College began to prepare for its decennial reaccredidation effort fairly early. During the 2001-2002 academic year, key administrators monitored the progress of at least two Virginia institutions which were among those schools to participate in SACS' inaugural revised reaffirmation process. CVCC's president and director of institutional research became familiar with the basic components of the process so they in turn could inform the rest of the staff. Both individuals attended SACS meetings as well to increase their understanding of what the new reaffirmation process would entail.
They found noteworthy changes from the former Self-Study process. Compliance documents would be posted and available online to members of the SACS off-site assessment team. In place of the Self-Study, institutions were to produce a Quality Enhancement Plan that reflected their own sense of mission and purpose. The feeling conveyed from the leadership at CVCC was one of eagerness, excitement, and a sense of pioneering challenge. Since the College would be among the first class of institutions to complete the process after the pilot-testing group, its goal was to establish a standard of excellence that other institutions in subsequent classes might emulate.
During April 2002, the president, the director of institutional research, the chair of the Quality Enhancement Plan Committee, and the writer of the QEP went to Atlanta for a SACS briefing to become further acquainted with the revised reaffirmation process and to meet with our SACS liaison. While there the College received preliminary approval for our QEP topic: online courses.
During the summer 2002, the College president and the chair of the QEP Committee refined the topic, developed the parameters that the project was to encompass, and decided on the necessary committee structure to carry out the project. The Leadership Committee oversaw the QEP Committee which directed the work of the subcommittees. Four subcommittees gathered the information that informed the project (see Appendix A). By the beginning of the fall 2002 semester, the membership of each subcommittee had been finalized, and each subcommittee chair had begun to shepherd the work.
Each of the four subcommittees was given a specific charge related to the aspect of online instruction each was to investigate, each of which is described below. Additionally, each subcommittee was to submit five-year goals and related annual objectives to the QEP Committee and ultimately to the Leadership Committee detailing its findings. These goals and objectives were all to be directed to accomplishing the aim of CVCC's Quality Enhancement Plan: the development, delivery, and support of world-class online courses and degrees.
The Rationale and Management Subcommittee's goals were to examine the support services (online registration, advisement, financial aid, records, counseling, etc.), at selected community colleges. This committee also examined methods of utilizing the College's permanent committee structure for planning, editing, and reviewing web courses to provide superior service to CVCC students and the community. Additional responsibilities of this committee included examining selected community colleges to determine the optimal teacher-student ratio and faculty course loads.
The Course Development Subcommittee had as its mission to examine the components that characterize highly successful online courses by benchmarking successful online environments at selected community colleges nationwide. This examination included the identification of opportunities to research and develop technologically innovative, educationally beneficial elements of online courses. Additionally, this committee sought to identify the elements that should be included in every CVCC course and the design of a template home page for these courses.
The Assessment of Online Learning Subcommittee was charged to study the best ways of assessing learning outcomes in online courses by benchmarking successful assessment criteria at selected community colleges. This subcommittee was also charged to develop and maintain ongoing methods of comparing the effectiveness of traditional and online courses at CVCC.
The Infrastructure Subcommittee had as its mission to examine the technological standards necessary to support excellence in online education including server uptime, hardware requirements, and student technological skills requirements. A further objective of this committee involved investigation of strategies for obtaining support of faculty and staff as well as providing recommendations for related projects that could be supported by the General Assembly or though outside grants.
During the entire fall semester 2002, the subcommittee members met, sent emails, conducted research, made phone calls and site visits, and achieved steady progress toward their objectives. They established Blackboard sites and posted documents for discussion and review. They answered certain questions and raised others. The head of the QEP Committee managed to keep the subcommittees on track through regularly-scheduled meetings with the subcommittee chairs, through phone calls, emails, and in-hall conversations. In turn, the subcommittee chairs managed to keep their committee members on task though similar means.
By the end of January 2003, all the subcommittees had completed their reports and submitted them to the chair of the QEP Committee for review and revision. When the QEP Committee completed its review, the chair forwarded them to the Leadership Committee which examined the goals and objectives and made some further revisions. By April 2003, the overall goals and objectives of CVCC's Quality Enhancement Plan were finalized and the College leadership was looking to finding the ways and means to make the plan a reality. (See Appendix A for detailed committee memberships.)