University of the Cumberlands is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). SACS now requires that each accredited school demonstrate an ongoing commitment to improving research, service, teaching, or learning. This “ongoing commitment” is formalized in an institution’s Quality Enhancement Plan or QEP.
Our QEP is Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum. Our campus-wide intention is to nurture students’ abilities to think with clarity,discernment, and integration. Starting in the spring of 2004, faculty from across the campus began to meet to discuss learning at UC. Focus groups and forums, disputations and deliberations were conducted for 18 months. By November 2004 it was determined by the QEP Committee that the institution would be well-served to address critical thinking, and to purposefully nurture thinking marked by clarity, discernment, and integration.
Who is involved?
The short answer here is that we all are! Initial attention will focus on training a small group of faculty in critical thinking and innovative teaching approaches. These faculty will then embed greater, intentional focus on critical thinking within their general education and introductory classes. Across time, all faculty and all students will increase in their ability to think with clarity, discernment, and integration.
What activities can I expect?
-General education classes will be re-engineered to emphasize critically thinking about the content within those courses. Likely, this will mean greater opportunities for students to write and speak.
-A public information campaign will seek to increase awareness of the QEP, critical thinking, and the importance of critical thinking to school, work, and life.
-There will be an increase in outside-class opportunities for students to think about issues through multiple angles, such as panel discussions, and presentations.
-Contests will be held to increase campus-wide awareness of critical thinking
-Each year a cadre of faculty will receive intensive professional development in critical thinking
-Faculty will receive newsletters oriented to critical thinking, teaching, and assessment.
-Professional development opportunities, such as faculty and departmental meetings, will deepen faculty understanding of critical thinking