Sustained Commitment and On-going Communication and Awareness
To ensure ongoing commitment to this effort, the University proposes to engage in an intense branding and marketing campaign. The goal is to increase faculty, staff, and student knowledge about, and participation in, the QEP based on their role. What we are asking faculty and staff to do within the QEP requires a level of investment. To this point, through incorporating their voices and concerns, we have acknowledged how critical they are to the success of our first-time freshmen. This campaign will promote ongoing communication and awareness about the QEP purpose and plan.
The branding and marketing campaign is an opportunity to start building a culture around the freshman student experience, educate staff about what we need from them, and increase interest in the QEP through ongoing opportunities for engagement. The campaign contains multiple components that will help to ingrain the QEP objectives with our various audiences.
QEP Graphical Elements
The QEP graphical elements serve as an opportunity to provide a visual brand for the effort. The graphic given below will serve as the main logo for the QEP.
This graphic condenses the overall title of TSU’s QEP to a memorable phrase “Application to Graduation,” and emphasizes the 14 plays in 45 days. The upward-pointing arrows on each side of the circle denote the forward progress that these 14 plays will accomplish. This graphic will be displayed prominently on TSU’s campus – on lightpoles, yard signs, banners, etc. – as well as promotional QEP items and giveaways to faculty, staff and students.
In addition to this general logo, each play will have an icon tailored specifically to that play. Each of the 14 plays, represented by a simple, elegant, graphical icon, is part of a concerted effort to ensure that our students are successful during the critical initial days of their connection with TSU. It is important that each play is not seen simply as an isolated consecutive numeric “ingredient” toward success.
Based on our findings we identified 6 areas where a student’s lack of knowledge of how University processes work could impact their ability to have a successful first-year experience. These areas, along with the objective of the proposed activities, are given in Table 1.
All of these knowledge activities relate to normal University processes and practices. The QEP effort has not developed any new University processes to address the knowledge issue. Rather, the proposed QEP change is in regards to how the activities are implemented. That is, the QEP requires a more focused and coordinated effort specifically targeted to first-time freshmen.
Table 1 Knowledge Activities
|Application and Admission||Potential students will have an understanding of all steps required in the application and admission process, including required documentation and deadlines; and will be informed in a timely manner of admission decisions.|
|Financial Aid||Student applicants will have an understanding of the financial aid application process, including required documentation and deadlines; and, along with advisors, be provided with continuous status updates on their application.|
|Advising and Registration||Students will enroll as full-time students in courses that will result in a degree in 6-years or less.|
|Residential Engagement||Students will have knowledge of and access to the TSU campus cultural life.|
|Institutional Technology||Students will have knowledge of and access to University technology including computer labs, Blackboard, and the MyTSUMobile App.|
|Wellness||Students will have knowledge of and access to University resources that address their personal, emotional, and social needs.|
Detail on each of these 6 plays is provided in Appendix 5. Here we provide a description of what action will occur, when it will occur in the first-year experience, where the action is expected to take place, and how it will be implemented to address gaps in student knowledge.
It should also be noted that for this group of activities a “quarterback” has been identified to implement each play. The quarterbacks represent individuals who under normal circumstances would have direct responsibility for the activity addressed by the play. For example, the quarterback for the financial aid activity will be the current director of the TSU Financial Aid Department.
Five plays have been identified to address academic skill and motivation issues. These plays are based on the findings that many of the new TSU students lack a clear and meaningful understanding of what it means to be a student and are therefore unlikely to engage in the type of academic related activities required of university students. These areas, along with the objective of the proposed activities, are given in Table 2.
Table 2 Skills and Motivation Activities
|Academic Skill Development||Students will increase their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.|
|Self-Administration||Students will increase their time-management skills.|
|Self-Awareness||Students will understand the expectations associated with being a college student.|
|Motivation||Students will be exposed to successful community individuals with backgrounds similar to their own.|
|Self Actualization||Students will develop a personal career plan.|
These plays do not have quarterbacks in the same sense as the previous set of plays. These activities will be implemented by the Executive Committee. The logic associated with these activities is that each play represents direct involvement and intervention by faculty. As a result, there is no direct administrative unit to which faculty report that could provide the diversity of skills and expertise necessary for success for these plays. Thus, given the relationship of the Executive Committee with the faculty as developed over the course of the QEP planning process, it was determined that the Executive Committee should take overall responsibility for the implementation of these activities.
The Executive Committee will identify faculty with the relevant expertise and provide guidance and support as necessary to meet the objectives of the specific play. The exception to this is the “Self-Actualization” Play. This play will have quarterbacks. It is designed to provide students with an opportunity to develop a personal career plan within the context of Freshman English I, a gateway college level core course. English faculty members who have currently integrated the personal career planning into a signature assignment have been identified as quarterbacks.
These quarterbacks will be responsible for implementing the activity in all first-year English courses being taught in the English department. It should further be noted that this group of plays will not be expected to be complete within the 45-day window. Given the type of activity proposed for each, they will extend through the entire first semester of enrollment. Again detail related to who, what, when, where, and how is provided in Appendix 5.
The last 3 activities relate, in a direct and indirect manner, to student involvement in the academic life of the university. These areas, along with the objective of the proposed activities, are given in Table 3. Because faculty are an integral part of this project, as well as instrumental to the success of students in general, we concluded that an activity designed to stimulate their engagement with this effort was crucial. Thus, the faculty engagement play has been added to not only help focus faculty attention on the first-year experience of first-year students but to tap their creativity in regards to innovative approaches that could be implemented to improve that experience.
Table 3 Institutional Engagement Activities
|Faculty Engagement||University faculty will be committed to and engaged with the academic success of first-time freshmen students.|
|Transition to Major||First-time freshman students will transition into specific academic disciplines during their first semester of enrollment.|
|Campus Engagement||Students will be aware of and have access to the social and cultural life of TSU.|
The Transition to Major play is designed to provide a means by which to smoothly transition first-year students into the normal academic environment of their chosen major field; thus, providing students with a seamless pathway to independent university life. And finally, our research has indicated that students who are not engaged in campus life are less likely to achieve academic success and less likely to continue at the institution (Upcraft, Gardner, and Barefoot, 2004; Young, 2019). Accordingly, this play is conceived as an attempt to find unique ways to engage students early-on in campus life.
Appendix 5 provides the detail for these three plays.