The purpose of this case study was to explore the quality enhancement plan (QEP) process and its influence on student learning of critical thinking and the institutional environment from the perspective of key stakeholders at two community colleges accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (the Commission). Key stakeholders were defined as faculty, staff, and administrators who had direct and continuous involvement with the development and/or implementation of the QEP. This was accomplished through document reviews and analysis of interviews. The study was guided by intertwined quality assurance systems—accountability, accreditation, and assessment, and six of Deming’s (1986) total quality management principles. These principles are: (1) customer, (2) training and development, (3) teamwork, (4) measurement, (5) improvement, and (6) leadership (Bosner, 1992; Deming, 1986; Marchese, 1991; Sallis, 2002).
The study suggests that as a result of accountability from multiple entities, quality in higher education and how the definition of quality includes student learning assessment, continues to be important to the Commission. The QEP process was developed to assist institutions with educational quality and improving effectiveness. Based on the study findings, the QEP process can have a positive influence on student learning of critical thinking and result in constructive and effective changes for an institution. The study also reveals the current QEP process could benefit from incorporating the strategy of identifying both internal and external direct measures of student learning within the QEP assessment plan and the Commission including a use assessment results section as a requirement for the QEP Impact Report.
The study confirms the importance of accountability, accreditation, and assessment, but the six TQM principles are not as significant as anticipated. Instead of all six principles surfacing as themes at the two public community colleges, teamwork was the only common theme. However, there was evidence of all six TQM principles at each college. Recommendations for the Commission, institutions of higher education, and recommendations for future research are presented.
|Advisor:||Floyd, Deborah L.|
|School:||Florida Atlantic University|
|School Location:||United States -- Florida|
|Source:||DAI-A 77/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Community college education, Pedagogy, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Assessment, Continuous improvement, QEP, SACSCOC, Student learning, Total quality management|
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