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If you'd like to add your input to the Quality Enhancement Plan, or if you have any questions, please contact Dr. Jess Boersma (


Face Age Applied Learning

Actually sitting in the room with the dietitian, being on the other side of the table, picturing myself in a few years in her shoes, was extremely life changing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a QEP?

A QEP -- or Quality Enhancement Plan -- is a long-term, university-wide project meant to improve, enrich, and enhance the student learning experience. We must design our own QEP to fit UNCW’s students’ specific needs. Everyone across campus -- staff, students, faculty, and administration -- can contribute his or her point of view to the QEP discussion, and is highly encouraged to do so!

In technical terms, the following definition comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the group in charge of UNCW’s accreditation process: “The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), submitted four to six weeks in advance of the on-site review (for UNCW: winter 2013), is a document developed by the institution that (1) includes a process identifying key issues emerging from institutional assessment, (2) focuses on learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplishing the mission of the institution, (3) demonstrates institutional capability for the initiation, implementation, and completion of the QEP, (4) includes broad-based involvement of institutional constituencies in the development and proposed implementation of the QEP, and (5) identifies goals and a plan to assess their achievement.”

UNCW's QEP is called ETEAL: Experiencing Transformative Education through Applied Learning.

What are ETEAL’S Definitions of Applied Learning & Critical Reflection?

Applied learning is a pedagogical model that places students in experiences that require them to integrate theories, ideas, and skills that they’ve learned in new contexts, thereby extending their learning.

Critical reflection is a teaching strategy designed to promote the intentional development of “problem-solving skills, higher order reasoning, integrative thinking, goal clarification, openness to new ideas, ability to adopt new perspectives, and systematic thinking” (Ash & Clayton, 2009, p. 27). It produces "[T]he intentional consideration of an experience in light of particular learning objectives" (Hatcher & Bringle, 1997, p.153).

What are the goals and desired student learning outcomes of ETEAL?

ETEAL's Goals

  1. To improve student learning in applied learning experience through enriching the environment supporting student learning.
  2. To provide faculty and staff with information and resources about high-impact practices in applied learning pedagogy as appropriate to their discipline and responsibilities.
  3. To promote the incorporation and implementation of high-impact practices of applied learning throughout UNCW.

ETEAL's Student Learning Outcomes

ETEAL draws its student learning outcomes from the University Studies required Component: Explorations Beyond the Classroom (EBC):

  • EBC1. Students will be able to articulate their expectations, the purpose, and/or the goals of the experience in terms of their personal educational development.
  • EBC2. Students will synthesize knowledge drawn from their coursework to address the issues/challenges/questions involved in the experience.
  • EBC 3. Students will be able to communicate the impact or significance on their personal educational development and on others in the profession or in the field at the conclusion of the experience.

Why is UNCW doing this? Why now?

Every school under SACS jurisdiction is required to complete a QEP in order to be re-accredited. QEPs were added to the accreditation requirements in 2004. UNCW is scheduled for re-accreditation in 2013, so we must have our QEP report completed by late 2012. The entire process, from topic development to implementation and assessment, takes several years to be as thoughtful and thorough as possible.

Our QEP will provide the opportunity to focus on and enhance the UNCW learning experience by improving how we educate our students. The QEP should affect nearly everyone across campus, and we have a lot of freedom in the development and implementation of the topic, whatever the campus decides it to be. The topic was selected after careful consideration of campus input and refining in spring 2011. The pilot QEP project was implemented during the 2011-2012 academic year when we began collecting data to measure its effectiveness.  Additional pilot QEP projects joined the existing pilot projects during the 2012-2013 academic year.

When did the QEP topic selection process begin?

During the 2010-2011 academic year, UNCW appointed the QEP Topic Development Task Force to begin working within our campus community to identify and develop our QEP Topic. Thanks to campus-wide participation we have identified “Applied Learning” as our topic area, solicited pre-proposals and funded fuller proposals to deliver our pilot implementation during the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 academic years. This Pilot Program delivers much-needed data on the best practices for applied learning and how we can measure the impacts of applied learning. The Task Force solicited campus involvement in Forums and Focus Groups from fall 2011 to spring 2012, which helped clarify and refine our approach so that our QEP proposal will be clear, sharp, feasible, and fun!

What are some of the primary requirements the QEP must meet?

According to SACS, our QEP must describe a course of action that addresses a well-defined topic or issue directly related to enhancing student learning on UNCW’s campus; reflect the specific needs of UNCW and our students; represent UNCW’s mission; and be integrated into UNCW’s ongoing planning and evaluation process. For more requirements (and there are many!), take a look at the SACS QEP planning document on our QEP Documents.

Who’s in charge?

Dr. Jess Boersma, Associate Professor of Spanish, is UNCW’s official QEP coordinator and Director of ETEAL

How do I participate?

Everyone across campus is encouraged to help out with the QEP! See our Events page for more information on how you can get involved!

Who can I contact if I have an idea, questions, comments? Or if I’m just interested in getting involved?

If you have any questions about how ETEAL is tracking, measuring, and improving Applied Learning here at UNCW, or about the ETEAL website itself, contact Robert Hicks at If you have any questions about ETEAL as a whole or want to talk directly to Dr. Jess Boersma, the Director of ETEAL, you can reach him at

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