What is accreditation, and why is it important?

Accreditation is recognition that is given to an institution that demonstrates it meets standards established by private educational agencies and evaluated by its peers. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “the goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.” Graduating from an accredited institution verifies the quality of the education received, increases employment opportunities, and affords students the opportunity to receive licensure, registration, or certification (in some fields of study). Also, federal student financial aid is only distributed to accredited institutions. UAB was accredited by SACSCOC in 1970 and seeks reaffirmation of accreditation in 2015.

What is SACSCOC?

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, or SACSCOC, is the regional accrediting body for higher education institutions in the southern United States and Latin America that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, or doctoral degrees.

What is a QEP?

The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is a proposal developed by the UAB community to enhance student learning in a specific, measurable way. It is a key part of UAB’s SACSCOC reaffirmation of accreditation.

How did we end up with Learning in a Team Environment?

Clarus Consulting Group reached out to campus constituencies to identify potential topics for the 2015 QEP. Over 525 UAB faculty, staff, and students shared their thoughts at one of 17 meetings or through an online survey. The many ideas fit into three categories (enhancing learning, promoting citizenship, and building core competencies) and eleven themes, including general education. The summary is available here. Community and teams were recurring topics that could draw the many ideas into a single QEP, which led President Watts and Provost Lucas to select Learning in a Team Environment as the topic.

This QEP focus is responsive to the learning needs of all students and to the skills that are expected in the workplace. For the benefit of our students and graduates, we will strive to strengthen areas where teaming is already part of curricula or pedagogy. We will also strive to infuse teaming in courses and activities where it will promote student learning and the preparedness of our graduates.

What departments/majors will participate in the QEP?

All schools, the college, Student Life… Since team-skills are critical to success from the baccalaureate level to clinicians, all of the deans decided that their schools/college would participate. This QEP is one of the first educational efforts at UAB that will affect students in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. In additional to academic programs, Student Life, Career and Professional Services, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and every entity that interacts with students and faculty are invited to participate. We want a large, successful team!

How does the QEP affect me?

The goals of the QEP are two-fold. First, we expect the QEP to have an impact on the learning environment, that is, the number of courses or activities that involve team-focused teaching methods and the quality of content delivery in those courses. Second, the use of these team-focused teaching methods should affect students’ teamwork skills (how students contribute as individual members on a team), critical thinking skills, and inter-professional competence (skills and dispositions related to functioning as a member of an interdisciplinary team).

Students will benefit from new and unique experiences which engage students in the learning process. These experiences will enhance understanding of the importance of effective teamwork, as well as teamwork and critical thinking skills, which are important to employers!

When did the current QEP begin?

The QEP began fall 2015.

When will SACSCOC evaluate the QEP?

SACSCOC will evaluate the current QEP summer and fall 2020.