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JCSU QEP FoundationThe Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for 2017-2022, “Cultivating a Culture and Curriculum for Undergraduate Research”, has been developed from an inclusive process that allowed for considerable input from all JCSU constituencies. This QEP is grounded in JCSU’s heritage of innovative application of cutting-edge instructional approaches. In many ways, this QEP traces its heritage to the 1990 implementation of a Senior Investigative Paper (SIP) requirement for all students.

Two resources guide the design of this QEP - (1) the Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research (COEUR), published by the Council on Undergraduate Research, (2) and the Research Skill Development Framework (RSDF), developed at the University of Adelaide in Australia. The COEUR has been used as an assessment tool for the current state of the JCSU culture for undergraduate research and as a planning tool for the activities and budget of this QEP. The RSDF is the basis for curricular planning and assessment of the proposed student learning outcomes (SLOs) in the disciplines at JCSU.

The curriculum at JCSU will be modified to focus on the development of basic research skills in foundation courses. Continued development of these skills will be effected by scaffolded research experiences in the major courses, leading to improved SIPs. Faculty development will include workshops on developing research skills, classroom-based research project development, and proposal development. The culture for research will be enhanced by a process audit of barriers to undergraduate research effectiveness, additional support for mentored undergraduate research, and increased staff training opportunities. In addition to improving SIPs through more intentional research skill development throughout the undergraduate experience, a positive benefit of these activities will be an increased number of externally-funded research activities on campus, which will lead to a perpetuation of the achievement of the goals of this QEP beyond its five year timeframe.