Jenny Wells

'Presentation U' to Enrich Student Learning as UK's Quality Enhancement Plan

Published: Apr 30, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 30, 2012) — At the University of Kentucky, students are the ultimate presentation.


This idea is what inspired "Presentation U," a new concept that titles UK's Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) to improve the student learning experience with a focus on developing integrated oral, written, visual and multimedia communication skills.


The QEP is one of 12 core requirements the university takes on to reaffirm its accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).  SACS reaffirmation of accreditation is mandatory for the university. The QEP is being developed to receive SACS' evaluation during spring 2013.


"Presentation U" represents new opportunities students will soon have to improve their presentation skills across various platforms. While many students utilize similar services at UK currently, such as the Writing Center, the Study and the Hub, "Presentation U" will unite and augment these programs, while also offering a unique service to faculty in developing opportunities in their courses for students to learn these skills.  


"The goal of the QEP is not to encumber departments on campus with more requirements," explained QEP committee co-chair and UK communication professor Deanna Sellnow. "Instead, the QEP that UK selected will provide infrastructural support for faculty and students who choose to participate."


Amy Gaffney, a UK professor of communication, helped in creating this concept of multimodal communication for the university's QEP, and has a special interest in helping students improve their presentation skills.


"There is an ongoing recognition that students need to communicate better," Gaffney said.  "Employers have come back to university officials saying that they wish their students could do this, and UK needed to answer the call. Communication skills are so embedded in what professors do that sometimes they have a hard time teaching those types skills to students."


Last fall, a committee at the university worked with students to determine the best way to brand the QEP to the UK community, since awareness of the QEP is an important part of the accreditation process.  Based on existing market research, prospective UK students consistently report that one of the most important factors they consider when choosing a

college is if their degree will help them attain a good job or get accepted into a good graduate or professional program. Based on this factor, campus focus groups were conducted to determine what students need to become more marketable to potential employers. The findings showed that students place great importance on writing/communication and presentation skills to help them land jobs and graduate school acceptance. 


And thus, "Presentation U" was born.  So what's the next step?


This fall, information about "Presentation U" will be distributed to the UK community through various sources, so all students, faculty and staff will have a general knowledge and understanding of the QEP.


Additionally, the QEP will continue the commitment of UK Core's Composition and Communication learning outcomes beyond the freshman or sophomore year, working with faculty and staff who choose to institute new communication-based curricula or to formalize programs already in place. 


"UKCore does an excellent job of meeting basic communication needs for our incoming students," said Diane Snow, professor in the UK Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology and co-chair of the QEP committee. "'Presentation U' will 'take it to the next level' through vertical integration of communication skills building in the students' majors, specifically for juniors and seniors."



MEDIA CONTACT: Jenny Wells, (859) 257-5343;

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