Demonstrating Our Commitment to Student Learning

Students studying inside Gatton College of Business and Economics
Mark Cornelison | UK Photo

Campus Community,

How do we demonstrate that we are a campus firmly focused on student learning and success? That’s the goal behind the development of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).

A QEP – which is a required feature of our efforts to seek reaffirmation or reaccreditation as a university – is a campus-wide initiative that underscores an institution’s commitment to learning outcomes.

A team of dedicated professionals has been working for months on potential ideas for a QEP (You can read more on that process below).

They’ve surveyed the campus, gathered feedback from faculty leaders and discussed several compelling ideas for QEP initiatives. Based on that feedback and input, we are ready to move forward with one initiative:

Our QEP will focus on Transdisciplinary Educational approaches to advance Kentucky (TEK).

It’s a big name for an important approach.

In research, we often use the idea of working across and among disciplines and fields – what are often called multidisciplinary approaches – to ask and examine big questions. In such an approach, as Acting Provost Bob DiPaola often says, people come together to collaborate after much planning has already been done.

A transdisciplinary approach, on the other hand, is more powerful. It involves coming together early by first identifying the key questions. A shared conceptual framework is utilized to create new approaches to address a common problem. For example, a critical issue to be examined could be a focus on what is needed in Kentucky to create a more competitive workforce.

This approach, ideally, is more collaborative, embraces our campus expertise – staff, students and faculty – and includes experts from our alumni and our community from the very beginning of a process.

We’ve used this approach to significantly increase research funding in recent years around some of the biggest challenges our state and world face – cancer, heart disease and opioid misuse, among others. Think about what might be possible if we applied such an approach – experts coming together early around shared approaches and goals – to student learning, outcomes and success for our state.

Using what Acting Provost DiPaola calls the 3 Es – experts, evidence and experience, which we have in abundance – we are positioned better than most to apply this new approach to existing challenges related to student learning.

We can move thoughtfully and creatively to create programs that have impact and that can be integrated with our research and community-wide service efforts. In addition, we can help students learn and think about real-world problems or themes with a transdisciplinary approach. In doing so, we better prepare them for lives of meaning and purpose – the idea at the heart of everything we do at UK.

The development and implementation of a QEP is an important piece of the consistent progress we’ve made in our efforts toward reaffirmation.

The SACSCOC reaffirmation of accreditation process – which will culminate in 2023 – is a priority. Accreditation ensures our eligibility for federal grants and contracts as well as student financial aid funds.

The QEP is a required element of the reaffirmation plan. It underscores the idea that we are building an environment throughout our campus that supports student learning and success in everything that we do. We all play an important role in that work.

I am excited about this effort and what it will mean for our students and their success at UK and beyond our campus. Thank you for all you do to make such a commitment to students possible.

Eli Capilouto