Building Student Achievement Through Inclusive Engagement
Goal: Coastal Carolina University (CCU) will implement Belong@Coastal: Building Student Achievement Through Inclusive Engagement as its Quality Enhancement Plan for the years 2022-27. The goal of the QEP is to maximize students’ academic success and sense of belonging within the university by implementing teaching and mentoring practices that are focused on inclusive action, critical evaluation, and cultural reflection. Using measurable activities that are rooted in the AAC&U's guidelines for building Inclusive Excellence, the QEP’s student learning outcomes (SLOs) will elevate students’ levels of academic achievement and social integration through targeted curricular and co-curricular engagement—which together will lead to improvement in the university’s student retention rates as well as an increase in diverse students’ attraction to CCU as the institution where they will successfully pursue undergraduate degrees. In this context, we anticipate that the successful implementation of the QEP will result in an improvement of student retention levels by up to three percent over a period of five years, while also growing by up to five percent, combined, CCU’s population of non-traditional students and students from diverse local and regional communities.
QEP’s Relationship to CCU Mission Statement, Values, and Strategic Plan: Belong@Coastal will develop inclusive curricular and co-curricular practices and learning environments that support all students’ success and sense of belonging within CCU—thus affirming our institution’s mission to empower students as “productive, responsible, healthy citizens with a global perspective.” Inclusive curricular and co-curricular practices support a learning environment in which all students are: i) valued for their distinctive skills, diverse experiences, and different perspectives; ii) represented and treated equitably in the university’s culture; iii) provided equal access to university resources and opportunities, and iv) enabled to contribute fully to their own and the university’s success. The inclusive practices and environments developed by the QEP will be especially beneficial for those student populations that, as the university data shows, consistently experience greater than average challenges to persisting in the quest for degree completion and timely graduation at CCU: African American and Hispanic students, male students, and Pell Grant-eligible students. Their academic success and sense of belonging within the institution are crucial to realizing the university’s Strategic Plan, which recognizes that a sustained sense of belonging enables the “involvement and empowerment of all people to create a learning, living and working climate where differences are welcomed and all members of Teal Nation feel that they are supported, respected, valued and heard.” At its core Belong@Coastal is aligned with the university’s articulated values of “truth,” “respect,” “integrity,” and “excellence,” as well as its identity as an institution dedicated to “education as a lifelong commitment.”
QEP’s Relationship to Professional Demands for Employees Capable of Inclusive Problem Solving and Critical Thinking: In preparing CCU students for success, the QEP is also motivated by evidence of the growing investment in inclusive practices by employers in various professional environments that value employees’ abilities to represent and engage with diverse perspectives, approaches, and identities in order to optimize the problem-solving and collaborative processes essential for the success, growth, and sustainability of organizations in the 21st century and beyond.
QEP’s Methodology for Implementing Activities: Throughout its implementation, the QEP will adopt the AAC&U’s guidelines for Inclusive Excellence (IE), which is an “active process through which universities and colleges achieve excellence in learning, teaching, student development, institutional functioning, and engagement in local and global communities”. For example, some of the planned QEP activities will build students’ inclusion-focused research practices, while others will improve their skills of self-assessment through critical engagement with peers from diverse identity groups. CCU anticipates the successful implementation of these and other IE-rooted activities will a) boost students’ persistence within the university, leading to their timely graduation, b) pave the way for students’ professional and social success, and c) attract an increasingly diverse student body to successfully pursue undergraduate degrees at the university. Overall, by adopting curricular and co-curricular practices rooted in Inclusive Excellence, Belong @ Coastal will enhance all CCU students’ opportunities to attain academic and professional success as well as contribute to their social integration and cultural wellbeing within the university.
Student Learning Outcomes Particular to the QEP: Designed to facilitate student achievement through all stages of the undergraduate experience at CCU, the QEP’s two SLOs are interconnected and progressively build students’ levels of engagement through inclusive action, critical evaluation, and cultural reflection. SLO 1 focuses primarily on curricular and co-curricular practices implemented in students’ Freshman and Core level experiences, and SLO 2 mainly focuses on building their curricular and co-curricular engagement as well as professional development in upper-division and advanced levels.
SLO 1: Students will engage in inclusive problem-solving activities that build awareness of self and others’ identities, experiences, and perspectives.
SLO 2: Students will participate in collaborative activities that elevate their academic and professional development through inclusive engagement with faculty, staff, and other students.
Simone Gause, Ph.D.
Director of the QEP