Executive Summary

Middle Georgia State University (MGA) has developed a comprehensive Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that meets all requirements of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The topic selected reflects the outcome of a broad based institutional process incorporating input from faculty, staff, and students in the context of a rapidly evolving institution, with particular reference to areas identified through institutional assessment. The QEP aligns with the institutional mission and reinforces the student-centered focus of the University’s strategic plan. Entitled Experiential Learning@MGA, this QEP offers students an array of experiential learning (EL) opportunities reflecting the diversity of the students and communities we serve, the disciplines we teach, and the needs of our region. These opportunities include internships, undergraduate research, and service learning, all of which are identified by scholars of higher education as “high-impact practices” contributing to student success.

Experiential Learning@MGA engages students to think critically and creatively within an experiential learning environment, deepening learning and intensifying the educational impact of the experience. Courses and projects are intentionally designed to engage students in critical reflection, integrating the critical lenses of academic knowledge, personal growth, and civic engagement, and are vetted through a standing QEP Assessment and Review Board to guarantee compliance with carefully constructed parameters. Guided by measurable student learning outcomes, Experiential Learning@MGA encourages students to explore the broader implications of their educational experience beyond the classroom. Students are incentivized to go beyond the minimum requirements of their majors and earn bronze, silver, or gold levels of recognition based on their successful completion of additional experiential learning opportunities, as abundant scholarship attests to the cumulative value of multiple EL activities. The success of Experiential Learning@MGA is measured through an assessment plan that addresses student learning outcomes and QEP goals, and is aligned with the institutional mission and strategic plan. Direct and indirect measures, which gather quantitative and qualitative data, assist in assessing both student learning outcomes and QEP goals.

The plan was developed with a realistic understanding of the limits of state university funding and existing human resources, with the goal of creating a sustainable infrastructure. The timetable for execution is realistic, pragmatic, and feasible, and reflects the consensus of multiple constituencies with regard to prioritization and implementation. The phased implementation of the QEP demonstrates an understanding and awareness of project management and the dynamic landscape of higher education, and contributes significantly to the long-term sustainability of the initiative.

As MGA’s first QEP since elevation to university status, Experiential Learning@MGA plays a crucial role in the institution’s evolving sense of identity. The resources committed to the QEP demonstrate the extent to which the University recognizes the value and potential impact of this unique opportunity. Experiential learning will provide an enhanced collegiate experience that enables MGA students to appreciate the relationship between classroom learning and professional success, in disciplines ranging from aviation and respiratory therapy to English, history, and biology. In submitting this QEP, the University is confident that Experiential Learning@MGA will strengthen the institution, its graduates, and the communities we serve.