Frequently Asked Questions
"QEP" is an abbreviation for "Quality Enhancement Plan."
All colleges accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges are required to develop and implement a QEP as part of their reaffirmation process. In the spring of 2014, Emory University proposed a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) titled The Nature of Evidence: How Do You Know, and the plan was subsequently approved in December of the same year.
While the QEP is required for Emory to maintain our accreditation, our QEP (The Nature of Evidence: How Do You Know?) is an exciting development for students and faculty! We will enhance learning about evidence – something that is already a strong point for us – in a way that will serve our students well. This is an ambitious effort that will provide a rewarding educational experience for students, faculty, and staff.
Emory’s QEP Topic is The Nature of Evidence: How Do You Know? An engagement with the nature of evidence is fundamental to the mission of Emory University. Our conviction that knowledge, understanding, and intellectual confidence depend on engaged and reflective encounters with evidence unifies Emory’s educational mission across schools, disciplines, and degrees.
The Nature of Evidence: How Do You Know? will enhance Emory students’ first-year orientation, seminars, and co-curricular activities to address issues of evidence both within and between disciplines. Click here to read more about what the QEP will do over the next five years.
In short, Emory’s QEP (The Nature of Evidence: How Do You Know?) was developed over the course of two years of planning, soliciting proposals, and engaging in a broad-based discussion across campus beginning in Fall 2011. Below is a detailed timeline describing how The Nature of Evidence: How Do You Know? was selected.
During the fall semester 2011, then-QEP co-chairs Prof. Sarah McPhee and Prof. Eric Weeks wrote global e-mails to the entire Emory community and asked for everyone’s ideas. The community responded with great enthusiasm—they received over 170 responses from all constituencies: alumni, law students, the business school, undergraduates, college professors, administrators, nurses, etc.
By November 2011, the QEP chairs had decided on the following potential QEP themes: sustainability, primary evidence, worldview, ethics, quantitative literacy, community engagement/engaged learning, creativity and the arts, writing, critical thinking, increased interdisciplinarity, establishing an engineering program at Emory, and leadership. They then assembled a selection committee from around the university and winnowed the list to four. To avoid conflicts of interest the selection committee was composed of people who had not submitted proposals. The co-chairs met during Fall 2011 with President Wagner and Provost Lewis, who validated the choice of the selection committee. The following four topics were chosen for further consideration:
- Primary Evidence and Original Thought
- World View
- Community Engagement
The president and the provost stressed that ethics and creativity and the arts could be woven into any of these four, and thus did not need to be separated. A meeting was held with the university Learning Outcomes Assessment Committee (LOAC), which reviewed the proposals for the potential QEPs to locate areas that would enhance existing learning outcome goals at Emory.
In January 2012 the QEP chairs approached the authors of the most detailed email correspondence on potential QEP topics and asked them to write thousand-word proposals on their subjects, addressing a series of specific points that had arisen persistently, and including an ethical component. In February and March 2012, Emory University’s QEP initiative hosted two community-wide town hall meetings to help select Emory’s QEP. These were intended as brainstorming sessions for the four proposals. The proposal writers presented their ideas, and the community had a chance to respond.
The QEP selection committee met on April 2012, to select two proposals to forward to the president and provost for consideration. The committee found Primary Evidence, both the proposal and the comments supporting it, to be the strongest QEP candidate. The committee felt that Primary Evidence simultaneously addressed an urgent though underappreciated need in the education of students today and built on the research strengths of the faculty. This proposal addressed the core component of a liberal arts education: the use of relevant evidence in the development of explanations, arguments, and understanding.
The choice to focus on primary evidence was driven by our GER assessment and research into best practices, both of which noted that especially in undergraduate education incoming students increasingly need guided exposure to primary evidence to foster individual creativity and to generate original thought. Our Topic Selection Committee also felt that a focus on evidence responded best to the aim of the QEP: to provide an accessible set of goals for all of Emory’s divisions with the best potential to foster interdisciplinary collaboration.
In the course of Fall 2012 it was decided that implementing the QEP on primary evidence should involve progressively building skills over the course of the first-year experience at Emory. Our best practices research reveals that teaching students how to “think like scientists” at an early stage is important in providing fundamental skills upon which to build later research with primary evidence.
By the end of March 2013, a QEP development committee was in place composed of faculty (with representation from the humanities and social sciences as well as the natural and computational sciences), campus life, the office of undergraduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences, graduate student and alumni representatives. Intensive meetings through the spring semester developed the focus of the QEP as well as identified learning goals that would complement and enhance the larger mission of the university. The three-part QEP structure was finalized by the QEP development committee, and subcommittees were charged with developing the modules over the summer of 2013.
As a result of these three intensive meetings of the QEP Committee in spring 2013 the original QEP name Primary Evidence was changed to How do we know? The Nature of Evidence. Some disciplines found the topic of primary evidence constricting, while some faculty said the term did not fit well with their discipline. Faculty agreed that The Nature of Evidence: How Do You Know? would afford a more comprehensive approach, rather than dividing up evidence into traditional categories of primary and secondary.
The goal of the QEP is to empower students as independent scholars capable of supporting arguments with different types of evidence.
An engagement with evidence is foundational to four ways that students interact with the world -
- Producing Knowledge: Research produces knowledge through gathering, analyzing, interpreting, and arguing evidence. A comprehensive understanding of evidence, analysis and argument will help to produce better knowledge in all fields of work.
- Consuming Knowledge: We are confronted with more information than ever before through the internet, social media, and other technologies; developing the ability to assess the quality of evidence is key for information literacy in this technological age. Analytical skills gained through the liberal arts and an understanding of evidence will enhance our students’ critical thinking and evaluative skills and make them smarter consumers of knowledge, which is necessary and helpful in any career.
- Making Informed Decisions: Learning the importance of identifying, analyzing, and communicating only the best evidence will result in more informed decisions and result in better problem solving.
- Understanding Other People: Beyond proving a point or arguing a case, evidence helps us to understand the world and people around us. Evaluating all aspects of a situation and considering multiple viewpoints gives insight into the motivations and expectations of the people around you, which helps to inform your actions as an engaged global citizen.
By emphasizing the nature of evidence during their first year at Emory, we will embolden our students to reason, to imagine, to challenge -- to focus their thoughts on different ideas and possibilities. We will educate our students with the aim of transforming and enriching their way of thinking over a lifetime.
As a result of Emory’s QEP on The Nature of Evidence: How Do You Know, students will be able to:
1. Distinguish uses of evidence in and between disciplines;
2. Access, locate, identify, and analyze evidence;
3. Evaluate evidence; and
4. Build arguments based on evidence and assess the arguments of others.
You are in the right place!
To learn more about:
- What the QEP will do for Emory undergraduate education, visit our QEP Implementation page.
- The Committees and Staff implementing the QEP, visit our About Us page.
- QEP Events coming up, visit our In the News page.
Check out our Video Gallery to hear from the QEP Director Dr. Tracy Scott about each of the QEP Components and why evidence is important, the QEP Development Director Dr. Pamela Scully about The Nature of Evidence, and see examples of the Evidence at Emory videos that comprise the Introductory Component of the QEP.
Still don't see what you're looking for? Contact QEP Staff by emailing email@example.com