2.12 QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan)

Core Requirement 2.12: QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan)

The institution has developed an acceptable Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that includes an institutional process for identifying key issues emerging from institutional assessment and focuses on learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplishing the mission of the institution.

Compliance Partial Compliance Non-compliance


The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USF Sarasota-Manatee) developed its first Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), entitled the Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking QEP, to implement from 2016-2021. The definition of critical thinking chosen by USF Sarasota-Manatee is the following from Scriven & Paul (2015):

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.

Below is evidence that USF Sarasota-Manatee meets each of the indicators regarding CR 2.12 from the SACSCOC Quality Enhancement Plan Guidelines Rubric.

Indicator 1.A. An Institutional Process

The QEP Steering Committee led the development of the QEP with input and support from across the campus and the community. The process began in August 2014 when the Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic & Student Affairs formed the Quality Enhancement Plan Steering Committee (QEP Committee Membership Invitation). Representing a range of stakeholders, the Committee includes two deans, faculty from each of the colleges, the President and Vice President of the Faculty Senate, leaders from Student Services, and members of the Student Government Association (SGA) (QEP Steering Committee Roster). The Committee is supported by Institutional Research & Effectiveness (IR), Communications & Marketing, and Library Services.

Believing that the foundation for a successful QEP is the active involvement of campus and community stakeholders, the QEP Steering Committee focused its initial efforts on planning and executing opportunities for students, staff, faculty, campus leaders, and community members to provide input on the selection of the QEP topic. To begin the process, in August 2014 QEP Steering Committee members made presentations to the Faculty Senate and SGA (Bright Ideas for USF Sarasota-Manatee’s QEP Prezi) to orient them to the QEP process, describe its purpose, and explain the timeline for its completion. After the presentations, the Committee distributed surveys (to gather faculty and student perceptions of students’ primary academic difficulties and collected suggestions for enhanced student success (QEP Faculty QuestionnaireQEP SGA Questionnaire). In response to the presentation, members of the SGA formed their own QEP Committee as a subset of the SGA JuSenEx (Judicial, Senate, Executive) Council.

In October 2014, the QEP Steering Committee solicited involvement from an even broader range of University stakeholders with an invitation to all faculty, staff, and students. Representatives of the QEP Steering Committee engaged campus faculty, staff, and students in reviewing data related to student learning needs and providing feedback about topic selection via town hall meetings held in October 2014 (Assessment Data Comparison Across PillarsQEP Townhall Questionnaire & Results). Additionally, members of the QEP Steering Committee engaged the Community Leadership Council (CLC) members, an advisory body of over 40 community leaders, to participate in discussions about the topic and its assessment (CLC QEP Questionnaire Results). The QEP Steering Committee Committee also kept the Campus Board informed of progress on the QEP (Campus Board Minutes 4/10/2015).

The diagram below illustrates the activities of the QEP Steering Committee to corral the varying ideas from each constituency into a topic that ultimately the single herd could rally around.Figure 2 Corral

Simultaneous with the development of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s QEP was the spring 2015 creation of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s new Strategic Plan: Focus on Quality 2020. In an effort to facilitate sharing of ideas and ensure cohesiveness in planning, six members of the QEP Steering Committee also served on the Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (SPAC).

Throughout its history, USF Sarasota-Manatee’s mission has focused on providing high-quality education and preparing successful leaders and responsible citizens. The USF Sarasota-Manatee Strategic Plan: Focus on Quality 2020 Mission Statement is no exception.

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee provides high quality bachelor’s and graduate-level education and scholarly activity in a personalized learning community that prepares successful leaders and responsible citizens.

Among the University’s values are Academic Excellence and Freedom of Inquiry. The QEP is well-aligned to those values in its emphasis on the quality of students’ thinking through their ability to gather and assess relevant information, to identify assumptions, alternatives, and implications based on that information, and then to communicate well-reasoned conclusions and solutions. Critical thinking is integrated into USF Sarasota-Manatee Strategic Plan: Focus on Quality 2020 via inclusion as a strategy for Strategic Goal 1: Student Success (Strategic Plan Strategy 1.5). Additionally, improved student critical thinking is one of the five-year outcomes that will determine the success of the Student Success strategic goal (Strategic Plan Outcome 1.12).

Indicator 1.B. Key Issues

The QEP Steering Committee made a crucial decision early on to focus the QEP on one of the Pillars of Intellectual Engagement in USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Core Curriculum. Based on the literature, USF Sarasota-Manatee’s values, and campus feedback, faculty had come to consensus in 2012-13 on six areas in which they expected all USF Sarasota-Manatee graduates to become proficient: Communication, Critical Thinking, Leadership, Ethics, Community Engagement, and Diversity (Core Curriculum Committee Minutes 12/9/2012).

To continue the work done by the Core Curriculum Committee and campus community in selecting the Pillars, and to acknowledge institution-wide support for integration of the Pillars into the curriculum of every college, in September 2014 the QEP Steering Committee unanimously voted to limit the topic pool to the six areas (QEP Minutes 9/11/2014).

In conjunction with analysis of the student data related to the six Pillars, in October 2014 the QEP Steering Committee polled the Faculty Senate, SGA members, the Community Leadership Council, the student body, and faculty and staff who attended the QEP Town Hall meetings, as to their preference of topics. For the Faculty Senate, critical thinking was the first choice (63%, n=27) and communication was the second choice (15%). For the Student Government, critical thinking was the first choice (65%, n=20), with the remaining votes fairly evenly spread. The Community Leadership Council selected critical thinking as the most important (38%, n=24), with communication the second most important (25%). Students who responded to the online survey selected communication (34%, n=44) as the most important, with critical thinking (18%) the second most important. Faculty and staff who had not previously voted in any other poll chose communication as their first choice (56%, n=16), and critical thinking as the second choice (31%).

Institutional Research and Effectiveness (IR) presented information to the QEP Steering Committee on how well students were mastering the Pillars of Intellectual Engagement as collected from the USF Sarasota-Manatee Assessment System by college: Arts and Sciences (CAS), Business (COB), Education (COE), and Hospitality and Technology Leadership (CHTL). A summary of the data tools already in place to assess the six Pillars can be found in the table below. In addition to faculty-developed rubrics and USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Graduation Survey, faculty had already been using the Cooperative Institutional Research Program’s (CIRP) surveys, the Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) Proficiency Profile, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), and listings on the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Co-Curricular Transcripts.Table_Data Collection Tools Assessing the PillarsA review of the existing USF Sarasota-Manatee Assessment System indicated that the four (4) colleges assess three of the six Pillars: Communication, Critical Thinking, and Ethics. Communication, Critical Thinking, and Community Engagement Pillar outcomes stem from nationally normed surveys (external/indirect assessment). The Core Curriculum Committee assesses the Pillars of Communication and Critical Thinking through nationally normed exams (external/direct assessment). In addition, the Graduation Survey (internal/indirect assessment) has been used for many years to assess communication and critical thinking, as have faculty-developed rubrics (internal/direct) to assess these two and a variety of other student learning outcomes.

Data from internal/external and direct/indirect assessments (See table below) made a strong case for the selection of either communication or critical thinking as a QEP topic.

Assessment Data Comparison Pillars

Results from the fall 2013 Cooperative Institutional Research Program’s (CIRP) Freshman Survey, an indirect and external assessment, align to three of the six Pillars and indicate students’ perception of their greatest area of weakness as oral and written communication skills; 43% see their oral communication skills as a strength while 53% believe they have strong written communication skills. The ratio of students who perceive critical thinking as a strength is much higher (72%), but still indicates that more than one-fourth of students do not feel that critical thinking is an area of strength. The 2013 Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) Proficiency Profile, a direct external assessment, informs the Communication and Critical Thinking Pillars. It indicates that only 4% of incoming freshmen are proficient in Critical Thinking, compared to 72% for Writing Level 1 and 11% for Writing Level 3. In addition, the incoming freshmen scored above 71% of comparable freshmen for communication, but above only 63% of comparable freshmen for critical thinking.

Data for the 2013 seniors corroborated these findings. The 2013 academic assessment of five of the Pillars (Community Engagement is not assessed within individual academic programs) in upper-level capstone courses, a direct internal measure, shows that the skills with the lowest percent of students meeting target were critical thinking (75%) and communication (78%). Data from the spring 2013 administration of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), an indirect external assessment, indicate that seniors believe their USF Sarasota-Manatee experience did not contribute as much to the development of their problem solving skills (52%), an element of critical thinking, as to their speaking (74%) and writing (65%) communication skills. Data from the spring 2013 local administration of the Graduation Survey show that among the Pillars, students believe their experiences at USF Sarasota-Manatee contributed the most to their growth and development in critical thinking (89%), closely followed by communication (88%). Although students perceive that their critical thinking and communication skills have improved as a result of their experiences at USF Sarasota-Manatee, their performance of those skills in the upper-level capstone courses indicate that approximately one-fourth of all students did not meet target and would benefit from additional learning experiences.

Taken together, the data indicate that both communication and critical thinking are areas that represent learning gaps for incoming freshmen and seniors, confirming the potential for a QEP focused on either skill to positively impact student growth.

In November 2014, the QEP Steering Committee met to review all data related to the selection of the QEP topic. The results of the myriad assessments of students’ skills related to USF Sarasota-Manatee’s six Pillars of Intellectual Engagement made it a rather easy decision to limit the possibilities of topics to communication and critical thinking. Members decided to place more weight on the data from tools that directly measured the Pillars’ student learning outcomes, which showed students have a greater weakness in critical thinking, than what they report on the indirect measures of survey data.

The Committee reviewed the results of the surveys of Faculty Senate, Student Government, the Community Leadership Council, the student body, and faculty and staff who attended the Town Hall Meetings, and concluded that the topic of critical thinking had slightly more widespread need than communication. The Committee discussed the strong link between the two topics, with communication, both oral and written, as the primary means to assess critical thinking skills. Committee members strongly supported the integration of communication into the learning outcomes for critical thinking, and unanimously voted to select Critical Thinking as USF Sarasota-Manatee’s inaugural QEP topic.

Indicator 2.A. Focus on Learning Outcomes

After deciding on the topic of critical thinking using the institutional process (explained in 1.A. above) and using assessment data (described in 1.B. above), the QEP Steering Committee started to learn more about the topic of critical thinking and its pedagogy.

One of the psychology faculty on the QEP Steering Committee compiled a literature review on critical thinking to inform members on definitions of critical thinking and the ability to teach it (Quality Enhancement Plan for USF Sarasota-Manatee: Critical Thinking Literature Review).

The QEP Steering Committee also educated itself on critical thinking and its pedagogy by contacting the Foundation for Critical Thinking, reading and summarizing publications in The Thinker’s Guide Library, and providing a professional development workshop for 75 faculty and staff presented by one of the Foundations’ experts, Dr. Gerald Nosich.

To guide its work, USF Sarasota-Manatee chose to adopt the following definition of critical thinking posed by Scriven & Paul (2015), because it concisely and comprehensively captures the elements of critical thinking valued by USF Sarasota-Manatee:

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.

By choosing this definition, USF Sarasota-Manatee affirms the belief that critical thinking is an “intellectually disciplined process” that can be operationalized and taught to students. It is an active process that requires skills that can and should be developed. Ultimately, the process culminates in the communication of students’ reasoning and/or resulting actions. Critical thinking is both a life skill and a leadership skill that faculty can shape and develop during the university years through significant effort of faculty and students.

One of the two goals of Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking focuses on student learning: Enhance students’ critical thinking skills. After studying Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Seventh Edition (Elder & Paul, 2014), the QEP Steering Committee used as a base Elder & Paul’s five “result”(s) of a “well-cultivated critical thinker” to define USF Sarasota-Manatee’s student learning outcomes. While keeping the core of the five results, the Committee members reworded them into student learning outcomes as listed in the diagram below.

Figure 5 Goal 2 Student Learning Outcomes
As the Committee members worked to hone and refine the learning outcomes and define what it means to meet the expectations of each outcome, they integrated Elder and Paul’s (2012) companion collection of nine Intellectual Standards (I.S.) as the indicators to assess the quality of students’ critical thinking. Through continued work with the student learning outcomes, the members recognized the potential of the outcomes to move beyond student learning to impact the entire campus community. The Committee renamed the student learning outcomes the Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking Commitments to allow greater potential to enhance the lives of all who call USF Sarasota-Manatee their academic or work home.

Figure 1 Commitments

Faculty will assess these standards formatively through application of Critical Thinking I.S. Feedback when faculty provide in-text and/or oral comments on the work of their students.

Critical Thinking Intellectual Standards

Indicator 2.B. Focus on the Environment Supporting Student Learning

In order to assist faculty in helping students achieve the student learning outcomes, the QEP Steering Committee recognized that faculty development was crucial. USF Sarasota-Manatee takes pride in its faculty, not only their teaching and scholarship, but also their demonstrated commitment to working together for the betterment of students. The widespread support of faculty for the topic of critical thinking provides a strong foundation for successful implementation of the plan. The inclusion of faculty across the University in the planning of the QEP has helped inform an understanding of how critical thinking is already being taught and assessed in the courses of each program. This compilation has led to the conclusion that, although faculty do not share the same language, definition, or understanding of critical thinking, they do share a commitment to developing students’ critical thinking skills. Before USF Sarasota-Manatee can expect students to demonstrate critical thinking, faculty must first gain a thorough understanding of critical thinking and be able to model it well.

USF Sarasota-Manatee faculty have developed a culture of sharing their scholarship and teaching through Rick’s Research Café and Teach and Greet sessions, both of which are led by faculty for the benefit of faculty. The critical thinking professional development plan must capitalize on that culture by providing a forum through which faculty can share their critical thinking pedagogy, student assignments, assessments, successes, and failures with their peers. Such opportunities align the QEP with existing campus culture.

The QEP Committee then identified an operational goal to enhance pedagogical practices that focus on critical thinking. Below are this goal’s operational outcomes regarding the environment supporting students’ learning:

Operational Outcomes

Because the operational goal must happen before the student learning outcome goal can be attained, the QEP Steering Committee labeled this Goal 1.


The implementation plan of Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking involves four major components:

  • Incredi-Bull Faculty Development
  • Incredi-Bull Curriculum Integration
  • Incredi-Bull Campus Engagement
  • Incredi-Bull Outcomes-Based Assessment

This section describes the first three of these components in detail with tables providing a timeline by year of implementation (Year 0, Year 1, Years 2-5) and to indicate the frequency and person(s) responsible for each action. The fourth component, assessment, is detailed later in its own section (Please see Comprehensive Standard 3.3.2 – Section 3 – Goals & Assessment Plan). Timeline tables for Years 0 and 1 include administrative actions, such as hiring and QEP Committee changes.

Component 1: Incredi-Bull Faculty Development

The QEP Steering Committee members have used what they learned from talking to the faculty and from the research literature to guide the formulation of the faculty development plan. Professional development must make effective use of faculty’s time and must develop a shared understanding of the Critical Thinking Definition, Commitments, and Intellectual Standards unique to Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking. In order to meaningfully assess critical thinking, faculty will complete the development of the Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking Rubric for use across content domains for formative and summative purposes, allowing faculty to shape the language of the rubric through pilot-testing in Year 0 in their own courses. In Year 1, USF Sarasota-Manatee will then provide resources to guide and develop faculty’s skill in providing Critical Thinking Intellectual Standards Feedback to students in undergraduate programs to foster students’ inclusion of the Critical Thinking Intellectual Standards in their written and oral work. USF Sarasota-Manatee will provide opportunities for faculty to practice application of the Critical Thinking Rubric and Critical Thinking I.S. Feedback to a variety of student work. Simultaneously, faculty must have the freedom to develop, test, and share ways to teach and formatively assess critical thinking within their courses. The University must be mindful of the challenge in supporting the professional development of part-time/adjunct faculty, many of whom have full-time jobs outside of their work at USF Sarasota-Manatee. Daytime, face-to-face professional development activities will serve the needs of full-time faculty, but online, asynchronous development opportunities are crucial to the development of the valued, part-time faculty.

Faculty’s work to integrate critical thinking into the curriculum and assessment of the undergraduate programs on campus will support their own habituation to critical thinking. Faculty will be supported in their understanding of how the Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking Definition, Commitments, and Intellectual Standards relate to their courses, assignments, and assessments, and in designing critical thinking activities in lower- and upper-level courses that will support students’ success in the capstone projects. In turn, professional development will support faculty’s ability to foster their students’ understanding of the critical thinking Commitments and Intellectual Standards. Faculty’s ability to cultivate students’ awareness of the necessity of critical thinking within their social, emotional, educational, and work lives, and faculty’s emphasis of the connection between critical thinking and the content, assignments, and assessments in their courses, are important factors. Faculty want to help their students connect classroom learning with their experiences and challenges outside the classroom. Faculty will also help develop students’ ability to apply critical thinking processes to both in- and out-of-class situations. Students’ ability to transfer their critical thinking skills to their lives and careers after graduation should be the ultimate aim, regardless of whether the assessment of such skills is beyond the scope of this plan. The use of reflection in critical thinking exercises, assignments, and capstone projects will support this transference. Although all programs have already developed capstone projects to focus on critical thinking, faculty’s continued professional development in critical thinking, the establishment of a common understanding of critical thinking and its terminology, consistency in providing Critical Thinking I.S. feedback to focus students’ attention on the quality of their thinking, and the use of a common rubric to assess the Critical Thinking Commitments, will support faculty’s ongoing refinement and enhancement of those projects. The faculty will guide ongoing professional development planning based on continued self-assessment of their skills and those of their students in relation to the QEP goals and intended outcomes.

During Year 0, faculty development programming is under the direction of the QEP Steering Committee. In subsequent years, programming will be managed by the future QEP Director and QEP Implementation Committee, with support from the Faculty Development Steering Committee, Coordinator of Faculty Development, and E-Learning Services Team. The QEP Steering Committee designed the development plan to enrich faculty’s capacity to implement pedagogical practices that will enhance students’ critical thinking skills.

The following list summarizes both current and planned programs for faculty development in the area of critical thinking. The QEP Director and faculty will develop additional programming as needed based on assessment of student learning and plan implementation. All elements of the faculty development plan are included in the implementation timeline tables in Comprehensive Standard 3.3.2; the elements are introduced in Years 0, 1 and 2, and once introduced, will continue through the end of Year 5.

1a. Online Professional Development Modules

USF Sarasota-Manatee has built a strong E-Learning Services team, including a specialist in online curriculum development. With the support of the team, faculty and students will develop a set of online professional development and print resources for the following topics:

  • Critical Thinking Definition and Commitments
  • Critical Thinking I.S. (Intellectual Standards)
  • Critical Thinking Rubric – understanding what it means to meet expectations to enhance the reliability of scoring
  • Critical Thinking I.S. Feedback – understanding how the consistent provision of feedback related to the Intellectual Standards for students’ written and oral work can support students’ development of critical thinking skills
  • Critical thinking best practices

The first module will be launched in the spring of Year 0, with at least one additional module being added each semester until all major elements of critical thinking have been addressed. Faculty teaching capstone courses who are early adopters of the Critical Thinking Rubric will be involved in planning the professional development module for the rubric.

1b. Incredi-Bull Resources

Faculty LibGuide of Critical Thinking Research and Resources. Throughout the duration of the QEP and with support from the librarians, faculty will continue to build Incredi-Bull Resources, a LibGuide linking to an online repository of critical thinking research and resources. The LibGuide will be made available to all faculty through the QEP and library webpages to allow for complete access whether faculty are on campus or working remotely. The LibGuide will be launched during the fall of Year 0, with development continuing throughout the duration of the QEP. The University’s E-Learning Services Team will ensure that each semester, all new faculty are made aware of the LibGuide.

1c. Critical Thinking Workshops

The QEP Steering/Implementation Committee will guide the development and implementation of critical thinking workshops and seminars for faculty at the beginning of fall semester each year of implementation, beginning in Year 0. Prior to Year 0, the University engaged an external expert on critical thinking whose workshop provided faculty a foundation for understanding the elements and Intellectual Standards of critical thinking. At the beginning of Year 0, a subset of the QEP Steering Committee planned and facilitated a full-day workshop for faculty to introduce the Critical Thinking Commitments, Intellectual Standards, and draft Critical Thinking Rubric. Faculty engaged in a calibration exercise by independently scoring two separate student work samples, sharing their scores via Canvas Polls, then discussing their scoring rationales in small and large groups.

Faculty with research expertise in critical thinking will provide assistance in the planning and implementation of ongoing faculty development programming in Years 1 through 5. Workshops and seminars will support faculty to develop new experiences and/or assignments within existing courses/programs to introduce and build critical thinking skills. Workshops will also support faculty whose courses are used to continue students’ development of critical thinking skills, as well as faculty who are implementing formative or summative assessments of critical thinking within their courses/programs.

1d. Unit-Based Faculty Development

In addition to formal programming, unit-based (college, school, and department) faculty development activities will take place to support the integration of the QEP Commitments, Intellectual Standards, and assessments into the curriculum of each undergraduate program, and to provide for ongoing calibration of faculty scoring of University-wide assessments. Unit-based faculty development will begin in Year 1 and continue through Year 5 of the QEP.     

1e. Teach and Greet

This teaching and learning opportunity was started during the 2014-2015 academic year by the Faculty Development Steering Committee as an informal forum for faculty to share and discuss teaching ideas and strategies with their peers. The goal is to encourage faculty to explore best-practices with colleagues within and across disciplines and to foster cross-discipline collaborations. Beginning in the spring of Year 0 and continuing through Year 5, the Faculty Development Steering Committee will promote the Teach and Greet as a forum for Incredi-Bull Faculty to share their teaching ideas and strategies related to critical thinking.

Component 2: Incredi-Bull Curricular Integration

In order to foster the learning and transfer of critical thinking skills, university curricula must teach these skills and also provide students with increasing opportunities to develop them and practice their application in meaningful decision-making exercises, even when course content appears to have little direct relevance to everyday life. Instructors across disciplines must integrate critical thinking into all levels of instruction and engage students in content- or discipline-specific critical thinking learning activities that, at the very least, have potential for later application to real-world problems. Students will need opportunities for collaborative work that brings real-world issues and situations into the classroom. The curriculum of all programs will need to focus on developing the critical thinking skills necessary for students’ success in their capstone projects. These ideas have guided the implementation plan by pointing to the need to introduce critical thinking as a dedicated domain in lower-level Foundations courses, then provide opportunities to develop and apply those skills within the content of upper-level work in all of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s undergraduate programs.

Because Critical Thinking is one of the six Pillars of Intellectual Engagement for USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Core Curriculum, faculty had begun to integrate critical thinking into the curriculum of the capstone courses prior to the selection of critical thinking as the QEP topic. The following list includes both the existing and planned elements of the curriculum integration portion of the implementation plan. Additional curricular integration elements will be developed as needed based on assessment of student learning and plan implementation. All elements of the curriculum integration plan are included in the implementation timeline tables; the elements are introduced in Years 0, 1 and 2, and once introduced, will continue through the end of Year 5.

2a. Orientation for First Time in College
(FTIC) and Transfer Students

During Year 0, Student Services staff, in collaboration with the QEP Steering Committee, will plan an Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking segment to be included in orientation. Beginning in the summer of Year 1 and continuing throughout the five year implementation period, all new students, whether FTIC or transfer, will engage in the critical thinking segment during orientation. The purpose of the segment will be to introduce the Critical Thinking Commitments and Intellectual Standards through a collaborative group activity. As part of Orientation, students will take critical thinking assessments (See Comprehensive Standard 3.3.2 for assessment tools).

2b. Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking Website/App

Faculty from the QEP Steering/Implementation Committee, staff from the E-Learning Services Team, and a representative from Communications & Marketing will collaborate with faculty in Information Technology to integrate an Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking Website/App development project into the program curriculum for students in the Applications and Web Development Concentration of the Information Technology undergraduate program. Coordination and planning of the project will commence in Year 0, and during Year 1, students will begin website/app development and pilot testing. Upgrades and additions to the website/app will continue through Year 5 of the QEP implementation. The purpose of the website/app will be to allow all students, faculty, staff, administrators and community stakeholders 24/7 mobile access to all things Incredi-Bull and to support the communication and marketing plan for Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking. The initial version will include at a minimum the Critical Thinking Commitments, Intellectual Standards, and Critical Thinking Rubric in text form. As the website/app undergoes further development, additional materials and functions such as the following will be added: links to assessments, course-produced videos, resources, links to critical thinking assignments, push notifications, critical thinking quick quizzes, polls, and social networking connections and projects. The website/app will serve the dual purposes of supporting curricular integration of critical thinking and increasing awareness to improve campus-wide engagement.

2c. Incredi-Bull Resources: Student LibGuide

To support students’ ability to gather and assess relevant information, Information Commons/Library Services staff will develop a critical thinking digital media library to include learning support services and resources.

USF Libraries subscribe to a number of electronic resources, including books and videos, on the subject of critical thinking and student success. A bibliography of resources as well as links to e-books and videos will be available for students and faculty as a dedicated LibGuide. Library instruction sessions at USF Sarasota-Manatee include a critical thinking component. The instruction sessions provide students with the opportunity to evaluate and select resources for their research projects. The goal is for students to develop effective search strategies to identify quality resources for their projects. Students are no longer only consumers of information; they are also creators of information. Library instruction sessions help them to gather and assess the relevance of the many scholarly and non-scholarly sources of information available.

2d. Curriculum Integration

  • Lower Level. Critical Thinking will be integrated into the curriculum of SLS 1107 – Foundations of University Success, and SLS 2122 – Foundations of Professional Success through introduction and engagement in the Critical Thinking Commitments and Intellectual Standards. In Years 0 and 1, faculty teaching these courses will collaborate to pilot meaningful ways to engage students in comprehension and application of the Critical Thinking Commitments and Intellectual Standards to their university work and professional preparation. As a culminating project, Foundations students will create short (1-3 minute) videos to highlight examples and non-examples of the Critical Thinking Intellectual Standards and demonstrate the Commitments in the context of real-world, complex social issues. The videos will be made available to the campus community through the USF Sarasota-Manatee website and via the Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking Website/App.
  • Upper Level. In order to ensure that all students in all undergraduate programs are prepared to demonstrate mastery of critical thinking in their capstone projects, they need opportunities to develop and apply those skills in discipline-specific activities and assignments prior to taking the capstone course. Therefore, the Critical Thinking Commitments and Intellectual Standards will be integrated into upper level (3000-4000) non-capstone courses. Faculty will be encouraged to begin the integration process by adapting existing program assignments rather than creating new ones. Minimally, program integration will follow this sequence of pilot and full implementation:
    • Year 1: The planning for curricular integration into all programs will be ongoing throughout Year 1. Prospective courses for CT integration will be identified by program faculty. Faculty who participated in the professional development workshop in the fall of Year 0 provided feedback on program courses that are good candidates for curricular integration: those courses will be the first point of focus.
    • Year 2: Based on planning from Year 1, the Critical Thinking Commitments and rubric, and the Intellectual Standards and Feedback will be integrated into one 3000-4000 level course in at least six programs.
    • Years 3-5: Gradually, the number of programs incorporating the Critical Thinking Commitments and Rubric into at least one Upper-Level course will rise to twelve in Year 3, fifteen in Year 4, and all eighteen in Year 5.
  • Capstone Courses. Faculty who teach capstone courses designed to reinforce and assess critical thinking have developed capstone projects in which students demonstrate their mastery of critical thinking skills. Because these projects were established prior to adoption of critical thinking as the QEP topic, the projects will need to be evaluated by faculty for their alignment with the Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking Commitments and Intellectual Standards. Faculty will work to align at least four of the capstone projects to the Commitments and Intellectual Standards during Year 0, with pilot implementation of the aligned projects in Year 1 and full implementation in years 2 through 5. The number of capstone projects aligned to the Commitments and Intellectual Standards will increase to eight in Year 2, twelve in Year 3, fifteen in Year 4, and eighteen in Year 5.

2e. Incredi-Bull Courses and Faculty

Faculty will be encouraged to create new courses and/or revise existing courses to make critical thinking a primary focus of teaching, learning, and assessment. Faculty will then have the opportunity to apply for Incredi-Bull designation. A faculty peer-review process will identify courses whose curricula significantly contribute to students’ development of critical thinking skills and designate them as an Incredi-Bull Course. Courses that are successfully developed/converted under this plan will be flagged as Incredi-Bull Courses on the course syllabus. Any faculty whose course earns this designation will be recognized as Incredi-Bull Faculty for the term of one year. During the year-long recognition period, Incredi-Bull Faculty will be honored at commencement by the addition of the Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking medallion to their regalia and with recognition in the commencement program. In addition, Incredi-Bull Faculty will be recognized on an engraved plaque in the first floor hall and will add the Incredi-Bull Faculty logo to their email signature line for the duration of their recognition period. This public acknowledgement of Incredi-Bull Faculty will also serve to support campus and community awareness of the QEP. Incredi-Bull Faculty will share their course and student learning outcomes at a faculty Teach and Greet during the year of their recognition to contribute to ongoing faculty development.

2f. Incredi-Bull Faculty Leaders

Incredi-Bull Faculty who wish to expand their commitment to critical thinking can apply for $2,000 mini-grants to support their leadership, mentoring, and/or scholarship focused on critical thinking. During Year 0, the QEP Steering Committee will develop a process by which faculty can propose a critical thinking project related to campus leadership, mentoring, or scholarship. To be eligible, faculty must have already earned the ‘Incredi-Bull’ designation by integrating critical thinking into one or more courses, and have used the Commitments Survey to obtain feedback from students about the effectiveness of the course and assignments for enhancing their critical thinking skills. Proposals for mini-grants to support critical thinking leadership, mentorship and/or scholarship projects will be accepted for peer review between the fall of Year 2 and the spring of Year 4, with a minimum one-year timeline for project implementation. Faculty whose proposals are approved will be designated as Incredi-Bull Faculty Leaders, and receive half of their grant to support the time required to fully develop and implement the project. Designation as an Incredi-Bull Faculty Leader will also extend the Incredi-Bull Faculty recognition period for the duration of the approved project. At the conclusion of one or more years of project implementation, faculty are to submit evidence of their project implementation and outcomes to the appropriate body (to be determined) for review and feedback (either approval or request for additional information). Approval of project completion, based on the faculty member’s completion of the approved project proposal, will trigger disbursement of the remaining grant funds.

Component 3: Incredi-Bull Campus Engagement

To help ensure involvement and engagement of the entire campus community in Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking, considerable effort will be expended in raising awareness and helping the campus community understand the Critical Thinking Commitments and Intellectual Standards that operationalize critical thinking for the USF Sarasota-Manatee Quality Enhancement Plan. This can be accomplished via steps to make Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking part of the campus culture such as a marketing and communications plan, periodic updates and discussions at meetings of key campus bodies, integration of critical thinking into the faculty and staff reward structure and annual review process, the inclusion of Incredi-Bull information in course syllabi, along with the distribution of logo items to campus employees and consistent campus-wide communication about the QEP. Following is a detailed list of the elements that will support Incredi-Bull Campus Engagement.

3a. Acculturation of the Campus Community to the Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking Commitments and Intellectual Standards

The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (3rd) defines acculturation as “the learning of the ideas, values, conventions, and behavior that characterize a social group.” This element of the campus engagement plan begins with dissemination of the Critical Thinking Commitments and Intellectual Standards to all campus members, including staff, administrators, faculty, and the campus community. Awareness of the Commitments and Intellectual Standards will be facilitated by wide distribution of the Commitments and Standards in small folio form, and by Commitment and Intellectual Standards posters that will be displayed all over campus beginning spring of Year 0. Understanding of the Commitments will be supported by public access to course-produced videos that demonstrate the Commitments in the context of real-world, complex social issues (see Core Curriculum Integration: Lower Level). The next step will be the opportunity for campus employees to publicly acknowledge their commitment to exemplify these five Commitments and the Intellectual Standards in their daily work with peers, subordinates, supervisors, and students. Beginning in the fall of Year 0, employees will receive an “I’m Committed” vinyl cling to display in their office window to indicate their personal commitment to these elements of the QEP. Campus supervisors at all levels will be encouraged to recognize employees’ demonstration of the Commitments in their work lives.

3b. Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking Updates to Key Campus Bodies

To ensure continued broad-based involvement of institutional constituencies in the implementation of the QEP, beginning in Year 0 and continuing throughout the five years of QEP implementation, a QEP leader will provide an update to the Faculty Senate, Large Senior Leadership Council, Campus Board, Community Leadership Council and Core Curriculum Committee a minimum of once per semester. Members of those bodies will have opportunities to provide feedback during each of those updates.

3c. Annual Review for Faculty and Staff

All resident faculty at USF Sarasota-Manatee participate in an annual review process that includes teaching, research, and service. Faculty’s inclusion of their teaching, research and service activities related to critical thinking in the annual review process will help drive faculty engagement in the QEP. To further faculty’s commitment to adopting pedagogical practices that focus on critical thinking, as well as faculty’s integration of critical thinking into course curriculum, beginning in Year 0 and continuing throughout the duration of the QEP, faculty will be encouraged to highlight their involvement in Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking related to teaching, research, and service in their annual review documents.

3d. Marketing of Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking

Marketing of Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking will commence in the fall of 2015 (Year 0) with the dissemination of logo items (e.g. polos, tumblers, post-it notes, coasters) to all faculty, staff, and administrators, release of an “I’m Committed” video, as well as distribution to the entire campus community of mini informational folios that contain the CT Commitments and Intellectual Standards. Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking posters will be added to the bulletin boards of every classroom, and will be distributed throughout the campus facility for display in common spaces. The mini folios will continue to be distributed throughout the implementation period to all FTIC and transfer students and all new faculty.

3e. Communication Plan for Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking

To keep Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking forefront on the minds of the campus community and to keep the campus community aware of Incredi-Bull happenings, the implementation plan includes a communication plan designed to accomplish these purposes through the following elements:

    • Press Release and Website Story. A press release in spring of 2016 (Year 0) will serve as the official launch of the QEP and will be sent out to media, faculty, staff, students, Campus Board members, Community Leadership Council members, and alumni. The story will also be posted on the institution’s website.
    • Social Media. The press release will be shared on Facebook and Twitter. Communications and Marketing staff will produce a video featuring Regional Chancellor Sandra Stone and others to be posted on the institution’s website and YouTube in the spring of 2016 (Year 0).
    • E-News. Notable happenings related to Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking will be shared with the campus community via the monthly e-news beginning late fall of 2015 (Year 0) and continuing throughout the implementation of the QEP.
    • Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking Section of the Website. The USF Sarasota-Manatee website will include a section devoted to Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking beginning spring of 2016 (Year 0).
    • Community Awareness. University Communications and Marketing will facilitate a meeting of key personnel involved in the QEP with the editorial boards from the Bradenton Herald and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune to explain the QEP, its purpose and implementation.
    • Internal Communications. USF Sarasota-Manatee Marketing and Communications staff will support the QEP /Steering Implementation Committee in sending periodic email updates to faculty, staff and students via Constant Contact. Information about Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking will be posted on internal monitors when appropriate, and faculty and staff will be provided key talking points for use when discussing Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking with members of the extended campus community.    

3f. Representation of Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking in Syllabi

To further integrate the Critical Thinking Commitments and Intellectual Standards into academic life on campus, the QEP Committee, in collaboration with staff from Communications and Marketing, will develop a small graphic that can be added to the first page of course syllabi. Beginning in Year 1, the graphic will be provided to all faculty who complete the online professional development modules for the Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking Definition, Commitments, and Intellectual Standards for voluntary inclusion in their course syllabi.

Component 4: Outcomes-Based Assessment

(Please see Indicator 5.B. Plan to Assess in Comprehensive Standard 3.3.2 for full details.)

The Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking QEP Assessment Plan includes internal and external, qualitative and quantitative, direct and indirect, as well as formative and summative measures. The Assessment plan begins with the data measures used to originally identify critical thinking as a student learning gap, builds with the collection of baseline data using internal and external assessments, and continues throughout the five years of implementation to provide for the assessment of critical thinking and the use of assessment data to inform the direction of curricular integration and campus engagement. The Assessment Plan also includes a cycle for evaluating the effectiveness and fidelity of enactment of the implementation plan to allow for plan, procedural, and timeline adjustments. The elements and timeline for the Assessment Plan are presented in detail in the Assessment Plan section (Comprehensive Standard 3.3.2) and are thus not included in the implementation timeline tables.


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