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Quality Enhancement Plan

A liberal arts education combats ignorance, narrow-mindedness, and shortsightedness by promoting intellectual inquiry. Such critical inquiry involves asking and exploring complex questions for which no easy answers exist – questions such as, how do we address community energy needs without doing environmental harm? What constitutes a "just war"? How can a nation secure itself from internal attacks without compromising the rights of its citizens? Liberal education demands that students explore such questions from multiple perspectives and through a rigorous consideration of historical, cultural, and ethical contexts, using careful reasoning to arrive at wise judgments.

An education founded on inquiry, then, is one that emphasizes learning processes rather than a set of answers.

While Virginia Wesleyan has all along striven to provide this kind of education for its students, the Quality Enhancement Plan is an initiative designed to enhance student engagement in VWC's culture of inquiry by introducing new students more explicitly to critical thinking as a foundation for independent learning in college and beyond.

The core component of the plan is an enhanced First-Year Experience, comprised of a revised First-Year Seminar course, co-curricular programming, information literacy training, and faculty development initiatives. The new First-Year Seminar course is distinguished by its greater academic orientation: Each seminar section takes up a complex problem that challenges students to generate questions and identify and seek out the necessary resources for an informed understanding of the problem. Students simultaneously build their research skills through library work both in this course and in their first year composition courses. Multiple frames of reference are modeled for them in co-curricular programs, and students are introduced to the VWC general studies program as a subsequent opportunity to study diverse ways of knowing and investigating the world. Finally, through new faculty development opportunities, VWC faculty will be supported in their efforts to provide the most effective classroom practices for supporting this increased emphasis on active student learning, not just in this introductory course but across the curriculum.

For more information contact Dr. Kathy Stolley, Associate Dean for Innovative Teaching and Engaged Learning.

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