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S C
M -, 
D. S P, P
D. A M. ME-J, SACS A L
Questions Empower People:
Enhancing Student Learning Through a
Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar

Salem College
March 2-4, 2010
Dr. Susan Pauly, President
Dr. Ann M. McElaney-Johnson, SACS Accreditation Liaison
TABLE OF CONTENTS

QEP Steering Committee Members 2009-2010 ............................................................ ii

I. Salem College Quality Enhancement Plan Executive Summary ............................. 1

II. Process Used to Develop the Salem College Quality Enhancement Plan ............ 2

III. Identification of the Topic ......................................................................................... 7

IV. Desired Learning Outcomes................................................................................... 10

V. Literature Review and Best Practices .................................................................... 11
Review of Capstone Courses in the Majors and Program Assessments ..............................12
Integrative/Interdisciplinary Courses ..............................................................................................14
Senior Year Experiences.....................................................................................................................17
Developmental Appropriateness ......................................................................................................21
Conclusion ..............................................................................................................................................26
References ..............................................................................................................................................27

VI. Actions to be Implemented..................................................................................... 30
Course Implementation .......................................................................................................................30
Faculty Development ...........................................................................................................................32
Student Training ....................................................................................................................................33
Development of the Senior Year Experience Website ................................................................34
Engaging the Community ...................................................................................................................35
References ..............................................................................................................................................38

VII. Timeline for Actions to be Implemented .............................................................. 39

VIII. Organizational Structure for the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar .................. 40

IX. Resources: ............................................................................................................... 42

X. Assessment .............................................................................................................. 44
Direct Measurements ...........................................................................................................................45
Indirect Measurements ........................................................................................................................48
Timeline for Assessment Activities .................................................................................................52
References ..............................................................................................................................................54

Table of Appendices ..................................................................................................... 55

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QEP Steering Committee Members 2009-2010

Professor Rebecca C. Dunn, Co-Chair Associate Professor of Biology, Chair
Professor Heidi Godfrey, Co-Chair Associate Professor of Dance

Professor Marjorie Anderson Assistant Professor of Education
Mr. Mark Ashley Registrar & Director of Institutional Research
Dean Krispin Barr Dean of Students
Ms. Samantha Bronson Traditional Student, Class of 2010
Professor Jeffrey Ersoff Associate Professor of Psychology, Chair
Ms. Erin Hylton Class of 2010, Student Government President
Professor Krishauna Hines-Gaither Instructor of Spanish
Professor Gary Ljungquist Professor of French, Director of General Education
Ms. Jacqueline McBride Director of Communications & Public Relations
Dean Ann McElaney-Johnson Vice President and Dean of the College
Professor Susan Opt Associate Professor of Communication, Chair
Ms. Whitney Pritchard Traditional Student, Class of 2012
Ms. Jamie Ridge Fleer Center Student, Class of 2011
Professor Herbert Schuette Professor of Business & Economics, Chair
Dr. Donna Rothrock Associate Library Director
Dean Robin Smith Dean of Undergraduate Studies
Ms. Deidre Teague Fleer Center Student, Class of 2010
Professor Kim Varnadoe Associate Professor of Art

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I. Salem College Quality Enhancement Plan Executive Summary
Questions Empower People:
Enhancing Student Learning Through a Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar
Salem College’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) seeks to enhance student learning
through an interdisciplinary senior course that empowers students to evaluate,
appreciate and integrate multiple perspectives in a collaborative project as they prepare
to be agents of change. The foundation of the QEP derives from the College’s core
values of learning that is grounded in excellence, in community and in responsibility to
self and others and from the College’s mission as a liberal arts college that prepares
women to change the world.
The Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar offers an integrative learning experience in which
seniors will explore a critical question from multiple perspectives; develop a creative
response to that question; and communicate their response effectively. The seminars
will include a diverse group of student scholars from a variety of majors to ensure an
interdisciplinary lens through which seminar participants will define and research a
central question. As participants in this capstone course, students will integrate various
disciplinary perspectives to develop a multifaceted response to the central question
posed in the seminar.
The QEP will serve as the capstone course of the College’s new general education
program, the Salem Signature, approved by the faculty in November 2008 and
implemented for new students in fall 2009. Through the Salem Signature, students
participate in disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses and merge knowledge and
practice through experiential learning opportunities. This senior seminar for the Salem
Signature is designed to integrate disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives in the
exploration of a critical question. The seminar will challenge students to participate as a
community of active scholars in the in-depth examination of a critical issue from the
perspective of multiple disciplines. As the capstone course in the Salem Signature, the
seminar will serve as a key component of the general education program and the
assessment of student achievement of learning outcomes defined as part of that
program.
The Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar will strengthen and enhance the senior year
experience of Salem College students and will be part of a three-pronged approach to
the senior year: the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar, the senior capstone course in the
major and the Celebration of Academic Excellence. Currently, the academic emphasis
of the senior year is the capstone course in the major. In 2008 following the articulation
of the College’s core values of the importance of community to the academic
development of our undergraduates, the faculty instituted the Celebration of Academic
Excellence, a day-long symposium each spring at which seniors present their research
projects and artistic achievements. This tradition provides the entire Salem College
community with the opportunity to celebrate academic excellence and the
accomplishments of our students in their majors. The Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar
proposed in the QEP will complement this focus on the major through its emphasis on
the integration of the liberal arts. Showcasing student achievement in the Senior
Interdisciplinary Seminar at the annual Celebration of Academic Excellence will provide
the full community a better understanding of the centrality of interdisciplinary
collaboration in the analysis of and resolution to complex questions.
Contact People:
Dr. Rebecca Dunn, Associate Professor of Biology rebecca.dunn@salem.edu;
Ms. Heidi Godfrey, Associate Professor of Dance heidi.godfrey@salem.edu

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II. Process Used to Develop the Salem College Quality Enhancement Plan

Salem College’s QEP, the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar, was developed through a
broad-based collaborative process that grew out of the work of an institution-wide
strategic planning process that began in fall 2006.

During her initial year at Salem College, President Susan E. Pauly, with the
endorsement of the Board of Trustees, initiated a review of the College’s core values
and mission statement. In fall 2006, a committee of faculty, staff and trustees, the Ad
Hoc Committee on Strategic Planning, conducted a comprehensive review of the
mission and, with extensive input from faculty, staff, students, alumnae, trustees and
members of the Board of Visitors, articulated in writing our institutional core values as
well as a revised mission statement focusing on the essence of a Salem College
education:

Salem Academy and College Statement of Values

Rooted in the distinct Moravian commitment to education, our core values are:
Learning grounded in the pursuit of excellence
Learning grounded in community
Learning grounded in responsibility to self and the world

Mission Statement of Salem College

Salem College, a liberal arts college for women, values its students as individuals,
develops their unique potential and prepares them to change the world.

President Pauly next charged the committee to begin phase two of the process: the
development of a strategic academic vision using the core values and mission statement
as its foundation, and the articulation of two-, five- and 10-year student learning
outcomes. With broad faculty involvement, the final draft of the Academic Vision was
approved by the Board of Trustees in March 2007 and the faculty completed the
development of specific student outcome goals in fall 2007 (please see Appendix C for
strategic planning documents). These documents, in turn, fostered the revision of
Salem’s general education program that began in spring 2008 and concluded on
November 11, 2008 with formal approval by the faculty of a new general education
program, the Salem Signature.

Simultaneous to the faculty’s work to design a new general education program that
would reflect the student learning outcomes approved by the faculty in fall 2007, the
president of the College charged the academic vice president and dean of the College to
convene the Quality Enhancement Planning Committee. Dr. Rebecca Dunn, associate
professor of biology, and Ms. Heidi Godfrey, associate professor of dance and then-
director of academic advising, agreed to serve as chairs of the committee. The
members of the initial QEP Planning Committee included five faculty representatives (at
least one representative from each division); the director of career development and
internships as the staff representative; and three students (two traditional age students
and one adult student).

The committee’s charge was to lead the process of the identification of the QEP topic.
The committee reviewed The Quality Enhancement Plan Handbook for the Reaffirmation

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of Accreditation, provided by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools, to understand the essential elements of a strong QEP. The
committee also conferred with the chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Strategic Planning
and reviewed the strategic planning documents, as these serve as the foundation for all
planning at the institution. Appreciating the importance of engaging “a wide cross-
section of the institution’s constituents to discuss potential topics and then convene a
smaller working group to determine the more focused topic” as described in the
handbook, the QEP Planning Committee created an inclusive process that involved
faculty, staff, students, alumnae and the Board of Trustees.

The committee began its work by asking all faculty and staff to offer suggestions for the
QEP topic. As part of this request, the committee provided copies of the strategic
planning documents and asked faculty and staff to consider these to ensure that the
topic would be grounded in the College’s core values, mission and academic vision. The
committee received 15 suggestions which then were compiled into a survey and given
back to the faculty and staff to see which of these would generate the most interest
among the community. The committee read all feedback and chose the top six topics
that were most closely aligned with the College’s mission. The QEP Planning
Committee then surveyed traditional students, students from the Martha H. Fleer Center
for Adult Education (women and men over the age of 23), graduate students, alumnae
and members of the Board of Trustees to determine which of these topics had the
greatest appeal to the broader community. Again, as part of this query, the committee
provided copies of the strategic planning documents for consideration in their review of
the suggested topics and/or identification of additional topics for discussion.

Feedback from the community revealed that there was no single topic that interested all
constituencies equally. Several topics stood out but there was no clear consensus. The
topic entitled Cultivating Women of Change received favorable ratings among several
groups, including the faculty; others preferred the topics Improving Students’
Communication Skills and Emphasizing Technology in the Teaching and Learning
Process, while some community members identified Wellness as a possible QEP topic
(please see Appendix D for survey results). The committee presented the data at the
May 13, 2008 faculty meeting for further discussion. Following this meeting the
committee convened and created an amalgamation of the ideas from each of the topics
that the faculty found most engaging. The committee brought this back to the faculty for
further review at the May 23, 2008 faculty meeting. During these discussions, there was
clear consensus from the faculty, already engaged in the process of redesigning the
general education program, that the focus of the QEP should include a portion of the
broader general education structure and should reflect some of the topics already
suggested for the QEP.

Using feedback from the survey of all campus constituencies, the discussions with the
faculty and the discussions surrounding the re-imagining of the general education
program, the committee sought to design a topic that would address several identified
areas of interest and needs. The committee also considered recommendations from the
2006 Academic Council’s call for a full revision of the core curriculum following its review
of the general education program. Academic Council, the standing faculty committee
responsible at that time for the oversight of the general education program,
recommended that a revision of the general education program include a discussion of a
senior level course as part of the program. After a full review of all recommendations
and planning documents, the committee proposed the development of a course for

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seniors that would serve as the capstone course for the new general education program,
the Salem Signature. The course would emphasize our students’ responsibility to be
agents of change as stated in the mission of the College; further the academic strategic
vision of an innovative, integrative and interdisciplinary curriculum that merges
knowledge and practice; enhance the communication skills of our students; and serve as
the capstone course of the Salem Signature program and as a vehicle for assessment of
the effectiveness of this program.

The co-chairs of the QEP Planning Committee presented this topic at the annual faculty
retreat in August 2008. The faculty responded positively and reached consensus that
the establishment of a senior year interdisciplinary seminar would enhance student
learning, strengthen the College’s general education program and serve as an effective
and achievable quality enhancement plan. While there was discussion of broadening
the QEP to include a comprehensive plan for a senior year experience that would
include a co-curricular component, the committee consulted with the dean of students
and her staff and determined that it would limit the QEP topic to the establishment of the
interdisciplinary seminar. However, the committee agreed to continue to confer with the
dean of students’ staff to ensure that co-curricular programming would complement
student learning in the seminar and further strengthen our students’ abilities to think
critically, communicate persuasively and engage in socially responsible change.

With the consensus of the full faculty for the general topic of the QEP, the QEP Planning
Committee completed its work. Meanwhile, the co-chairs of the committee and the vice
president for academic and student affairs and dean of the College solicited names of
faculty members interested in serving on the QEP Steering Committee, which would
begin immediately its work of defining the topic in more specific terms and bringing a
detailed proposal to the faculty for formal approval at a general faculty meeting. On
September 19, 2008 the vice president for academic and student affairs and dean of the
College brought the list of faculty volunteers to the Coordinating Committee (the faculty-
elected governing body of the College) and asked for their input on the membership of
the new QEP Steering Committee. The Coordinating Committee recommended that
there be equal distribution within divisions and also suggested including a representative
of the graduate education program. The QEP officers (co-chairs of the QEP Steering
Committee, dean of undergraduate studies and the vice president for academic and
student affairs and dean of the College) made the final selections. The newly formed
QEP Steering Committee initially included the continuing co-chairs and seven additional
faculty members selected to ensure two representatives from each of the four divisions
and a representative from the graduate program in education; the vice president for
academic and student affairs and dean of the College; the dean of undergraduate
studies; the dean of the Martha H. Fleer Center for Adult Education; the registrar; the
director of career development and internships; a College librarian; the director of
communications and public relations; and six students representing the traditional-age
and adult student populations (please see Appendix A for a list of committee members).
Further on in the planning process, the committee added the dean of students and the
director of general education to the QEP Steering Committee.

The committee met throughout September 2008 to discuss additional input from the
faculty retreat and prepared a formal proposal for the QEP topic to present to the faculty.
On September 19, 2008 the committee brought the proposal to the Coordinating
Committee for feedback and then to the Academic Council on September 23, 2008. The
Academic Council provided additional feedback on the plan and approved the formal

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topic for the QEP to bring to the faculty for a full vote. The Academic Council brought
the proposal to the general faculty meeting on October 7, 2008; the faculty passed the
proposal unanimously (see Appendix E QEP Topic Proposal, Oct. 7, 2008).

Once the topic of the QEP was approved, the QEP Steering Committee began its work
to develop the QEP. The committee quickly determined that it would need to conduct
more in-depth research on institutional needs and how the QEP could address these
needs, as well as begin a review of literature and best practices relating to the general
topic defined in the proposal. The QEP Steering Committee divided into six subgroups,
each responsible for a specific area of inquiry and planning for the overall project: 1)
review of the literature and best practices related to senior year experience courses; 2)
review of the literature and best practices related to interdisciplinary studies; 3) program
review of senior capstone courses in the majors at Salem College; 4) course
development; 5) assessment; and 6) marketing.

The subgroups responsible for the review of literature and best practices for
interdisciplinary study and senior year experiences and the review of current senior
capstone courses in the major at Salem, began their research immediately and worked
throughout the fall. The subcommittees on the literature and best practices review
provided grounding in current research on senior year experiences and interdisciplinary
studies and provided models for the committee to review. The subcommittee charged to
review senior capstone courses in the Salem curriculum conducted a thorough review of
all capstone courses and found clear evidence that students had ample opportunity to
work independently on a written work within their major but that collaboration and
integration were rare learning outcomes for the College’s major programs. The other
subgroups met to begin their planning, understanding that the substance of their work
would begin after the completion of the research on interdisciplinary and senior year
experience courses.

In January 2009, the course development subgroup, a group composed of faculty
members, met for a full-day retreat to study the research and best practices and define
more specifically the goals and mission of the QEP and the specific objectives and
learning outcomes of the senior year interdisciplinary seminar. The group also reviewed
NSSE data from 2005 and 2008 to see if there were particular weaknesses that might be
appropriate areas of emphasis in the development of learning outcomes. Although the
2005 and 2008 NSSE data indicated that seniors perceived that their educational
experience had helped them develop their critical thinking skills, written skills and oral
communication skills (2008 mean of 3.52, 3.43, 3.39 respectively), the faculty agreed
that additional development of these skills was important to the senior year experience.
Interestingly, students indicated less preparation in solving complex, real world problems
on the 2008 NSSE (mean of 2.85). In addition, students indicated that their work with
other students in and out of class was limited (mean of 2.50 in response to working with
other students in class; 2.69 mean in response to working with other students outside of
class). Although the subgroup did not find these scores alarming, the faculty saw an
opportunity for greater development of collaborative learning and problem solving that
would, at the same time, further the development of critical thinking and communication
skills.

The course development subgroup worked during the first part of the 2009 spring term to
develop the Quality Enhancement Plan Proposal. In March 2009 the QEP Steering
Committee co-chairs brought the QEP proposal to the Coordinating Committee and to

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Academic Council for discussion and further revision. Academic Council presented the
proposal to the faculty for a final vote of affirmation on April 2, 2009. Affirmation was
unanimous (please see Appendix F QEP, proposal, April 2, 2009).

The assessment subgroup conducted research on viable assessment tools and
constructed an assessment plan that would measure the enhancement of student
learning in the seminar. Recognizing the challenge of distilling knowledge and skills
gained in the seminar from the knowledge and skills gained across the Salem
curriculum, the assessment group constructed a pre-test (given to spring 2009 seniors)
in order to establish and refine a test that will be given in 2010 (please see Appendix G1,
Interdisciplinary case study exercise).

The marketing subgroup strategized on ways to include the community in the continued
development of the QEP and to generate interest in the project across campus. To this
end, the subgroup decided to bring students into the process through collaboration with
a Salem College communication class on campaign development, charging the students
in the class to come up with a marketing plan for the QEP. The class presented their
campaign ideas for committee review on May 12, 2009.

The process of the development of the Salem College QEP was broad-based and
included all constituents of the community. Building on the inclusive process of the
articulation of our core values, mission statement and academic vision and strategic
plan, the committee sought the continued involvement of the full community. The faculty
at Salem College acted as the primary drivers in the process and were involved in every
step of the development of the plan. Nine faculty members representing all four
divisions served on the committee, meeting on a weekly basis throughout the 2009
spring term. The faculty not on the QEP committees also played an integral role through
their: feedback on surveys, reviews of the QEP on standing committees and discussion
of the QEP at two faculty retreats, a faculty forum and the monthly faculty meeting on six
different occasions.

The staff at Salem College also participated in the process, playing a key role on both
the QEP Planning Committee and the QEP Steering Committee. Staff members also
participated through surveys, a staff forum and presentations to groups across campus,
including the dean’s council of deans and directors, admissions, the office of
advancement, the president’s executive team and the student life staff. Staff were also
kept apprised of the progress on the QEP at the fall 2008 community meeting convened
by the president.

Students have played a key role in the process through their representation on both the
QEP Planning Committee and the QEP Steering Committee. They, too, provided input
on the topic selection through a community survey and through representatives on the
academic council, which formally approved both the topic and the full proposal during
the 2008-2009 academic year. Students were kept apprised of process of the QEP at
meetings of both the student government executive board and the Fleer Center
Leadership Council in February 2009. The students played an important role in the
development of an internal marketing program to raise awareness of and excitement for
the QEP.

Salem alumnae provided significant input through surveys and discussion at a gathering
of alumnae, and were updated via a report in the alumnae magazine. Finally, the Board

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of Trustees provided substantial input through their input on surveys and their review of
the topic at regular board meetings. At each level, the committee sought questions,
insights and suggestions as it completed its development of the final plan.

III. Identification of the Topic

On October 7, 2008, the Salem College faculty approved the QEP Planning Committee’s
topic proposal for a general education course entitled the Senior Interdisciplinary
Seminar. This seminar will be part of a three-pronged approach to the senior year
experience: the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar, the senior capstone course in the
major and the annual Celebration of Academic Excellence. The topic for the QEP was
the culmination of a campus-wide discussion on improving student learning grounded in
our mission and vision for the college. With significant input from the Salem College
community, the students, faculty, staff, alumnae and the Board of Trustees, the faculty
from the QEP Steering Committee designed the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar that is
presented here.

Serving as the capstone course in the Salem Signature, the College’s general education
program, the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar was derived from the philosophy and
principles of the Salem Signature program:

Building on the commitment of Salem’s founders to the education of
women, the Salem Signature provides an innovative and rigorous
liberal education. In a community devoted to scholarly inquiry,
students participate in disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses and
merge knowledge and practice through experiential learning. The
Salem Signature program equips students with knowledge, skills and
competencies necessary to excel in a liberal arts institution. The
Salem Signature program educates the whole person, realizes
individual potential, fosters intellectual curiosity, develops leadership
skills and cultivates women of change.

All Salem Signature courses are informed by a commitment to
producing scholars who have learned how to learn. Salem
graduates know how to learn because they know how knowledge is
organized, how to find information and how to put information to use
to assist others in learning. Completing the Salem Signature
program indicates that Salem graduates are prepared for life-long
learning.

The Salem Signature program identifies five competencies that students will develop:
1) Students will think critically and solve problems; 2) Students will speak, write and use
technology to express ideas, concepts and information clearly and effectively; 3)
Students will demonstrate quantitative reasoning skills; 4) Students will demonstrate
global awareness and responsibility; and 5) Students will articulate the role of gender
and apply gender as an analytical lens.

Students develop these competencies in a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary
courses across their four years. Students in the capstone course will further hone their
mastery of the core competencies of critical thinking and problem solving, and their use
of technology to communicate effectively. The Salem Signature program also

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emphasizes the integration of knowledge and interdisciplinary thinking. Students in the
Salem Signature program experience at least one interdisciplinary seminar in their first
year at Salem to introduce them to the cross-disciplinary thinking at the core of the
liberal arts (the First-Year Experience and the Global Awareness Seminar for traditional
age students; the Transitions course for adult students in the Fleer Center). The
capstone course in the program will serve as the final fully interdisciplinary experience in
our students’ liberal arts curriculum and will demand both a more intensive integration of
disciplines and a more developed ability to communicate ideas effectively orally, in
writing and using technology. To this end, while the entry seminars are writing intensive,
the capstone course is identified as communication intensive, insisting on a more
developed and integrated use of communication skills, particularly those involving
technology.

Overall Goal of the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar

The overall goal for the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar is to enhance student learning
through an interdisciplinary senior course that empowers students to evaluate,
appreciate and integrate multiple perspectives as they prepare to be agents of change.

With the advent of our new general education program, we see this course as adding a
key component to the academic experience of our seniors. Complementing the senior
seminar in the major, this course provides a parallel experience in the liberal arts.
Students from a variety of majors come together, using the critical thinking and
communication skills developed in the general education and major programs, to
address a complex question that requires interdisciplinary thought and collaboration.
This program affords seniors the opportunity to integrate the breadth of their general
education program and the depth of their major studies with a senior seminar that asks
them to engage in complex issues as agents of change.

This course centers on interdisciplinary work as one of the defining elements of Salem’s
vision and goals. Our vision statement outlines four proposed student outcomes
supporting the mission of the college: Salem graduates will be able to 1) conduct and
effectively communicate significant scholarly, professional, or creative work; 2) use
interdisciplinary approaches to facilitate innovative thought; 3) apply knowledge and
technologies effectively in multiple experiential learning modes; and 4) engage in socially
responsible change.

Particularly focusing on interdisciplinary thought, the course addresses all four of these
outcomes. Klein and Newell, two of the field’s leading theorists, define interdisciplinarity
in a way that reflects an emerging consensus on its meaning: "Interdisciplinary studies
may be defined as a process of answering a question, solving a problem, or addressing
a topic that is too broad or complex to be dealt with adequately by a single discipline or
profession … [and] draws on disciplinary perspectives and integrates their insights [to
produce] a more comprehensive perspective." (Klein, 1997, p. 393) Their definition both
describes the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar and coincides with Salem’s goals as set
forth in our mission statement. Furthermore, Newell’s expanded definition of
interdisciplinarity as “the bridge between the academy and the real world, the means by
which our students can be empowered to use the disciplines to address the complex
world in which they will live” (Klein, 1997) connects the content and pedagogy of this
course directly to the College’s mission of preparing women “to change the world” as
engaged citizens.

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Other institutions are now stressing interdisciplinary work at an advanced level as an
essential component of an exemplary liberal arts education. In an initiative led by the
Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) called national Leadership
Council for Liberal Education and American’s Promise, or LEAP (AACU, 2006), an
analysis of the viewpoints of educators, employers and philanthropic and civic leaders
revealed four essential learning outcomes for the liberal arts, the most sophisticated of
which was integrative learning (please see appendix F). Preparing to be global citizens
requires that our students know how to solve complex problems in multiple ways. While
understanding the depth of a given field is essential, such understanding in isolation is
insufficient in the 21st century, as our students will be required to merge knowledge and
practice.

The Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar described in this proposal is securely grounded in
research on interdisciplinary studies, evaluation of institutional and national data and
thoughtful assessment of our own program reviews and capstone courses, as well as an
examination of best practices for senior year experiences in other institutions. The
following proposal was presented to and approved by the Salem College faculty on April
7, 2009 (please see Appendix F).

Overall Goal of the QEP
To enhance student learning through an interdisciplinary senior course that empowers
students to evaluate, appreciate and integrate multiple perspectives as they prepare to
be agents of change.

QEP Mission Statement
This course offers an integrative learning experience in which seniors assume an active
role in exploring a critical question from multiple perspectives, developing a creative
response to that question and communicating that response effectively.

Course Description
This interdisciplinary senior course offers an integrative learning experience in which
seniors assume an active role in exploring a critical question from multiple perspectives,
developing a creative response to that question and communicating that response
effectively. (Communication Intensive)

This course complements the writing intensive courses at the heart of the new Salem
Signature program.

Specific Goals and Objectives

Goals
Students will assume an active role in this course as they explore critical questions
through the use of interdisciplinary approaches.

Objectives
• To participate in integrative learning as an active scholar.
• To recognize strengths and limitations of their own disciplines.
• To use interdisciplinary materials and methods.

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References

Association of American Colleges and Universities. (2006). Communicating commitment
to liberal education: A self study guide for institutions. Retrieved from
http://www.aacu.org/leap/documents/LEAPCommComm_Final.pdf

Klein, J.T. & Newell, W. T. (1997). Advancing interdisciplinary studies. In Handbook of
the undergraduate curriculum: A comprehensive guide to purposes, structures,
practices, and change (edited by Gaff & Ratcliff), San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

IV. Desired Learning Outcomes

The Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar will enhance student learning through an
interdisciplinary senior course that empowers students to evaluate, appreciate and
integrate multiple perspectives as they prepare to be agents of change. The course will
be required of all Salem College seniors as their capstone course in the College’s
general education curriculum.

As stated in the previous section the course is designed as followed:

Course description
This interdisciplinary senior course offers an integrative learning experience in which
seniors assume an active role in exploring a critical question from multiple perspectives,
developing a creative response to that question and communicating that response
effectively.

Goals
Students will assume an active role in this course as they explore critical questions
through the use of interdisciplinary approaches.

Objectives
• To participate in integrative learning as an active scholar.
• To recognize strengths and limitations of their own disciplines.
• To use interdisciplinary materials and methods.

To achieve these objectives, students will achieve the following learning outcomes:

1. Students will be able to identify, gather and evaluate relevant knowledge from
multiple disciplines based on a critical question.
2. Students will be able to synthesize methods and knowledge of multiple
disciplines.
3. Students will be able to produce and present an integrated response to the
critical question.

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V. Literature Review and Best Practices

The Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar is designed to enhance student learning through an
interdisciplinary/integrative course that empowers seniors to evaluate, appreciate and
integrate multiple perspectives as they prepare to be agents of change. A capstone of
the new Salem Signature general education program, this course gives seniors the
opportunity to understand the potential contributions and limitations of their own major
disciplines in responding to multidisciplinary questions. The seminar offers an
opportunity for students to grow as problem solvers as they collaborate with their peers
to address critical questions. These abilities are essential components of an exemplary
liberal arts education.

As the QEP Steering Committee began its work, a review of research by the AAC&U
proved especially helpful. In an initiative led by LEAP, an analysis of the viewpoints of
educators, employers and philanthropic and civic leaders resulted in the identification of
four essential learning outcomes for all students: knowledge of human cultures and the
physical and natural world, intellectual and practical skills, personal and social
responsibility and integrative learning. The QEP Steering Committee determined that
the new Salem Signature general education program, as well as the established majors
at Salem College, provided students with ample opportunities to develop the first three of
these essential learning outcomes. The last and most sophisticated of the outcomes is
integrative learning. As part of the Essential Learning Outcomes, integrative learning
includes synthesis and advanced accomplishment across general and specialized
studies, demonstrated through the “application of knowledge, skills and responsibilities
to new settings and complex problems” (http://www.aacu.org/leap/vision.cfm)

In a statement on integrative learning, AAC&U and the Carnegie Foundation for the
Advancement of Teaching (2004) noted that

Fostering students’ abilities to integrate learning – across courses, over time and
between campus and community life – is one of the most important goals and
challenges of higher education…. Significant knowledge within individual
disciplines serves as the foundation, but integrative learning goes beyond
academic boundaries. Indeed, integrative experiences often occur as learners
address real-world problems, unscripted and sufficiently broad to require multiple
areas of knowledge and multiple modes of inquiry, offering multiple solutions and
benefiting from multiple perspectives.
(https://www.aacu.org/integrative_learning/pdfs/ILP_Statement.pdf.)

This work built upon the findings of a major report published by AAC&U in 2002. After a
national panel of top education, private sector, public policy and community leaders
analyzed higher education in terms of access, curriculum and outcomes, AAC&U issued
Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College. This
report calls for the development of curricular experiences that students need “to meet
emerging challenges in the workplace, in a diverse democracy and in an interconnected
world” (p. vii) (http://greaterexpectations.org/). According to the report, these curricular
experiences must include opportunities that

• develop self-directed, integrative, intentional learners who are empowered,
informed, responsible and thoughtfully reflective about their education;

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• are based on a practical liberal education in which students learn and apply their
learning in multiple ways to complex problems; and
• are characterized by a diversity of perspectives.

To provide these opportunities, classroom practices must include those that

• while teaching knowledge, also ask students to apply;
• stress inquiry and engagement with unscripted and contested problems,
including those drawn from real life; and
• develop and value collaborative as well as individual achievement. (pp. 45-47)

The authors predict that such experiences will produce the “intentional learners” who can
cope with the complexities of a modern society. They suggest that one important way to
achieve these goals is to “expect college seniors to complete an integrative, capstone
experience as evidence of advanced college-level learning”
(http://greaterexpectations.org/).

In her article “Why Integrative Learning? Why Now?” Humphreys (2005) suggests that
the complexities of modern society and the information overload that characterizes life in
the 21st century demand that educated citizens have the ability to make connections and
to integrate ideas – skills that develop as a result of integrative learning experiences.

Today’s college student needs more than ever a developed capacity to make
sense of this flood of information flowing into his or her consciousness every day.
That capacity depends fundamentally on how well she or he can see connections
and integrate disparate facts, theories, and contexts to make sense of our
complex world (p. 30).

After much discussion, along with the input from the faculty and the campus community,
the QEP Steering Committee concluded that a new capstone course in general
education, entitled the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar, would be an ideal vehicle to help
Salem students engage in an integrative learning experience that would address the
critical skills identified in the AAC&U report. In such a course, Salem students could
synthesize their learning in the liberal arts as they thought critically about
multidimensional questions and solutions. The committee determined that its next task
should be to review existing senior capstone courses in the majors at Salem College to
determine what kinds of learning experiences were common to these courses; how
learning outcomes were similar or dissimilar across senior seminars in the major; and
what gaps might exist in current practice in relation to the AAC&U findings.

Review of Capstone Courses in the Majors and Program Assessments

A subcommittee of the QEP Steering Committee reviewed many of the 2007-2008
annual program reviews and syllabi from majors’ capstone courses to examine the
learning experiences in the current Salem program offerings, with a particular focus on
learning outcomes and how the senior academic experience could be improved.
Committee members reviewed 19 annual program assessments. In reading the
assessments, faculty noted weaknesses discussed in the assessments as well as how
the programs conducted their assessments. The following summarizes the committee’s
findings:

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• Approximately 50 percent of the programs reviewed indicated that their majors
needed improvement in their writing skills, in terms of clear writing, grammar,
paper organization and appropriate use of a writing style (e.g., APA, MLA).
• About one third of the programs noted that their majors had difficulty assembling
scholarly sources and supporting research project claims.
• Several programs identified low analytical reasoning ability among their majors.
• All the programs drew upon two or more of these methods of assessment:
research paper/project, oral presentation, field test, portfolio,
performance/exhibit.
• Critical thinking and communication were typically listed as program objectives
for majors.

Syllabi of currently existing capstone courses in the majors varied widely; however,
some common factors were identified.

• The capstone courses focus on content and projects very specific to the major.
• The capstone courses emphasize individualized projects.
• The capstone courses stress papers and projects that highlight scientific or
quantitative reasoning.
• The capstone courses use research papers/projects, portfolios and presentations
as the major forms of assessment.

Based on this research, the committee discussed the basic strengths and weaknesses
of the current senior year experience as well as goals for creating a senior experience
that would complement and build on the strengths and address the perceived
weaknesses. The following topics were discussion points aimed toward enhancing the
senior seminar experience:

• The senior seminar experience should be interdisciplinary to complement the
major-specific emphasis in the currently existing capstone courses. This would
enhance student learning by providing a more rounded and holistic education
experience. This emphasis on the interdisciplinary would also reinforce newly
developed general education competencies.
• The senior seminar experience should be focused on creative work to
complement the approaches emphasized in the existing capstone courses. This
would enhance student learning by providing a more rounded and holistic
education experience and would complement the new Salem Signature general
education program.
• The senior seminar experience should focus on community and connection to
complement the emphasis on individual projects in the currently existing major
capstone courses. The committee discussed the possibility of introducing a
collaborative class project as the major assignment in the senior experience.
This would enhance student learning by providing a more rounded and holistic
education experience and preparing students to work with others to change the
world. This project would tie to Salem College’s mission by preparing students to
become change agents.

Based on this overview, the QEP Steering Committee brainstormed ideas about the
shape of the senior experience. The committee understood that the new Salem
Signature general education program would enhance students’ critical thinking and
writing skills, so these were not selected as the central emphasis of the senior capstone

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course. Instead, the committee suggested that the senior experience should emphasize
research, analysis, synthesis and problem solving in a creative and collaborative way.
The committee discussed these ideas:

• The senior experience course could be called a “senior think tank.” It would be a
course in which the students bring their various major-oriented perspectives
together to work on a project.
• Projects would be tied to global awareness and women’s studies to reinforce the
Salem Signature general education competencies.
• Projects could encourage students to work with currently existing social issues or
to imagining the future. In either case, students would focus on how they can
become change agents in those experiences.
• The senior seminar experience could tie into a project or theme that is being
emphasized in the first-year general education courses. However, the level of
involvement and analysis would be far greater at the senior level.
• The senior seminar course could consist of students from a variety of disciplines
to ensure that students examine perspectives from outside their disciplines and
gain increased awareness of the particular strengths and limitations each
discipline can provide to address the given question(s).
• The senior seminar course would not replace the current disciplinary course in
the major, but instead would be designed to enhance the student learning
experience by addressing topics not normally covered in their specific discipline.

To create the senior interdisciplinary capstone course, subcommittees of the QEP
Steering Committee reviewed research and best practices in the design of
integrative/interdisciplinary courses and senior year experiences. Their findings are
summarized below.

Integrative/Interdisciplinary Courses

In their statement on Integrative Learning, AAC&U and the Carnegie Foundation for the
Advancement of Teaching (2004) offer the following description:

Integrative learning comes in many varieties: connecting skills and knowledge
from multiple sources and experiences; applying theory to practice in various
settings; utilizing diverse and even contradictory points of view; and,
understanding issues and positions contextually.
(https://www.aacu.org/integrative_learning/pdfs/ILP_Statement.pdf.)

This emphasis on helping students make connections among the disciplines as they
prepare for life after college is an important element in integrative/interdisciplinary
learning. The literature suggests that integrative/interdisciplinary learning experiences
have emerged as an effective strategy for helping students connect what they
sometimes see as disparate components of their liberal arts education. Arcario, Eyon
and Clark (2005) note that integrative learning “seeks to transform the hurried,
fragmented nature of our students’ education by creating substantial, integrated
connections between their courses and helping them link coursework to the rest of their
lives” (p. 15).

Integrative learning can nurture skills students will need for the challenges they will
encounter in the modern workplace. As part of the LEAP project, an extensive employer

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survey by AAC&U was summarized in a chart of 13 items called “Skills and Areas of
Knowledge a Majority of Employers Would Like Colleges and Universities to Emphasize
More.” As the committee reviewed this list, several items stood out for possible inclusion
in the course, including 1) teamwork skills and the ability to collaborate with others in
diverse group settings; 2) global issues and developments and their implications for the
future; 3) the ability to locate, organize and evaluate information from multiple sources;
4) the ability to be innovative and think creatively; and 5) the ability to solve complex
problems. (http://www.aacu.org/leap/documents/GlobalCentury_ExecSum_3.pdf.)

Noting that the modern complex work environment requires collaboration in problem
solving. Huber, Hutchings and Gale (2005) support the idea that integrative learning
experiences serve as excellent career preparation:

…with flexibility and mobility as watchwords in today’s economy, few college
graduates can expect to spend a whole career with the same employer or even
in the same line of work. Further, the role of interdisciplinary collaboration and
exchange is growing both within and outside the academy. In government,
industry, medicine, and higher education alike, problems are vetted and solved
by bringing together people who are trained in different fields. Because of
changes in knowledge and communication practices, including technological
advances and globalization, all of us are faced with information that is more
complex, fast moving, and accessible than ever before, challenging the
integrative and critical capacities of experts and novices alike (p. 5).

Huber, Hutchings and Gale (2005) go on to suggest that integrative learning also
prepares students for contemporary civic life as they develop an awareness of and
attention to global interdependence. Responsible citizens must be “citizens of the world,
aware of complex interdependencies and able to synthesize information from a wide
array of sources, learn from experience and make connections between theory and
practice” (p. 5).

Huber and Breen (2009) note that “democracy’s big questions …are breathtakingly
complex and that to engage them constructively, people need the capacity to connect”
(p. 1). Connecting ideas, plans and solutions that may, on the surface, seem very
different is a skill that is critical for contemporary society. The authors suggest that,
because so many current global and national issues are multidimensional, higher
education has a responsibility “to help form leaders skilled enough in integrative thinking
to wrestle with the issues, at once moral, civic and environmental, that face us today” (p. 2).

In a study of emerging themes and practices related to integrative learning, DeZure,
Babb and Waldmann (2005) report that campuses have created projects that include the
creation of learning communities, capstones, first-year experiences, student self-
assessment and portfolio assignments, civic engagement efforts, interdisciplinary
courses, middle years (sophomore-junior) programs, honors programs and transfer-
student initiatives that focus on integrative learning. They suggest that

Carefully planned and enacted, capstones, portfolios, and other projects hold
promise of being transformative by changing the expectations that students,
faculty, and administrators have for the undergraduate experience as a whole.
The projects support development of reflective and intentional learners who will

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be able to make meaning of and bring coherence to the disparate paths they take
through college and into their lives beyond graduation (p. 26).

Huber (2006) suggests that many campuses find that their efforts to strengthen
opportunities for integrative learning often lead to continual innovation in the curriculum.
As students participate in integrative learning initiatives, faculty members have the
opportunity to focus on the kind of instruction that leads to learning.

One initiative feeds into another, the latter returns the favor to enrich the first, and
so on in spiral fashion over the years. A student portfolio program, for example,
provides undergraduates with a place to collect samples of their work and
prompts them to connect their learning both to their lives and to institutional
goals. And in doing so, it also offers institutions a powerful tool for looking at
their programs through the work their students do, and the meaning they actually
make of it. Bringing faculty together to read a selection of portfolios becomes an
occasion for faculty to gain a better understanding of integrative learning and
how it develops, as well as to consider what improvements might be made in the
complementary domains of curriculum, pedagogy, faculty development, and
assessment (p. 8).

Supported by an AAC&U initiative designed to promote integrative learning, 10 very
different institutions created projects on their campuses. These projects are
summarized below and described in depth at this site:
(http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/files/elibrary/integrativelearning/index.htm)

• Carleton College studied how to collectively integrate important literacies across
the curriculum. Carleton faculty focused on defining and teaching integrative
skills; students demonstrated competencies in the sophomore writing portfolio
and senior capstone projects.
• College of San Mateo expanded its learning communities program to promote
what they call “shared knowledge” and “shared knowing” among students and
faculty. Faculty demonstrated collaboration, connections and applications to
real-world issues in order to meet the needs of the transient student population.
• LaGuardia Community College designed electronic student portfolios to prompt
and demonstrate integrative learning across disciplines. The faculty, working
effectively with a diverse and often under-prepared student population, designed
opportunities for students to collaborate as they develop and communicate
viewpoints from multiple perspectives.
• Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts developed an upper-level integrated
capstone course in the developmental core curriculum. Faculty created the third
level of capstones to build a multimodal assessment system.
• Michigan State University designed a project to connect integrative studies with
global competencies through their study abroad programs.
• Philadelphia University connected professional programs with the liberal
education core through faculty initiatives, a new planning process and an
intentional focus on curricular connections. Faculty worked together to help
students make curricular connections across disciplines.
• Portland State University implemented a new “middle years” program for general
education, including the development of new courses and an electronic student
portfolio requirement. They designed courses around service learning and
critical questions.

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Salem College

• Salve Regina University developed a senior capstone experience to integrate
liberal learning with specialized study in the majors. They also developed a four-
year process for student portfolios.
• State University of New York at Oswego modified its first-year program and
capstone to create a core curriculum with a focus on developmentally appropriate
integrative skills.
• University of Charleston focused on the development of integrated learning
assignments that are aligned with program and liberal learning outcomes.

The pedagogical approach that seems to best support integrative learning is the
seminar. Gale (2006) notes that

The seminar requires close reading and broad knowledge, active engagement
and connection between not only the ideas and experiences of one student, but
the thoughts and insights of an entire class….The seminar integrates information
and analysis, text and dialogue, critique and community, while serving as a forum
for experimentation and inquiry….with students making autonomous connections
across courses, between experiences and throughout their own lives (p. 4)

Gale (2006) suggests that students’ need for engagement with current issues and
events supports “emergent pedagogy,” an especially appropriate strategy for
contemporary students who are media-savvy and comfortable with all kinds of
technology.

Drawing upon these and other examples in its review of the literature, the QEP Steering
Committee determined that the Salem Signature capstone course should have certain
elements common to integrative/interdisciplinary courses: 1) structured opportunities for
students to collaborate; 2) a focused effort to help students understand and make
connections among the disciplines; 3) support for students in gathering and using
knowledge from multiple sources and experiences; 4) applying theory to practice in
addressing critical questions; 5) utilizing diverse and contradictory points of view;
6) a focus on developmentally appropriate integrative skills; and 7) understanding issues
contextually. These elements are reflected in the learning outcomes established by the
QEP Steering Committee and approved by the faculty:

Senior Year Experiences

A decade ago, Gardner (1999) noted, “While there appears to be a general acceptance
of the need for specific interventions to help students successfully make the transition
into college, the problems and needs associated with the transition out of college have
received little attention from college and university personnel, let alone researchers”
(p. 7). He suggested that capstone transition courses should

• Promote the coherence and relevance of general education
• Promote integration and connections between general education and the
academic major
• Foster integration and synthesis within academic majors
• Explicitly and intentionally develop important student skills, competencies and
perspectives that are tacitly or incidentally developed in the college curriculum
• Enhance awareness of and support for key personal adjustments encountered by
seniors during their transition from college to post-college life

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Salem College

• Improve seniors’ career preparation and pre-professional development
• Enhance seniors’ preparation and prospects for postgraduate education
• Promote effective life planning and decision making with respect to practical
issues likely to be encountered in adult life after college
• Encourage a sense of unity and community among the senior class, which can
serve as a foundation for later alumni networking and future alumni support for
the college (p. 11).

In their landmark book, The Senior Year Experience: Facilitating Integration, Reflection,
Closure, and Transition (1998), Gardner and Van der Veer noted that senior year
experiences can address three major purposes: “to bring integration and closure to the
undergraduate experience, to provide students with an opportunity to reflect on the
meaning of their college experience and to facilitate graduating students’ transition to
post-college life” (p. 22).

In 2008, Kuh identified “high-impact educational practices” based on his work in student
engagement. The practices included first-year seminars, common intellectual
experiences, learning communities, writing intensive classes, collaborative projects,
undergraduate research, diversity/global learning, service learning, internships and
capstone courses. The new Salem Signature general education program already
includes many of these practices; however, the QEP Steering Committee determined
that a new capstone course for seniors could be what Kuh describes as a culminating
experience that helps students integrate content and apply what they have learned. As
a collaborative project, the course would be an opportunity for, as Kuh states, “learning
to work and solve problems in the company of others, and sharpening one’s own
understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others, especially those with
different backgrounds and life experiences” (p. 2).

In a study entitled Professing the Disciplines: An Analysis of Senior Seminars and
Capstone Courses, Henscheid (2000) described four main types of senior year
experience courses: Disciplinary, Interdisciplinary, Transition and Career Development.
Of the 549 institutions that reported offering senior seminars and capstone courses, 141
identified them as interdisciplinary. The study found that although the courses were
categorized as interdisciplinary, they were likely to be administered more like disciplinary
courses in lacking collaboration among departments. Of the 121 respondents who
identified the department that administered the course, only 19 (13 percent) reported
collaborating with other departments or disciplines (Henscheid, 2000, p. 93). According
to Henscheid (2000, p. 93), small private institutions are more likely than large public
institutions to have true interdisciplinary courses that incorporate multiple disciplines.

The study also reports that respondents from both public and private institutions
indicated that interdisciplinary senior seminars and capstone courses are more often
part of core requirements than major requirements (Henscheid, 2000). Henscheid noted
that private institutions were more likely than their public counterparts to report both the
integration of the academic discipline and the general education requirements as a
principal goal. In contrast to public institutions that more frequently reported faculty
members teaching interdisciplinary courses alone, respondents at private institutions
were almost as likely to teach such courses in teams as they were to teach them alone
(Henscheid, 2000). Both public and private institutions reported teaching most senior
seminars and capstone courses for one full academic term (semester or quarter
respectively).

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The subcommittee reviewed senior capstone courses at various institutions, including
those named in the Henscheid study and those named in the US News and World
Report’s publication entitled “America’s Best Colleges 2009”. The charge was to identify
recurring themes and ideas that other institutions have in place.

Each year U.S. News and World Report (http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews
.com/best-colleges) publishes information about institutions that serve as exemplary
academic models for student success. U.S. News consults a wide range of academic
professionals in order to identify eight categories of programs, one of them being senior
capstone courses. After reviewing more than 1,400 schools, the report narrowed the list
to 10 schools with outstanding capstone courses. The QEP Senior Year Experience
Subcommittee added these schools to their list for review. The subcommittee members
focused on four questions as they reviewed their respective institutions:

1. Who is the target audience for the course, e.g., first year or senior?
2. Who teaches the course, e.g., single faculty member, or team taught?
3. When and with what frequency is the course offered?
4. What is the course content, e.g., syllabus, assessment, competencies and
learning outcomes?

After review, the subcommittee chose three institutions as the best models for the Senior
Interdisciplinary Seminar at Salem College: Eckerd College, Otterbein College and
Portland State University. The subcommittee found different aspects of each institution
appealing and each had an exceptional Website that demonstrated its vested interest in
the senior year experience.

Upon matriculating at Eckerd College (www.eckerd.edu), students are aware that the
senior capstone course is something to anticipate. The marketing is strong in terms of
their branding and logo. The goals and objectives are clearly outlined. The capstone
course includes readings, class discussions, plenary sessions, self-reflective writing and
off campus community service projects. Eckerd appears to have access to ample
resources to support the program — e.g. up to four professors team-teach some
courses. Eckerd has a top-down approach with some plenary discussions. The course
has an extensive service learning component involving specific companies that the
college has cultivated.

The senior capstone course at Otterbein College (www.otterbein.edu) relates the
students’ majors to their lives. Specifically, students choose topics that are not within
their majors. Otterbein ensures that there is a broad range of majors in each section so
they can complement each other. The topics are presented in an innovative and exciting
manner to pique the students’ interests and they are related to contemporary topics.
Travel abroad experiences are also available. At Otterbein, the capstone course is
designed to be an opportunity for students to reflect on their undergraduate experience
and to be a bridge to the future.

Portland State University (www.pdx.edu) collaborates extensively with the community
and also within the university. The institution has a commitment to community service
for all students, with some 2000 students per year participating. Portland State holds an
annual fair with the faculty, students and the community to select those with whom they
would like to work. The fair includes multiple options for different majors and

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backgrounds. Portland State has an extensive Website where students post their work
related to the senior project. The Website also listed course descriptions, goals and an
assessment page.

Other universities that diverged from the more traditional models include Lynchburg
College, Aloysius College, Goucher College, Huntington College and Maryville College.
Lynchburg focuses on classical literature. Aloysius poses questions and requires
students to defend their positions. Goucher uses the student’s major as the framework
for the course; students expand upon their disciplines by completing fieldwork and
working cooperatively. At Maryville, faculty emphasize three modes of inquiry in the
senior capstone: scientific, artistic and humanistic.

Another institution that is recognized for senior capstone experiences is Southern Illinois
University Edwardsville. In their article, “The Disorienting: The Senior Capstone as a
Transformative Experience,” (2009), Sill, Harward and Cooper describe the senior
capstone assignment (SRC) as it has evolved. They note that “Preparing students to
move from college to the world beyond is both a significant part of baccalaureate
education and an underlying rationale for creating transformative experiences in senior
capstones” (2009, p. 50). At their institution, seniors and faculty often develop a
“different perspective, a new way of knowing and frame of reference” (2009, p. 52) as
they engage in the senior capstone course. Their experiences with the capstone course
have led faculty to develop a new Keystone Learning Agreement, a format that will be
designed to reflect integrative and collaborative learning that “depends on and
buttresses the student experience” (2009, p. 55).

In reviewing exemplary programs, the subcommittee found three different approaches to
the senior capstone courses:

• A culmination of the four year experience
• A launching into the future
• A bridge between these two approaches

In addition, the subcommittee found several commonalities within the different programs:

• Themes of integration and synthesis
• Plenary sessions
• Comprehensive Websites
• Diverse mix of majors in the sections
• Global perspective
• Social responsibility
• Focus on critical thinking, writing and speaking
• International experience (offered by some)
• Duration of courses tended to be one semester; some were one year
• Strong marketing strategies

After a review of these programs, the QEP Steering Committee determined that some of
these elements are appropriate for the context at Salem College and proposed that the
Salem Signature Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar should include:

• Themes of integration and synthesis
• Diverse mix of majors in the sections

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Salem College

• Global perspective
• Social responsibility
• Focus on critical thinking, writing and speaking
• One semester in length

To ensure that the course expectations would be developmentally appropriate for
college seniors, the QEP Steering Committee reviewed the literature in cognitive
development.

Developmental Appropriateness

The proposed senior capstone interdisciplinary seminar requires that students process
information in sophisticated ways, synthesizing information from multiple sources and
creating new solutions to address critical problems; these are cognitive tasks associated
with the formal operations stage. The course design assumes that seniors will operate
at the formal operations stage of thinking, and that many of them will demonstrate post-
formal thinking and reflective judgment in their approach to addressing critical questions.
All our undergraduates, including our large adult population of students, will be required
to take this class; therefore, we focused on cognitive development and appropriate
pedagogy for formal and post-formal thinkers rather than on lifespan development.

In formal operations, a student’s focus can shift from what is real to what can be
imagined. Piaget’s classic stage theory (1980), which provides the framework for much
of the current work in cognitive development, suggests that most college-age students
function at the formal operations stage of cognitive development, which is distinguished
by hypothetic-deductive reasoning. Formal thinkers, with their ability to understand
multiple possibilities and interpretations, formulate and test theories about the world
(Moshman, 1999). Most college courses require abstract formal-operational thinking
(Meese & Daniels, 2008) in that students are expected to demonstrate organized,
scientific thinking that leads them to generate many solutions for problems. Lehman and
Nisbett (1990) and Pascarella and Terenzini (1991) found that taking a college-level
class can facilitate the development of formal thinking in that discipline; Umbach and
Wawrzynski (2005) concluded that students are more engaged when faculty prompt
formal thinking through their pedagogy. Formal thinkers use their existing knowledge to
approach new problems in a systematic way, considering options and measuring their
appropriateness; however, there are limitations to the creative outcomes for formal
thinkers.

Formal thinkers expect to produce a single right answer that will hold in all similar
circumstances and across time. Contradictions (inconsistent observations or
disagreement by other people) are regarded as a sign that something is wrong
with the solution…Creativity… [in] fields based on formal analysis appears to
require cognitive operations that retain the power of systematic thinking but also
transcend its limitations….Formal thinking cannot create unlimited possibilities
because a closed system can generate only a limited number of relationships
(Wu & Chiou, 2008, p. 239).

The post-Piagetian perspective on cognitive development suggests that postformal
thinking may, within the appropriate context, develop as a stage past formal thinking.
Kramer (1983) suggests that postformal thinkers are: 1) aware of the relativistic nature
of knowledge; 2) open to contradictions; and 3) able to integrate contradictions into

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existing knowledge as they evolve in their thinking. Post-Piagetians (Kramer &
Woodruff, 1986; Rybash & Roodin, 1989; Kahlbaugh & Goldston, 1992; Case, 1998)
describe post-formal thinking in three stages: absolutist, relativistic and dialectical.
Students who are in the absolutist stage see only one correct solution to any problem
and base their solutions on their personal experiences, characteristics typically found in
first and second-year college students.

In relativistic thinking, according to Wu and Chiou (2008), specific beliefs and values are
part of larger thought systems. A relativistic thinker recognizes that differences of
opinion can exist and that, because problems can be viewed from multiple perspectives,
one answer is not “right” and the other answers “wrong.” Relativistic thinkers are
pragmatic, and they can value creativity. Meacham (2003) notes that students in this
stage, “attempt to know and understand by insisting that all the alternatives in a
particular situation are equally valid” (p. 8).

The dialectical thinker (Wu & Chiou, 2008) understands that her/his thoughts are
evolving and that contradictions are not impediments to solving problems. The
dialectical thinker values the challenge of creating new solutions. For many individuals,
this stage occurs after much life experience:

Whereas formal thinkers tend to change their ideas only if the old view is “in
error,” dialectical thinkers see changes in thinking as natural, expectable, and
valuable. Thus, a dialectical view of knowledge encourages individuals to
willingly move away from past points of view and to perform the “set-breaking” of
“leaping away” shift from old traditions that is viewed as characteristic of creative
thinkers. Furthermore, the dialectical thinker sees the evolution of knowledge as
resulting from contradictions within a thought system or between a thought
system and outside factors. For the formal thinker, contradictions are signs of
trouble, irritants to be ignored where possible, and eliminated when necessary.
In contrast, the dialectical thinker considers that contradictions play a key role in
intellectual growth (p. 240).

These elements are critical to the kind of creative thought the Senior Interdisciplinary
Seminar is designed to facilitate. We hope to create a learning atmosphere that
provides ample opportunities for students 1) to consider existing solutions as they create
new ones; 2) to confront contradictions rather than be stymied by them; and 3) to value
the challenge of addressing a question that may seem, at the outset, to be without
answers.

The characteristics of post-formal thought generally coincide with the classic work of
Perry (1981) who describes an intellectual scheme that illustrates how students move
from a right-wrong mentality to one where they consider multiple perspectives as being
valid. Perry’s scheme “still has saliency today because the basic underlying structure –
movement from a right-wrong mentality, to one in which multiple viewpoints are
experienced as valid, and finally to one in which evaluations of evidence are made in a
relativistic world – remains viable” (1999, p. 5). Perry found that younger college
students rely heavily on authority figures to determine what is right and what is wrong.
All solutions are typically based on a logical approach to problem solving. By the time
they were seniors, students had progressed through stages where they questioned right
and wrong, and they had reached a stage where they could examine different sides of
issues and commit to distinct viewpoints. They became, in essence, their own authority

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figures. Because students at this stage were able to recognize that others’ views were
equally valid to their own, Perry suggested that their thinking had surpassed formal
operations and moved to a post-formal stage. Post-formal thought is characterized by
the awareness that truth often varies according to the situation. Perry noted that
students who experience such cognitive change exhibit great courage as they encounter
challenges to their existing knowledge. The process also requires that faculty exhibit a
fundamental belief in their students’ ability to grow. Knefelkamp (2003), in his discussion
of how Perry’s work remains relevant decades after its initial publication, notes that
Perry’s

recognition of the students’ courage brought with it the reciprocal demand that
we encourage them. He was adamantly against any notion of trying to force
growth or development. Students were not potted plants to be watered in some
academic hothouse, nor were they to be subjects of academic experiments.
They were simply to be seen as courageous human beings who needed
company and understanding along the way. He often said that faculty make the
mistake of thinking they have only two options when grading papers or working
with students: praise and blame. But Bill constantly reminded us that there is a
third, more powerful and necessary option: recognition. For when the student is
recognized, the conditions of respect and encouragement that make risk possible
and the pain of growth endurable are present (p. 10).

King and Kitchener (2004) took a different view of cognitive development among young
adults, and their work has influenced much of the current thinking in cognitive
development. They described reflective judgment as the way in which adults consider
problems and issues in current affairs, scientific inquiry, personal relationships and/or
issues related to religion and spirituality. Their stages illustrate a developmental
progression from a period during which students assume that knowledge is absolute,
concrete and observable, to the sixth stage, when the student can know both her own
and others’ views and can justify her beliefs by comparing evidence and opinions from
multiple perspectives. The final stage is the seventh stage, when students construct
evidence-based beliefs after inquiry into multiple sources and consideration of varied
perspectives. At this stage, students are able to approach problems pragmatically and
they see the search for truth as an ongoing process requiring constant examination and
deliberation. King and Kitchener (2004), who built upon the foundation established by
Perry, based their conclusions on evidence from a larger and more diverse group of
students, while Perry conducted most of his studies with males at elite universities.

Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger and Tarule (1986) were among the first to consider how
gender might influence cognitive development. Their work was strongly influenced by
Perry’s developmental stages, and some suggest that there is still reason to consider
their findings. Knefelkamp (2003) suggests that

a very powerful combination is of the Perry model with the theoretical work
reflected in Women’s Ways of Knowing. One can argue persuasively that there
are significant parallels of insight that come from overlaying the two models.
Both models trace students’ increased abilities to become active generators of
learning and to learn with and from their peers. Both stress the constructed and
contested nature of knowledge, and both, using very different language, describe
the students’ move from silence into agency and voice….and to have a greater
appreciation for one of the major characteristics of that position: namely the

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realization that one can and should bring one’s own experiences to bear on the
interpretation of knowledge and not just be expected to “apply” what one learns
in the classroom to other aspects of one’s life (p. 2).

Though we have not deliberately based our capstone course on Women’s Ways of
Knowing, our course embraces objectives consistent with the work of Belenky, et al.
“to integrate their learning across disciplines, reflecting on the meaning of their
education, creating new knowledge, and considering how to carry their knowledge
responsibly into the world beyond college” (p. 37, KDP).

In exploring how the interdisciplinary approach with its inherent nature of making
connections, dialogue and interaction and integration might be particularly suited to
women, we revisited the classic work of Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice. Gilligan
suggested that the lens through which some women perceive themselves and their
world reflects the formation of identity that “is defined in a context of relationship and
judged by a standard of responsibility and care” (p. 160). The nature of that lens is well
expressed by one of the interviewees of Gilligan’s study:

By yourself, there is little sense to things. It is like the sound of one hand
clapping, the sound of one man or one woman, there is something lacking.
It is the collective that is important to me, and that collective is based on certain
guiding principles, one of which is that everybody belongs to it and that you all
come from it….They are part of you; that other person is part of that giant
collection of people that you are connected to. (p. 160)

Gilligan (1982) attempted to describe the “voice” of women in a culture marred by
sexism, and noted that most of the studies of human development had been conducted
with male subjects. “The different voice I describe is characterized not by gender but
theme” (p.2). She did not attempt to generalize about either sex, but rather presented “a
distinction between two modes of thought and to focus on a problem of interpretation…”
(p. 2). It is important to note that she believed “these differences arise in a social context
where factors of social status and power combine with reproductive biology to shape the
experience of males and females and the relations between the sexes” (p. 2).

Gilligan’s reference to two modes of thought and the problem of interpretation reminded
us that there are multiple valid views of the adult world, of relationships and of morality –
all dimensions that we foresee as interwoven in the QEP authentic questions. Gilligan
described dimensions of human development that had not appeared in other stage
theories, including the importance of relationships. She validated a focus on
interdependence, noting that some women “define their identity through relationships of
intimacy and care“ (p. 164) and value “the ongoing process of attachment that creates
and sustains the human community” (p. 156).

We have designed the senior interdisciplinary course as a collaborative learning
opportunity where students bring their disciplinary perspectives—-shaped through
individual lenses and integrated into their own identities—into a lens of the collective
whole. We believe this will give Salem students, female and male, an opportunity to
understand the value of collective wisdom and the powerful dynamic of connection and
collaboration.

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Finally, as we have considered theory and pedagogy for the new course, we have been
influenced by the very important work in constructivism. Constructivism is grounded in
the research of Piaget, Vygotsky and the Gestalt psychologists, Barlett, Bruner and
Rogoff, and it is rooted in the philosophy of John Dewey. Recent information-processing
theories are constructivist in that they describe how individuals construct their internal
representations and how they are retrieved and remembered (Mayer, 1996). Tobin and
Tippit (1993) identified four essential elements in all variations of constructivism: 1) new
knowledge is a personal construction that is socially mediated; 2) new knowledge
emerges from personal experience; 3) existing knowledge provides the foundation for
new knowledge; 4) new knowledge must be reliable and predictable information about
the world. Bruning, Schraw, Norby and Ronning (2004) identified two central ideas that
describe constructivism: 1) learners must be active in constructing their own knowledge;
and 2) social interactions are key in the construction process.

There is evidence in the professional literature that the constructivist approach to
teaching, although often associated with the pre-college years, is actually very
appropriate for college students. In support for constructivist instruction with college
students, Schwartz and Fischer (2003) note that constructivism “emphasizes that new
knowledge is a personal creation that is socially mediated” (p. 22). They argue that
university courses that overemphasize didactic, teacher-centered approaches rob
students of the opportunity to learn efficiently, and that students must “make personal
sense of complex phenomena” (p. 23). They found that even advanced college students
“preferred to borrow relationships from their instructors, and expected that these
borrowed relationships would provide the insight” (p. 23). They suggest that college
instructors hold the key to helping students construct their own understanding of new
knowledge and note that

any attempt to amend, enhance, or change student views must account for the
experiences that generated their representations. They are intimate and
foundational constructions. This foundation will help educators identify new,
anomalous, or follow-on experiences that can become personal representations
available for further coordination as abstractions. This perspective helps
teachers target with greater precision the experiences and discussions that need
to occur if their students are to create the abstract concepts demanded by the
discipline they are studying. Although the capacity of abstract reasoning is
present in adults, this skill can only emerge when students can capture and
coordinate the appropriate sensorimotor and representational understandings (p. 6)

Constructivist approaches to teaching require that the faculty members serve as
facilitators to the learning process. This assumes that the traditional role of the faculty
member as the source of all knowledge in the classroom is inappropriate in a
constructivist classroom, and it requires a classroom environment that welcomes
discussion. Driscoll (2005) articulated five conditions that are essential in constructivist
pedagogy:

1. embed learning in complex, realistic and relevant learning environments;
2. provide for social negotiation and shared responsibility as a part of learning;
3. support multiple perspectives and use multiple representations of content;
4. nurture self-awareness and an understanding that knowledge is constructed;
5. encourage ownership in learning (p. 314).

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In planning for the senior interdisciplinary capstone course, we believe that these
conditions are critical for our students to develop as post-formal thinkers.

Conclusion

The National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise
recommended in 2008 that colleges and universities design curricular experiences that
foster

multiple fields of study, wide-ranging knowledge of science, cultures and society;
high-level intellectual and practical skills; an active commitment to personal and
social responsibility; and the demonstrated ability to apply learning to complex
problems and challenges (p. 5).

They encourage a new commitment to what they identify as Principles of Excellence.
These seven principles include:

• Aim high and make excellence inclusive
• Give students a compass
• Teach the arts of inquiry and innovation
• Engage the big questions
• Connect knowledge with choices and action
• Foster civic, intercultural and ethical learning
• Assess students’ ability to apply learning to complex problems

The principles are designed to help students develop real-world competencies and
require faculty to teach students “how to integrate and apply their learning…across
disparate fields of study” (p. 7). The Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar addresses several
of these elements, as it is designed to help students refine their skills in inquiry and
innovation, engage the big questions, connect knowledge with choices and action and
apply their learning to complex problems in a collaborative setting. We believe it will
enhance the senior year experience, moving away from a predominately individualistic
and discipline-specific process of learning to an interdisciplinary, integrative and
collaborative learning opportunity for all Salem undergraduates.

At its best, integrative learning should help students “make connections between what is
learned in very different and typically unconnected, settings. And to do this they need to
be able to step back and see what their efforts add up to, to take stock both of what they
have learned and what it will take to get to a next level of understanding. In a word, they
need to be agents of their own learning” (Hutchings, 2009).

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VI. Actions to be Implemented

As shown above, the QEP Steering Committee at Salem College has integrated current
research and best practices into the development of a quality enhancement plan that
reflects the institution’s mission and will impact student learning at Salem College in
significant ways. This section will outline the steps we will take in order to ensure the
successful implementation of the Quality Enhancement Plan.

Course Implementation

Pilot Courses: The faculty affirmed that students in the class of 2013 are governed by
our new General Education Program. Our QEP focuses on the capstone course in the
senior year, meaning that it will be required of all seniors in the 2012-2013 academic
year. This gives us several years to offer pilot courses to find out what works well and
what needs adjustments in terms of content, the process and the assessment of this
course. During the 2009-2010 faculty retreat, faculty members worked in pairs to
discuss what topics they would like to cover if they were to teach a Senior
Interdisciplinary Seminar together. The faculty were very enthusiastic and we received
numerous suggestions and interesting ideas and even more interesting pairings of
faculty. Several faculty members volunteered to teach in the pilot year. The courses
could be taught by individuals or by pairs of faculty, depending on the content area. In
the spring of 2010, the pilot program will feature Who Will Feed the World? co-taught by
Dr. Herb Schuette, professor of business and economics, and Dr. Traci Porter, assistant
professor of biology. We will spend the fall 2010 assessing the first pilot course and,
based upon that assessment, pilot other sections in spring 2011. We will offer the final
set of pilot courses in spring 2012.

Enrollment in the course: In order to ensure enrollment in the pilot courses, the QEP
Steering Committee worked with the office of communications and public relations to
create marketing tools to get the word out. Using input from the spring 2009 marketing
class, communications and public relations worked with a designer to design a logo for
the QEP. The logo was revealed at the November faculty meeting in anticipation of the
course registration process later that month. Visual announcements of the courses
featuring the new logo were posted around campus. The committee emailed seniors

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eligible to enroll in the pilots; academic advisors also received emails reminding them to
encourage students to consider enrolling in the course. The faculty teaching in the
course set up displays in the dining hall and spoke directly with students about seminars
offered in spring 2010.

In order to create a truly interdisciplinary experience, it will be critical that each seminar
includes students from a variety of majors. As each class member will be the “expert” in
her discipline, we will want as many disciplines represented as possible. The General
Education Committee will need to work with the registrar’s office to ensure a good
mixture of students in each section while giving the students some selection in the
process.

Oversight of the QEP course: The College will establish a new subcommittee of the
General Education Committee, the Signature Capstone Subcommittee, to oversee the
implementation and assessment of the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar. The committee
will be composed of the director of the Salem Signature ex-officio; two members of the
General Education Committee; and two faculty at large. The subcommittee’s duties will
be to organize Signature capstone course offerings; to propose and plan faculty
development activities for the capstone courses in collaboration with the Center for
Teaching Excellence; to advise faculty and staff concerning co-curricular programming
that supports the goals of the capstone courses; to oversee the assessment of the
capstone course; and based on the course assessment, to make recommendations
about program improvement to the General Education Committee.

Library Resources: In support of the full curriculum, the two Salem College libraries
hold 143,896 physical books, scores and bound periodicals; 15,325 audiovisual items;
107 paper periodical subscriptions and 321,695 microform units (mostly ERIC microfiche
and New York Times microfilm reels). Online resources include more than 57,000
electronic books and 79 licensed databases with over 24,150 periodical titles
represented in full text. Salem has achieved significant price discounts by obtaining
access to 57 of these databases through its participation in NC LIVE, a statewide
purchasing consortium and three others through the Carolina Consortium.

In order to provide increased library support for Salem's QEP senior group
interdisciplinary exploration of major issues for calendar year 2010, we will 1) renew our
subscription to Project Muse at the Standard Collection level rather than at a less
comprehensive level as originally planned; and 2) we will add JSTOR Arts and Sciences
Collection VII to our current subscriptions to Collections I, II and III. The rationale for
maintaining the Project Muse Standard Collection is the importance of retaining
electronic access to the most recent issues of major scholarly journals in the humanities
and the social sciences. In calendar year 2008 (the last year for which complete data is
available), Salem library users downloaded at least one full-text article from more than
88 percent of the 423 titles in the Standard Collection. Our level of usage placed us in
the third quartile of all baccalaureate liberal arts institutions in North America that
subscribe to this collection. In addition, Project Muse offers a high degree of currency
not found in our aggregate interdisciplinary databases. Moreover, Project Muse was
designed to complement the coverage offered in JSTOR.

The JSTOR Arts & Sciences VII Collection of 180-plus journal titles in the arts, social
sciences and humanities is a particularly suitable addition to our current electronic
resources, including JSTOR Arts & Sciences Collections I - III. Moreover, Collection VII

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includes a significant number of health policy titles. While JSTOR titles typically halt
some three to five years before the present, they do provide complete back files in full
text and extend the coverage year by year. In many cases, Project Muse provides the
more current content lacking in JSTOR.
Faculty Development
Although most faculty members currently use various pedagogies that encourage
student interaction and collaboration, it will be important to provide faculty development
opportunities in the following areas:

Interdisciplinary and integrative teaching: Faculty who will teach as pairs will need
training in interdisciplinary teaching and collaboration. To this end, the newly
established Center for Teaching Excellence will hold a training session on
interdisciplinary teaching and learning each fall to prepare faculty to understand more
fully the potential for integrative learning in an interdisciplinary environment and to
develop strategies for collaborative teaching and learning activities. The Center will also
host brown bag lunch discussions on innovative pedagogies, including presentations by
faculty members who successfully employ collaborative teaching and learning strategies
in departmental and January Term courses. The Center will also establish a library
providing hard and electronic resources for faculty use as they explore collaborative
learning techniques. As the seminar comes out of the constructivist understanding of
learning, the education faculty will host a series of talks on constructivism as the
philosophical foundation of the seminar.

Use of portfolio as a teaching tool and an assessment instrument: Currently,
portfolios are used in only a few programs, most notably in the education program. As
our research indicates, this instrument can be valuable to the learning process and to
the assessment of student learning. As stated in Huber’s work, “A student portfolio
program, for example, provides undergraduates with a place to collect samples of their
work and prompts them to connect their learning both to their lives and to institutional
goals. And in doing so, it also offers institutions a powerful tool for looking at their
programs through the work their students do, and the meaning they actually make of it.
Bringing faculty together to read a selection of portfolios becomes an occasion for faculty
to gain a better understanding of integrative learning and how it develops, as well as to
consider what improvements might be made in the complementary domains of
curriculum, pedagogy, faculty development and assessment” (Huber, 2006, p. 8).
Accordingly, the College will sponsor training sessions on the use of portfolios as a tool
for learning and assessment, as well as additional training in the development of rubrics
and other appropriate assessment tools to provide meaningful evaluation of student
portfolios as they relate to defined learning outcomes.

Communication Intensive: The faculty designated the capstone course as
“communication intensive” rather than simply “writing intensive,” which is the designation
of other Salem Signature core courses. The term “communication intensive” reflects the
specific learning outcomes established for the capstone course:

1. Students will be able to identify, gather and evaluate relevant knowledge from
multiple disciplines based on a critical question.
2. Students will be able to synthesize methods and knowledge of multiple
disciplines.
3. Students will be able to produce and present an integrated response to the
critical question.

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Given the emphasis on the evaluation and integration of knowledge and the ability to
produce and present a response to a critical question, the faculty agreed that students
would need to communicate effectively in multiple forms: written analysis, oral
presentation and through electronic media. Therefore, faculty will require additional
training in the use of different communication tools to enhance research, discussion,
collaboration and the final presentations of a well-articulated response. Currently, the
College offers training in designing and teaching writing intensive courses as part of the
new general education program. The Center for Teaching Excellence will expand these
offerings to include workshops in the development of communication intensive courses,
presented or facilitated by faculty members on campus and outside experts.

Technology: During the initial stages of selecting a topic for the QEP, students
indicated real interest in an emphasis on technology. While there was strong consensus
among the faculty that the QEP should center on academics and, in particular, on our
new general education curriculum rather than on information technology, the QEP
Steering Committee considered the role of technology in the senior seminar and
concluded that it must play a significant role in the collaborative process of research on
the seminar’s question. We understand that there are many ways to use technology to
make working collectively easier and more effective. We have two ‘collaboratories’ in
Gramley Library which enable groups of students to work collectively on one project
using computer software and online resources. Each collaboratory contains table and
chairs, desktop computer and connections for up to two laptop computers, widescreen
monitor and wireless Internet access. Salem has several site-licensed software
programs that enable students and faculty to work together: Moodle, Google applications
and Turnitin.Com. The College encourages all faculty to develop a Moodle Website for
their courses. Moodle allows for network forums, wiki texts and other interactive
devices. Google Applications allows students and faculty to edit documents together
and will keep a history of the edits and changes. It also allows for web conferencing and
chatting. Turnitin.com was purchased to allow the students and faculty to see an
originality report that is generated to reduce plagiarism but it also has other functions
that allow for peer review. Many faculty members use these resources regularly in their
courses. The Center for Teaching Excellence will work with the Office of Information
Technology to establish training sessions for the faculty to maximize use of these and
other electronic resources. The College will also contract with an outside consultant to
train our faculty in the use of social media in the teaching and learning process.

Student Training

In order to achieve the defined learning outcomes, students will need to know how to
use specific tools related to information and technological literacy, including new
resources commonly used outside their academic major. To this end, the College will
provide additional training for seniors enrolled in the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar.

Library resources: By the senior year, students have a fairly well-developed
understanding of the library’s databases and appropriate research methods. As
students will be working in an interdisciplinary setting, they will need additional training in
the identification of resources in areas outside of their majors. Our public services
librarian, Ms. Elizabeth Novicki, will provide bibliographic instruction for each seminar
group.

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Technology: Although half of our students grew up in the information age, half did not.
Many of our Fleer Center (adult) students lack confidence in their command of
information technology. Similarly, not all of our traditional-aged students understand
technology simply because they were raised with it. It is clear to the faculty that whereas
most of our students may be able to text/tweet/twitter, many do not understand the
subtleties of complex software and the most effective use of electronic resources in the
research and collaborative processes. Therefore, at the beginning of each term the
Office of Information Technology will provide for our seniors additional training sessions
in the use of software and open source tools appropriate to their research and the
presentation of their work.

Writing Center: The Salem College Writing Center assists students in the
undergraduate and graduate programs with their writing. Ms. Sydney Davis, instructor of
English, oversees the Center and trains the student staff to serve as tutors, editors and
champions of the writing process. As students engage in their collaborative projects, the
Writing Center will require additional support to assist students with the presentation of
their solutions to the central questions explored in the seminars. This increased support
will include special training for peer tutors to assist in the reading and editing of
electronic presentations.

Development of the Senior Year Experience Website

The Subcommittee on Best Practices in Senior Year Experiences examined the
Websites of many colleges and universities that included a fourth year interdisciplinary
senior capstone course in their general education program. Four institutions (Otterbein
College, Eckerd College, Portland State University and Lynchburg College) had
outstanding Websites which we have selected as models for our own Website. The
QEP Steering Committee will work with our Webmaster and our Office of
Communications and Public Relations to develop a Senior Year Experience Website
unique to the needs of Salem College. The goals for this Website are to generate
enthusiasm for the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar; inform the seniors of the options for
the courses; help faculty prepare their courses; help attract volunteers from the
community to work with faculty and students with the Interdisciplinary Seminars; and
provide an opportunity for the students to display their work. The Website will be an
active tool for our rising seniors, our faculty and our community as well as an important
admissions recruitment tool.

One of the most important functions of the Senior Capstone Course Website is to
generate enthusiasm for the capstone course. Each of the four institutions listed above
made the senior capstone course something for the students to look forward to in the
senior year and it also appealed to the faculty members who could opt to teach in the
program. Many of the Websites integrated the capstone course with the other
requirements for the senior year, making it a clear and integral component of their
college career, particularly the senior year experience. Some institutions had a senior
year checklist including fun traditions as well as academic coursework which showed
seniors what things they should accomplish by what dates. In addition to helping the
seniors stay on track and to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them, it also
shows non-seniors what to expect as preparation for graduation.

The Salem Senior Year Experience Website will be the primary means for rising seniors
to choose their Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar. It should provide the students with a

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solid understanding of the philosophy behind the senior capstone course and a good
idea of each seminar’s objectives and goals. Eckerd College stands out in this respect
(Eckerd, 2010). They have a very thorough Website that lists the philosophy, the goals,
objectives and learning outcomes, student responsibilities, assignments, readings and
guidance for faculty members. Eckerd also has a very clever name for their program,
Quest for Meaning, with an elegant and distinctive logo. Everything that a student would
need to know is contained on this easily navigated Website.

Lynchburg College’s Website lists the names of those who are in charge of the program
with links to the faculty members who teach the courses and those who serve on the
steering committee (Lynchburg, 2010). This demonstrates that the program is not put
together in isolation, but has faculty commitment and enthusiasm. Otterbein College
excels in guiding students to choose the right courses for themselves (Otterbein, 2010).
The Website seems personalized to the students and the advice on courses takes
diverse student interest into account. We would like to offer our students an approach to
choosing a Senior Interdisciplinary Course that is based not on their major discipline but
on different criteria such as epistemology, travel and schedule. This personalized
approach is what we pride ourselves on at Salem and will be a great addition to our
Website.

Our Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar requires that our students produce a collaborative
response to the question for the course. Many of these presentations will be products
that can be displayed on the Website. Portland State displays student work on their
Senior Capstone Website, which not only showcases the work but also provides future
students with ideas for their own presentations (Portland State, 2010).

In order to make our Website interactive and functional for our students, we will have to
have the organizational structure in place so that faculty can submit the course topics a
year in advance. Students could then know at the end of the junior year which courses
will be offered in the fall, January and the spring. They could also see which of those
courses are travel trips and the estimated cost.

The Website will have a large impact on our students in several ways. It will engage the
students from their first year and encourage excitement about their participation. It will
inform the students about the importance of the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar as well
as the underlying philosophy and goal; it will help them select a course that is best suited
to their needs; it will give them ideas as to how to develop their own collaborative
projects; and it will allow students to display their own work on the Internet for a very
wide audience. The Website will give guidelines and information to help faculty develop
and teach their courses; and it will give our students the chance to learn how best to
display their work for a general audience.

Engaging the Community

Salem College’s core values of learning grounded in excellence, in community and in
responsibility to self and others are central to the life of the College. The Senior
Interdisciplinary Seminar reflects this emphasis on learning in a community of scholars
through its very organization and its mission. Students work together as collaborators;
faculty serve as mentors and guides; and the community supports the work of these
students through programs and resources in the library, Writing Center, the Office of
Information Technology and the Office of Communications and Public Relations. In

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addition to these services, the College will establish or expand the following initiatives to
engage the full community in the work of our students in the Senior Interdisciplinary
Seminar.

The Senior Fair: In order to help identify people in our College and in the off-campus
community who might have an interest in the topic for a given course, the College will
host a Senior Fair where faculty, staff, students and guests can talk to the faculty
members about the courses they plan to offer. At Portland State University the faculty
members who teach their senior capstone courses hold such a fair every spring
(Portland State, 2010). At Salem, each faculty member will have a table display
outlining the course topic, seeking to attract and identify those who are interested in
partnering with their students. In turn, students who choose the course will know who is
already interested in collaborating with them for their project. The Salem Senior Fair will
have multiple purposes. First, it will introduce rising seniors to their choices for their
Senior Interdisciplinary Seminars. It will also garner enthusiasm for what they will have
the opportunity to do as seniors. Additionally, it will give the non-seniors a chance to see
what they have in store for them in their senior year and it will allow faculty, staff and
community members to see how they can be involved in future projects. The Salem
Signature Capstone Subcommittee will work with the dean of undergraduate studies and
the director of cultural events on the organization and coordination of this event.

Academic Day of Excellence: Following the 2008 articulation of the College’s core
values of the importance of community to the academic development of our
undergraduate students, the faculty instituted the Academic Day of Excellence. This
new tradition, a day-long symposium at which seniors present their research projects
and artistic achievements each spring, provides the entire Salem College community
each spring with the opportunity to celebrate academic excellence and the
accomplishments of our students in their majors. The Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar
proposed in the QEP will complement this focus on the major with its emphasis on the
integration of the liberal arts. The establishment of this interdisciplinary course will
strengthen the senior year, providing students a comprehensive academic experience
that integrates learning across the curriculum and merges knowledge and practice in the
exploration of timely issues. Showcasing student achievement in the seminar at the
annual Celebration of Academic Excellence will afford the full community a better
understanding of the centrality of interdisciplinary collaboration in the analysis and
resolution of complex questions.

In spring 2010, we will have one session showcasing the projects developed by our first
pilot course. By spring 2013 we will have at least two timeslots devoted to the Senior
Interdisciplinary Seminar projects with several concurrent sessions in each timeslot.
Responsibility for the Celebration of Academic Excellence rests in the office of the dean
of the College with assistance from faculty volunteers, the director of cultural events and
the office of communications and public relations. This structure will easily support the
expanded program featuring Senior Interdisciplinary Seminars.

Co-sponsoring Programming and Panels: The faculty members who teach the
Senior Interdisciplinary Seminars will collaborate with the Cultural Events Committee,
which is composed of students/staff/administration/faculty, to co-sponsor at least one
event per semester that centers on interdisciplinary work. The director of general
education serves as an ex-officio member of this committee and will represent program
needs to the full committee. We will establish an annual panel that unites different

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disciplines around one topic called Stepping Outside the Disciplines. Faculty members
on this panel will demonstrate how people from different perspectives can discuss the
same topic with one another. Such programming around interdisciplinary studies should
take into account the development of student learning from the first year to the senior
year. Topics and speakers will be relevant to both the first year experience (the
introduction to interdisciplinary thinking) and the senior year capstone course.

Bridge to Professional Work and Graduate Studies: To succeed in the Senior
Interdisciplinary Seminar and in their future studies and professional positions, our
students will need to continue to develop the ability to collaborate and work with
colleagues trained in different fields. The faculty members who teach the Senior
Interdisciplinary Seminars will work with the office of career development to ensure that
the students understand the significance of the skills and habits they are developing in
this course in their future academic and professional endeavors. As noted in the
AAC&U LEAP project on “Skills and Areas of Knowledge a Majority of Employers Would
Like Colleges and Universities to Emphasize More” (AAC&U, 2008. p. 12) students need
to develop
1. teamwork skills and the ability to collaborate with others in diverse group
settings;
2. global Issues and developments and their implications for the future;
3. the ability to locate, organize and evaluate information from multiple sources;
4. the ability to be innovative and think creatively;
5. the ability to solve complex problems.

The office of career development and internships will meet each semester with the
faculty members teaching in the program to ensure that students begin to build these
bridges as they prepare to transition out of college.

Assessment: Assessment of all the components of our QEP is critical to our success.
The QEP Steering Committee has developed an assessment plan with a clear timeline
for implementation. The General Education Committee will have primary oversight of
the assessment process and will begin its work in spring 2010. Please see the section
on assessment for a full description of our assessment plan.

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References

Association of American Colleges and Universities (2008). “Executive summary with
employers’ views on learning outcomes and assessment approaches (2008
Edition)”. Washington, DC: The National Leadership Council for Liberal
Education & America’s Promise. Retrieved from
http://www.aacu.org/leap/documents/GlobalCentury_ExecSum_3.pdf

Eckerd College. (2010a) Purpose and description of QFM. Retrieved from
http://www.eckerd.edu/academics/qfm/

Eckerd College. (2010b) Goals and objectives. Retrieved from
http://www.eckerd.edu/academics/qfm/goals.php

Huber, M. T. (2006) Fostering integrative learning through the curriculum. In "Integrative
learning: Opportunities to connect." Public report of the integrative learning
project sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. M. T. Huber, C.
Brown, P. Hutchings, R. Gale, R. Miller, & M. Breen. (Eds.) Stanford, CA.
Retrieved from http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/elibrary/integrativelearning.

Lynchburg College. (2010). The Lynchburg College Senior symposium and the
symposium readings program. Retrieved from http://www.lynchburg.edu/x1524.xml

Otterbein College. (2010a). Senior year experience: How to choose an SYE. Retrieved
from http://www.otterbein.edu/sye/choose.asp

Otterbein College. (2010b). Senior year experience website. Retrieved from
http://www.otterbein.edu/sye/

Portland State University. (2010a) Senior capstone courses. Retrieved from
http://www.pdx.edu/unst/senior-capstone-courses

Portland State University. (2010b) Senior capstone web products. Retrieved from
http://www.pdx.edu/unst/senior-capstone-web-products

Portland State University. (2010c) Senior capstone fair. Retrieved from
http://www.pdx.edu/unst/senior-capstone-fair

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VII. Timeline for Actions to be Implemented

Course Implementation

Pilot courses Spring 2010, 2011, 2012
Full implementation Fall 2012
Subcommittee of General Education Committee Fall 2010
Registration process in place Spring 2011
Increased library sources Spring 2010 - Fall 2010
Course topic listing Spring 2010
Faculty Development
Opening of Center for Teaching Excellence Spring 2010
Center library resources for faculty Beginning Spring 2010
Workshops for communication intensive courses Beginning Fall 2010
Seminars with faculty with expertise Beginning Fall 2011
Use of portfolios Beginning Fall 2010
Faculty retreats Fall 2010
Summer stipends Beginning Summer 2010
Conference attendance Beginning Summer 2010
Weekly meetings with QEP faculty Beginning Spring 2010
Use of technology training Beginning Fall 2010
Student Training
Additional technology training Beginning Spring 2010
Writing Center resources Beginning Spring 2011
Development of the Senior Year Experience Website.
Senior year checklist Fall 2010
Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar Website Spring 2011
Engaging The Community
Senior Fair Spring 2011
Showcase during Academic Day of Excellence Spring 2010
Co-sponsor programming Fall 2010
Center for Career Development workshops Fall 2012
Assessment
Please see Timeline for Assessment Activities

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VIII. Organizational Structure for the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar
In order to ensure appropriate oversight of the implementation, assessment and
continued growth of the Salem College QEP, responsibility for the Senior
Interdisciplinary Seminar has been assigned to a standing faculty committee.

As the capstone course for the College’s general education program, the Salem
Signature, the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar falls under the purview of the General
Education Committee, whose responsibilities, membership and specific organization and
duties are defined in the Faculty Constitution:

The General Education Committee is charged with the implementation,
supervision, and assessment of the general education competencies and
requirements. Recommendations for any changes in academic policy will
be made to Academic Council. Recommended changes in course offerings
and descriptions will be forwarded to the Curriculum Committee.
Recommendations dealing with faculty development will be made to the
dean of the College and the Committee on the Faculty.

Membership of the General Education Committee includes:
o The director of the Salem Signature program,
o The dean of undergraduate studies ex-officio
o Seven elected faculty members with two representatives from
each division (the director will represent his/her division).

The director of the Salem Signature program is appointed by the vice
president for academic and student affairs and dean of the College and
serves as the chair of the committee.

The organization and duties of the General Education Committee include:
• to plan, in consultation with the administration, the courses offered
as part of the Salem Signature, including the development of
guidelines for courses designated as satisfying each requirement;
• to develop rubrics for the assessment of each general education
competency, to plan and supervise the ongoing assessment
process, to collect assessment data, to prepare assessment
reports and to make recommendations to the faculty, through the
appropriate committees and departments, for improving the quality
of the general education program;
• to assess the assessment process and make any adjustments
and recommendations in order to ensure that assessment data is
being used to enhance the quality of the general education
program; to make recommendations, based on assessment
results, to Academic Council regarding any changes related to
general education competencies and requirements;
• to make recommendations to the dean of the College and to the
Committee on the Faculty regarding faculty development initiatives of
benefit to the general education program;
• to develop guidelines and make recommendations regarding transfer
credits used to satisfy general education requirements (Faculty
Constitution, p. 11)

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Salem College

The director of the Salem Signature, also the chair of the General Education
Committee, will serve as director of the Quality Enhancement Plan.

The implementation and assessment of the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar will be
coordinated by a new subcommittee of the General Education Committee, the Signature
Capstone Subcommittee. This subcommittee will be established to monitor the
implementation, assessment and continued improvement of the senior seminar. The
committee will be composed of the director of the Salem Signature ex-officio; two
members of the General Education Committee; and two faculty at large. At least one of
the faculty members on the subcommittee will have taught in the program or will teach a
seminar during her or his tenure on the committee. Service of the faculty at large will be
two years with the possibility of renewal of one additional term.

The subcommittee’s duties will be:
• to organize Signature capstone course offerings;
• to propose and plan faculty development activities for the capstone
courses;
• to advise faculty and staff concerning co-curricular programming that
supports the goals of the capstone courses in collaboration with the
Center for Teaching Excellence;
• to oversee the assessment of the capstone course; to make
recommendations to the General Education Committee based on the
course assessment about program improvement.

The two members of the General Education Committee who serve on the Signature
Capstone Subcommittee will be elected by the committee. The two faculty members at
large will be appointed by the vice president for academic and student affairs and dean
of the College, in consultation with the director of the Salem Signature.

Yearly program reviews conducted by the Signature Capstone Subcommittee and
approved by the General Education Committee will be submitted to the office of the
dean of the College by May 31 of each academic year as is required of all academic
programs.

Responsibility for staffing the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar will rest with the vice
president for academic and student affairs and dean of the College. The dean will work
with the dean of undergraduate studies, the director of general education and
department chairs to ensure appropriate staffing of the program. Once the program is
fully functional, the College will offer approximately 12 sections a year with a limit of 16
students per section, which is the limit for all communication intensive courses. Each
spring the dean will solicit names of faculty members who would like to teach in the
program and will work with them and their chairs to ensure coverage for courses in the
major departments. Following the established practice for the first-year seminar, the
global awareness seminar, the Transitions course and the academic writing seminar,
the dean will ensure coverage of each section. Teaching in the program will count as
part of the faculty teaching load and will be included in the evaluation of teaching and
service in the annual performance, tenure and promotion reviews.

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IX. Resources:
In order to support the implementation of the Salem QEP, the Senior Interdisciplinary
Seminar, the College will establish a budget to support faculty development, library
resources, activities to engage the community in the course and staffing as needed.

Support for Faculty Development

In 2009, the College received a gift of $1,000,000 to support teaching at Salem College
under the leadership of the president. Dr. Pauly announced that the monies generated
from this gift would be used to support the strategic priority to foster academic
distinction. The funds from this endowment would be used to support the development
and enhancement of an innovative curriculum. Currently, funds support the annual
faculty retreat; curricular development; and training to support the Salem Signature
program, particularly in the areas of the design and offering of writing intensive courses;
assessment; and innovative teaching strategies. This support will continue. In addition,
$16,000 of the monies generated from these funds will be designated to support faculty
development as it relates to the QEP.

Course development grants
of $500 for each course (up to 12 new courses a year) $6,000
Stipend for outside consultants for training faculty on:
interdisciplinary teaching $2,000
communication intensive courses $2,000
the use of technology $2,000
Travel to Conferences, two to three faculty $3,000
Resources for Center $500
Refreshments at training sessions $500

Please note that we will send two to three faculty members to conferences on relevant
teaching strategies to share with faculty on campus through brown bag lunch
discussions and in-house training sessions which will not require additional funds
beyond refreshments. Faculty members who receive funds to travel to conferences
related to teaching in the QEP will be expected to present at brown bag lunches. This
will be sponsored by the Center for Teaching Excellence. Additional faculty assistance
and participation in training sessions will count toward service and professional activities
in the annual review and comprehensive review processes.

Student Development and Training

The Offices of Information Technology and the Library already provide training for
students in the use of technology and research. The professionals in these areas will
target some of their training sessions to students enrolled in these seminars. The
College will budget an additional $1,000 to provide support for supplemental workshops
in technology to assist students in the seminars.

The Writing Center’s current budget will provide adequate support for any assistance
needed related to writing. In order to ensure appropriate assistance in electronic media
writing, tutors will undergo additional training.

Additional training in relevant electronic tools and software $1,000
Additional training for Writing Center tutors $500

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Salem College

Library Costs

Redistribution of lines in the library’s operational budget will support the following
additional resource for the QEP:
JSTOR Arts and Sciences VII Collection
in 2009-2010 $1,400
in subsequent years $700
Engagement of the Community

The QEP will engage the community through the development of the Website dedicated
to the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar. The College’s Office of Communication and
Public Relations will be responsible for this Website. The College’s Webmaster will work
with the director of general education, with support from the Office of the Dean of the
College, to maintain the Website. The establishment of the web page will not generate
any additional costs. There will be no additional cost to the inclusion of the Senior
Interdisciplinary Seminar in the annual Celebration of Academic Excellence; this event is
fully supported by the current operational budget. Existing positions will be responsible
for organizing the Senior Fair; the only new cost will be for refreshments.

Senior Fair refreshments $500

Staffing of Courses

Participation in this course will count as part of the regular teaching load. Should the
dean’s office need to hire an adjunct in order to free up a faculty member to teach in the
program, the vice president for academic and student affairs will use the budget
established for the hiring of adjunct professors. Funds from the operational budget for
the office of the dean of the College are available to cover the hiring of adjuncts at the
following levels as necessary:

Additional Staffing
2010-2011 $4,000
2011-2012 $4,000
2012-2013 $12,000
2012-2013 $12,000
2013-2014 $12,000

Operational Budget for the Quality Enhancement Plan

Course development grants
of $500 for each course (up to 12 new courses a year) $6,000
Stipend for outside consultants for training faculty on:
interdisciplinary teaching $2,000
communication intensive courses $2,000
the use of technology $2,000
Travel to conferences, two to three faculty $3,000
Resources for Center $500
Refreshments at training sessions $500
Additional training in relevant electronic tools and software $1,000
Additional training for Writing Center tutors $500
Senior Fair refreshments $500
Total $18,000

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If additional staff are necessary:

2010-2011: $4000 + 18,000 $22,000
2011-2012: $4000 + 18,000 $22,000
2012-2013: $12,000 + 18,000 $30,000
2012-2013: $12,000 + 18,000 $30,000
2013-2014: $12,000 + 18,000 $30,000

Sources of funding:
$16,000 from new faculty development endowment of $1,000,000
$ 2,000 (workshops for students, writing tutors, senior fair) from dean of the
College operating budget (budget code 10-3100)
$ 4,000-$12,000 to support hiring of adjuncts from dean of the College
operational budget. ($ 8,000 from budget code 10-3300; $4,000 from
budget code 10-3110)

X. Assessment

The Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar is designed to enhance student learning through an
interdisciplinary/integrative course that empowers seniors to evaluate, appreciate and
integrate multiple perspectives as they prepare to be agents of change. A capstone of
the new Salem Signature general education program, the seminar is an opportunity for
seniors to understand the potential contributions and limitations of their own major
disciplines in responding to multidisciplinary questions. The seminar offers an
opportunity for students to grow as problem solvers as they collaborate with their peers
to address critical questions. These abilities are essential components of an exemplary
liberal arts education.

The assessment of the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar becomes one more component
of the cohesive assessment of Salem’s academic program. This assessment
complements the assessment of the Salem Signature, the College’s general education
program and the assessment of majors and programs completed in senior seminars. As
the culmination of the Salem Signature, samples of work from the Senior
Interdisciplinary Seminar will be used to assess general education competencies, but the
following discussion refers to the discrete assessment of the learning outcomes specific
to the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar.

The General Education Committee will be responsible overall for assessment of the
Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar. The Signature Capstone Subcommittee, a
subcommittee of the General Education Committee which will include the Director of the
Center for Teaching Excellence and representatives from the faculty who are teaching
the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar, will conduct the assessments. Assessment
instruments include the Interdisciplinary Case Study and the Creative Response/Project,
as well as several indirect measures, including the Student Metacognitive Narrative and
NSSE data.

Assessment instruments will be tested during the pilot offerings of the Senior
Interdisciplinary Seminar in spring 2010 and spring 2011. Results of this testing will be
used for the establishment of baselines and benchmark goals. Ongoing assessment will
form an integral component of all sections of the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar.

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Goals
Our goal is to enhance student learning through an interdisciplinary senior seminar that
empowers students to evaluate, appreciate and integrate multiple perspectives as they
prepare to be agents of change. The course offers an integrative learning experience in
which our students adopt active roles in exploring a critical question, developing a
creative response to the question and communicating the response effectively.

The faculty has developed three learning outcomes for the course.
1. Students will identify, gather and evaluate relevant knowledge from multiple
disciplines to address a critical question.
2. Students will synthesize methods and knowledge from multiple disciplines.
3. Students will produce and present an integrated response to the critical question.

Direct Measurements

In order to assess these learning outcomes, three direct measurements will be used: the
Interdisciplinary Case Study, the Creative Response/Project and Classroom Visitations.

The Interdisciplinary Case Study:The Interdisciplinary Case Study (please see
Appendix G1) was designed by the faculty on the QEP Course Development Committee
to assess the ability of our seniors to identify and synthesize the relevant knowledge
from multiple disciplines and to present an integrated response to a critical question. We
first used the tool in spring 2009 to begin collecting baseline data from our seniors who
had not yet participated in the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar. We found that it serves
as an efficient means of establishing our students’ ability to respond to a critical question
from multiple perspectives, and we will use it in the future as a pre- and post-test at the
beginning and end of the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar.

The Interdisciplinary Case Study gives a brief description of an issue and asks the
students to outline the design of a major conference to address the issue. Specific
questions on the case study ask students to identify the major areas of expertise that
should be represented at the conference with a brief rationale, the most significant
issues that are fundamental to the question and how their own area of expertise (their
majors) could contribute toward a better understanding of the question. The students
have 20 minutes to complete the exercise. We found that the Interdisciplinary Case
Study directly measures elements of all three learning outcomes in a quick, efficient and
nonthreatening way.

The Interdisciplinary Case Study was distributed to 87 seniors in spring 2009, including
58 traditional and 29 Fleer Center students. (This number represented 35 percent of the
seniors in 2009). To create a scoring rubric (please see Appendix G2), three faculty
read all of the student responses and sorted them into three groups: 1) weak, 2) average
and 3) exceptional. They compared their ratings and found them to be nearly identical.
They then reread each group of papers to identify the similar characteristics for each
group and from this process developed a series of standards for score. These
standards were then used to produce an assessment rubric. Each question was rated
from 1 to 3 with half point gradations allowed. The total scores could range from a 3 to a
9, ostensibly with 3-5 being weak, 5-7 average and 7-9 representing excellent. In this
first scoring, there were 44 weak, 29 average and 14 strong case studies.

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Salem College

A second group of six faculty members read a subset of the case studies using the
rubric provided. To eliminate bias, the faculty members were not told the scores from
the first set of graders. When the second set of faculty members assessed the case
studies, the results that were originally classified as weak were rated as 4.5, those that
were classified as average were rated as 6.1 and those that were originally classified as
strong had a rating of 7.9. This matches very well with the original faculty assessment.
To further evaluate the assessment tool, the case study was given to the entire faculty at
our yearly retreat in the fall of 2009. The faculty worked through the case study in pairs
and then used the rubric to evaluate themselves and each other. At the end of the
exercise, the faculty was asked for comments both in discussion format and in a written
survey. The faculty members on the Course Development Committee reviewed these
data and will consider changes for spring 2010 as we continue collect our baseline data.
We will use results of the Interdisciplinary Case Study to compare the performance of
our senior students who have taken the new seminar to those seniors who have not.
Beginning in spring 2009, the assessment exercise will have been administered to all
graduating seniors in their last semester of the senior year. We used the results of the
exercise in spring 2009 to develop and revise this assessment instrument. The
academic year 2009-2010 will serve as the baseline for our data. During the period
2009 to 2012, most of the respondents will not have taken the seminar and instead will
have taken only the senior seminar in their major and the current College 390 course.
Some seniors (20 - 30 each year) will take one of the pilot seminars, starting in spring
2010. Beginning in the academic year 2012-2013, all seniors will enroll in one of the
interdisciplinary seminars, and they will also engage in the same interdisciplinary
synthesis exercise. Over the period 2009 to 2014 we will have collected and analyzed
responses from six cohorts of seniors on the same exercise, including two class cohorts
of students who will have all taken the seminar, as well as a subset of prior senior
classes who took the pilot courses.
Benchmarks: In spring 2009, our seniors had a rough average of 5.6 on a 3-9
assessment scale which places them in the low average category. We do not expect
our seniors to improve on this scale in spring 2010, but with more emphasis on
interdisciplinary work in our newly revised Salem Signature general education program,
we expect this number to improve slightly in 2011 and 2012. By spring 2013 we would
expect the seniors to improve on their initial case study score due solely to their prior
interdisciplinary courses; but we expect significant improvement after they take the
Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar. We also expect that our course will improve each time
it is offered. This longitudinal assessment data will indicate the impact of the new
seminar on the capability of our students to address a problem with interdisciplinary
dimensions, synthesize the issues from multiple disciplinary perspectives and outline an
action plan.
Benchmarks for the Interdisciplinary Case Study

Date Pre-course Score Projections Post-Course Score Projections
Spring 2009 5.6 baseline
Spring 2010 5.6 6.5
Spring 2011 6.0 7.0
Spring 2012 6.0 7.0
Spring 2013 6.5 7.5
Spring 2014 6.5 7.8
Spring 2015 6.5 8.0

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Salem College

While the topic in the assessment exercise can be modified, the basic structure of the
task will be the same. By assessing with at least two different conference topics on the
Interdisciplinary Case Study, we can discern the degree to which the topic choice
contributes to differences in overall performance. While average scores across the
topics may vary, within a topic grouping we expect to see percentage differences in the
scoring classes between those students who have taken the new seminar and those
who have not.

The Creative Response/Project: Although the emphasis on interdisciplinary work is not
new, the ability to assess the quality of interdisciplinary work has not been answered
easily at other institutions (Rhoten, 2006). Rhoten et al. state that, at the college level,
the biggest impediment to interdisciplinary learning is the lack of assessment criteria.
Part of the reason for this is that faculty members tend to use rubrics that are similar to
those used in their own discipline. The authors suggest that any successful
interdisciplinary program “in addition to focusing on critical thinking, problem solving and
analytic skills expected of most liberal arts programs – must develop student capacities
to integrate or synthesize disciplinary knowledge and modes of thinking” (p.3). They
also emphasize that when evaluating interdisciplinary work it is imperative to develop
strategies that do not reduce to assessing one component at a time. The beauty of
interdisciplinary work lies in its complexity and ambiguity, not in individual skills (Rhoten,
2006). Our goal for the QEP is to use a combination of techniques to assess both
individual skills and the complexity that naturally comes from working collaboratively
from different perspectives and multiple ways of knowing.

Mansilla and Duraisingh (2007) took this research one step further by interviewing
faculty members who teach in interdisciplinary studies programs to identify the most
important qualities of interdisciplinary work, and to identify the stages of development to
determine whether students were advanced or at the novice level. Mansilla et al. (2009)
used this research to develop a rubric for assessing interdisciplinary work which we have
used to develop our own rubrics.

Mansilla, Duraisingh, Wolfe and Haynes (2009) tested their rubric empirically at the
University of Miami. They took 84 papers, 24 from first year students, 20 second year
students, 20 seniors without interdisciplinary courses and 20 seniors with
interdisciplinary studies. They found for both critical awareness and integration that the
seniors with the Interdisciplinary studies background exceeded the seniors who did not
with a significance of p<0.01 from an ANOVA. (For critical awareness the scores went
from 1.80 to 2.45 on a 3 point scale and for integration the scores went from a 1.75 to a
2.70.) Interestingly, the same rubric also showed a significant difference between the
seniors in an interdisciplinary program and the first year students enrolled in an
interdisciplinary program, with p<0.001. (For critical awareness the scores went from
1.15 to 2.45 on a 3 point scale and for integration the scores went from a 1.35 to a 2.70.)
The authors suggest that although used on academic papers, the same rubric could be
used for other types of student response. They also make clear that the rubric should be
adapted for individual use (Mansilla, 2009). A major component of all of our QEP
courses will be a project based on the question. The nature of this project will be diverse
depending on the topic and the class, but the rubric is consistent for a variety of formats
(please See Appendix G3).

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Salem College

Each of the seminars will most likely have a different “critical question” and the students
will be driving the design of their responses. As a result, the research path and nature of
the “creative responses” across the sections will differ considerably. However, each
section will follow a common set of guidelines for structure and process which can be
observed. Judgments can be made about the appropriateness of the research path and
responses. A common rubric will be used for each of the evaluation steps. The difficulty
in using the Creative Response/Project in assessing the QEP is that there is no real way
to know how well the students would have done in such an endeavor if they had not had
the course itself. However, at the Academic Day of Excellence each spring, we will
compare the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar projects with those from other courses.
We will also compare our scores to what others have found at institutions with and
without interdisciplinary work. We expect the average scores for our rubric to be similar
to those of Mansilla; we expect seniors to be close to 2.0 after the first pilot and we
would like to see increments of at least 0.3 each year we pilot this course and end close
to 3. For assessment of the course learning outcomes, the Creative Response/Project
will be assessed by the Signature Capstone Subcommittee of the General Education
Committee.

Faculty Class Visitations: Faculty from the Signature Capstone Subcommittee will visit
SIGN350 classes once a semester with a rubric to evaluate collaboration and students’
ability to articulate their discipline to students from other majors (please see Appendix
G4). These visitations will complement the assessment of the Creative
Response/Project and provide information about interpersonal dynamics that may not be
evident in the Creative Response/Project.

Indirect Measurements

We will use five indirect measurements to assess all three learning outcomes: Student
Metacognitive Narratives, NSSE data, faculty narratives, focus groups and surveys.

Student Metacognitive Narratives: We will ask students to write reflective pieces at
the beginning, middle and end of the term prompted by questions focused on the desired
learning outcomes of SIGN350 and on the course process (please see Appendix G5).
These questions will ask the students to reflect upon their ability to collaborate with
students from different disciplines and different methodologies; to evaluate their ability to
articulate their own discipline to other students; and to evaluate their ability to synthesize
information from multiple perspectives. The rubric (please see Appendix G6) will score
students from 5-20 with 5-10 being weak, 10-15 being average and 15-20 being
excellent. We expect our students to begin the process in the low average range and to
advance by the end of the course.

Benchmarks or Goals for future years

Date Projections for Pre-course Score Projections for Post-Course Score
Spring 2010 10 14
Spring 2011 10 15
Spring 2012 12 17
Spring 2013 13 18
Spring 2014 13 18
Spring 2015 13 18

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Salem College

National Survey of Student Engagement Data (NSSE): We have used data from the
NSSE organization to evaluate our students’ perceptions about Salem College. These
surveys ask our students to gauge how they perceive they are doing in a number of
venues at the College, including academics. Since this is a national survey, it can be
compared to other institutions including other women’s colleges.

We have identified several questions on NSSE that relate to interdisciplinary studies and
collaborative work. Salem College participates in the NSSE survey every three years,
which allows for a direct comparison between senior students from one year and those
of another. It also allows us to compare NSSE scores within one cohort from the first to
the senior year. The NSSE organization suggests that institutions can use these data
once over multiple years to see if there is a significant difference from one year to the
next or within a cohort. We will conduct a test with two years’ worth of data to test to see
whether a difference between two groups is significant, but we cannot measure how
great a quantitative change there may be. (It might be a statistically significant change
but it might be so small that it is meaningless in the end.) With three years of data, we
will use an ANOVA test and measure both significance and quantitative meaning (NSSE,
2008).
  
Included diverse perspectives in class discussions or

experiences into new, more complex interpretations

Tried to better understand someone else’s views by

Was provided with opportunities for interdisciplinary
imagining how an issue looks from her perspective.
Synthesized and organized ideas, information, or

Attempted to solve complex real-world problems.
courses when completing assignments or during
Put together ideas or concepts from different
Number of respondents

writing assignments

class discussions.

and relationships.

learning.

Fleer Center Students 29 3.28 3.24 3.34 3.41 2.79 2.93
Traditional Students 58 3.26 3.19 3.14 3.43 2.93 3.00
Total Senior Average 87 3.26 3.20 3.21 3.43 2.88 2.98

Table 1 Results from an in-house survey from seniors at the end of spring 2009.
The questions are similar to those from the 2008 NSSE survey.

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Salem College

The table above shows data for an in-house survey done with seniors in 2009, using
questions similar to those from the NSSE. It appears that the availability for
interdisciplinary studies and attempting to solve complex problems is lower than the
other scores in this table. These are the two main issues that the QEP addresses, so it
seems as if we do have room to grow as measured by students’ perceptions. The other
issues relating to the QEP seem to have a relatively high score in comparison. One
question that remains with these data is that it is difficult to determine what a change
might mean in a student’s perception of how well she is doing academically. When a
student suddenly realizes what it means to synthesize information, might she then
decide that she has not had enough opportunity do so? Or does she realize that she
has now had this opportunity in her senior year and does she increase this score? We
asked the same NSSE questions of the faculty and received responses similar to those
of the students, except the result was lower for each category. The faculty also rated
students’ ability in solving complex problems and interdisciplinary work as very low and
rated incorporating work from different courses as the lowest. These are trends only; no
statistics were used to verify these data. NSSE data cannot be used independently
(NSSE, 2008). We expect to use these data in conjunction with the Narrative
Reflections and the Focus Groups. Well placed questions could help us determine the
reasons for any change in the NSSE data.

 
Figure 1 Data from the faculty retreat during August of 2009 compared to the data from
our senior students in May of 2009. (The same NSSE type questions were asked of
students and faculty. The exact questions are shown in the table above.)
 
 

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Salem College

We can use both in-house data and national data to measure our success indirectly. We
cannot use our in-house data to compare ourselves to other institutions but we can see if
we improve year to year. By spring 2015, we should be above a 3.75 for each question.

Faculty Narratives: The faculty members’ assessments of assignments in the
SIGN350 course will not provide appropriate data to evaluate our program. However,
we can use narratives from the faculty to gain an understanding of how well faculty
members perceive that students are able to articulate their perspectives to other
students and how well the students are able to collaborate with each other. This
assessment will be supplemented by a faculty focus group and class visitations. We will
base our faculty narratives on those from Loyola Marymount (please see Appendix G7).

Focus Groups: Focus groups have existed for more than 60 years but have been used
less in academia due to their predominance in marketing and politics. Eubanks and
Abbott (2003) claim that academics initially disliked the idea of focus groups for
assessment since it enables one person’s viewpoint to influence others’ views. It also
relies on the abilities of the mediator to negotiate a conversation and keep the
discussion moving. However, Eubanks and Abbott (2003) suggest that focus groups are
a very good qualitative tool for assessment, especially when they are used in
conjunction with other methods. According to Heinrich, Intriligator, Kennedy and Miller
(2000), focus groups allow those in the groups the opportunity to learn from multiple
viewpoints to solve educational problems. This method aligns perfectly with the mission
of our QEP. The focus group could not only help to assess our program but also work
toward the goals of our mission. Since bias of the researcher is a strong issue with
focus groups, we will invite an outside evaluator to conduct separate focus groups for
students and faculty.

Alumnae and Community Surveys: Each year we will survey alumnae who have
participated in the course and ask for feedback as to how they are getting along in the
workplace with issues of collaboration and identification with people from different
professional perspectives. We will also survey annually members of the community who
employ a number of our graduates for their perspective on the ability of our students to
collaborate and synthesize information. In Communicating Commitment to Liberal
Education: A self study guide for institutions, the AACU states “it is imperative that
college educators—faculty and academic leaders alike—take a far more active role in
educating external constituents about what really matters in college today” (AACU,2006
p. 10). We have developed a survey that combines the questions asked in the study
conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc. at the request of the AACU (Hart,
2008) and questions developed from the learning outcomes of the QEP. Hart Research
Associates surveyed 301 employers whose companies have at least 25 employees and 
report that 25 percent or more of their new hires hold at least a bachelor’s degree from a 
four‐year college (Hart, 2008).  Figure 2 below shows their findings for these corporations 
in three locations in the United States (Hart, 2008).  This research was used as the 
foundation for the AACU report College Learning For the New Global Century which we have 
used to show the necessity of viewing critical issues from multiple perspectives and the 
importance of collaboration for enhancing our students education (AACU, 2008). We will
work with both the Office of Alumnae Relations and the Office of Career Development to
get mailing labels or web addresses for the appropriate constituencies (please see
Appendix G8, Alumnae Survey and Employer Survey).

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Salem College

Figure 2. Employers evaluate college graduates’ preparedness in key areas from How
Should Colleges Assess And Improve Student Learning? Employers’ Views On The
Accountability Challenge by Peter Hart and Associates (Hart, 2008 p. 3)

Timeline for Assessment Activities

Spring 2009: Develop and pilot Interdisciplinary Case Study using seniors to begin
building longitudinal measures; develop rubric for assessing Interdisciplinary Case Study

Spring 2010: Continue developing interdisciplinary case study data using seniors;
pilot SIGN350 courses provide comparative data on interdisciplinary case study; pilot
SIGN350 courses provide data from faculty visitations, student metacognitive narratives,
faculty surveys, student focus groups and creative response/project.

Fall 2010: Signature Capstone Subcommittee submits report on assessment of pilot
courses to General Education Committee, to the Dean and to the faculty. The General
Education Committee will in turn make any recommendations regarding policy changes
to Academic Council.

Spring 2011: Continue developing interdisciplinary case study data using seniors;
pilot SIGN350 courses provide comparative data on interdisciplinary case study;
pilot SIGN350 courses provide data from faculty visitations, student metacognitive
narratives, faculty surveys, student focus groups and creative response/projects

Fall 2011: Signature Capstone Subcommittee submits report on assessment of pilot
courses.

Spring 2012: Continue developing interdisciplinary case study data using seniors;
pilot SIGN350 courses provide comparative data on interdisciplinary case study;
pilot SIGN350 courses provide data from faculty visitations, student metacognitive
narratives, faculty surveys, student focus groups and creative response/projects

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Salem College

Fall 2012: Signature Capstone Subcommittee submits report on assessment of pilot
courses and recommendations. Implementation of SIGN350 for all seniors-regular
ongoing assessment in place

Spring 2013 Continue implementing SIGN350 for all seniors with ongoing assessment
as an integral component.

Program Support and Implementation Process
By the beginning of fall 2010, the Signature Capstone Subcommittee of the General
Education Committee will compile an assessment report on the Senior Interdisciplinary
Seminar. The report will be shared with the full General Education Committee, the vice
president of academic and student affairs and dean of the College and the full faculty.
The report will include assessment data for each learning outcome and the director of
the Salem Signature will provide oversight for the assessment process.

Perception of and Impact on the Salem Community
We believe the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar will help our students complete their
undergraduate degrees with a broader understanding of how their liberal arts education
prepares them for real-life challenges. They will have a better understanding of how
scholars in different disciplines approach issues and address problems, and they will be
better prepared to collaborate in the workplace and in the communities in which they
live.

We are excited about the positive impact our Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar will have
on the broader community, including prospective employers, alumnae, parents of
students, Board members and residents of the surrounding region of North Carolina. As
our communications and public relations staff share highlights from the seminars, it will
showcase to the public at large our students’ ability to collaborate in a multidisciplinary
work setting and to address high-level issues of consequence—skills that will help our
students be more effective and productive employees and citizens. Dissemination of the
seminar issues and responses will also provide a means for communicating the
significance of the issues and potential solutions to the broader community. With these
practical applications in mind, alumnae, parents and Board members will be better able
to articulate the value of students’ liberal arts education and the value of the Salem
College experience.

Communication and Use of Assessment Results:
Assessment results, reports and recommendations will be reviewed by the Signature
Capstone Subcommittee and the General Education Committee and disseminated to the
appropriate faculty committees for review and action. Workshops and faculty forums will
be used to inform the full faculty about progress, best practices and improvements to the
program.

Summary reports of the seminar program will be distributed to staff, the Board of Visitors
and Board of Trustee committees. The reports will highlight progress and actions being
taken to improve the program.

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Salem College

As noted above, we will ask our public relations and communication staff to include
highlights from our seminars in the articles and publicity regularly generated for the
College.

References

Association of American Colleges and Universities. (2006). Communicating commitment
to liberal education: A self study guide for institutions. Retrieved from
http://www.aacu.org/leap/documents/LEAPCommComm_Final.pdf

Boix Mansilla, V., & Dawes Duraisingh, E. (2007). Targeted assessment of students’
interdisciplinary work: An empirically grounded framework proposed. The Journal
of Higher Education, 78(2), 215–237.

Boix Mansilla, V., Dawes Duraisingh, E., Wolfe, C. R. , & Haynes, C. (2009). Targeted
assessment rubric: An empirically grounded rubric for interdisciplinary writing.
The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 80(3), 334-353.

Eubanks, P., Abbott, C. (2003). Using focus groups to supplement the assessment of
technical communication texts, programs, and courses. Technical
Communication Quarterly, 12(1), p25-45.

Hart, P. & Associates. (2008). How should colleges assess and improve student
learning? Employers’ views on the accountability challenge. A survey of
employers conducted on behalf of:The Association of American Colleges and
Universities. Retrieved from
http://www.aacu.org/advocacy/leap/documents/2008_Business_Leader_Poll.pdf

Heinrich, K. T., Intriligator, B. , Kennedy, P., Miller, R.. (2000). Focus groups: An
innovative educational, research and evaluation strategy for professional
schools. Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association.
Creating knowledge in the 21st century: Insights from multiple perspectives.
Retrieved from
http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/000001
9b/80/16/34/6c.pdf

National Survey of Student Engagement. (2008). NSSE multi-year data analysis guide.
Retrieved from http://nsse.iub.edu

Rhoten, D., Boix Mansilla, V., Chun, M., & Klein, J. T. (2006). Interdisciplinary education
at liberal arts institutions. Teagle Foundation White Paper. Retrieved from
http://www.teaglefoundation.org/learning/pdf/2006_ssrc_whitepaper.pdf

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Salem College

Table of Appendices

Appendix A: Quality Enhancement Plan Leadership Groups .............................. I
Appendix B1: QEP Timeline Summary for Planning Committee ........................ II
Appendix B2: QEP Timeline Summary for Steering Committee ........................IV
Appendix C: Strategic Planning Documents .......................................................VI
Appendix D: Survey Results for May 23rd Faculty Meeting ..............................VIII
Appendix E: QEP Topic Proposal October 7th, 2008 ..........................................XII
Appendix F: Quality Enhancement Plan Proposal, April 7th, 2009 ...................XIII
Appendix G1: Interdisciplinary Case Study Exercise ..................................... XVII
Appendix G2: Rubric for scoring Interdisciplinary Case Study Exercise .... XVIII
Appendix G3: Rubric for assessing the Creative Response/Project .............. XIX
Appendix G4: Rubric for Faculty Class Visitations ........................................... XX
Appendix G5: Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar—Metacognitive Narrative .... XX
Appendix G6: Rubric for assessing SIGN350 Metacognitive Narrative ......... XXI
Appendix G7: Narrative Assessment Template from Loyola Marymount ...... XXI
Appendix G8: Employer Survey and Alumnae Survey ................................... XXII

 55 
Appendix A: Quality Enhancement Plan Leadership Groups
 
QEP Planning Committee 2008
Professor Rebecca C. Dunn, Co-Chair Associate Professor of Biology, Chair
Professor Heidi Godfrey, Co-Chair Associate Professor of Dance
Professor Heather Robbins Instructor of Education
Professor Thomas Swenson Assistant Professor of Music
Ms. Katie Wohlman Director of Career Development
Professor Janet Zehr Associate Professor of English
Ms. Cathy Ann Canafax Class of 2009, Student Government President
Ms. Erin Hylton Traditional Student, Class of 2010
Ms. Deidre Teague Fleer Center Student, Class of 2010

QEP Steering Committee 2008-2009
Professor Rebecca C. Dunn, Co-Chair Associate Professor of Biology, Chair
Professor Heidi Godfrey, Co-Chair Associate Professor of Dance
Professor Marjorie Anderson Assistant Professor of Education
Mr. Mark Ashley Registrar & Director of Institutional Research
Professor Jeffrey Ersoff Associate Professor of Psychology, Chair
Professor Krishauna Hines-Gaither Instructor of Spanish
Professor Norgard Klages Assistant Professor of German
Ms. Jacqueline McBride Director of Communications & Public Relations
Dean Ann McElaney-Johnson Vice President and Dean of the College
Ms. Lisa Mann Director of Career and Development
Professor Susan Opt Associate Professor of Communication, Chair
Ms. Whitney Pritchard Traditional Student, Class 2012
Ms. Jamie Ridge Fleer Center Student, Class 2011
Professor Herbert Schuette Professor of Business & Economics, Chair
Dr. Donna Rothrock Associate Library Director
Dean Robin Smith Dean of Undergraduate Studies
Ms. Erika Squires Fleer Center Student, Class of 2011
Ms. Deidre Teague Fleer Center Student, Class of 2010
Professor Kim Varnadoe Associate Professor of Art
Dean Suzanne Williams Dean of the Martha H. Fleer Center

QEP Steering Committee 2009-2010
Professor Rebecca C. Dunn, Co-Chair Associate Professor of Biology, Chair
Professor Heidi Godfrey, Co-Chair Associate Professor of Dance
Professor Marjorie Anderson Assistant Professor of Education
Mr. Mark Ashley Registrar & Director of Institutional Research
Dean Krispin Barr Dean of Students
Ms. Samantha Bronson Traditional Student, Class of 2010
Professor Jeffrey Ersoff Associate Professor of Psychology, Chair
Professor Krishauna Hines-Gaither Instructor of Spanish
Ms. Erin Hylton Class of 2010, Student Government President
Professor Gary Ljungquist Professor of French, Chair of General Education
Ms. Jacqueline McBride Director of Communications & Public Relations
Dean Ann McElaney-Johnson Vice President and Dean of the College
Professor Susan Opt Associate Professor of Communication, Chair
Ms. Whitney Pritchard Traditional Student, Class 2012
Ms. Jamie Ridge Fleer Center Student, Class 2011
Professor Herbert Schuette Professor of Business & Economics, Chair
Dr. Donna Rothrock Associate Library Director
Dean Robin Smith Dean of Undergraduate Studies
Ms. Deidre Teague Fleer Center Student, Class of 2010
Professor Kim Varnadoe Associate Professor of Art
  I 
Appendix B1: QEP Timeline Summary for Planning Committee
 
 

DATE TYPE DESCRIPTION
April 8, 2008 Solicitation to faculty The faculty and staff were asked for their initial ideas for
and staff for QEP QEP topics by the Co-Chairs of the QEP Committee.
topics Copies of the mission, vision and learning outcomes for the
college were distributed for guidance at the same time.
April 11, 2008 Reminder sent Reminder to faculty and staff that the QEP is important in
order to get maximum feedback. In addition many wanted
more direction, so a list of topics from other institutions was
also sent.
April 15, 2008 Survey to Faculty and 15 proposals were sent to the QEP Planning Committee. All
Staff Sent 15 proposals were put into a survey for the faculty and staff
to review and evaluate.
April 18, 2008 QEP Planning The committee met to discuss the 15 proposals sent by
Committee Meeting faculty and staff and the results of the survey. The
committee selected 6 proposals to distribute to the entire
campus and community to solicit feedback.
April 20, 2008 Letter sent to Alumnae The survey was sent to the alumnae.
The week of April Paper survey for Cathy Ann Canafax, Erin Hylton and Heidi Godfrey
21-26, 2008 students distributed paper surveys to the students in the common
refectory or cafeteria. The students decided that in order to
get interest in the QEP they needed to contact the students
and solicit their opinions.
April 20, 2008 Survey sent to graduate The survey was sent to our graduate students electronically.
students
April 21, 2008 Survey sent to CS The survey was sent to our CS students electronically.
students
April 24 , 2008 Meeting Board of The Board of Trustees with SACS and the QEP as their
Trustees prime agenda. The survey was distributed and collected by
paper during the meeting.
April 24 , 2008 Letter sent to students The survey was sent to traditional students electronically
electronically
May 1, 2008 QEP Planning
Committee meeting
May 8, 2008 QEP Planning
Committee meeting
May 13 , 2008 Faculty Meeting Co-Chairs of the QEP presented the results of the survey to
the faculty and asked for discussion.
May 23, 2008 Faculty Meeting Co-Chairs and Student representative Cathy Ann Canafax
lead a discussion on the QEP topics
May 23, 2008 QEP Planning Discussed the faculty reaction to the QEP
Committee Meeting
June 13, 2008 QEP Co-Chairs and
SACS executive
officers meeting
July 27-30, 2008 SACS Conference QEP Co-Chair Dr. Rebecca Dunn with SACS Co-Chairs
Dean Robin Smith and Dr. Gary Ljungquist attended the
conference.
August 20, 2008 Faculty Retreat QEP was the topic for the entire afternoon session of the
retreat for all faculty in the college.
August 28 , 2008 Solicitation Reminder Volunteers for the QEP Steering Committee were requested

  II 
for QEP Steering in the Faculty Retreat. A Solicitation Reminder for QEP
  Committee Volunteers Steering Committee Volunteers was sent as promised during
the retreat.
September 8, 2008 SACS Steering Discussed Topic Proposal; Changes made to Proposal;
Committee Meeting agreed that we should proceed to Academic Council
September 16, Coordinating Discussed Topic Proposal; Changes made to Proposal;
2008 Committee agreed that we should proceed to Academic Council
September 23, Academic Council Discussed Topic Proposal; Changes made to proposal;
2008 agreed that we should proceed to faculty meeting
October 7 , 2008 Faculty Meeting QEP up for vote in the Faculty Meeting
 

  III 
Appendix B2: QEP Timeline Summary for Steering Committee
 
DATE TYPE DESCRIPTION
November 12 , Meeting First QEP Steering Committee meeting.
2008
November 19 , Meeting Program Review Subcommittee
2008
November 25 , Meeting SYE subcommittee
2008
December 3 , 2008 Meeting Program Review Subcommittee
December 5, 2008 Meeting SYE Subcommittee
December.3 , 2008 General Education General Education Update by Dr. Gary Ljungquist for
Update Admissions staff
January 8, 2009 Meeting SYE Subcommittee
January. 16 , 2009 General Education General Education Update by Dr. Gary Ljungquist for -
Update Development staff

January 23 , 2009 RETREAT Course Development Subcommittee
January 27 , 2009 Meeting Course Development Subcommittee
February 3 , 2009 Faculty Meeting Faculty Meeting: Committee Report by Dunn and Godfrey
February 4 , 2009 Meeting Course Development
February 6 , 2009 General Education General Education Update by Dr. Gary Ljungquist Fleer
Update Center Leadership Council

February 17 , 2009 General Education General Education Update by Dr. Gary Ljungquist for SGA
Update officers
February 17 , 2009 Meeting Steering Committee
February 23 , 2009 General Education General Education Update by Dr. Gary Ljungquist for Fleer
Update Center Staff
February 24 , 2009 Visit Course Communications Campaign Class
Jacqueline McBride and Rebecca Dunn visited the class
February 25 , 2009 Meeting Course Development
February 27 , 2009 Presentation Meeting with the BOT
February. 28 , 2009 General Education General Education Update by Dr. Gary Ljungquist College
Update to the alumnae board, who also had a presentation from
Gwyn Taylor on QEP
March 2, 2009 Meeting Course Development
March 3 , 2009 Vote Faculty Meeting, vote on Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar
March 11 , 2009 Meeting Course Development
March 18 , 2009 Meeting Steering Committee
March 19, 2009 Forum Faculty Forum
March 20 , 2009 Meeting Steering Committee with Dr. Silver
April 1, 2009 Course Development
April 7 , 2009 Vote of Affirmation Faculty meeting, Vote of affirmation for the QEP
April 8 , 2009 Presentation to the Dean’s Council by QEP Co-Chairs
April 9 , 2009 Staff QEP Forum
April 14 , 2009 Meeting with Student Affairs with Varnadoe and Dunn
April 15 , 2009 Course Development
May 12 , 2009 Meeting Meeting with Dr. Susan Opt’s Class
June 1, 2009 Meeting QEP Officer Meeting
August 18 , 2009 Assessment Survey Dr. Herb Schuette led a review of the Case Study
Assessment.
August 19, 2009 Faculty Retreat Dr. Gary Ljungquist led a discussion on the General
Education program including the QEP. Professors Dunn
  IV 
and Godfrey led an hour presentation on the state of the
  QEP. Professors Dunn and Schuette led a workshop on
assessing the QEP. The entire morning was spent
discussing the QEP.
September 8 , 2009 QEP Steering QEP Steering Committee met to discuss the evaluations
Committee from the faculty during the retreat. Each member read the
feedback and the committee determined common issues that
needed to be addressed with the Case Study and the format
of the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar.
September 22 , QEP Steering We discussed the implementation of our QEP via what we
2009 Committee will need for faculty development and marketing
September 29, QEP Steering QEP Steering Committee met to discuss the pilot courses,
2009 Committee how many we should offer, how we should register students
for them.
October 6 , 2009 QEP Steering 1) discussing and finalizing the actions to be implemented
Committee, Course for the QEP Items such as construction of the course, the
Development pilot courses and the timeline associated with
Subcommittee implementation, 2) we will also discuss the QEP write up
and the fast approaching deadlines for this document.
October 6 , 2009 Faculty Meeting Co-Chair Heidi Godfrey made a presentation to the faculty
giving an update on the QEP and asking that faculty
advisors suggest that their senior advisees register for the
pilot courses for the QEP: SIGN 350.
October 20 , 2009 QEP Officer Meeting QEP Officer Meeting to discuss the progress on the written
report.
October 27 , 2009 QEP Steering Jacqueline McBride led a discussion on possible marketing
Committee strategies for the QEP using the work done by Dr. Opt’s
class as the foundation. We discussed what steps should be
in the Actions to be Implemented section of the QEP. The
committee also discussed the Assessment section of the
QEP.
November 2 , 2009 QEP Steering QEP Steering Committee met to decide upon the best logo
Committee for the QEP.
November 3 , 2009 Meeting with Student Co-Chair, Rebecca Dunn met with Student life to discuss
Life their role in the QEP.
November 3 , 2009 Faculty Meeting Co-Chairs Dunn and Godfrey made a presentation to the
faculty meeting describing the marketing decisions for the
QEP and progress that the Steering Committee has made.
November 3 to 6 , Refectory Tables The PR department designed posters, chalk walks, signs to
2009 entice students to visit the QEP tables where professors
Ersoff, Porter, Schuette and Rushing described their new
QEP Senior Interdisciplinary Seminars to attract seniors.
January 4, 2010 QEP Officer Meeting QEP Officers met to discuss finishing touches for the QEP.
January 13-14, Meeting with DR. Sandra Harper
2010
March 2-4, 2010 Onsite review with SACS

  V 
  Appendix C: Strategic Planning Documents

Ad Hoc Committee on Strategic Planning
P. O. Box 10548
Winston-Salem, NC 27108

Curricular/Institutional Goals

Salem College will develop an interdisciplinary core curriculum and co-curriculum that
prepares women to be effective, socially responsible global citizens who:
Value and appreciate the impact of women across cultures and time
Possess personal confidence and competencies
Managing finances
Physical health
Personal safety
Managing emotions
Engage in social change through leadership, teamwork and civic involvement
Value and interact effectively with diverse peoples and cultures
Understand the dynamic relationship between humans and their environment and
demonstrate environmental responsibility
Reflect on their values, beliefs and ideas as a basis for moral and ethical decision-making
Compete and collaborate honorably and productively
Recognize the interdependence and value of diverse peoples and cultures

Salem College’s curricular and co-curricular programming will emphasize
Interdisciplinary thought
Experiential learning
Developing the capacity for leadership and service
Understanding and critique of the dynamics and practice of power and privilege
Student understanding of the importance of senior projects within the discipline
Research, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of ideas through qualitative and quantitative
approaches
Subject mastery in a discipline

Salem College will build a community of diverse peoples and ideas.

Salem Academy and College Statement of Values

Rooted in the distinct Moravian commitment to education, our core values are:
Learning Grounded in the Pursuit of Excellence
Instilling commitment to scholarly inquiry
Educating the whole person
Transforming knowledge into action
Learning Grounded in Community
Recognizing individual potential
Embracing diversity
Exemplifying honor
  VI 
Learning Grounded in Responsibility to Self and the World
  Developing personal accountability
Cultivating leadership
Preparing global citizens

Salem College Mission Statement

Salem College, a liberal arts college for women, values its students as individuals,
develops their unique potential and prepares them to change the world.
Vision for Salem College

In the coming decade Salem College will achieve national leadership in:
 Merging knowledge and practice through an innovative liberal arts education for women
 Preparing women for lives of leadership and service
 Providing a comprehensive educational experience in a richly diverse community

Proposed Student Outcomes Supporting the Vision
Salem graduates will be able to:
Conduct and effectively communicate significant scholarly, professional, or creative work
Use interdisciplinary approaches to facilitate innovative thought
Apply knowledge and technologies effectively in multiple experiential learning modes
Engage in socially responsible change

Proposed Targets Supporting Student Outcomes
May 2010
All traditional-age first-year students will complete a collaborative project analyzing a significant
social issue.
All traditional-age students will demonstrate effective application of knowledge in at least one
substantive experiential learning mode.
May 2013
All first-year students will complete a collaborative project analyzing a significant community
issue.
All sophomores will demonstrate, through a substantive interdisciplinary service-learning
experience,:
research, analytical and communication skills
understanding of inter-relatedness of knowledge
effective application of technologies
teamwork and leadership skills
cross-cultural skills
All graduating seniors will complete and present to the public, utilizing appropriate technologies, a
significant scholarly, professional or creative work in their discipline.
All graduating seniors will complete a comprehensive documentation of content mastery in their
primary discipline.
All graduating seniors will complete a portfolio of interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary
experiences and study.
May 2015
All juniors will demonstrate the capacity to facilitate responsible change through teamwork,
leadership and civic involvement.
May 2018
All graduating seniors will have participated in at least one significant, immersive cross-cultural
experience.

 VII 
Appendix D: Survey Results for May 23rd Faculty Meeting
  Dear Faculty,

This document contains the results shown to you during the May 13th Faculty Meeting. We are coming back to
you on the May 23rd Faculty Meeting, with the student representatives from the QEP planning Committee, to
hear your feedback and ideas regarding where we should go from here for the QEP topic. While you think
about this, please keep in mind the campus feedback reflected in these charts; the fact that our QEP must reflect
the work our strategic Planning Committee has done toward the mission, vision and learning outcomes; that the
topic will change and readjust over time; and we can not begin the QEP until 2010. There are many great ideas
that are part of the strategic plan that will be accomplished but need not be part of the QEP.

Thank you and we look forward to a lively discussion on Friday!

Rebecca Dunn and Heidi Godfrey

Faculty- 22 respondents Staff- 25 respondents

 VIII 
The QEP Planning Committee requested ideas for topics for the QEP from both staff and faculty at Salem College.
 Faculty and staff were asked to use the mission statement of the college, the vision statements and the student learning
outcomes from the Strategic Planning Committee as a guide. We received 15 ideas which were put forward to faculty
and staff for a vote. People were asked for their first, second and third choice. The bar graphs represent the number
of people who selected that topic as their first choice. The line graph represents the number of people who selected
this as their first, second or third choice. The maximum number of votes for any category would be 22 for faculty or
25 for staff. (One ballot from each faculty and staff were removed due improper voting and were therefore not
included in the totals.)

The QEP Planning Committee chose the six topics which received the most total votes to put forth to the rest of the
community: Students (Residential, Day, Continuing Studies and Graduate), Alumnae and the Board of Trustees. The two
topics on Wellness were combined into one category after consultation from the individuals who suggested the topics.

The figures and charts below represent the results from survey sent by the QEP Planning Committee to Students,
Alumnae and the Board of Trustees. Data from the faculty and staff represent the results from the initial survey of
15 topics.

Faculty- 22 respondents Staff – 25 respondents

Continuing Studies Students- 48 respondents Day Students – 17 respondents

  IX 
 

Residential Students – 111 respondents Graduate Students- 48 respondents

Alumnae- 330 respondents Board of Trustees- 18 respondents

  X 
 
re-
Cultivating Improving imagining Cross
Total Women of Embracing communication the Salem Cultural
Status Respondents Wellness Change Technology skills Signature Experiences
Faculty 23 First Choice 3 3 1 4 3 2
Any Choice 7 8 3 11 9 6
Staff 24 First Choice 7 1 6 1 2 1
Any Choice 13 5 8 6 5 6
Total
Undergrad 176 First Choice 38 31 40 23 26 15
Any Choice 79 88 96 103 81 79
Residential 111 First Choice 19 20 29 10 21 10
Any Choice 46 52 58 61 61 54
Day 17 First Choice 3 3 1 4 3 3
Any Choice 8 9 7 10 9 8
Fleer
Center 48 First Choice 16 8 10 9 2 2
Any Choice 25 27 31 32 11 17
Graduate 46 First Choice 12 15 4 7 1 7
Any Choice 20 28 26 32 9 23
Alumnae 330 First Choice 68 110 52 49 24 17
Any Choice 162 232 184 180 91 105
BOT 18 First Choice 7 5 1 3 0 1
Any Choice 14 14 6 6 0 12
Total 617

  XI 
Appendix E: QEP Topic Proposal October 7th, 2008
 

QEP Topic Proposal:

Focus on the Senior Year Experience

Salem College Faculty

October 7th, 2008

Topic: The Quality Enhancement Plan for the 2010 SACS review of Salem College will focus on the
Senior Year Experience and will include the establishment of the one credit course: Senior
Interdisciplinary Seminar. This course will serve as a bookend to the First Year Experience as a
culmination of the student’s liberal arts experience. In this course we will assess all or part of our
general education competencies.

Rationale: This topic reflects the broad and diverse input from multiple constituencies throughout the
development of the QEP. The groups represented were the faculty, staff, board of trustees, alumnae
and students- Fleer, traditional and graduate. The top two choices for most groups surveyed during the
QEP selection process involved critical thinking and communication skills while the current students
and faculty also gave priority to redesigning the Salem Signature Program. In addition, a 2006 review
of the Salem Signature Program by Academic Council (a faculty standing committee), stated that the
college should revise College 390, the course required of our seniors in the Salem Signature. The
Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar will reflect the priorities identified in the QEP selection process, will
figure as the capstone course in the new General Education Program for all undergraduates (traditional
and Fleer), and will complement the senior seminar in the major. The general education competencies
to be assessed will be determined when the general education program is adopted by the faculty.

 XII 
Appendix F: Quality Enhancement Plan Proposal, April 7th, 2009
  Faculty Meeting

On October 7, 2008, the Salem College faculty approved the QEP Planning Committee’s topic proposal for a one
credit course entitled the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar. This seminar will be part of a three-pronged approach to
the senior year experience: the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar, the Senior Capstone Course in the major, and the
Academic Day of Excellence. The topic for the QEP was the culmination of a campus wide discussion on
improving student learning grounded in our mission and vision for the college. The Coordinating Committee
guided the selection of the QEP Steering Committee which consists of two members from each division and one
member of the Graduate Education Program. With contributions from the staff and
students on the committee, the faculty from the QEP Steering Committee have
designed the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar presented here.

The overall goal for the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar is to enhance student
learning through an interdisciplinary senior course that empowers students to
evaluate, appreciate and integrate multiple perspectives as they prepare to be
agents of change. With the advent of our new General Education Program, we see
this course as being the missing piece of the puzzle that ties together the breadth of
our general education, the depth of our major and the co-curricular activities that
Salem College offers.

This course centers on interdisciplinary work as one of the defining elements of Salem’s vision and goals. Our
vision statement outlines four proposed student outcomes supporting the mission of the college: Salem graduates
will be able to 1) conduct and effectively communicate significant scholarly, professional, or creative work; 2) use
interdisciplinary approaches to facilitate innovative thought; 3) apply knowledge and technologies effectively in
multiple experiential learning modes; and 4) engage in socially responsible change. Particularly focusing on
interdisciplinary thought, the course addresses all four of these outcomes. Klein and Newell, two of the field’s
leading theorists, define interdisciplinarity in a way that reflects an emerging consensus on its meaning:
"Interdisciplinary studies may be defined as a process of answering a question, solving a problem, or addressing a
topic that is too broad or complex to be dealt with adequately by a single discipline or profession … [and] draws on
disciplinary perspectives and integrates their insights [to produce] a more comprehensive perspective."1 Their
definition both describes the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar and coincides with Salem’s goals as set forth in our
mission statement.
Other institutions are now stressing interdisciplinary work at
“Broad capabilities and perspectives are now an advanced level as an essential component of an exemplary
important in all fields, from the sciences to liberal arts education. In an initiative led by the AAC&U
business to the humanities. The new economic called LEAP2, an analysis of the viewpoints of educators,
reality is that narrow preparation in a single employers, and philanthropic and civic leaders revealed four
area—whether that field is chemistry or essential learning outcomes for the liberal arts, the most
information technology or history—is exactly the sophisticated of which was integrative learning (please see
opposite of what graduates need from college. attachments). Preparing to be global citizens requires that our
Study-in-depth remains an important part of the
students know how to solve complex problems in multiple
ways. While understanding the depth of a given field is still
overall pattern for college learning. But students
essential, such understanding in isolation is scarcely sufficient
deserve to know that focusing only on one in the 21st century world where our students need to merge
2
specialty is far from enough.” knowledge and practice.

The Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar described in this proposal is securely grounded in research on interdisciplinary
studies, evaluation of data from NSSE, thoughtful assessment of our own program reviews and capstone courses, as
well as an examination of best practices for senior year experiences in other institutions.

                                                             
1
Klein, Julie T., and William H. Newell, “Advancing Interdisciplinary Studies,” Handbook of the Undergraduate
Curriculum: A Comprehensive Guide to Purposes, Structures, Practices, and Change (edited by Gaff & Ratcliff), San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997
2
College Learning for the New Global Century. Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2007
 XIII 
 
Topic Approved on October 7th, 2008: The Quality Enhancement Plan for the 2010 SACS review of Salem
College will focus on the Senior Year Experience and will include the establishment of the one credit course:
Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar. This course will serve as a bookend to the First Year Experience as a
culmination of the student’s liberal arts experience. In this course we will assess all or part of our general
education competencies.

Course Description Approved on March 3rd, 2009. This interdisciplinary senior course offers an integrative
learning experience in which seniors assume an active role in exploring a critical question from multiple
perspectives, developing a creative response to that question, and communicating that response effectively.
(Communication Intensive)

Current Proposal from the QEP Steering Committee to the Faculty for Affirmation

Overall Goal of the QEP
To enhance student learning through an interdisciplinary senior course that empowers students to evaluate,
appreciate and integrate multiple perspectives as they prepare to be agents of change.

QEP Mission Statement

This course offers an integrative learning experience in which seniors assume an active role in exploring a
critical question from multiple perspectives, developing a creative response to that question, and
communicating that response effectively.

Course Description This interdisciplinary senior course offers an integrative learning experience in which
seniors assume an active role in exploring a critical question from multiple perspectives, developing a creative
response to that question, and communicating that response effectively. (Communication Intensive)

Goals and Objectives

Goals
Students will assume an active role in this course as they explore critical questions through the use of
interdisciplinary approaches.

Objectives
1- To participate in integrative learning as an active scholar.
2- To recognize strengths and limitations of their own disciplines.
3- To use interdisciplinary materials and methods.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to…
1- Identify, gather and evaluate relevant knowledge from multiple disciplines based on a critical question.
2- Synthesize methods and knowledge of multiple disciplines.
3- Produce and present an integrated response to the critical question.

“Interdisciplinarity is the bridge between the academy and the real
world, the means by which our students can be empowered to use the
disciplines to address the complex world in which they live.” William
Newell- LiberalArtsOnline Volume 7, Number 1 January 2007

 

 XIV 
 

College Learning for the New Global Century. Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2007

 XV 
 

 XVI 
Appendix G1: Interdisciplinary Case Study Exercise
  Who Will Feed the World?
Background:
Food security “is essential to the world's well-being. This means making sure that the poorest people
have food to eat. It means working on systems for social protection, agriculture and trade so that there
is food for all. World poverty and hunger cannot be reduced without improvements in agricultural
production and distribution. More than a billon people - and roughly 75 percent of the world's poorest
people - live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Most of the farm work is done
by women. Their efforts contribute to the major share of the domestic product of poor countries.”
comments by Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, January 25, 2009

“In the near future more than half of the world’s population will be living in urban centers. The vision by
some people for all locally produced food does not square with the reality that most of the food for a
metropolitan area like Tokyo, Japan, with 30 million people, must move substantial distances.”
Agricultural Trade Policy Advice for the G-20 Leaders, Truth About Trade and Technology, Mar 2009

Situation:
Assume that you are the chief of staff to Dr Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). You have been asked to design a plan for a
conference on the future of the world’s food supply, with invited speakers and attendees from all over
the world.

Respond briefly to the following questions:
a) The conference Steering Committee will guide the conference agenda and prepare a report for the
Director-General on the conference results and recommendations. What areas of expertise should be
represented on this committee? Briefly state your rationale for inclusion.

b) The conference will focus attention on several issues which are fundamental to addressing the main
topic –“Who Will Feed the World?” Suggest the most significant issues/questions which should be on
the conference agenda for discussion.

c) Briefly describe how people from your own field of study might contribute to a better understanding of
“Who Will Feed the World?”

______________

 XVII 
Appendix G2: Rubric for scoring Interdisciplinary Case Study Exercise
 
For each of the three traits, the rubric provides a range of possible responses, organized into three scoring
categories - (1) developmental, (2) novice, (3) exceptional. The total scores for each student would range from 3
to 9. Our assessment results would calculate the percentage of students with totals in the classes [3 or 4], [5, 6 or
7], and [8 or 9]. We would also calculate the average total scores for each treatment group.

Trait Score Response
Question A:
Student identifies significant relevant issues for the conference;
Demonstrates conceptual coherence with clear connection of issues with the main question;
Demonstrates global awareness
Understands of multiple dimensions of the problem.
1 Poor or incomplete identification of relevant issues;
Disconnect between issues and big question;
Lacks understanding of the context and/or components of the problem.
2 Issues suggested from at least three different disciplines;
Issues are connected to the big question;
Shows basic understanding of the multiple components of the problem;
Issues are set in global context;
3 Issues from at least four of these critical areas:
Biology/Agriculture
Economics/Finance
Socio/Political
Historical
Distribution Process;

Clear connection between issues and big question;
Clearly demonstrates conceptual grasp of global problem
Sophisticated- Understands multiple dimensions and interconnectivity
Question B:
The suggested sources of expertise are matched with the issues;
Rationale for inclusion is well-stated;
1 Weak suggestion for sources of expertise;
Expertise not matched with issues;
Some irrelevance;
Poor or no rationale.
2 Identifies at least three areas of expertise;
Connection of expertise to issues is appropriate.
Reasonable rationale stated
3 Identifies at least four areas of expertise;
Rationale for inclusion is thoughtful and stated clearly
Connection of expertise to issues is very clear.
Question C:
Student suggests relevant links between big question and own field of study.
Links to content knowledge and generalized capability.
1 Makes little or no connection between big question and field of study when some obvious
ones are apparent to reader.
No tie with content knowledge in the field of study or generalized capability
2 Suggests reasonable, obvious connections to field of study.
Links are based mostly on content knowledge in field of study.
3 Clear and creative link between the big question and student’s field of study;
Response goes beyond content knowledge in field of study.
Shows connection with generalized capability based on field of study and the liberal arts.

XVIII 
 
Appendix G3: Rubric for assessing the Creative Response/Project
  For the Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar

Learning 1=Proficiency 2=Minimally 3=Proficient 4=Highly
outcome not proficient proficient
demonstrated
Student applies No application Application of Effective Application is
multiple of multiple multiple application of highly effective
perspectives in perspectives perspectives is multiple and convincing
research and rudimentary or perspectives
evaluation of unconvincing
information
Student No articulation Articulation is Effective Articulation is
articulates of disciplinary not effective articulation of professional
disciplinary perspective disciplinary and persuasive
perspective perspective
Student No synthesis Unconvincing Effective Synthesis is
synthesizes attempt at synthesis original and
ideas from synthesis highly
multiple persuasive
perspectives
Student Delivery is Delivery is Effective Highly effective
delivers an weak, response acceptable. delivery. and persuasive
effective, is not effective. Response is Creative delivery.
creative somewhat response. Impressive
response to the creative creativity.
critical question
Student No Collaboration is Effective, Highly effective
collaborates collaboration or somewhat respectful and collaboration.
effectively with problems with effective. supportive Impressive
students from interactions collaboration. group dynamic.
other with others.
disciplines

 XIX 
Appendix G4: Rubric for Faculty Class Visitations
  (assessment of collaboration and articulation of disciplinary perspective)

Student outcome 1=Outcome not 2=Outcome 3=Outcome attained 4=Outcome
observed minimally exceeded
observed

Student is prepared No preparation. Minimal Appropriate Extensive
for the tasks at hand preparation. preparation. preparation.

Student contributes No contribution. Minimal Valuable contribution Impressive
and shares contribution and of useful information. contribution of
information No information sharing of significant
provided. information. information.

Student listens to No listening and Minimal listening Appropriate listening Constructive
colleagues and uses no use of input. and minimal use of and use of input. listening and
their input input. extensive use
constructively of input.

Student respects No respect and Minimal respect. Clear examples of Significant
and values valuing Minimal respect and valuing examples of
colleagues’ input. observed. recognition of of colleagues’ input. respect and
colleagues’ input. valuing of input.

Student articulates No articulation Unconvincing Clear and effective Multi-faceted
disciplinary articulation articulation and persuasive
perspectives articulation

Appendix G5: Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar—Metacognitive Narrative

Metacognition, in a general sense, refers to thinking about your own thought processes and knowing
about how you process information and gain knowledge. Planning your approach to a learning task,
awareness of your level of understanding, and evaluating the progress towards the completion of a
task: these are skills that are metacognitive in their nature.

At three points in the semester, you will be asked to provide a narrative in which you will reflect upon
your own metacognitive processes in SIGN350. The purpose of this narrative is to tell the story of your
thinking about the issues, problems and tasks involved in the course and to deepen your awareness of
how the work in SIGN350 influences your thinking and your methods of processing information and
ideas.

During the first week of the semester, at mid-term and at the end of the course, you will reflect on your
own ability to do the following:

1) Explore the complex issue addressed by this course by applying multiple disciplinary perspectives
2) Research and evaluate information about the complex issue
3) Articulate the perspective of your own discipline
4) Synthesize ideas from multiple perspectives
5) Collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines
6) Deliver an effective, creative response to the critical questions

 XX 
Appendix G6: Rubric for assessing SIGN350 Metacognitive Narrative
  This rubric focuses on skills, attitudes and awareness gained through participation in SIGN350.

Students outcome 1=Outcome not 2=Outcome 3=Outcome 4=Outcome
observed minimally attained attained exceeded
Student articulates the No articulation. Unconvincing Clear and Multi-faceted and
value of applying articulation. effective persuasive
multiple disciplinary articulation. articulation.
perspectives to
complex issues
Student represents No representation Representation is Representation Representation is
own discipline or unprofessional attempted but is is effective and multi-faceted, very
professionally representation. not effective or professional. effective and
professional. professional.
Student articulates the No articulation. Unconvincing or Clear and Multi-faceted and
value of collaborative rudimentary effective persuasive
efforts across articulation. articulation. articulation.
disciplines.
Student integrates No integration Unconvincing or Credible Impressive and
disciplinary and rudimentary integration. multi-faceted
interdisciplinary integration. integration.
perspectives
Student demonstrates No growth Minimal growth Significant Extensive and
growth in demonstrated. demonstrated. growth multi-faceted
metacognitive skills. demonstrated growth
demonstrated.

Appendix G7: Narrative Assessment Plan Template from Loyola Marymount

Reflection
Briefly describe where you are in the assessment cycle; that is, what steps have you already
accomplished. You might consider:
• What have you learned so far?
• Have you collected data? Have you analyzed/interpreted data?
• Have you made any changes to your programs?
• Do you have some activities, assignments, or processes already in place that could be
revised slightly to inform program-level assessment?
Where are the gaps? What could be improved?
• Have you skipped any steps?
• Is there any you thing you should refine?
• What do you still want to know?
Action Plan
Which specific outcome(s) will you be assessing?
What are your next steps for the first academic year?
• What do you plan to do in semester 1? (e.g., develop a rubric, apply a rubric to student
work, prepare a report of results, make changes to your program, etc)
• How will you do it?
• Who will be involved?
• What processes/procedures need to be followed or put in place?
• What outcome(s) is the activity linked to?
• What do you plan to do in semester 2?
What are your next steps for the second academic year?
• What do you plan to do in semester 3?
• What do you plan to do in semester 4?

 XXI 
 

Appendix G8: Employer Survey and Alumnae Survey

Employer Survey3

Dear Employer,

Salem College is assessing how well we prepare our graduates for entry and success in the profession of their
choice. We would very much appreciate your help by filling out this survey and giving us any other feedback
that will help us improve the education of our students. All responses will be held in confidence. We anticipate
the survey to take no longer than 15 minutes. Thank you so much for your participation!

Your Name: ____________________ (optional)

Name of organization _______________________

Number of years you have worked for your organization _______________

In the past five years, how many Salem College graduates (not including interns) have you hired?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 or more

How many recent Salem College graduates who have applied for positions at your organization have possessed
the skills and knowledge needed to succeed at entry level positions within your organization?

All Most About half Only some very few

How many recent Salem College graduates who have applied for positions at your organization have possessed
the skills and knowledge needed to advance or be promoted within your organization?

All Most About half Only some very few

When reviewing your experience with your employees who have graduated from Salem College, how would
you rate their level of preparedness when they joined your organization?

Not well prepared Average Very well prepared

Adaptability 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Critical thinking 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ethical judgment 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Global knowledge 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Intercultural skills 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Oral communication 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Quantitative reasoning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Self-direction 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Self-knowledge 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Social responsibility 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Teamwork 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Writing 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

                                                             
3
Please note that this survey will be web-based and it will also be made available to those employers who would rather use
a paper copy. This survey is in the process of undergoing review with the Human Subject Review Committee and may
have to be altered according to College Protocols
 XXII 
 

When reviewing your experience with your employees in general, how important is each of the following
skills?

Not very important Average importance Very important
Adaptability 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Critical thinking 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ethical judgment 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Global knowledge 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Intercultural skills 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Oral communication 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Quantitative reasoning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Self-direction 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Self-knowledge 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Social responsibility 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Teamwork 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Writing 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

When reviewing your experience with your employees who have graduated from Salem College, how would
you rate their ability to perform in the following areas after some experience on the job?

Research and evaluate information about a complex issue

Well below average Below average Average Above average Well above average No experience

Synthesize ideas from multiple perspectives

Well below average Below average Average Above average Well above average No experience

Collaborate with colleagues from multiple backgrounds

Well below average Below average Average Above average Well above average No experience

Deliver an effective, creative response to work assignments

Well below average Below average Average Above average Well above average No experience

When comparing your employees who have joined your institution in the past five years, overall how well have
graduates from Salem College faired in comparison to employees who have graduated from other colleges or
universities?

Well below average Below average Average Above average Well above average No experience

Please give us any feedback that will be helpful to us about our college graduates. _________________________

X  XIII 
 

Alumnae Survey4

Dear Alumna,

Salem College is assessing how well we prepare our graduates for entry and success in the profession of your
choice. We would very much appreciate your help by filling out this survey and giving us any other feedback
that will help us improve the education of our current and future students. All responses will be held in
confidence. We anticipate the survey to take no longer than 15 minutes. Thank you so much for your
participation!

Your Name: ____________________ (optional)

Year you graduated _____________________

Major(s) __________________________

Name of organization or graduate/professional school for which you currently work
_______________________

Number of years you have worked for this organization or graduate/professional school __________

When you were first hired out of college, do you feel that you possessed the skills and knowledge needed to
succeed at an entry level position within your organization or graduate/professional school?
Very few skills Some skills Enough Skills Many skills Not Applicable

When you were first hired out of college, do you feel that you possessed the skills and knowledge needed to
advance or be promoted within your organization?

Very few skills Some skills Enough Skills Many skills Not Applicable

When reviewing your experience with your first year out of college, how would you rate your level of
preparedness when you joined your organization or graduate/professional school?

Not well prepared Average Very well prepared
Adaptability 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Critical thinking 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ethical judgment 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Global knowledge 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Intercultural skills 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Oral communication 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Quantitative reasoning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Self-direction 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Self-knowledge 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Social responsibility 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Teamwork 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Writing 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

When reviewing your entire work history experience, how important is each of the following skills?
                                                             
4
Please note that this survey will be web-based and it will also be made available to those employers who would rather use
a paper copy. This survey is in the process of undergoing review with the Human Subject Review Committee and may
have to be altered according to College Protocols
XXIV 
 
 

Not very important Average importance Very important
Adaptability 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Critical thinking 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ethical judgment 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Global knowledge 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Intercultural skills 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Oral communication 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Quantitative reasoning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Self-direction 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Self-knowledge 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Social responsibility 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Teamwork 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Writing 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

How would you rate your ability to perform in the following areas after some experience?

Research and evaluate information about a complex issue

Well below average Below average Average Above average Well above average Not applicable

Synthesize ideas from multiple perspectives

Well below average Below average Average Above average Well above average Not applicable

Collaborate with colleagues from multiple backgrounds

Well below average Below average Average Above average Well above average Not applicable

Deliver an effective, creative response to work assignments

Well below average Below average Average Above average Well above average Not applicable

When comparing yourself to other employees or students who have joined your institution in the past five years,
how well have you faired in comparison to those who have graduated from other colleges or universities?

Well below average Below average Average Above average Well above average Not applicable

Please give us any feedback that will be of help us with your future Salem Alumnae!

 XXV