El Cento College, in line with its mission and vision, is dedicated to delivering quality instruction and services designed to help students reach academic success. In order to provide quality instruction and services, the college is committed to a continuous process of self-improvement that is collaborative and focuses on enhancing student learning.
The College began its journey of identifying a topic for its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) by first assembling a QEP Awareness Committee, who hosted 18 face-to-face college community input sessions inviting students, faculty, administrators, staff, advisory board and community members to submit topics that they believed to be areas of improvement for student learning. Additionally, student surveys were administered in classrooms and service areas. After receiving and analyzing a broad span of input from over 419 participants, along with institutional data, a Topic Selection Committee identified four major areas for improvement that included: student readiness; communication; distance education; and critical thinking.
White papers on each of the identified topics were written faculty members and shared in a well-attended open forum with the college community. The white papers and complimentary video recordings
were posted online for viewing and feedback. After assessing the opinions of the College following the open forum and through a survey, the results clearly favored two topics – Critical Thinking and Readiness. It was at this point that the process of further refining the topic and developing the means to carry it forward were turned over to an amended group of colleagues, the QEP Planning and Development Committee. Initially this Committee was tasked to marry the concepts of student readiness and critical thinking. However, as consideration of the two topics began in detail, it became clear that to address both topics in their broadest form would overtax our abilities and resources. Discussion suggested, based on the previous dialog and the work done in the white papers, that poor critical thinking was a concern that underlays much of the concern for readiness, particularly the concern generated among advanced courses and professional programs.
Consequently, the Committee chose to focus on critical thinking as a key to readiness for advanced and elective course-work.