Columbus State Answers Local, Global Problems with New Learning Plan

[caption id="attachment_5974" align="alignright" width="201"]Caption: During the next five years, Columbus State University’s new Quality Enhancement Plan director, Mariko Izumi, prepares to help connect students’ skills in creative problem-solving with the local community’s needs. During the next five years, Columbus State University’s new Quality Enhancement Plan director, Mariko Izumi, prepares to help connect students’ skills in creative problem-solving with the local community’s needs.[/caption]

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Personalizing classroom experiences, challenging high-priced health care, and confronting climate change: Columbus State University students, faculty and staff have a plan to solve it.

CSU will launch its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) themed “We Solve It!” this year to change the way educators teach and students learn.

"During the next five years, CSU faculty will develop coursework and projects that strengthen students’ problem-solving skills on a local, national, and global levels,” said Tina Butcher, associate provost for undergraduate education at CSU. “After looking at campus data, we learned problem-solving is one of those areas in which our students need to improve. Many of us are accustomed to ‘Googling’ for answers, but that’s not solving the problem.”

Through classroom discussions and community-related research, students of various fields of study — art, physical education, communication, leadership and computer science — will tackle problems at local businesses and within the educational system.

“Right now our campus is focused on creative, real-world problem-solving that beautifully aligns with the needs of our community,” said Mariko Izumi, new director of Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) at CSU. “CSU is a university grounded in the community and one of the most racially integrated public universities in the state. It’s important that we use this opportunity for empowerment and to help our students become agents of change to build our community.”

The “We Solve It!” action plan aims to address issues current and graduating students may face as they enter the workforce.

“Employers need individuals who can work with their colleagues to address large-scale issues like developing new equipment or technology, or smaller issues such as refining a procedure to provide better customer service,” Butcher said. “Our students will be able to help develop meaningful solutions to these issues.”

As part of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges’ accreditation process, QEP is a specifically designed course of action developed by universities to address topics that can enhance student learning.

The plan aims to complement an institution’s ongoing academic planning and evaluation.

Susan Hrach, director of CSU’s Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, serves as chair of the QEP Leadership Team on campus and led the effort to choose problem-solving as the university’s QEP topic to tackle.

“When you start to conceive teaching and learning as opportunities to solve different kinds of problems creatively and with an eye toward real-world applications, it offers new meaning for the whole enterprise of university education,” Hrach said. “We’re not just jumping through hoops here; we’re doing work that means something to ourselves, to our disciplinary communities and to the world we all inhabit.”

Now that CSU has identified its five-year QEP goal, it is in the beginning stages of implementing problem-solving projects across various campus courses.

“Short-term: We hope to see a renewed sense of excitement and engagement in teaching and learning,” said Izumi. “Long-term: We want the entire campus and community as a united front for building the future of our community — together. We’re igniting students’ pioneer spirit in different areas of collaboration and through creative leadership.”

Visit bitly.com/QEPatCSU to learn more about “We Solve It!” at CSU and give feedback.

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