SACS Reaffirmation Team to Visit April 6-8

March 30, 2010

SACS Reaffirmation Team to Visit April 6-8

VALDOSTA -- Representatives with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges will visit Valdosta State University April 6-8, as part of the reaffirmation process, which takes place every ten years. The final reaffirmation confirmation is anticipated by the SACS Commission on Colleges in December 2010.

A major aspect of the reaffirmation process involves the development and implementation of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). Valdosta State selected the QEP “Undergraduate Engagement in Discipline-Based Inquiry,” which will focus on opportunities for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Engagement (FUSE).

“FUSE provides students with focused opportunities for engaging in faculty research and scholarly activities appropriate to the discipline,” said Dr. Kristina Cragg, assistant to the president for Strategic Research and Analysis. “Through an open, competitive process that valued broad-based involvement in the QEP, a call for proposals was issued for innovative projects that achieve the QEP goals and articulate their own student-learning outcomes and assessments.”

The projects will involve a paradigm shift to reinforce the message that research is performed in more places than a traditional laboratory. Working on the premise that not all research is conducted within a conventional laboratory setting, individual projects were selected to provide students with opportunities to conduct research and scholarly activities appropriate to their selected discipline.

The six projects are varied and include research in the areas of anti-cancer drugs, military history, nursing and healthcare, child and adult language analysis, kitchen designs for the elderly, and social inequalities of Hispanic immigrants along the U.S. and Mexico border.

“We selected six projects that first and foremost would have the greatest impact on undergraduate student learning,” said Dr. James LaPlant, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “My hope is this will become part of the educational fabric of this institution’s culture and faculty members will routinely consider projects that will engage the undergraduate student in a positive research experience.”

LaPlant, who chaired the second phase of the QEP task force, said the QEP project will open the door for students working towards acceptance in graduate school.

“A positive undergraduate research experience may open a student’s thinking to the possibilities of graduate school,” LaPlant said. “Possibly first generation college students, who never thought about extending their undergraduate experiences, will discover during the process of inquiry that they want to pursue a graduate degree and extend their research opportunities.”

Dr. Karla Hull, interim assistant vice president for Research and dean of the Graduate School, is responsible for monitoring the progress of each project and assisting the project coordinators with measuring the outcomes that were identified in each proposal.

“Each project will have its own specific learning outcomes and methods for measuring results,” Hull said. “The project coordinators will be responsible for gathering the necessary baseline data.”

Undergraduate students will gain specific research skills, especially within their chosen discipline, and the success of each project will focus on how well each student applies those skills.

“The projects will give undergraduate students confidence in their ability to perform higher level quality academic work,” Hull said. “Students will gain specific research skills and enhance their analytic thought process for problem solving.”

The SACS reaffirmation team will review Valdosta State’s QEP project (FUSE) during their on-site visit. The projects are scheduled to begin in 2011, with funds allocated by the university’s Planning and Budget Council.

The following six FUSE projects were selected:

1. Cutting Edge Cancer Research with Undergraduates: Undergraduate students will work to produce economical and effective medicinal agents for testing as an anti-cancer pharmaceutical. (Dr. Thomas Manning, Department of Chemistry)

2. Summer Archival Field Experience in History: Undergraduate students will learn how to conduct archival research in military history and have an archival field experience at the U.S. Army Heritage Education Center. (Dr. John Dunn, Department of History)

3. Preparing Scholars of Tomorrow to Effectively Analyze Language Sample Data for Parent-Child Turn Taking: Undergraduate students will collect and analyze language samples of child-parent dyads, learning how to conduct ethical research, review literature, collect data, and perform analysis of the data. (Drs. Jade H. Coston, Ruth H. Stonestreet and Corine C. Myers-Jennings, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders)

4. Evidence-Based Practice Strategies for Nursing and Health Care: Nursing students will work with nurse researchers in clinical settings, generating evidence-based clinical questions in collaboration with nurses and health care professionals involved in clinical research projects. (Drs. Maura Schlairet, Anita Hufft and Melissa Benton, College of Nursing)

5. Discovering Unrealized Generational Differences in Kitchen Design Preferences between Next-Generation Interior Designers and Current Resident-Users: Interior design students will research the differences between kitchen layouts in assisted living residences designed by interior design students and those designed by residents, developing research-supported methods for inquiry into the processes and outcomes of interior design practice. (Jessica Goldsmith, Department of Art)

6. Investigating Social Inequalities of Hispanic Immigrants through the U.S.-Mexico Borderland Experience: Undergraduate students will engage in qualitative research via ethnographic interviews and participant observation, examining the social construction of race, gender, class, and ethnicity and the impact of globalization on the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border region. (Dr. Tracy Woodard-Meyers, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, and Drs. Kathryn J. Schmidt and Shani P. Gray, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice)

For more information, students should contact their academic adviser or visit the QEP Web site at