East Carolina University QEP: Student Enhancement


By Jordan Stanley

As universities across the Carolinas begin and continue to nourish writing and English programs across their curriculums, the role of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) becomes an essential player in the development of these schools. QEPs typically involve a multi-faceted proposal for how to improve particular aspects of student learning in a university through specific strategies that aim to achieve an overarching goal. In the case of East Carolina University (ECU), this goal is to “integrate, align, and reinforce writing instruction for students” throughout their entire educational experience. In this post, I will focus on how ECU’s QEP is geared toward and advances students in particular.

The title of the ECU’s QEP, “Write Where You Belong,” is representative of the initiative’s focus on making writing pedagogy more inclusive and applicable to all disciplines—not just English. In an interview with Dr. Wendy Sharer—the QEP Director at ECU and past President of CarolinasWPA—she said that, “Perhaps the unique thing about ECU’s QEP is that we’re mixing several things.”

One major facet of the QEP is the ENGL 2201: Writing About the Disciplines QEP curriculum initiative. This initiative is a synthesis of the collaboration with two other universities. Appalachian State University faculty shared their plan to create a “vertical curriculum,” in which students take a writing-intensive course each year of their undergraduate degree program. George Mason University, in turn, shared the value of their junior year discipline-themed composition courses, such as writing in the social or natural sciences. Together, ECU blended these two ideas to create ENGL 2201, which is to be taken in the sophomore year and offers several different sections of the course that are themed around various disciplines, from health sciences to education. The goal of this program, it seems, is to both ensure the continuity of student writing development and to encourage expanding this development across disciplines.

The ECU QEP reinforces this continuous student development through the implementation of the University Writing Portfolio (UWPort). As first-year students, ECU undergraduates are required to take the ENGL 1100 composition class, where they will create an electronic UWPort. This will serve as a foundation for each time a student takes a course with the university’s “Writing Intensive” (WI) designation. Students will be able to build, their UWPort, uploading writing samples with accompanying “writing self-analysis,” which describes the student’s writing process and explains/assesses the choices they made throughout their composition.

What separates ECU’s UWPort from other university’s electronic portfolios is that, because many ECU students take at least one WI course per year, the end product will have great longitudinal value. “This process is unique in that is makes metacognitive writing (writing in which a writer studies and evaluates his or her own writing) a practice that students engage in across their time at ECU,” says Dr. Sharer. “A good deal of research suggests that metacognition is critical to learning and applying what one has learned to new contexts, so we hope that students will, by the end of their undergraduate degree programs, students will be better able to assess and hence improve their own writing.”

So far, ECU is seeing several direct benefits from the QEP, one of which being the construction and staffing of an actual Writing Center space. The use of this Writing Center has doubled from 2,500 to 5,000 appointments per academic year since before the QEP. This seems to serve as a manifestation of increasing writing awareness in the student body across ECU’s campus. An upcoming post will examine how faculty, too, are benefitting from ECU’s QEP.

Jordan Stanley is currently a junior at Elon University. She is studying English with concentrations in Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Creative Writing, and works both in the Elon Writing Center and as a Writing Fellow.

East Carolina University QEP: Faculty Participation


By Jordan Stanley

As beneficial as Quality Enhancement Plans (QEPs) are for the students of a university, they are comparably advantageous for the faculty. In the case of East Carolina University, it is the institution’s goal that the QEP serves as “an opportunity to strengthen the educational experiences of ECU students.” This goal is coming to fruition via the cooperation and integration of faculty into the initiative. In the ECU QEP, faculty are comprehended as valuable assets to the student writing experience across all disciplines—assets that, under the new programs, are essential in working toward creating a uniform standard of writing that will unify the campus under a cohesive understanding for improvement.

One of the main features of East Carolina’s QEP that is geared toward faculty is the Writing Liaisons program. Writing Liaisons are faculty members from undergraduate programs across the campus who facilitate communication between their academic programs and the University Writing and Writing Foundations programs. This involves monthly meetings with QEP leadership, including QEP Director Dr. Sharer, where Liaisons are able to share updates and concerns about the implementation of QEP initiatives. This month, several instructors of ENGL2201 will share their syllabi with the Writing Liaisons so that the Liaisons can (1) gain a better understanding of what students are learning in the course, and (2) bring this information back to their programs so faculty in writing intensive classes across the disciplines can work off of what students know from ENG2201.

The goal of the Writing Liaisons is to ensure that faculty collaborate on ways to ensure that students receive consistent information on writing expectations and strategies. In the previous post on ECU’s QEP, the idea of a “vertical curriculum” was introduced, where students are required to take a writing intensive course for each year of their undergraduate education. “This kind of sharing of information across diverse degree programs at the university is critical if the ‘vertical curriculum’ is going to be most beneficial to students,” said Dr. Sharer of the Liaisons.

The university’s required writing portfolios were also highlighted in the previous post on ECU’s QEP as a unique feature to the initiative. These portfolios, or UWPorts, are not only an essential part to the students’ vertical learning, but also a staple of faculty involvement in the QEP. Although the UWPorts are geared toward student improvement, the QEP addresses that in order for consistent writing to be affective for students, the faculty, too, be able to assess this writing consistently. To achieve this cohesion, Section X of the ECU QEP—which may be found on the East Carolina website—outlines how faculty should approach and evaluate the UWPorts. A staple of Section X reads: “Portfolios can benefit instructors and improve instruction. Seeing students’ responses to course assignments and their perceptions of their own learning can suggest ways that faculty might improve assignments and pedagogy.”

So far, the QEP has contributed noticeably to the cohesiveness of writing pedagogies around the ECU campus. QEP leadership feels that there is a far greater awareness across the university of what students learn in composition courses and how faculty should build on this, and the Writing Liaisons have been integral to this. QEP Director Dr. Sharer said of faculty, “that they are much more aware of what they are looking for in student writing and are much more aware of how to design assignments and writing activities to help students success as writers.”

For how the ECU QEP further focuses on faculty enhancement, please read here.


Jordan Stanley is currently a junior at Elon University. She is studying English with concentrations in Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Creative Writing, and works both in the Elon Writing Center and as a Writing Fellow.

Board Member Profile: Robin Snead



North Carolina State Univeristy; PhD.

Dr. Robin Snead currently serves as an At-Large CarolinasWPA board member in North Carolina. New to the organization, Robin says that given the current attitudes toward higher education, she hope to have CarolinasWPA advocate more publically for the importance of the group’s work. “What I most appreciate about the CarolinasWPA is the openness and collegiality I have found as a member, and I would like to see our reach extended to individuals from colleges and universities that are not currently represented,” says Robin.


Outside of CarolinasWPA, Robin works as a lecturer at the University of North Carolina, Pembroke. She is also conducting research on a project centered on multimodal composition, looking beyond first-year composition courses and genres of disciplinary writing, to the less-explored multimodality across academic disciplines. Robin and three of her colleagues have an article forthcoming in Across the Disciplines that reports and comments on survey results they’ve gathered on this topic. Robin is also interested in the intersection between writers and the technologies they use to compose, and how the interaction between writers and technologies affect composing processes.



First-Year Writing Programs in NC and SC

As you might remember, the Carolinas WPA website once listed basic information about several first-year writing programs in the Carolinas. Jessie Moore, the Carolinas WPA Web and List Manager, currently is working to re-launch an improved version of that resource as the first of several Carolinas WPA web resources on writing programs in NC and SC.

Please help make this resource as comprehensive as possible by completing the First-Year Writing Programs in NC and SC survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CWPAfirstyearwriting or by forwarding it to the first-year writing program administrator at your school.

While this initial survey focuses on first-year writing programs, future surveys will address writing centers, writing across the curriculum programs, undergraduate writing majors, and graduate writing programs. Information from each survey will be posted one month after the survey is released; the surveys will remain open, though, with updates added to the corresponding web resource twice a year.

Thank you for your help making this a valuable resource for Carolinas WPA members!