Chowan University launches new Quality Enhancement Plan
As part of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accreditation process, Chowan University launched a new Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) titled Lit Sphere (Literature Spheres).
The QEP is designed to create a culture of reading by increasing students’ pleasure and enjoyment in reading, leading to an increase in the overall quantity of material read. The concept developed through a comprehensive and methodical process over a two-and-a-half-year period which identified reading as the area most important to improving student success at Chowan.
“The mission of the Chowan University’s Lit Sphere QEP is to encourage students to become intrinsically motivated readers by fostering a culture of reading for pleasure. We believe that reading for enjoyment will result in students reading more. As a result, we hope students will become more intellectually curious, more engaged as citizens, and more likely to become lifelong learners.”
Student Learning Outcomes
Initiatives designed to achieve the goals include Lit Sphere (LS) courses, reading programs, and reading friendly spaces across campus. A key feature of the one credit hour LS courses is student choice of reading materials. Students vote on several books to be offered in LS 201 and then enroll in a section that corresponds to their preferences. Likewise, students vote in LS 201 for the books for LS 202. LS 301 sections are designed by genres and students enroll in sections based on their interests.
In addition to the Lit Sphere courses, the QEP creates a culture of reading on campus through tri-annual reading challenges, partnering with local elementary schools to encourage students to share their love of reading, and providing reading friendly spaces on campus (Reading Nooks).
Strategies to create a culture of reading:
Strategy 1- Common Reading Program
A first-year student will complete First Year Experience courses designed to provide the skills necessary for college success. Students will vote to select a common reader.
Strategy 2- Literary Circles
Second-year students are introduced to the Literature Circle model by completing two Lit Sphere Courses (LS 201 and 202). Each section of LS 201 features books selected by students. Students register for the LS 201 course section which matches their book preference. Each section will be led by a single faculty member and divided into smaller groups (approximately six students per group), for the first and second courses. One or two texts will be assigned to each section depending on the length of each book. LS 202 is a one credit hour required general education course offered every spring and follows the LS 201 model. LS 301 is a one credit hour elective offered each semester which will follow the LS 201 model. Enrollment will be limited to 10-15 students, with students enrolling in sections defined by genre.
Strategy 3 – Lit Sphere Reading Challenge and Reading Chatter
The Reading Challenge is a campus-wide (students, faculty, and staff) challenge to read a book. There are three reading challenges each academic year issued by the LS Steering Committee: fall, spring, and summer. The reading challenges will not limit participants to reading a specific genre of books. Participants can read books, short stories, poems, magazine articles, or newspapers.
Examples of Reading Challenges:
The Reading Chatter includes participants from the Reading Challenge who meet to discuss their chosen texts. The purpose of the chatter is to foster discussion about reading. It will be a student lead discussion about the materials they read for the challenge with a faculty monitor to make sure the discussion stays on topic. Attendees will enter their name in a drawing, and six winners will receive a $25 bookstore gift card.
Strategy 4 – Lit Sphere Youth Reading Night
The Youth Reading Night is an annual event held in the spring of each academic year. It is an opportunity for our students to share their love of reading with youth of the community. The University will host youth from the local elementary school at the Hawks Nest student center. Student groups will host reading stations for elementary school students. Stations will include skits, graphic novels, storytelling, book illustrations, and short book reading.
Strategy 5 – Reading Nooks
QEP Committee members toured the campus and identified locations that would benefit from reading friendly areas. These locations are in the public areas of the academic buildings, residence halls, and student buildings. These reading friendly areas are called “Reading Nooks.” Each Reading Nook will have the following components: comfortable seating, signage identifying the space as a “quiet reading area,” and available reading material (e.g., magazines, newspapers, books, free lending library).