Noel Studio Uniquely Positioned to Advance QEP

Published on March 09, 2018

This is another in a series of interviews with campus QEP leaders – those staff, faculty and administrators across campus promoting the goals of EKU’s Quality Enhancement Plan. The current QEP, Read with Purpose, calls for Eastern to develop critical readers through the use of metacognitive strategies. Building on the past QEP, which focused on developing critical and creative thinkers, this effort represents the University’s commitment to institutional improvement, and provides a long-term focus for faculty and staff professional development and student learning

This installment in the series features Dr. Clint Stivers, assistant director, Writing and Communication Programs at the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity.

Q: What role does the Noel Studio play in helping EKU achieve the goals of the QEP, Read with Purpose?

A: I should first provide some background on our services and programs to provide context for the answer. The Noel Studio is a multi-literacy center offering integrated support services focused on developing writing, communication, critical reading and research skills for EKU undergraduate and graduate students across the disciplines. While our primary service includes both one-on-one and small group consultations, we also serve as a hub of professional development for EKU faculty and are the home to professional development networks such as the Faculty Innovators, the Provost’s Professional Development Speaker series, the Teaching and Learning Innovation Series (TLIs), Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), and Developing Excellence in Eastern’s Professors (DEEP) that coordinate workshops, speakers, seminars, online videos, and interactive face-to-face sessions to ensure all faculty members have opportunities to meet and discuss innovative teaching and learning strategies for incorporating metacognition and reflective learning into classrooms. The Noel Studio functions therefore as an academic resource for both EKU students and faculty with services and programs that exist to enhance writing, communication, research, teaching and learning, and critical reading processes. In addition, the Noel Studio promotes a campus-wide pedagogy that values deep learning – the synthesis of ideas/concepts toward conceptual understanding and meaning-making – and employs critical thinking and metacognition – asking intentional questions about how we learn what we learn – as fundamental strategies that result in more purposeful learners.

For these reasons, the Noel Studio is uniquely positioned to help the QEP by offering professional development training for Noel Studio Consultants and Course-Embedded Consultants (CECs) and EKU faculty that enables them to use and teach critical reading and metacognitive strategies for developing students into active, strategic learners who Read with Purpose.  The Noel Studio therefore serves to help EKU’s students and faculty achieve the QEP’s goal of developing critical readers through the use of metacognitive strategies. In helping EKU, its students, and its faculty achieve the primary goal and learning outcomes of the QEP, the Noel Studio enjoys being positioned on the front-line – and we take delight in seeing consultations with EKU students showcasing their critical reading/metacognitive practices as they annotate scholarly articles, use “think-aloud” to reveal their own reading processes, and shriek with glee when they comprehend (finally) difficult academic texts.

Q: How has the QEP impacted the work that consultants and Course-Embedded Consultants do in the Noel Studio?

A: The QEP has provided our Consultants and CECs with specialized professional development training that builds on and reinforces the Noel Studio’s existing professional development and training programs – the Noel Studio Institute, a three-day training program held each year, our weekly seminars and online modules, and our Peer Mentorship Program – designed to prepare Consultants and CECs to help students develop critical reading and metacognitive strategies to improve their writing and communication practices and become more informed critical thinkers and readers who communicate effectively.

The QEP’s specialized professional development workshops such as “Developing Critical Readers through Metacognitive Strategies” have greatly benefited our Consultants and CECs by expanding their expertise and skills; however, the QEP’s greatest impact on the work we do with students involves its commitment to our CEC Program. The QEP provides funding and training for Consultants embedded in developmental reading and writing courses that allows CECs the additional time and support required to help underprepared students develop their critical reading abilities and increase their academic success. Each CEC is assigned to one section of ENG 095R, an accelerated, integrated, developmental reading and writing course, or ENG 101R, a co-requisite developmental reading and writing course, and works closely with the instructor throughout the course to establish a clear understanding of course and assignment goals, expectations, and requirements. CECs attend the weekly class sessions of the course to which they are assigned; offer focused feedback on questions and issues commonly encountered by First-Year Writing students; and work with the instructor to facilitate individualized and small-group workshop and peer-review sessions. CECs develop relationships with the students in their assigned class and meet those students outside of class in the Noel Studio for one-on-one consultations on critical reading and writing support. QEP Co-Director and Developmental Reading Coordinator Dr. Lisa Bosley has met frequently with CEC’s to offer customized reading and writing instruction designed to improve the CEC’s ability to identify students’ reading and writing issues and to help students use metacognitive strategies to improve the critical reading and writing skills needed for deeper learning and academic success at EKU.

Q: What impact is the QEP having on student learning?

A: The QEP's Read with Purpose initiative has increased awareness among EKU's students and faculty (whose buy-in to the QEP is necessary for improving student learning) that specific critical reading and metacognitive strategies actually exist for improving academic performance and success. The Noel Studio first felt the QEP’s influence last spring during the two-day QEP Kickoff promoting Read with Purpose through faculty development workshops in the Teaching and Learning Center, in our Consultant-led workshops, “Read Your Prompt with Purpose to Write with Purpose,” and across EKU’s campus on posters, t-shirts, bookmarks, and – my personal favorite – temporary tattoos. Since then, the Noel Studio has supported the QEP’s goal for students by implementing and showcasing critical reading and metacognitive strategies in professional development training for faculty and student leaders, like the Noel Studio's Consultants and CECs, resulting in both more focused assignments with specific student learning outcomes and more purposive and confident students engaged in deep learning. We're seeing the QEP's impact on students’ learning as more students from across the disciplines spend time dwelling in the Noel Studio's spaces – for consultations, workshops, and/or to study independently – engaged in metacognitive and/or critical reading and thinking practices as they work on their writing and communication projects.

Q: How does the QEP benefit the campus community?

A: In striving to develop purposeful readers, the QEP is benefiting EKU students by enhancing deep learning, increasing academic achievement, and cultivating the kind of inquisitive, complex thinking and feeling that will serve EKU students well both as professionals in their careers and humans interacting with others as they move through and negotiate the world.