What is the B-CU Quality Enhancement Plan?
The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is a campus-wide undertaking that is improving the writing skills and talents of the student body at Bethune-Cookman University. Known as Wildcats Write, this initiative is a direct outgrowth of the school’s on-going efforts to improve the best practices and educational standards of its academic programs. The goal is to improve writing for freshmen enrolled in English composition courses with specific measures to ensure success in writing beyond these courses. Through initiatives implemented in the Wildcats Write Center (the QEP Writing Lab), focus is placed on:
- writing intensive activities and immediate feedback;
- mentorship and peer tutoring to promote self-esteem and positive attitudes toward writing; and
- a portal for faculty development with a focus on best practices in teaching, motivating, and innovative pedagogy needs for college academic writing.
Wildcats Write enhances learning already taking place in B-CU classrooms to ensure students develop the kinds of writing skills that promote academic success and prepare them for the demands of their college academic courses. As a part of this initiative, every year, about 100 to 150 freshman students are selected to participate in an intensive writing program in which they receive peer writing coaching and mentoring, cutting-edge teaching strategies, immediate feedback to each of their writing tasks, and rewards, contests and field trips that provide inspiration for writing well. This is the research component of the QEP. The University is studying whether or not increasing confidence about writing, in conjunction with providing excellent writing instruction, will have a long-term impact on students’ abilities to write well throughout college and in their professional career.
Wildcats Write is a part of B-CU's History
The QEP is a response to the University's decision to recommit itself to the writing legacy of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, the University's founder and a prolific writer, educator, and human rights activist. It is the University's commitment to make writing a fundamental value and tool for matriculating students and graduates as life-long learners.
Even before she secured land for what is now a thriving institution spread-out over 70 acres, Dr. Bethune secured the funds and civic involvement of numerous philanthropists through her effective writing. Mr. James Proctor, heir to the Proctor and Gamble fortune, remarked that the letters written by Dr. Bethune were so well written and passionate that he was taken aback. He automatically assumed she was a white woman. Gamble’s endorsements were emulated by many of his colleagues, thus B-CU began its ascension to the campus you see today. The story of Bethune-Cookman University is founded on principles of effective writing and the confidence that comes with such skills.
Wildcats Writ Fosters Life-long Learning
The University is committed to making writing a fundamental value and tool for matriculating students and graduates as life-long learners. As a part of its 2010 reaffirmation of accreditation by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), a regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states, Bethune-Cookman University created the Quality Enhancement plan, Wildcats Write, in order to maintain B-CU's accreditation, which it has held continuously since 1945. The QEP also documents that B-CU meets compliance standards in a five-year plan for enhancing student learning.
It is a plan that grows directly out of the University's historical mission, which is to serve in the Christian tradition the diverse educational, social, and cultural needs of its students and to develop in them the desire and capacity for continuous intellectual and professional growth, leadership and service to others. After a significant review of assessment data, course exit reviews, surveys, and input from multiple focus groups, Bethune-Cookman University reached the conclusion that improved writing skills would enhance the overall academic development, self-esteem, and long-term academic and personal success of all of its students.
Welcome to the Wildcats Write Center (WWC)
As part the Quality Enhancement Plan, a unique writing lab, the Wildcats Write Center (WWC) was established at 325 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The Wildcats Write Center differs from other tutorial labs by specifically identifying writing as an integral part of the entire educational process. The WWC offers intensive writing activities with individualized mentoring to support students as they strengthen their writing skills.
The WWC has the look and feel of a coffee shop or cyber café and provides a comfortable setting conducive to learning but not as restrictive as a library or classroom. State-of-the-art computers, printers, and wireless capabilities afford students the opportunity to work in an atmosphere sure to stimulate their creativity.
Wildcats Write Peer Mentor/Tutors
QEP peer mentor/tutors are both writing coaches and mentors for freshman students enrolled in the Wildcats Write English composition classes. They perform tasks related to peer writing review and also social and emotional mentoring. Mentors provide their mentees with review and coaching on each major assignment and work collaboratively with the mentor coordinator to offer a variety of events that inspire students to write creatively and to improve their writing skills (writing and music, writing and film, spoken word and written poetry contests, short story writing contests, book readings/signings). Mentors also coordinate a variety of events that promote positive, personal, social and emotional growth in college (presentations on how to get involved in college activities, field trips and evenings out at campus and community events that inspire writing such as musical performances, art exhibits, interesting academic speakers, international films). Mentors are upper classmen with demonstrated excellence in writing who work with their mentor coordinator to create an ample array of social events that will engage every student in the creative thinking processes associated with writing.
Why Does the Ability to Write Effectively Matter?
National research has revealed that a significant percentage of college students do not have sufficient writing skills to be successful academically or in their future careers. Surprisingly, those students with deficiencies were not limited to Historically Black Colleges and Universities but also are enrolled in Ivy League Institutions such as Yale, Duke, and Princeton, and technical schools as well.
What Is Mentorship? Why Is Mentoring Important? Why Does it Matter?
- Did you know about National Thank Your Mentor Day?
- Did you know January was National Mentor Month?
Take a trip back in time to your childhood. Weren’t there people in your life who encouraged you, showed you the ropes, and helped you become the person you are today? Think about family members, a teacher or coach, a neighbor, a boss, a family friend or a pastor; those people were mentors to you. Most successful people say they had mentors along the way who guided and encouraged them.
The Wildcats Write Center intricately combines mentorship with writing success. The end result is a well-rounded student prepared for continued matriculation through their chosen field of study.
Although there are numerous tutorial labs spread throughout the university’s campus, none other than the WWC specialize in enhancing students writing skills through intensive writing activities coupled with peer mentorship and peer writing coaching. Whereas other labs may deal with large volumes of students, the WWC is specifically designed to cater to smaller groups and provide a one-on-one coaching approach to significantly boost students’ self-esteem and catapult them to the next level of their education.
Notable Icons Speak Out on the Importance of Mentorship
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune was a pioneer of mentorship associated with writing as evidenced by the donations she procured and the partnerships she established through her writing ability. As a student at Trinity Mission School in Mayesville, South Carolina, Bethune’s instructor, Emma Jane Wilson, became a significant mentor in her life. Bethune would go on to mentor countless others while instilling the importance of writing effectively.
Fifty-four years after Bethune’s era, the nation elected its first African-American to the White House; President Barack Obama immediately picked up the mantle and became a staunch advocate of mentorship. The 44th and 45th President of the United States of America has repeatedly said "Be the change: Mentor a child." He has supported numerous programs to that effect.
Maya Angelou cited a grade school teacher for sparking her love of poetry. Angelou is a known supporter of mentorships.
“In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care. Mentors help people interpret the world.”
Quincy Jones points to the powerful influence of musician Ray Charles, while Michael Jackson credited James Brown as his influence. The point is clear. You would be hard-pressed to find a person who wasn’t influenced in some positive manner by a mentor of sorts.
So it is with the Wildcats Write. Exceptional students mentor their own peers under the watchful eyes of the QEP faculty and staff. The Wildcats Write seeks to express the importance of writing and benefits of mentoring in relation to it. The positive results are boundless.