L&S Academic Program Review - Resources, Guidelines, Templates, and Advice

All academic programs offered at UW-Madison must be regularly reviewed. Reviews require faculty and staff to compile information about the program under review, reflect on the information gathered, and produce an evaluative report that is submitted to the dean. This document provides links to data resources to help faculty and staff engaged in that work.

This document has been created to help faculty and staff who are engaged in reviewing L&S academic programs, which will require gathering information about the programs as a foundation for thoughtful reflection on the quality and purpose of the program, and of student performance in it. 

Contact: For questions about reviews and the review process, the first person to contact will often be the Academic Associate Dean responsible for the program (see L&S Departments, Programs, Centers & Institutes by Divisional Associate Dean ).   The Academic Associate Deans work closely with the Associate Dean for Academic Planning, who coordinates the review process for the college.  Please contact Elaine M. Klein, Ph.D - 307D South Hall - 265-8484 - elaine.klein<at>wisc.edu with any questions you may have.

Information About the L&S Program Review Policy and Process

Campus-level Resources

The Guide (guide.wisc.edu) reflects the current academic year's approved program array, learning outcomes, and specific requirements for UW-Madison programs. These materials should be reviewed as part of the program review process.  At the undergraduate level, these materials are expected to be consistent with the Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS) used to generate the official document of record for student degree conferral.  (Note that undergraduates are subject to requirements based on the date they matriculate to university and the dates they declare programs; because programs may be updated, DARS for individual students will reflect previously approved requirements.)  At the graduate level, the Guide will reflect program policies, provide links to official program handbooks, etc.

The UW-Madison Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research (http://apir.wisc.edu/ ) conducts the official analyses discussed below, and actively participates in the campus-wide data visualization project that represents these data in easy to understand formats to enhance program review and support transparency in the university's educational operations.  On the APIR site, visitors will find a wealth of information about student behavior as revealed by institutional data, including department profiles, enrollment trends, persistence in intended majors, student profiles, trends in degrees and certificates awarded, trends in credits generated, etc. Some data are restricted to chairs (e.g., faculty salary comparisons, department planning profiles) and other data (e.g., undergraduate program profiles, analyses of average time to degree) are publicly available.

APIR maintains an extensive Knowledgebase Site, which provides general resources supporting program review.

APIR data that are particularly useful in program review include the following sites, reports, and visualizations:
  • Information about students: APIR conducts regular studies of enrollment trends (https://www.apir.wisc.edu/students-enrollment.htm), awards granted (https://www.apir.wisc.edu/students-degrees.htm), student retention and persistence rates (https://www.apir.wisc.edu/retention.htm), time-to-degree (https://www.apir.wisc.edu/ttd.htm - including graduate program comparison to peer institutions), and many other metrics. We strongly encourage departments to consult these data, consider them in light of similar departments/programs, and reflect on whether or not the data reveal any issues that require attention.
  • Information about Faculty and Staff: APIR compiles official data and conducts regular studies of trends in Faculty and Staff (http://apir.wisc.edu/facultystaff.htm); it is also the institutional office responsible for participation in the Academic Analytics project. Salary comparisons are also available through APIR (https://www.apir.wisc.edu/facultystaff-compensation.htm).
  • Department-level and Comparative Information: Department Planning Profiles - https://www.apir.wisc.edu/deptplanningprof.htm  These documents provide access to ten-year trends in all areas related to academic departments – e.g., FTE in various funding categories, majors and degrees (by headcount and by FTE), credits taught, etc. etc. These represent "official" campus level data, and provide a foundation for comparison across terms (comparing Fall to Fall, and Spring to Spring), or among departments of similar size and focus. Produced since 2011, the DPP is currently undergoing updates and is being redeveloped as part of the visualization project.
  • Institution-level Information: For the "big picture" in L&S, it may be useful to know how L&S compares to the rest of campus with respect to student data.   The UW-Madison Data Digest - https://www.apir.wisc.edu/datadigest.htm - contains "official data" for the campus and the various schools and colleges.
The Office of the Registrar houses the official records on programs available and awards conferred in those programs.  This office generates regular reports on enrollments in those programs, including trend and student demographic data. See http://registrar.wisc.edu/semester_enrollments.htm.  Many reports are available, and the Registrar's Office is notably responsive to requests for assistance locating information about individual programs.

The Graduate School publishes program profiles (https://www.gradsch.wisc.edu/mas/) for all of graduate programs. The program level pages include statistical information on admissions, enrollment, student funding, and degrees for each program. For comparison/context, the Divisional Profiles are also available.  The Graduate School also conducts regular exit surveys (Graduate School Surveys ).  The Graduate School also  compiles a list of data relevant to graduate program administration and review (see Graduate School Data Requests ).

Templates and Guidelines

As a general rule, the memorandum from the Dean or Associate Dean convening the review should guide the review process.  This memo will provide links to templates for structuring the self-study, and will include any additional questions about the program or the administrative unit responsible for it. Questions about the format or process should be directed to the Academic Associate Dean and the Associate Dean for Academic Planning.

The University Academic Planning Council Guidelines for Program Review page includes links to the campus-level Self-study Guidelines that connect the review process explicitly to institutional outcomes expressed in the Wisconsin Experience.  L&S programs under review may choose to use these guidelines, since they are consonant with L&S expectations concerning program review.  Links on the UAPC site take visitors to various other policy statements related to program review, including policies on low-enrollment programs and 'joint review' of new degrees and majors programs.
    L&S Program Review Guidelines are used for degree programs, named options, and undergraduate majors.  These guidelines focus on academic programs, and intersect with department/administrative structures only insofar as those structures have an effect on the academic program.  This distinction is intended to facilitate more timely review of academic programs, to help ensure compliance with policies calling for completion of review within every ten year period. Departments may conduct reviews of other aspects of their operations (e.g., administrative structure, personnel, research productivity, etc.), but rather than connect this work to a ten-year program review cycle, it may be conducted as needed.
    L&S Certificate Program Review Guidelines are used for interdisciplinary graduate, undergraduate, and professional certificate programs. Because certificates are intended to be less resource intensive, a more streamlined process exists to facilitate review.  Where applicable, certificate program reviews may be convened prior to or at the same time as other academic programs in a department. 

      Strategic Planning Resources

      Many departments find it useful to engage professional meeting facilitators to help organize the process of conducting a program review.  The Office of Quality Improvement is available as a resource to the College for this (and other) purposes.  See http://www.wisc.edu/improve/ for more information.

      Assessment Resources

      Assessment of student learning at UW-Madison is conducted under the auspices of the Provost.  In addition to the university assessment plan that is available through the Student Learning Assessment website, visitors can find available assessment plans and reports for all UW-Madison academic programs. Templates for submitting plans and reports are also available through that site, as are resources related to various types of assessment tools.

      Activities related to the assessment of student learning and the program improvements arising from that work relate to Academic Program review.  All reviews conducted are expected to reflect efforts to understand and improve student learning in UW-Madison programs.  A program review should not replicate or repeat the work of assessment, but rather, it will offer opportunities to reflect holistically on the program structure and processes, the currency of student learning and other program outcomes, and on student achievement of those outcomes, leading to an overall evaluative conclusion about the quality of, and continued need for, the program being reviewed.




      Keywords:program review, regent mandate, mandated review, regular review, assessment of student learning, department planning profiles, data   Doc ID:24892
      Owner:Elaine K.Group:L&S Administrative Gateway
      Created:2012-06-28 11:14 CDTUpdated:2020-01-03 15:55 CDT
      Sites:L&S Administrative Gateway
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