Academic Program Review - An Overview

All academic programs must be reviewed at least once every ten years. In L&S, those reviews are usually conducted by the unit, which offers units a chance to reflect on program quality and to make changes as needed. Reviews proceed through a standard set of stages. Reviews are convened by the Dean; the faculty prepare a self-study narrative; a review committee examines the documentation and offers advice about the program in the form of a report to the dean; the L&S Academic Planning Council considers the materials and advises the Dean and program. The process is intended to sustain and enhance success and, if applicable, solve problems.

Since 1991, the UW System Board of Regents has mandated that academic degree programs (majors) are reviewed at least once every ten years; however, L&S regularly reviewed its academic programs long before that requirement came into effect. The Dean and the Academic Associate Deans oversee the review of academic programs in L&S.  In years past, reviews were associated with a more general review of the unit in which they are housed; in 2011, the L&S Academic Planning Council approved revised guidelines for program review, with the intention of making the process more streamlined and flexible.  Regular review of academic programs includes review of certificate programs, undergraduate and graduate majors, and (at the college level) degree requirements. 

Program faculty are expected to engage in formal assessment of student learning in the program; these efforts provide data that are essential to the review process, in that they guide the faculty toward knowing how and where programs can be improved.  The specific assessment procedures will vary depending on the program, program goals, number of students, size of the faculty, and other factors.  The College does not prescribe what type of assessment should be performed - merely that it be performed, and that the results are used for purposes of program improvement.  The process works best if a modest number of key learning goals are articulated, and if the faculty turns attention to one or two of those goals each year.  In this way, by the time a program review is convened, the faculty has information that can inform discussion of what students learn in relation to what they're expected to learn. 

The review process begins when the Dean asks the faculty overseeing the program to conduct a self study. When the self-study is complete, a review committee composed of members of the L&S faculty (and, on occasion, staff members and/or external reviewers) is convened. In cases where a graduate program is involved, the Graduate School also appoints a member of the committee. The committee reviews the self-study and related materials, interviews people involved in the program (faculty, staff, students, key stakeholders), and produces a report. The program is offered an opportunity to review the report and to correct any factual errors. When this process is complete, the Academic Planning Council reviews and discusses the self-study, the review committee report, and the response to it. The Council then advises the dean, sharing its consensus on the program strengths, contributions to the discipline, college, and university, and what might be done to promote improvement.

Given the role it plays in advising the deans regarding program review, the Academic Planning Council plays an essential role in defining the issues to be considered in the review process. The L&S Program Review Guidelines were developed to encourage focused attention to academic program quality.   The process is intended to provoke honest introspection, evaluation, and critique necessary for improvement, and to stimulate departments and programs to consider how effective they are in fulfilling the roles they play within their disciplines, College and University, and - most importantly - in facilitating student learning and outstanding research. 

The Assistant Dean for Academic Planning coordinates all of the processes associated with the review of L&S Programs. Questions about the process may also be directed to the Associate Dean who works with the program.

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Keywords:APC accreditation assessment policy   Doc ID:24811
Owner:Elaine K.Group:College of Letters & Science
Created:2012-06-21 16:15 CDTUpdated:2014-03-24 10:27 CDT
Sites:College of Letters & Science
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