Academic Program Review (A-64)
Original Implementation: April 28, 2005
Last Revision: April 19, 2011
Academic Program Review (APR) is intended to enhance the quality of all academic programs and ensure the ongoing support necessary for continuation, modification and development of programs. All undergraduate and graduate degree programs fall within this policy. APR serves to encourage self-study and planning within programs and to strengthen connections among the strategic plans of the program, the college and the university. Academic program reviews provide information for curricular and budgetary planning decisions at each administrative level. In turn, resources needed for growth, continuation or modification of programs can be included in planning processes. The normal cycle for APR is every five (5) years. All academic programs in a department should be reviewed at the same time, making APR a departmental as well as degree self-study. If one program in a department is governed by an external accrediting agency, all programs in the department shall be reviewed concurrently and in the same cycle as the accredited review. If the external professional accreditation is on a cycle of fewer than ten (10) years, that cycle will be followed. If the cycle is ten or more years, an internal program review shall be required at interim fifth year. Departments with multiple accrediting agencies should follow the cycle of the accrediting agency most appropriate to the department.
Professional or specialized accreditation reports shall substitute for the program review report required by this policy. However, any information required by the APR appendices but not included in the professional or accreditation review must be added before the report is submitted as a program review.
The following definitions distinguish terms used throughout this document:
- An academic program is a structured grouping of coursework designed to meet educational objectives leading to a baccalaureate degree, post-baccalaureate degree, certificate, or teaching credential.
- A department/division/school (hereafter referred to as department) is an administrative unit that manages one or more academic programs.
- Unit outcomes are the key services provided by an academic unit (e.g., advising, alumni outreach, file maintenance).
- Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) are the knowledge, skills and abilities students are expected to demonstrate upon completion of an academic program/major.
- Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) define the knowledge, skills and abilities students are expected to demonstrate upon completion of a particular course.
- Exemplary Educational Outcomes (EEOs) outline content knowledge and discipline-specific skills in five component areas (communication, mathematics, natural science, humanities/arts and social sciences) within the core curriculum as identified by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).
The APR process is designed to maintain compliance with the accreditation standards of the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the THECB. Within the framework of strategic planning, academic units evaluate their effectiveness in achieving unit outcomes and learning outcomes as they seek to accomplish college and university goals. As such, APR should be considered a self-study that mirrors the process utilized for SACS re-accreditation.
The university’s mission statement and strategic plan drive APR. Academic units must be engaged in the ongoing assessment of their unit outcomes and program learning outcomes. Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs), in turn, are related to student learning outcomes (SLOs). Departments with core curriculum offerings are also required to conduct an assessment of the Exemplary Educational Outcomes (EEOs) of these courses. Since assessment calendars are not uniform, PLOs, unit outcomes and EEOs are unlikely to be reviewed on the same schedule during an academic year. The annual assessment cycle includes collection and analysis of data, including the use of the results to improve program effectiveness. Strategic planning by academic units is the effort to reflect the university’s strategic plan through its unit outcomes and PLOs.
APR shall yield a self-study report that involves a longitudinal examination of assessment results and improvement strategies. The APR schedule, as noted above, is adjusted for academic units with outside accrediting agencies. The provost and vice president for academic affairs shall establish a five-year schedule of the programs to be reviewed along with the deadlines for completing each task. The self-study is developed by a committee composed of faculty within the department appointed by the chair. The report must adhere to the APR template.
Programs with external professional accreditation are normally reviewed by outside program evaluators as part of the accreditation process. Programs and academic units lacking external professional accreditation or review shall also benefit from external review. They shall submit their completed self-study to an outside reviewer. External reviewers must have no conflict of interest by being alumnus, former student, employee, or formal collaborator with faculty in the unit they shall review. A site visit by the external reviewer shall take place every ten years. In the intervening fifth year review, the external reviewer shall evaluate the self-study remotely. The department shall nominate three individuals from comparable institutions of higher education. The dean of the college shall select one person from the three nominated to serve as external reviewer. Preference shall be given to nominees from out-of-state colleges and universities accredited by SACS unless there is a compelling reason, such as educator certification, to select from within Texas. The outside reviewer shall evaluate the materials (self-study, required appendices, and site visit when scheduled) and write a thorough evaluation of the program to be attached to the self-study. Upon completion of the external review, the report shall be forwarded first to the chair and then to the dean for comments. After comments by the chair and dean, the departmental committee may include a response. All areas of the self-study, external review and internal review must be addressed to the satisfaction of the provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Once available but no later than the deadline established by the provost and vice president for academic affairs, all materials (self-study, comments, and outside review) shall be considered by the University Program Review Committee (UPRC). The faculty from each college shall annually elect a tenured faculty member to serve on the committee and the provost shall appoint an additional three members. The provost and vice president for academic affairs, or designee, shall chair the committee, with the director of institutional research serving in an ex officio capacity. The UPRC shall develop a set of guidelines for improvement that the departmental self-study committee translates into an action plan with deadlines. This plan shall be reviewed in a meeting attended by the chair, dean, and provost and vice president for academic affairs and either accepted or modified at this time.
ELEMENTS OF THE SELF-STUDY
An APR template guides the development of the self-study report. Any deviation from the template must be approved in advance by the provost and vice president for academic affairs. The self-study report is limited to a maximum of 25 pages, excluding the mandatory appendices. The report’s format must adhere to the following guidelines: one-inch margins, single-spaced, and 12-point Times New Roman font. The self-study should be available in electronic version. The report should not be descriptive but rather an analysis of program effectiveness supported by assessment results.
The report is divided into three sections: (1) program overview and unit effectiveness (unit outcomes), (2) teaching/learning effectiveness (PLOs and EEOs), and (3) faculty research/scholarly/creative effectiveness. All appendices must be completed even if an accrediting report is submitted in lieu of the APR report. The self-study is composed of a narrative (25 page limit) supported by the appendices.
- Program Overview and Unit Effectiveness
This section is designed to evaluate a program’s effectiveness in performing its operational activities. As such, the report should (1) review the program’s administration and resources and (2) analyze the annual assessment results of unit outcomes.
- Program Administration
An academic program cannot be effective unless it is supported with sufficient and quality resources to fulfill its mission. In determining the effectiveness of a program’s administration, the following template should be completed and included as Appendix A: (1) alignment of the unit’s mission statement with the university’s mission statement, (2) degrees and/or certificates offered by the program, (3) faculty profile, (4) student profile, (5) staff and (6) sources of income. Except where indicated, data are for a department rather than specific degrees.
Once the appendices are constructed, the accompanying narrative should address the effectiveness of the program in fulfilling the university’s mission in light of the faculty, student and resource characteristics. The narrative should describe areas for improvement and plans for addressing them.
- Unit Outcomes Assessment
Unit outcomes define the key services a department provides. Under SACS accreditation standards, these outcomes must be assessed annually and actions taken as warranted by the assessment. The template on unit outcomes (Appendix B) should collate the annual unit assessment reports from the university’s assessment software (e.g., TracDat) for the previous five years. A narrative should summarize the trends discerned in the assessment information, demonstrate that appropriate actions have been taken to enhance program effectiveness and outline a five-year strategic plan.
- Program Administration
- Program Learning Outcomes
PLOs constitute benchmarks against which the effectiveness of student learning is measured. Under SACS accreditation standards, PLOs must be assessed annually and appropriate actions taken as a result of the feedback. Relevant assessment data on EEOs should be incorporated. Appendix C shall contain the cumulative assessment data as reported in the university’s assessment software (e.g., TracDat). The narrative should summarize the trends identified through the assessment process and demonstrate that appropriate actions have been taken to enhance learning effectiveness within the program.
- Faculty Research/Scholarly/Creative Productivity
This section assesses the performance of a program’s faculty in conducting scholarly activities. Appendix D should contain faculty productivity data over a five-year period. The template should (1) collate faculty data from the previous five years on intellectual contributions, creative works and contracts/grants/sponsored research from the university’s faculty reporting system (e.g., Digital Measures) and (2) the results of tenure and promotion decisions (Template D-1). The narrative should include an analysis of the data as well as emphasize distinctive faculty accomplishments and honors. Where improvements are indicated, an explanation should indicate that appropriate actions have been or shall be taken to enhance faculty effectiveness within the program.
Cross Reference: Professional and Consultant Services (C-45)
Responsible for Implementation: Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Contact for Revision: Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Forms: Appendix A Template, Appendix D-1 Template
Board Committee Assignment: Academic and Student Affairs