Academic Program Review

Academic Program Review


Introduction

Academic Program Review (APR) is a function of the Colleges in cooperation with the Office of the Deputy Provost and the University Faculty Senate. It is designed to evaluate the quality, productivity, and role of each academic unit and program in the fulfillment of the University's mission and strategic priorities (http://www.udel.edu/prominence/pdfs/Prominence_Plan.pdf).

APR serves to encourage self-study and planning within units and to strengthen the linkages connecting the planning agendas and practices of individual units with those of their colleges and of the University as a whole. Reviews inform budgetary planning decisions at every level of administration. Workload policies must also be reviewed as part of the unit's APR and/or periodic review for accreditation or re-accreditation. Although this document has been designed for the review of academic units within colleges, it can also serve as a model for the review of other types of units that exist within the University of Delaware including interdisciplinary programs, centers and institutes using relevant items in the self study guidelines and review report.


Organization, Responsibilities, and Timeline

A schedule for the regular review of programs will be kept in the Office of the Deputy Provost.  Each year the Provost and Deans select units for review.  Academic units will normally be reviewed at five year intervals, but this schedule may be accelerated or delayed in individual cases at the discretion of the Provost. Where possible and desirable, academic program reviews will coincide with accreditation and other externally imposed reviews, or with reviews for new degree programs. The Faculty Senate Academic Priorities Review Committee will have the opportunity to suggest programs or programmatic areas for review. The Dean coordinates all reviews, working with the unit under review and with the review panel to ensure that the process will be fair, efficient, and effective.

Each review is conducted by a REVIEW PANEL. The panel will normally be composed of five members, typically four external members and one UD faculty member. The external reviewers come from disciplines related to that of the unit under review. The Review Panel members will include at least the following:

  1. Three external members chosen by the Dean of the college whose unit is under review.
  2. One University of Delaware member recommended by the Faculty Senate Committee on Committees and Nominations.
  3. One external member chosen by the unit under review.

The Provost or Deputy Provost will approve the review team.  The Dean will appoint one of the panelists to be chairperson of the panel. The Dean will establish the time of the review in advance and set a schedule for the accomplishment of the review.

The review process can be summarized into three parts: self-study, review, and follow-up. In preparation for the review, the unit will undertake a self-study based on the guidelines that appear later in this document. The self-study phase sets the agenda and establishes the unit's responsibility for its own planning and goal setting within the context of college and University priorities.

Panelists should read the self-study carefully and are encouraged to request additional materials as needed. The Deputy Provost, Dean and Unit Head will work to ensure that representatives from diverse constituencies within the unit are included in the review process. During the site visit, University of Delaware panelist(s) are expected to participate in the full schedule of events. All panel members will participate in the review and in the formation of the panel's written report. It is the responsibility of the review panel chairperson to ensure that the internal and external members of the panel work together throughout the review and that the final report reflects the interaction of all members of the panel.

The effectiveness of the review will depend on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report. Since implementation will be tied directly to the report's incorporation of the goals that have been defined for the unit in relation to the University's academic priorities, it is essential that the panel approach its charge from the perspective of the unit's role within the University. The review panel's report should be completed within one month of the review and forwarded by the review Panel Chairperson to the Dean. A model schedule for reviews and format for panel reports are included in this document.

Upon receipt of the review panel's report by the dean, it is distributed to the head of the unit, and department faculty for review. The department then provides a formal response to the report and submits it to the Dean within two months of the site visit.

The panel report and department response are discussed at a follow-up meeting with the Provost, Deputy Provost, Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education (for units with graduate programs), the Unit Head, and the Dean.  The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss the recommendations of the report and the next steps that will be taken to reach University, college, and the unit's goals. The Dean then prepares a report that includes the following:  a set of goals and action items for the unit that will align the unit more effectively with the mission and strategic priorities of the university; a timeline for meeting the goals, and an assessment plan that maps progress toward the goals.  The panel report, department response, and dean's report will be reviewed by the Faculty Senate Academic Priorities Review committee during its regularly scheduled meeting with the Provost and Deputy Provost.


Self-Study Guidelines

The self-study document describes the unit as it has evolved and is presently constituted and indicates its aspirations for both short-term and long-term development. It should place the unit within the context of college and University academic priorities and of developments within the unit's discipline; and it should address the major issues confronting the unit and suggest how they might be resolved. It is highly recommended that the preparation of this document be based upon open discussions that include all faculty (and in some cases, professional staff) in the unit.

The self-study document shall include the following elements (where appropriate):

  1. A statement of the current status and future aspirations of the unit.
    • Identify one or two departments in other institutions that may be similar to the unit being reviewed at present.
    • Identify one or two departments in other institutions that can serve as a model for future growth of the unit.
    • What factors were used in comparing the unit to academic departments in other institutions?
    • In comparison to similar departments at other institutions, what are the unit's major strengths and weaknesses?
    • How does the unit benchmark its performance against other departments; what benchmarks should be used to measure the unit's effectiveness and efficiency in the use of its resources?
  2. A statement of the purposes, development and planning for undergraduate education in the unit.
    • Description of undergraduate curricula and programs for majors and non-majors.
    • Statistical data on course enrollments, class size, and number of majors and number of minors.
    • Description of the unit's role in meeting University curricular needs, such as general education initiatives including first-year experience, study abroad, undergraduate research, service learning and other discovery learning programs, capstone course (s), group requirements, multicultural courses, honors courses, and prerequisites for other programs.
    • Description of requirements for strengthening written and oral communication as well as quantitative reasoning.
    • Information about student quality, diversity and achievements.
    • Description of the advisement plan for undergraduate students and analysis of who provides advisement.
    • Description of the undergraduate student learning outcomes (including clear statement of expected student learning outcomes in the areas of knowledge, skills, and competencies), assessment plans, and utilization of assessment results.
    • Evidence of curricular improvements based on student learning outcomes and changes in the discipline or field of study.
    • Estimation of revenue generated by tuition.
  3. A statement of the purposes, development and planning for graduate education.
    • Description of the graduate curriculum.
    • Statistical data on the size of graduate program(s), including number and diversity of students in masters and doctoral programs, and number of funded students, source of funding and comparison of funding to (aspirational) peer programs.
    • Time-to-degree completion and degree completion statistics for the graduate program.
    • Graduate recruitment and enrollment management plans and goals.
    • Quality of graduate students as defined by numerical indicators and career placement of graduates.
    • Career placement of graduates relative to market conditions.
    • Description of the advisement/mentoring plan for graduate students and analysis of who provides advisement and mentoring.
    • Description of graduate student learning outcomes (including clear statement of expected student learning outcomes in the areas of knowledge, skills, and competencies), assessment plans and utilization of assessment results.
    • Evidence of curricular improvements based on student learning outcomes and changes in the discipline or field of study.
  4. Staffing of the unit.
    • A statement of the unit's present demographics.
    • Breakdown of FTE faculty, professionals and salaried staff by rank, function, workload, race, age, and gender as appropriate.
    • Brief biographies of all unit faculty and professionals.
    • Information concerning the use of non-faculty instructors (if any) in the unit, either teaching assistants or supplemental contract holders.
    • The Office of Institutional Research will within reason provide demographic data to set the unit into a University-wide context.
  5.  Faculty and staff development
    • Mentoring of young faculty in research and teaching.
    • Support for faculty travel to conferences and funding agencies.
    • Training activities provided by the unit or by external sources in areas such as responsible conduct of research and diversity.
  6. The research and scholarly productivity of the unit.
    • Analysis of the relation of research productivity to faculty workload, teaching, and support of graduate students.
    • Faculty Promotion and Tenure policy.
    • Evidence of faculty/professional staff productivity.
    • Data on the sources and amount of external research funding.
    • Description of the unit's relationship to University research centers and to other interdisciplinary research groups.
    • Regional and national professional activities of the faculty, staff and students.
  7. The public service function and productivity of the unit.
    • Statement of the unit's role in public service.
    • Evidence that the work involves students.
    • Evidence of the public service activity as expressed in contract research for government or non-profit agencies.
    • Evidence of other forms of public service, such as speaking in schools, assisting in social service agencies, government agencies, hospitals, cultural organizations, and similar activities.
  8. The administrative structure and function of the unit.
    • Description of duties, responsibilities and reporting relationships of key administrative positions.
    • Charges, operating procedures, and reporting relationships of standing committees.
    • Brief analysis of the leadership initiatives of the incumbent administrators and committee chairs.
    • Procedures for filling administrative positions and committee seats.
    • Leadership training activities (provided by the unit or by external sources) for unit leaders.
    • Description of research centers and other ancillary units administered by the academic unit under review, along with analysis of the reporting relationship and extent of oversight of the ancillary unit.
    • Analysis of working relationship with the college dean's office and with other units within the college and within the University, including analysis of services that are shared.
  9. Information concerning the University service of the unit's faculty and staff.
  10. A statement of the unit's accomplishments in support of the University's goal to create a diverse faculty, staff, and student population.
  11. A description of the unit's facilities, including space and equipment.
  12. A statement of University support for the unit, including factors such as library resources, research, equipment, graduate student and staff support.
  13. The goals and costs associated with the unit's planning to meet current and future needs, and the relation of the unit's plan to college and University academic priorities. How does the department contribute to the academic priorities of the University and College? Resource requests must be framed under three budget scenarios, i.e., a 20 % reduced budget environment, constant budget environment, and a 20% increased budget environment.
  14. A review of workload policies as appropriate.

Typical Review Schedule

The purpose of the suggested review schedule is to ensure that reviews are thorough and fair. All members of the unit under review should have the opportunity to interact with the review panel. Reviews normally begin with a dinner hosted by the Deputy Provost on the evening that the external panelists arrive and attended by the members of the panel and the Dean. The dinner serves as an orientation to the review and gives panelists the opportunity to ask questions about the unit. The chairperson of the review panel is usually selected during the dinner meeting.

The panelists will meet with selected faculty leaders from the unit: possibly members of the unit's steering committee, chair of its major committees, or its full professors. The panelists are escorted by designated unit faculty on a tour of the unit's facilities and other campus facilities pertinent to the unit's operations.

The panelists will meet with the faculty responsible for the unit's academic programs. Appropriate representatives from the dean's office, the Deputy Provost, the Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education, and other university-wide offices also participate as needed.

During the review, time should be set aside for individual faculty and professional staff to meet with panelists, if requested. The panel will also meet with undergraduate and graduate students from the unit both in individual sessions and as a group.

It is important that there be an attempt to include all faculty of the unit in some portion of the review. To expedite the investigative rather than social nature of all aspects of the review, it is suggested that faculty be included as members of diverse constituencies within the unit, such as unit committees or sub-disciplines.

The review team may also meet with the Provost or the person designated by the Provost. Members of the committee may also conduct any other interviews that they, the Deputy Provost, the Dean, or the Unit Head will request.

The review will include time for the panelists to meet alone to outline their report and to distribute the writing responsibilities. The report is due one month following the completion of the review. At the conclusion of the review, the team will hold an exit interview with the Provost and/or Deputy Provost, and Dean.


The Review Report

The report should place the unit under review in the larger context of University academic priorities and of developments in the unit's discipline. It should address the major issues facing the unit, comment on the compatibility of the unit's purpose, achievements, plans and goals with those of the college and University academic priorities, and suggest strategies for achieving unit and University goals. To accomplish these purposes the report should consider the following points as appropriate to the mission of the unit.

Prominence

  • Identify one or two departments in other institutions that can serve as a model for future growth of the unit being reviewed.
  • In comparison to similar departments in other institutions, what are the unit's strengths and weaknesses?
  • What metrics should be used to measure the unit's effectiveness and efficiency in the use of its resources?
  • What will the unit have to do to achieve or maintain international, national or regional competitiveness in the next decade?
  • What must the University do to aid in the unit’s competitiveness?

A Diverse and Stimulating Undergraduate Environment

  • Is there evidence of excellent instruction?  How well are students meeting the objectives/goals of the program?
  • How are assessments of student learning used to drive program improvement?
  • Do the educational offerings display academic rigor and coherence appropriate to the goals of the program?
  • Is the quality of the teaching/ instruction, academic rigor, and effectiveness comparable regardless of location or delivery mode?
  • Does the curriculum challenge students to excel in oral and written communication as well as in quantitative reasoning?
  • Are there appropriate extracurricular experiences to enhance student success?
  • Are incoming students academically strong and diverse?
  • Is strong advisement and mentoring available for all majors?
  • Are graduates placed in strong graduate programs or employed in the fields of their choice?

A Premier Research and Graduate University

  • Do the educational offerings display academic rigor and coherence? What is the evidence that faculty have substantially increased the level and impact of their scholarly quality and productivity?
  • Is interdisciplinary scholarship creating more collaborative research and innovative graduate programs?
  • Are graduate programs successful in recruiting highly qualified and diverse students and in placing them in desirable positions post-graduation?
  • Do students receive strong mentoring and complete their degrees in a timely manner?
  • Does faculty hiring give priority to excellence and diversity?
  • Does the unit have clear goals for student learning, including enhancing written and oral communication skills, strong measures to assess learning, and clearly articulated plans to improve the program based on the assessment of student learning outcomes?
  • How does the unit rank among those in similar institutions regarding research productivity and quality, external funding and teaching loads?

Excellence in Professional Education (if relevant)

  • Are professional programs successful in recruiting highly qualified and diverse students and in placing them in desirable positions post-graduation?
  • Do students receive strong mentoring and complete their degrees in a timely manner?
  • Do professional programs include a rigorous curriculum with preparation in writing and communicating?
  • Are faculty credentials appropriate for the program?
  • Is the quality of teaching/learning, academic rigor, and effectiveness comparable regardless of location or delivery mode?

Faculty and Staff

  • How well are faculty and staff resources being used?
  • Are faculty generating a level of external funding appropriate to the discipline/ field of study?
  • Are promotion and tenure policies appropriate to the unit's missions and aspirations?
  • Is the unit successfully hiring and promoting minority and women faculty?
  • Are faculty and staff workloads equitable? Is the unit's workload document appropriate and consistent with the academic priorities of the University?
  • Are staff positions and expectations clearly defined?
  • Does the unit provide development and training programs to faculty and staff?

Leadership

  • Does the unit's leadership take appropriate and timely action to ensure the unit's smooth functioning?
  • Does the unit's leadership interact appropriately with other University units, including the college dean's office?
  • Does the unit have an effective leadership development program in place?
  • Does the unit have a mission statement and long range plan that are endorsed by the faculty and that are used as the basis for annual planning?

Public Service

  • Is the unit meeting its public service obligations?
  • Is it performing a satisfactory amount of public service research and assistance?
  • Is it, where appropriate, making the effort to introduce students to professional public service opportunities?

Diversity

  • Is the unit taking appropriate steps to meet the University's goal to achieve a diverse faculty and student body, to offer multicultural courses, and to promote respect for all people?

University Citizenship

  • Is the unit providing good University citizenship?
  • Do its members encourage and contribute to interdisciplinary activities?
  • Should it concentrate its efforts and resources in a different way in order to create the greatest possible synergy throughout the University?

University Support

  • Is the unit receiving adequate support from its college and from the University at large in the context of budgetary constraints affecting higher education in general?
  • Are library and other resources appropriate to support the unit's programs?

Plans, Goals, and Resource Allocation

  • To what degree is the unit central to the academic priorities of the University and to the unit's college priorities?
  • How do the unit's plans and goals serve to fulfill its mission?
  • Is the unit trying to do too much?
  • What, if any, of the unit's requests for additional resources does the panel support, and why? How might the unit's resources be redistributed to realize its goals and those of the University?
  • Is the unit generating revenue through tuition and externally sponsored programs as appropriate and without compromising quality?
  • Evaluation of resource requests and recommendations must be framed under three budget scenarios, i.e., a 20% reduced budget environment, constant budget environment, and a 20% increased budget environment.

Check List of Responsibilities

Academic year prior to site visit

Units selected for review.

Prior to site visit

Deputy Provost, Dean, and Unit Head plan timetable and composition of panel. 

Prior to site visit

Unit Head communicates review plans to unit faculty.

Prior to site visit

Dean of college whose unit is under review appoints one external member (or UD faculty member) to serve on review panel.

Prior to site visit

Faculty Senate Committee on Committees and Nominations recommends one UD faculty member to serve on the review panel.

Prior to site visit

Deputy Provost appoints two external members to review panel.

Prior to site visit

Academic unit under review appoints one external member (or UD faculty member) to serve on the review panel.

Prior to site visit

Dean works with unit head to establish time and set schedule for review process.

Prior to site visit

Unit under review conducts self study and prepares self study report; submits report to Dean and Deputy Provost at least 6-8 weeks prior to site visit.

Prior to site visit

Dean confirms travel/accommodations for external review panel members; confirms schedule for site visit.

1 month prior to site visit

Dean distributes self study document and other reports to review panel members.

2-4 weeks prior to site visit

Review Panel reviews self study requesting additional materials as necessary.

During site visit

Dean appoints one of the review panelists to serve as chair.

Ongoing

Deputy Provost, Dean, and Unit Head ensure that representatives from diverse constituencies within the unit are included in the review process.

Ongoing

Review Panel Chair ensures that internal and external review panel members work together throughout the review process.

 

 

1 month after site visit

Review Panel formulates written review panel report.  Panel Review Chair ensures that review panel report reflects interaction of all panel members; submits report to Dean.

2 months after site visit

Dean distributes review panel report to the Deputy Provost, Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education (if the unit has a graduate and/or professional program), Unit Head, and unit faculty.  Unit under review submits a response to the panel report to the Dean and Deputy Provost.

After site visit

If necessary, Deputy Provost, Dean, Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education, and Unit Head participate in follow-up meeting to discuss report recommendations and determine steps for implementation.

12 weeks after site visit

Dean prepares an action plan with timelines and assessment plan and distributes to Provost, Deputy Provost, Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education, and Unit Head.

After site visit

Provost and Deputy Provost meet with Faculty Senate Academic Priorities Committee to discuss outcome of unit's APR.