SAUP Program Review: Overview and Guidelines
Why We Do Program Reviews (in order of importance):
- Help improve the department's contribution to the university's mission.
- Help improve departmental performance in support of the unit's mission, vision, and values.
- Help improve our service to our constituents.
- In compliance with university policy.
- In compliance with SACSCOC mandates for continuous performance improvement.
Program Review Phases
Phase 1: Self-Study Phase
Phase 1 of each program review consists of a self-study led by the director that will occur over a 90-day timeframe. This self-study will include:
- A review and update (if appropriate) of departmental mission, vision, values, and organizational chart.
- An analysis of the department's performance against national standards. Often these are the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) standards. However, the director, working with the AVP and committee co-chairs, will select the national standards to be referenced prior to the beginning of the review. This discussion will be held at the opening program review meeting. (Accreditation standards are applicable.)
- A departmental SWOT analysis
- An update of relevant policies or procedures
- A review of recommendations established during the department's previous program review
The product of Phase 1 will be a "self-study binder" that will include, at least, the following content.
- Updated mission, vision, and values statements
- Organization chart
- Updated written key departmental policies and procedures
- Results of most recent student learning assessment activities, if applicable
- Results of most recent constituent/customer surveys/focus groups
- Narrative of the results of the analysis of the department's performance against the national standards chosen, including relevant data.
- Report on recommendations established during the previous program review
- Key short- and long-term objectives/initiatives
- Department SWOT analysis results
- Other information as appropriate for department being studied
Phase 2: Committee Phase
In Phase 2 of each review, the assigned co-chairs will assemble and lead a committee that will review the self-study, conduct its own research, and present a program review report. In this phase, key campus stakeholders must be given the opportunity to evaluate the department's programs and services. Additionally, the departmental director and AVP may identify one or two targeted topics of interest or concern for study by the program review committee. The size and make-up of the program review committee are at the discretion of the departmental director, AVP, and co-chairs. While staff members from Institutional Research are available to assist with any step in the program review process, it is generally most effective to include someone from IR on each program review committee.
The Committee Phase may also include review by an external source. In the initial program review meeting, (involving the AVP, director, and review co-chairs) it may be determined that an external reviewer would be helpful in conducting the review. This is something that should be strongly considered. The external reviewer is an off-campus expert in the department's work. This may be a paid external consultant or a peer at another Commonwealth institution. (For instance, the Director of Institutional Research at George Mason might be invited to conduct a review of JMU's Office of Institutional Research during its program review.) Costs associated with any payment related to external review will come from the department's budget.
The Program Review Report
The program review co-chairs draft the report with the assistance of the committee members and in consultation with the AVP and director.
View/Download the Program Review Final Report Guide (PDF file)
Sample Program Review Report (PDF file)
Sample Program Review Subcommittee Report 1 (PDF file)
Sample Program Review Subcommittee Report 2 (PDF file)
Sample Program Review Subcommittee Report 3 (PDF file)
- Initial Meeting with AVP, Director, and Program Review Committee Co-Chairs
This meeting is led by the AVP of the unit being studied. The key participants review divisional program review requirements together, create the master schedule, determine national standards to be used, come to an agreement on the content of the study binder, discuss likely committee members, determine any use of an external reviewer, etc. In essence, this meeting ensures that all of the review leaders are on the same page. It must be held by the scheduled date.
- Self-Study Begins
The director begins the work of conducting the unit self-study according to divisional guidelines. This self-study may take up to 100 days and must be completed by the scheduled date.
- Second Meeting Between AVP, Director, and Program Review Committee Co-Chairs
This meeting ensures that they key leaders are abreast of all of the activities related to the review. They also discuss any adjustments to be made to the plan. This is primarily an information sharing and update meeting and it must be held by the scheduled date.
- The Committee Phase Begins
The co-chairs have selected and invited the committee members and the committee's work begins. The committee phase may take up to 100 days and must be completed (in the form of the report being finalized) by the scheduled date.
- Draft Report to AVP and Director
After the first draft of the report is created, it should be sent to the AVP and director for review. The AVP and director review the report carefully and provide feedback to the committee co-chairs for the improvement of the report. The co-chairs may make improvements to the report based on the AVP/director feedback and/or may include the AVP and/or director responses to certain elements of the report verbatim as added narrative in the report. The AVP, director and co-chairs work together to determine how to incorporate AVP/director feedback into the final version of the report.
- Final Report Sent to the Senior VP and Program Review Coordinator
Once finalized, the co-chairs email the final version of the report to Mark, copying Brian and Tina for the divisional program review archives. This must be submitted by the scheduled date.
- Final Meeting with the Senior Vice President, AVP, Director, and Unit Co-Chairs
At this final meeting, Mark, the AVP, and the director decide which of the program review recommendations will be made departmental objectives. Following the meeting, the AVP and director ensure the recommendations (as objectives) are entered into the department's planning database.
- Debriefing with Director and Department
Following the approval of the recommendations, the director meets with the members of the department to review the program review process and report, with a particular emphasis on discussing the recommendations that became objectives and the implication of those objectives both for individual members of the department and the department as a whole.
Senior Vice President for Student Affairs and University Planning
- Establish and monitor the division's program review policy and procedure
- Read and analyze program review reports
- At the conclusion of each review, meet with the unit AVP, director, and committee co-chairs to establish the list of resulting recommendations that the department will track using the university's planning database.
AVP (ultimately responsible for the effective review of relevant departments)
- Oversee unit program reviews
- Ensure deadlines are met
- Meet with the unit director and committee chairs at stages throughout the process
- Ensure that the review analyzes the entire unit performance (rather than just individual elements)
- Review the draft report generated by the co-chairs and offer advice and feedback
- Meet with the Senior Vice President, director, and co-chairs at the conclusion of the review
- Conduct/oversee the program review self-study
- Generate the self-study binder for submission to the co-chairs and committee members
- Coordinate the program review along with the co-chairs
- Lead and/or participate in relevant meetings throughout the process
- Assist the director and AVP as needed
- Ensure deadlines are met
- Assemble and lead the program review committee
- Lead the analysis of the self-study binder
- Lead the committee's research efforts
- Write the program review report
- Meet with the Senior Vice President, AVP, and director at the conclusion of the review
- Review and analyze the self-study binder
- Assist in the research process (standards analysis, focus groups, surveys, etc.)
- Assist with the drafting of the program review report
Program Review Intended Outcomes
- To provide the department being reviewed with the opportunity to evaluate its operation and identify ways in which the department is functioning well and to identify areas in which functions may be improved.
- To compare the department's status and performance with national standards (i.e., CAS),
- To seek perspectives on the department's performance from campus constituents (staff, faculty, and students).
- To provide the senior vice president and the department's AVP with evaluative feedback about the department, suggestions for improvement, and a plan of action.