Research Method Used When Targets Cautions Notes
Assessment/ Comparison Against Industry Standard To measure the department's performance
against a known and accepted best practice
standard outside the university.
CAS or some other standard to be determined
during the initial meeting.
Choose a standard that is appropriate for
measuring true unit performance.

A written analysis (with data) of this
comparison is part of each self-study binder.

Used for all reviews

External Reviewer An expert, outside opinion will contribute
to the research effort.
Paid consultants, industry experts, peers at
other universities. Conducts an on-campus
visit, interviews department members,
consults with committee members, writes a
report and sends to co-chairs to be
considered in drafting the final report.
Represents just one person's view. If a
paid consultant, could add significantly to
the cost of the review.
• Discuss at the initial meeting
• Write expectations for the reviewer
• Provide guidelines for writing the report

Used for almost all reviews

Personal Interviews The committee needs to quickly learn the
key issues affecting the department.
Members of the department, key constituents. These are just individual opinions and
perceptions. Look for trends across all

When how a department functions internally is
to be studied, it can help to interview several
people in the department to hear their views.

Used for almost all reviews

Focus Group Perceptions of the department are
needed. Ideas about department
improvement from key constituents would
be valuable.
Various. A review may consider multiple focus
groups, one for students, one of internal
department members, one of professional
colleagues, etc.
A focus group is a moderated discussion,
not the vehicle for delivering a survey.
The goal is the communication of
unrehearsed, top-of-mind perceptions.

• Often used to help write surveys
• 8-12 persons per group with a
• Good notes should always be taken

Used for many reviews

Survey The department has a large number of
core customers/constituents throughout
the campus or off. When trending
information from a large group of people
is needed.
Those who are most likely to use the
department's services.
The survey instrument should be
carefully crafted. Keep a central focus on
what you want to learn and do not stray.
Keep it very brief, be specific

It is recommended that every program review
committee include a member of the Office of
Institutional Research. That person can be
helpful in guiding survey and other research.

Used for many reviews

Peer Study The department is involved in highly
specific and/or technical work where it us
unrealistic to assume that members of the
committee will have much knowledge of
the department's work.
Multiple persons at other
universities/institutions who perform the
same or similar work.
Each peer will respond to the research
out of the context of his or her particular
institution. Keep in mind the uniqueness
of JMU and the department.

CSDC, Res Life, and OIR may be key areas
where a peer study will help because of the
nature of the work.

Used for some reviews

Document Review Used when the committee feels that
communication and information flow and
processing may be at issue.
Documents, manuals, websites, etc. Since every department generates
volumes of information, it will be
important to narrow the focus. You
cannot review everything.

Especially important for a department that
depends a great deal on its website for
customer service.

Used for some reviews

Internal Process Study Used when a department's internal data
flow and information process is directly
tied to customer service success.
Work flow charts, interviews with members of
the department, department data entry
policies, etc.
Members of the program review
committee may not have enough
knowledge to make significant
recommendations. Therefore, this
subcommittee may take considerable
Used for some reviews

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