Program Evaluation

Statement of Policy

Overview of the Review Process
The program evaluation process at Excelsior College is intended to guide and support a culture of continuous quality improvement in the provision of student services and academic programs. By providing an ample body of evidence, program evaluation contributes to the assessment of institutional goals, provides useful information for data-driven strategic planning and decision-making, and guides the improvement of academic programs.

The College employs a multiple measures approach in its program evaluation, gathering data from multiple sources to triangulate and inform judgments about program effectiveness. The information collected and the reports produced through the process of program evaluation are also used to provide evidence to regulatory bodies, accrediting organizations, and other groups external to the College. Program evaluation at Excelsior College is congruent with the "Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education Eligibility Requirements and Standards for Accreditation" as set forth by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Procedure

A. Each academic program at Excelsior College shall undergo program evaluations at no more than five-year intervals. The nature of this program evaluation is twofold: to provide the School and the administration a clear assessment of the program's strengths and weaknesses; and to provide the School with an opportunity for periodic self-examination.

B. The specific unit of analysis for each program will be the major or area of specialization of the degree or certificate program.

C. Due to the nontraditional nature of the College, there will be two levels of program evaluation. Programs in which Excelsior College offers 50 percent or more of the courses and/or examinations required for the major will undergo a comprehensive program evaluation. Other programs in which students must transfer in the majority of the credits required for completion of the degree or certificate will undergo a modified program evaluation.

D. All programs leading to a degree or certificate will be governed by the following program evaluation plans.

Programs undergoing a comprehensive evaluation must meet the following Excelsior College standards:

  • Congruence with the Excelsior College mission and strategic plan
  • Congruence with the School's mission
  • Well-defined, measurable learning outcomes by which all program graduates are evaluated
  • Commitment of adequate resources to achieve program goals
  • Adequate student support services that are unique to the needs of the program
  • Qualified, professional faculty
  • Current, rigorous, and achievable program curriculum
  • Financial profile
  • Use of assessment results for program improvement
  • Attention to environmental factors, societal need and demand, occupational and market considerations
  • Evidence of student satisfaction

1. The evaluation report includes, but is not limited to, aggregated data collected, analyzed and summarized from reviews of the curriculum and student outcomes, end-of-program assessments, program success data over a five-year period (e.g., retention and graduation rates), course evaluations, graduate follow-up surveys, and employer and/or graduate school advisor follow-up studies.

2. Academic programs that are accredited by a specialized national accreditor conduct program evaluations as part of their accreditation process. Working together with the Institutional Effectiveness office (IE), these programs periodically create a program evaluation report that is submitted to the specialized accreditor. If the accrediting agency does not require a report at least every five years, the program should still conduct internal evaluations on a cycle of at least every five years. Therefore, programs that fall under this category may wish to adjust the timing of their program evaluation to coincide with the accreditation review or they may, with the approval of the provost, have the accreditation self-study serve as a portion of the internal program evaluation. However, all of the above criteria must be addressed; any significant program changes since the last external review must also be identified.

3. Each academic program which is not accredited by a specialized national accreditor is formally evaluated at least once every five years. All of the above standards must be addressed. The provost reserves the right to require an external review of any program in this category at any time.

4. Programs where students must meet 50 percent or more of the requirements for the major through external courses or examinations will undergo a modified program evaluation that includes a complete curriculum review as well as a review of the program's financial health (including enrollments) and a review of the program's end-of-course assessment, e.g. capstone. The program evaluation report will include, but will not be limited to: reviews of the curriculum requirements, student outcomes, end-of-program assessments, program success data over a five year period (e.g., retention and graduation rates), graduate follow-up surveys, and employer and/or graduate school faculty follow-up studies.

Programs undergoing modified programs evaluations must meet the following Excelsior College standards:

  • Congruence with the Excelsior College mission and strategic plan
  • Congruence with the School's mission
  • Well-defined, measurable learning outcomes by which all program graduates are evaluated
  • Commitment of adequate resources to achieve program goals
  • Current, rigorous, and achievable program curricular requirements
  • Financial profile
  • Use of assessment results for program improvement
  • Attention to environmental factors, societal need and demand, occupational and market considerations
  • Evidence of student satisfaction

E. All degree and certificate programs undergo program evaluation on a continual basis. Ongoing review procedures related to the assessment of student learning are more fully documented in the Institutional Assessment Plan for Student Learning (IAPSL).

F. A multi-year schedule for formal program evaluation, self-studies, and accreditation reviews is determined by the provost in consultation with the Deans and is maintained by the IE office. The procedure for all program evaluations is as follows:

1. IE will contact the school at least 12 months prior to the due date of the formal evaluation. At that time, a schedule for the program evaluation will be agreed upon by the program and IE. In accordance with the practice of collaborative and participatory evaluation, this schedule will include communication needs between the participants (school representatives, IE staff, Center for Online Education, Learning, and Academic Services (COELAS), Enrollment Management, Marketing, Budgets and Financial Analysis, etc.) and an outline of deliverables by all parties involved.

2. The School in which the program is housed is responsible for preparing the self-study which must include recommendations for program improvement. IE can assist in conducting curriculum reviews and will provide reports on the results of alumni, employer and graduate faculty surveys.

3. The dean responsible for the program under evaluation will prepare the final report in an electronic format and send the self-study, plus any supporting documents/electronic files, to the provost office by the agreed-upon due date.

4. The provost will convene a meeting with the dean of the program under review to discuss the self-study.

5. The provost will prepare a summary report on the program evaluation. The summary report will include:

  • A response to the recommendations in the self-study
  • A review of the financial profile of the program
  • A determination whether to continue, revise or eliminate the Program
  • Any additional recommendations from the provost.

6. The provost's summary report will be sent to the dean within 30 days of the receipt of the self-study.

7. The provost will share the results of the program evaluation with the Executive Staff and the Board of Trustees.

G. Continuous Quality Improvement Process: An agreed-upon schedule for implementation and follow-up regarding any appropriate program revisions will be created. The report and the recommended program improvements will then be communicated to the Academic Affairs Council (AAC), the academic staff (for implementation), the college president and the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees. Should it be determined that the program, for whatever reason, no longer meets the standards or needs of Excelsior College, the program will be referred for program elimination. The policy and procedures for the elimination of academic programs is covered under Policy 001 Program Evaluation.

H. Once the program evaluation process is complete, the report plus related materials will be available through the Program Evaluation Repository on the Excelsior College SharePoint site.