Program Evaluation

STATEMENT OF POLICY

SCOPE
This policy applies to all academic programs at Excelsior College.

This policy addresses the process and criteria for academic program review. This process aims to ensure that academic programs remain sustainable, relevant, and rigorous.

Program review at Excelsior College is a central component of the College’s Institutional Assessment Plan for Student Learning and is congruent with the “Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation” as set forth by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Academic program review serves four primary functions: 1) to provide an evaluation of the program’s strengths and weaknesses; 2) to provide faculty members with an opportunity for periodic self-examination; 3) to use the findings to develop and monitor strategies for continuous quality improvement; and 4) to reinforce the need for planning, collaboration and coordination among academic and support units. Improvements may relate to curriculum structure, instructor and faculty development, assessment practices, and/or other factors that impact student learning.

The Provost maintains this academic policy. Deans, associate deans, and faculty members are required to comply with this policy. Staff members in the Outcomes Assessment (OA) Unit in the Office of Analytics and Decision Support (ADS) facilitate the process. This document provides guidelines to be used by faculty program directors, school administrators, and other staff members in:

  • facilitating internal and external curricular review;
  • developing an evidence-based Program Review Report; and
  • implementing and developing action plans to address findings from the process.

The program review process emphasizes the connection between the review and improvement, planning, and decision making. It involves a multiple measures approach, and uses data from multiple sources to triangulate and inform judgements about program effectiveness. This approach ensures that the reviews contribute in an important way to the attainment of the College’s mission and that warranted recommendations for improvement are adequately resourced, supported by the institution, and acted upon.

PROCEDURE

I. Schedule: Each academic program at Excelsior College shall complete the program review process once every five to seven years.

II. Unit of Analysis: The degree-program will be the specific unit of analysis for each review. Certificate programs may be reviewed if requested by the Provost.

III. Evaluation Standards: Academic programs will be evaluated on the effectiveness of the program in meeting the following standards:

  • alignment with the College mission, strategic plan, and school mission;
  • quality program learning outcomes;
  • curricular currency and rigor;
  • adequate resources, including financial support, to achieve program goals;
  • a healthy financial profile;
  • adequate student support services required to meet student needs;
  • appropriate number of qualified, professional faculty members to support students in the program;
  • use of assessment results to guide program improvements;
  • student satisfaction in the program.
  1. The Program Review Report includes, but is not limited to, aggregated data from internal and external review of the curriculum and program learning outcomes, end-of-program assessments, program success data (e.g., retention and graduation rates), course evaluations, alumni surveys, and employer and/or graduate school advisor follow-up studies.
  2. Programs with specialized-accreditation may adjust the timing of their program review to coincide with the specialized accreditation review/self-study/visit or they may, with the approval of the Provost, have the specialized-accreditation self-study serve as a portion of the program review. The Provost will determine which portions of the specialized evaluation will function as part of the program review.
  3. Each academic program that is not accredited by a specialized accreditor is reviewed at least once every five-to-seven years. The Provost, in consultation with the deans, will determine whether a program falls within a five-year or seven-year cycle. This cycle will be based on the frequency in which the curriculum in a program changes due to external requirements or due to decisions at the executive leadership-level to grow or fix programs. The Provost reserves the right to require an external review of any program in this category at any time.
  4. Relationship between Program Review and Assessment: All degree and certificate programs continuously engage in assessing student learning. Ongoing review procedures related to the assessment of student learning are more fully documented in the Institutional Assessment Plan for Student Learning. Findings from program assessment processes will be considered by program representatives during the program review process.
  5. Schedule: A multi-year schedule for formal program review is determined by the Provost in consultation with the deans and is maintained by the staff members in the OA Unit. The procedure for the program review process is as follows:
    1. Communication: OA staff members will contact the school at least 12 months prior to the due date of the formal Program Review Report to plan the process. At that time, a
      schedule for the program review process will be agreed upon by the program leadership, faculty members, and OA staff members. In accordance with the practice of collaborative and participatory review, this schedule will include communication opportunities between the participants (e.g., school representatives, ADS staff members, Fiscal) and an outline of deliverables by all parties involved.
    2. Internal Curriculum Review: OA will provide the review instrument and an overview of the internal curriculum review process to the school dean, associate dean, and faculty program director(s) for the program. The faculty program director(s) will prepare an internal curriculum review using the template provided by the OA Unit
    3. External Curriculum Review: Three external reviewers from the discipline will be chosen to take part in the curriculum review. OA staff members will facilitate the external curriculum reviews and will provide a report to the responsible faculty program director, associate dean, and dean.
    4. Program Data: During the year an academic program undergoes review, the OA Unit will provide the program leadership with data to inform the process such as assessment reports, final curriculum review reports, financial profile, program success data, alumni survey results, and other relevant data. The responsible faculty program director(s), dean, and associate dean will review the data.
    5. Program Review Report: The dean responsible for the program under review will prepare the final Program Review Report in an electronic format and send it, plus any supporting documents/electronic files, to the Provost’s Office by the agreed-upon due date. The report should identify any action items to be taken to address recommendations from the external curriculum reviewers and other steps to improve the program. A copy of this report should also be submitted to the OA Unit for documentation.
    6. Meeting to Discuss Findings: The Provost will convene a meeting with the dean of the program under review, the responsible faculty program director, and OA staff members to discuss the findings from the process.
    7. Provost’s Summary Report: The Provost will prepare a summary report which will include:
      • a response to the recommendations described in the Program Review Report;
      • an evaluation of the financial profile of the program;
      • any additional recommendations, such as to investigate further whether to continue, revise, or eliminate the program.

      Decisions for programs to be started, stopped, sustained, or grown will be determined by the Provost in collaboration with the Executive Staff following a separate program portfolio evaluation to be conducted approximately every five years

    8. Documentation and Follow-Up: The Provost’s summary report will be sent to the dean and Executive Director, Institutional Outcomes Assessment, within 30 days of the receipt of the program review. OA Unit staff members will ensure that findings from the review are available to relevant stakeholders. The Provost will prioritize action items from the process and monitor responses.
  6. Continuous Quality Improvement Process: OA staff members will support the program leadership and faculty members in creating a schedule for implementation and follow-up
    regarding any appropriate program revisions identified by the Provost. OA staff members will work with the school leadership to facilitate a process to follow-up on recommendations from the Provost’s response to the program review OA staff members will support the school leadership in documenting responses to action items. Should the Provost determine that the program, for whatever reason, no longer meets the standards or needs of Excelsior College, the program will be referred for program elimination
  7. Communication: Once the program evaluation process is complete, the report plus related materials will be available through an EC Share point site. The report and the recommended program improvements will then be communicated to the Academic Affairs Council, the faculty members (for implementation), the College President and the Academic Affairs and Student Experience Committee of the Board of Trustees
  8. Support: Campus-level support is available to program stakeholders through the program review process. Questions regarding program review should be directed to the Executive Director, Institutional Outcomes Assessment.