Faculty Handbook


Academic Program Review Process

Purpose and rationale

  1. All WCSU undergraduate and graduate degree programs approved by the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education and all academic program options with program sheets will undergo review every seven years.  Scheduled academic reviews are an integral part of the University's strategic planning process.  They support ongoing efforts to demonstrate institutional effectiveness and maintain accreditation by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE).
  2. In order to create and sustain quality programs, WestConn shall:  (a) carefully examine the integrity of all academic programs; (b) gain and maintain a competitive advantage in the recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and staff; (c) use findings from the assessment of student learning outcomes to enhance curriculum and instruction; and (d) analyze and project resource needs and policy implications.
  3. The Provost will announce the program review schedule by May 1 of each year for the following academic year.


  1. The academic program review process should facilitate improvement of the quality of the academic programs at WestConn.
  2. Units undergoing the academic program review process will document and analyze the current status of their program(s) in terms of :  (1) the alignment with the University's stated purposes (vision/mission/goals/objectives); (2) the operational requirements of the program, including the human, physical and fiscal resources necessary to operate units and their programs(s), within their size and scope, in order to meet stated purposes; (3) the outcomes of program activities and student learning relative to stated unit and program purposes; (4) the viability of (the) program(s) in relation to stated purposes, based on quantitative and qualitative analysis; (5) Public Disclosure and Integrity; and (6) Evaluation, Planning, and Projections.
  3. The academic program review process shall identify program goals and needs over the next seven years, as well as delineate an action plan for achieving these goals.
  4. Departments scheduled for review of one or more academic programs will undertake the following three-year process.

a. Program faculty meet with the provost for orientation to the program review process.

b. Faculty select a Departmental Program Review Committee (DPRC).  In many cases it makes sense for all faculty in a department to work on the review process.

c. the DPRC makes recommendations for external evaluation, which may or may not include on-site visitation, to the appropriate Dean.

d. Deans, in consultation with the Provost, typically may select up to two external evaluators. 1

e. The DPRC conducts a review and evaluation of the six (6) categories listed in number 2 above.

f. The program review committee writes a self-study report including an action plan addressing its recommendations.  The maximum length of the report is five (5) pages, excluding appendices.  The committee submits the document to the program's faculty, chair and dean for review and reaction.

g. If necessary, the self-study report will be revised and resubmitted to the dean.

h. The external evaluator(s), receive the self-study report, conduct a site visit (if necessary), and submit a written report tot he Dean and the DPRC.

i. After reviewing the external evaluators' report, the program review committee will revise the action plan portion of the self study report as needed and submit it to the dean for review and recommendations.

j. The Dean adds a summary statement and submits the self-study with its action plan to the Provost for review and reaction.

k. The Provost reviews all documents associated with the program review--including past reviews, if any exist--and forwards all of the review documents tot he appropriate committee (either CUCAS or Graduate Council) for review and recommendations.

l. CUCAS or Grad Council examines the self-study and makes recommendations tot he provost

m. The Provost submits written reactions and, where appropriate, recommendations to the program review committee and tot he University community.

1 While NEASC standards for program review require "external perspective," some programs may not require on-site visitation by the external evaluators.  In these cases, the external evaluator(s) will submit a report based on an off-site evaluation of the program, in consultation with the DPRC and the Dean.

Contents of Program self-study

1. Purposes (Mission, Goals, Objectives, Vision)

a. Program review committee examines and when necessary suggests revision of the program's mission, goals, and/or objectives to ensure congruence with the University's mission.

b. The program review committee analyzes program statistics and other available local and national demographic information to determine present and future demand for the program.

2.Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes

a. The most recent NEASC Series E and S Form(s)--a required section of every academic department's annual report--should be compared to the program's stated goals and objectives for student learning.

b. Series E Form(s) should be examined for appropriate analysis of achievement of student learning outcomes (quantitative and/or qualitative).

c. Series E Form(s) should be examined for evidence that curriculum and/or instruction has been modified, where appropriate, in response to assessment results.

3. Resources

The program review committee examines the program organization and resources (human, physical and fiscal) in terms of their adequacy in supporting the program in its effort to meet its mission, goals and objectives.

4. Viability

The DPRC reviews the program's viability in relation to its stated purposes, taking in to account baseline program data (Appendix A), the program's alignment with the current strategic plan, and intangible benefits to the university, community, and region.

5. Public Disclosure and Integrity

the DPRC reviews the program's compliance with Federal and NEASC standards with regards to public disclosure and integrity.  This includes:

a. The university catalog (print and electronic versions)

b. Websites

c. Facebook and Social Media presence

d. Verification of claims of the accomplishments of current students, graduates, faculty, and staff

6. Evaluation, Planning and Projections

7. Required Appendices

Appendix A

Baseline Program Data

Attach NEASC Forms S Series

Appendix B

Assessment Reports and Data

Attach NEASC Forms E Series

The DPRC reviews the program's internal and external evaluation (if appropriate) processes to determine to what extent the decision making process is guided by stated purposes.

action plan

  1. As part of the self-study process, the program review committee will prepare and submit a document explaining the program's action plan for the next seven years.
  2. The focus of the action plan should be on the aspects of the program that will be maintained, deleted, and/or modified to ensure the achievement of the program's objectives in a cost effective manner.
  3. External evaluators, dean, and program faculty will review the self-study report's action plan and make recommendations.
  4. A final version of the action plan will be prepared by the program review committee and submitted tot he dean and the Provost.


Year 1

  • Orientation of program personnel to the review process by Provost
  • Selection of Program Review Committee
  • Collection and analysis of self-study data by the committee, facilitated by the office of Institutional Research and Assessment.
  • Preparation of the Self Study Report and action plan by the Program Review Committee
  • Dean reviews the Self Study Report and action plan and makes recommendations
  • Selection and approval of external evaluators

Year 2

  • Program faculty review the Self Study Report and action plan, submitting reactions tot he Program Review Committee
  • Dean reviews and submits written reactions to the Program Review Committee
  • If necessary, the Self Study Report and action plan will be revised
  • Self Study Report and Action Plan are submitted tot he external evaluators
  • External evaluators conduct a site visit during the fall semester
  • External evaluators submit a written report tot he department and dean by January 15
  • Program Review Committee and the dean review the external evaluators' written report
  • Program Review Committee revised the action plan, if necessary, and submits the action plan tot he program faculty for review by April 30
  • Revisions to the action plan will be made, as necessary
  • Dean reviews all relevant documents (self study, external evaluators' report and action plan), writes a summary statement and submits all documentation to the Provost by May 31

Year 3

  • Deans and Provost review all program review documents and prepare a summary cover page
  • Provost forwards all program review documents with summary cover sheet to the appropriate University Senate committee (CUCAS or Grad Council) by October 15
  • The Senate committee reviews all documents and makes a recommendation to the Provost by April 1
  • Provost submits all relevant documents to the President by May
  • Provost provides the Program Review Committee and dean with written reactions (and recommendations where appropriate) by July 1

Years 4-7

  • Implementation of the program's action plan

external evaluators

  1. During the first year of the three-year cycle, the faculty shall recommend a maximum of two external evaluators tot he dean.
  2. The external evaluators shall include individuals from NEASC institutions and/or practitioners in the field and/or members of professional associations.
  3. The dean will review the curriculum vitae of potential external evaluators before approving the team of evaluators.  In case of a disagreement, the dean and program review committee will meet to resolve the issue.
  4. The dean will contact the recommended individuals and make arrangements concerning duties, timeline, and compensation (travel, honoraria, and additional stipend for writing the final report).
  5. The dean will send the external evaluators copies of the program review committee's self study report and action plan at least two weeks prior tot he site visit.
  6. If a site visit is recommended, a one or two-day visit by the evaluator(s) will be scheduled.  Ideally, the visit should occur during the fall semester of the second year of the cycle.
  7. If a site-visit is scheduled, the evaluator(s) will meet with all program faculty, program chair, dean, Provost, students, alumni, and representatives from the community who employ or provide field experience sites for program students.
  8. If a site-visit is scheduled, the opportunity for structured as well as unstructured meetings with program faculty should be planned for the external evaluators.
  9. If a site-visit is not scheduled, the external evaluator(s) will conduct a remote review utilizing a variety of means of assessment, including video conferencing, teleconferencing and web-based communication and presentation.
  10. The external evaluators' written report shall be submitted within one month of the visit and shall address the strengths and weaknesses of the program together with the viability of the action plan.

suggested indicators for academic program review


1. Curriculum

a. Pass rates on Licensure/Certification Exams (examples: NCLEX-RN, Praxis II)

b. Results of portfolio evaluation, capstone course projects, juried performances and/or comprehensive exams

c. Results of pretest-posttest comparisons

d. Reports of external evaluators, employers, and advisory committees

e. Benchmark comparisons with peer programs at other universities


2. Student Enrollment, Retention, Satisfactory Progress and Graduation Rates

a. Efforts of program faculty to recruit, retain, and graduate students

b. Efforts of University staff to recruit, retain, and graduate students

c. Advisement efforts

d. Mentoring, tutoring, and/or learning communities

e. Student involvement in co-curricular and/or community activities

f. Diversity of student population

g. Retention rates of students one year, two years and three years after matriculation

h. Persistence rates between Year 1 and Year 2

i. Graduation rates after four, five, and six years

j. Analysis of cumulative credits and grade point averages

k.Analysis of withdrawing students' reasons for leaving


3. Faculty Characteristics

a. Faculty credentials appropriate to discipline

b. Faculty development, community service, and scholarly activities

c. New Options and/or initiatives

4. Placement of Program Graduates

a. Employment rates (overall and/or in field) one or more years after graduation

b. Rates of graduate/professional school applications and acceptances

5. Survey Evidence

a. Surveys of supervisors of student teachers and/or interns/co-op/practicum students

b. Surveys of recent graduates and/or other alumni of the program

c. Surveys of current students

d. Changes made or contemplated as a result of analyses of survey data

6. Accreditation

a. State or regional accreditation efforts

b. National accreditation efforts

7. Intangible Outcomes

a. Benefits to University community

b. Benefits to external community

Passed by University Senate: Oct. 17, 1984
Approved by President: Nov. 4, 1984

Rev. Senate Approval:  R-12-05-04

Admin. Approval 5/10/12

Related Links: