WCSU Faculty Handbook : Curriculum and Academic Standards

Academic Program Review Process

  1. Purpose and Rationales mandated by the BOR

    1. All WCSU undergraduate and graduate degree programs approved by the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education and all BOR approved Centers will undergo review every seven years*.  Scheduled program 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 New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE). The program review is intended to be a rigorous, collegial, and supportive process. It is a peer review process including Department faculty, external evaluators, deans, appropriate governance bodies, and the provost.
      *For programs with specialized accreditation, the most recent self-study or mid-cycle report may be submitted as the program self-study and action plan. However, care must be taken to align that report with the criteria described hereafter. A summary of that alignment should be included in the Program Review Materials.
  2. Contents of Program Review Self Study

    1. Purposes (Mission, Goals, Objectives, Vision): The Departmental Program Review Committee (DPRC) should examine and when necessary suggest revisions of the program’s mission, goals, and/or objectives to ensure congruence with the University’s mission and Strategic Plan. Documents to be consulted include: The University Mission, Vision, Values, and Strategic Plan, the Program Mission and Vision, Program Mission and Strategic Plan (where applicable), Program Annual Reports, Accreditation Standards (NECHE or discipline specific).
    2. Evaluation of Curriculum: The DPRC should evaluate the curriculum from internal and external perspectives.
      1. Internal perspectives should focus on the organization of curriculum, the relevance and communication of the program learning outcomes. To do this the DPRC should review:
        1. The organization of the curriculum to ensure that courses are clearly aligned with the program learning outcomes. Evidence for this alignment will be found in course outlines and syllabi, which should include relevant program learning outcomes.
        2. The sequencing of requirements and course pre-requisites to ensure that they are logical and support student success.
        3. A review of any requirements outside of the major (cognates) and a description of their relevance to success in the major. Examples of such relevance may include syllabi from the major that build on the knowledge from the cognate, e.g., nursing syllabi assume knowledge of anatomy and physiology, meteorology syllabi assume knowledge of calculus.
      2. External perspectives may include comparisons with peer programs at other universities, comparisons with national or international standards or guidelines, advisory committee reports, and specialized accreditation standards where applicable.
    3. Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes: The DPRC should review direct and indirect assessments of the program learning outcomes as part of the evaluation of the program’s effectiveness.
      1. For direct assessment, the DPRC should examine the full program assessment plan and results of the last five years to see that the plans are appropriate to the kinds of evaluation needed and that the results are used to improve curriculum. Materials to be consulted are: a complete assessment plan and description of the protocol, assessment results for the last five years, records of any changes to curriculum or pedagogy that resulted from the review of assessment results. All of the above should be documented on the NECHE E Series forms as a summary.
      2. For indirect assessment, the DPRC should examine any documents that reflect external assessments of the program or student success after graduation. Materials to be consulted may include: employment rates (overall and/or in field) one or more years after graduation, rates of graduate/professional school applications and acceptances, surveys of supervisors of student teachers and/or interns/co-op/practicum students, surveys of recent graduates and/or other alumni, assessments of co-curricular activities relevant to the program, and descriptions of any changes made based on this data.
    4. Student Enrollment, Retention, Satisfactory Progress and Graduation Rates (See NECHE Data First forms): The DPRC should review the baseline program data for the last 5 years to determine the health of the program in its current state. Baseline Program data includes five year data on the following: FTE in the major, Retention rates, Six Year Graduation rates, Demographic information (gender, ethnicity, first generation). Additional data may include: percent of students on academic probation and on the Dean’s list, evaluation of gateway courses and their impact on student progress to degree completion, impact of program specific recruiting efforts, and assessment of any department-wide advising efforts where applicable.
    5. Assessment of Resource Needs: The DPRC should examine the program resources (human, physical and fiscal) in terms of their adequacy in supporting the program in its effort to meet its mission, goals and objectives.
      1. For faculty and staff, the DPRC should review faculty credentials to determine if they are appropriate to discipline and determine sufficiency of current staffing to support the program. Consider the ability to staff regular course rotations, faculty-student ratio, advising loads, and adjunct ratios.
      2. For facilities, the DPRC should describe the spaces and technologies allocated to this program, and determine if they are sufficient for current needs and if there a need to expand facilities in the next 7 years based on your enrollment and curriculum plans.
    6. Public Disclosure and Integrity: The DPRC should review the program’s compliance with Federal and NECHE standards with regard to public disclosure and integrity. This includes all communication about the program in the university catalog (print and electronic versions), websites, Facebook and other social media.
    7. Evaluation, Planning and Projections: The DPRC should review all information in the report to develop an overall assessment of the program’s quality and viability. From this information, the DPRC should develop an action plan for the next seven (7) years to address any curriculum, enrollment, or staffing challenges, or opportunities for growth. The plan should describe the aspects of the program that will be maintained, deleted, and/or modified and those changes should be discussed in relation to program quality, enrollment projections, and resource implications. In the event that program closure is recommended, a plan to accommodate existing students in the program should be developed.
    8. Required Appendices
      1. Baseline Program Data from the past five years (Data First Forms)
      2. Assessment Plans, NECHE Forms E Series, Assessment Reports and Data from the past five years.
      3. For programs with discipline specific accreditation, a map of how NECHE and the discipline standards are aligned.
      4. Report from External Evaluators
  3. Role and Selection of External Evaluators

    The program review process includes an external evaluation to provide feedback and guidance from qualified faculty and/or professionals in the discipline. For programs with specialized accreditation, the selection process and format of such a report will conform to the accrediting body’s guidelines. For those programs with NECHE accreditation only, the following guidelines should be followed:

    1. The DPRC will suggest to the Dean up to six (6) potential candidates to serve as external evaluators. Candidates shall include individuals from NECHE institutions and/or practitioners in the field and/or members of professional associations related to the discipline.
    2. The Dean will review the curriculum vitae of potential external evaluators with the Provost before approving the team of evaluators. A team will usually include two (2) evaluators. In case of a disagreement in the selection of candidates, the Dean and DPRC will meet to resolve the issue.
    3. 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).
  4. Program Review Timeline

    1. Year 1
      1. Notification of the start of a program review from the Provost by May 1.
      2. Selection of Departmental Program Review Committee (DPRC) at the first department meeting in September.
      3. Collection of self-study data by the committee, facilitated by the office of Institutional Research and Assessment completed by January 30.
      4. Recommendations for external evaluation to the appropriate Dean by February 1.
      5. The Dean, in consultation with the Provost selects two external evaluators. (For programs with discipline specific accreditation, the protocol will follow the recommendations of the accrediting body).
      6. Analysis of data and preparation of the Self Study Report completed by May 1. The maximum length of the report is six (6) pages, excluding appendices. The DPRC submits the document to the program’s faculty, Chair, and Dean for review and reaction. If revisions are necessary, they should be incorporated into the report no later than the start of the fall term.
    2. Year 2
      1. Self-study report and action plan are submitted to the external evaluators no later than September 15.
      2. External evaluators conduct a site visit no later than the second week in November.
      3. External evaluators submit a written report to the Department and Dean by December 15.
      4. The Dean and DPRC review the report of the external evaluators. If the DPRC wishes to respond to the external review, that response is due to the Dean by January 15.
      5. The Dean provides a summary report and any recommendations, and all Program Review Materials (Program Review Report, Action Plan, and External Evaluation) to the Provost by February 1.
      6. The Provost forwards all program review documents to the appropriate Senate Committee (CUCAS or the Graduate Council) by February 15.
      7. The Senate committee reviews all documents and makes a recommendation to the Provost later than April 1.
      8. The Provost submits all relevant documents to the President in May.
      9. The Provost provides the DPRC and Dean with written reactions and recommendations by July 1.
      10. The Provost submits a summary report to Board of Regents by September 1st.
    3. Year 3-7 Implementation of the Action Plan


Passed by University Senate: 10/17/1984

Approved by President: 11/4/1984

Rev. Senate Approval:  R-12-05-04

 Admin. Approval 5/10/12

Passed by University Senate 4/19/2017