Program Review Uses

The program review process is designed to sustain and strengthen the contributions of departments and programs to student learning, scholarly and artistic work, and the mission of the college as a whole.  Both the process and the results provide significant opportunities for reflection on the aims and accomplishments of a given program.

Uses by program faculty

  • Articulating program mission and vision and connecting them to the mission and vision of the College. The mission and vision of a program are important in their own right and in the distinctive contributions they make to the mission and vision of the College.
  • Building consensus around program goals and objectives. A clear and succinct statement of program goals and objectives provides a helpful benchmark for reviewing program requirements, activities, services, and resources. It also addresses the distinctive contributions the department or program is making to the larger purposes of the College.
  • Looking outward. The process of selecting, articulating, and refining program goals frequently engages the department with projects and priorities in relevant professional associations. It may also prompt departments to look at comparable programs in other institutions and consider adopting or adapting promising practices.
  • Synthesizing, interpreting, and responding to assessment data. One component of the self-study is the analysis of assessment data that provide insight into student learning. Programs can focus on the assessment evidence addressing the questions that are most urgent for them in evaluating their curriculum and pedagogical practices.
  • Setting collective priorities. Program goals and objectives alone won’t necessarily make priorities self-evident. The program review process includes a planning component, which in turn requires some prioritizing. Being intentional in establishing departmental priorities can in turn help individual faculty members set priorities with a view to the collective well-being of their department as well as to their own career objectives.
  • Evaluating progress. All the above can provide benchmarks against which programs can evaluate the degree to which they are carrying out their mission, following through on their short-term and long-term priorities, and meeting their goals and objectives.
  • Telling the department’s story. The program review process is an opportunity for departments to say, “This is who we are, this is what we are contributing, and this is where we want to go.” Many departments find this intrinsically rewarding. It can also lead to fruitful partnerships with other faculty, administrative offices, or colleagues at other institutions.
  • Informing recruitment, hiring, and orientation. The program review process can help departments in crafting job descriptions and in recruiting and evaluating applicants. Portions of the departmental self-study may be provided to candidates invited to campus for interviews, which helps them learn more about the department and enhances the quality of the interview process.  New faculty find self-studies very useful as orientation material.
  • Leveraging grant support.  Narratives and data culled from the program review process can be invaluable for individual and group grant applications for teaching and research. Most grant applications require applicants to document needs and describe institutional or organizational capacity, and program reviews provide a ready source of information, particularly if they include meaningful assessment data.  The assessment component of program reviews can also be used as evidence of the program’s ability to develop and conduct credible grant project evaluation.
  • Building community in the department. The process of establishing shared goals, setting collective priorities, disseminating a distinctive identity, planning for the future, and tracking progress enhances community. Program reviews help faculty members situate their individual goals and accomplishments in the larger context of their department’s intentions and identity. They also help orient faculty newcomers. Some departments and programs have found the program review process helpful in directly confronting and resolving long-standing disagreements or conflicting priorities.

Uses by administrators

  • Strengthening leadership of individual Faculties. Program reviews familiarize the Associate Deans with the distinctive strengths, accomplishments, needs, and future plans of the departments and interdisciplinary programs within their Faculty. This permits the Deans to offer support, identify areas of common interest across departments, link individual faculty members or entire departments with relevant resources on- and off-campus, and attempt to meet identified resource needs. Associate Deans are thus better equipped both to advocate for and collaborate with the departments and programs for which they are responsible.
  • Informing staffing decisions. Program reviews provide evidence to inform administrative decision making in response to requests to hire for tenure lines.