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Academic Program Review

The purpose of Academic Program Review at Radford University is to foster a process of continuous improvement of academic programs. A university-wide goal of Academic Program Review is to enhance opportunities for student learning and engagement. Academic Program Review also enables the university to provide evidence of meeting accountability and accreditation requirements of external agencies, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

The Office of Institutional Research provides each department with trend data on relevant student enrollment parameters and faculty teaching load. The Office of Academic Assessment assists program faculty in defining measurable program goals and student learning outcomes and emphasizes the use of results for improvements.

In 2008-2009, the Academic Program Review Committee was charged with revising the Academic Program Review process. The aim was to streamline the review and reporting process while maintaining the focus on continuous improvement. The Committee strove to integrate the review process with accountability and accreditation responsibilities, to reduce duplication, and to use technological resources to facilitate the process.

Key changes include moving to an annual reporting process and incorporating more detailed descriptions of the program assessment plans, assessment results, and their use in continuous improvement. The reports are archived in an on-line data management system and the annual reporting process primarily entail updating information in the report rather than submitting a new report each year. Ultimately, the annual reporting should make the five-year review process much more manageable and less burdensome. Annual reporting also provides constant access to trend data which program faculty can use for multiple purposes in addition to program review and improvement. Another major change made by the committee was to align program review with accreditation processes to avoid duplication of effort and to reduce the burden of reporting. Programs with accrediting bodies would be scheduled for the RU Five Year Academic Program Review within two years of having completed their national accreditation process, and will submit the accreditation report in lieu of an RU Five-Year Academic Program Review Report.

The Process

The annual Academic Program Report process begins with the Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment providing each chair/director with trends student enrollment data by October 31. Chairs/directors or their designees will submit the Academic Program Report by March 1 of the academic year to the dean of the college who will review and approve the annual Academic Program Reports by April 15. The deans will send a brief summary of his/her review of the program to the chair/director and to Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment. The Office of Academic Assessment assists programs in refining their assessment plans and implementation.

Five Year Academic Program Review

Academic Program Review for Programs with Accrediting Bodies
Programs with accrediting bodies have the option of submitting their accreditation report and the accrediting bodies’ review of the program in lieu of the Academic Program Review Report. The yearly schedule for the five year program reviews will be aligned with the schedule for accreditation for individual programs. A five year program review will typically be set for the academic year or possibly two years following the academic year in which the program was reviewed by the accrediting body.

If the program meets the viability, productivity, and sustainability standards as evidenced by the Annual Academic Report and has been accredited and has successfully met all accreditation standards, the chair/director submits a copy of the accreditation report and the accrediting body’s review of the program to the dean by March 1. After reviewing the report the dean will then submit it along with his/her comments and recommendations to the Chair, Academic Program Review Committee by March 15. The Academic Program Review Committee will meet and review the reports and submit their comments and recommendations to the Provost no later than April 15.

If the program has been accredited with stipulations or has been accredited on a conditional basis and there are standards which are not fully met, the program must provide a report in which these are summarized and a comprehensive plan for improvement is outlined. In addition, the program will be included in the next Five Year Academic Program Review cycle to ensure that appropriate steps are being taken to address stipulations or weaknesses.

Academic Program Review for Non-accredited Programs
To a large degree, the Academic Program Review conducted every five years will consist largely of the information garnered over the course of the past five Annual Academic Program Reports. However, in the fifth year programs are expected to be more reflective and analytical on what the program trends indicate and strategically look forward as to the future development of their programs.

In the fifth year report, programs will reflect upon and report on their quantitative information, such as number of majors, number of graduates, upper level teaching effort, new student demand for the program, student retention, and cost per student credit hour in order to put the program in a larger institutional context. The question for the Academic Program Review will be what are programs doing to maintain viability and their plans for staying viable in the future? Moreover, those programs will report and reflect upon their assessment findings and the improvements made as a result of assessment.

For the programs identified by chairs, directors or dean, for not meeting or in danger of not meeting viability standards, it is the responsibility of the program faculty to explain why they are not meeting the standards and to include specific plans for needed improvements.


The Five-Year Report will contain the following sections

I. Program Information

a. Official name of the program
b. CIP Code
c. Program options and/or concentrations

Have these changed since the last Program Review?
If so, how and why?
d. Mission statement and program goals
Have these changed since the last Program Review?
If so, how and why?
e. Describe how the program addresses the university’s strategic plan including its vision and mission.
f. Describe the program’s relationship to other RU programs (e.g., courses support the core curriculum and/or professional programs, is an interdisciplinary program developed with other departments)

II. Summary of Prior Program Review
Summarize the last program review and/or accreditation review, citing strengths and weaknesses identified and recommendations made. Describe the program’s responses to the recommendations.

III. Program Productivity and Sustainability Analysis

a. What are the implications of the analysis of data related to your program?
b. What actions or initiatives will you implement based upon that analysis?

IV. Student Learning and Engagement

a. List of student learning outcomes and description of the level of expected performance (or could this be reflected in the assessment tools or rubrics?).
b. Curriculum mapping showing when student learning outcomes are addressed.
c. Assessment Plan

1. Timeline when assessments are administered.
2. Chart listing assessment methodology by learning outcomes.
3. Define criteria for meeting target performance
4. Assessment process: Who administers assessments? Collects data? Compiles and reports the results and to whom? Who analyzes and discusses the results and recommends improvement plans based on data? How is this disseminated? Who follows up and ensures the plans are implemented and evaluated?

d. Programs may attach descriptions of the assessment (e.g., assignment given to students) and copies of the evaluation tools.

e. Results of current assessments (previously entered data will be archived for 5 years).

f. Narrative describing and analyzing the results of the assessments. (This section of the Template includes guiding questions to focus the description and analysis.

g. Improvement Plan: Provide a summary of the Steps taken over the past five years to improve candidate performance, curriculum, policies and procedures, or the assessment process.

V. Faculty Scholarly and Service Activities
Programs summarize faculty research and service productivity from the last five Annual Reports. Programs then highlight areas of particular faculty strengths demonstrated by the summary and areas in need of improvement. For the improvement areas, discuss what the program will do going forward to improve those specific areas.

VI. Points of Pride, strengths of program
Programs will summarize the points of pride for the past five Annual Reports.

VII. Summary and Recommendations
Summarize the results of the above analyses. Provide a list of recommendations for improving faculty productivity student learning or engagement, curriculum or program, policies and procedures (e.g., advising, recruitment, student support or the assessment plan), or other aspects of the program.