ACADEMIC PROGRAM REVIEW AT
AUBURN UNIVERSITY


Academic Program Review is designed to examine, assess, and strengthen Auburn University’s academic activities. Every academic program at Auburn University will be formally reviewed on a regular cycle.

Purpose

Academic Program Review is designed to examine, assess, and strengthen Auburn University’s academic activities. Academic Program Review is intended to be used as a tool to help in determining an academic unit’s ability to respond to future challenges and opportunities, evaluate strengths and weaknesses, determine priorities, and aid in shaping plans for the future of the academic unit. To accomplish this goal certain standards should be met with respect to (1) mission and governance, (2) institutional commitment and resources, (3) curriculum and teaching-learning practices, (4) student performance and faculty accomplishments, and (5) assessment of the unit’s strengths and weaknesses.

Because only a few departments are examined each year, Academic Program Review is usually not an effective vehicle for rapid decisions about institutional priorities. Information developed during program review can support other planning and evaluation activities and provide guidance for strategic resource allocation. Occasionally, a program review may provide sufficient evidence to warrant a decision to refocus, reorganize, curtail or eliminate some academic activities or even departments. Most often, however, the process will lead to action plans for improving a department’s various academic activities, either singly or in combination.

Scope

Every academic program at Auburn University will be formally reviewed on a regular cycle. The Master Calendar attached to this policy statement (Appendix One) reflects our current plans for academic program review, but this Master Calendar will be updated annually, in consultation with the Academic Program Review committee, as circumstances warrant. All programs that hold national accreditation will be reviewed regularly in conjunction with their regular accreditation review visit cycle. These nationally accredited programs will receive an expedited review, meaning that—on a case-by-case basis—the Provost, the Dean and the Department Head will coordinate to develop and implement review procedures that complement the national accreditation review. All other programs will be reviewed on a six-year cycle as reflected in the Master Calendar. At the discretion of the Provost, external accreditation reviews may provide some or all of the information necessary for program review.

In a narrow sense, the term “program” refers to any academic activity that consumes resources. For example, a single academic department may offer a bachelor’s degree program and one or more graduate degree programs; it may also be involved in externally or departmentally funded programs of research or public service; and it may be engaged in other activities that would qualify as discrete programs, such as a study abroad arrangement. As units of analysis, each of these academic activities should be subject to its own review. For convenience, however, academic departments are the basic units of organization for program review. Normally, all of a department’s various programs will be reviewed together. Exceptions to this general rule are noted on the Master Calendar.

Criteria

The five broad criteria enumerated below should be sufficient to guide the typical academic program review. However, two observations about criteria should be kept in mind:

  • First, because over time the review process will encompass a huge variety of programs – all academic activities of all academic departments – these general criteria should be applied flexibly, so that each program receives a thorough examination adapted to its nature and circumstances.

  • Second, while standardized data elements can begin to measure how well programs meet the criteria for program review, time and experience may suggest additional or better measurements. Each department should be responsible for proposing ways to measure its activities in relation to these criteria.

  • For brevity, this document lists only criteria (standards) and principal metrics. These standards have been recommended by the Academic Program Review Committee of the University Senate.

Role of the Academic Program Review Committee of the University Senate
(Excerpted from the Auburn University Faculty Handbook)

The Academic Program Review Committee shall consist of one faculty member of each college or school and nonvoting representatives appointed by the Provost, the Vice President for Research, the Vice President for Outreach and the Dean of the Graduate School. The chairperson of the committee shall be a faculty member. No faculty member shall serve more than two consecutive three-year terms. The committee shall: (1) review the final written products (the self-study, the review team’s report, and the dean’s plan) resulting from each year’s round of academic program reviews and confer with the Provost on ways to strengthen the academic program review process, and (2) review any proposals to discontinue, merge, or otherwise restructure any academic program and confer with the Provost and reach a decision on the feasibility of the proposal.


STANDARDS FOR PROGRAM REVIEW AT AUBURN UNIVERSITY


STANDARD I. MISSION AND GOVERNANCE

The mission, goals, and expected outcomes of an academic unit should be congruent with those of Auburn University, reflect the academic unit’s standards and guidelines, and consider the needs and expectations of a distinct discipline of interest. Faculty, administrators and students are all involved in ongoing efforts to improve quality of an academic unit.

Key Elements:

  • The mission, goals, and expected outcomes of each academic unit are written, and are in harmony with those of Auburn University.

  • These factors (mission, goals, and expected outcomes) are reviewed periodically and revised, as appropriate, to reflect standards and guidelines that emphasize the needs and expectations of the discipline.

  • Documents and publications produced by the unit are accurate. Any references in promotional materials to a unit’s program offerings, accreditation status, academic calendar, admission and grading policies, degree completion requirements, tuition, and fees are factual and up to date.

  • Unit administrators provide effective leadership to the academic unit in achieving its mission, goals, and expected outcomes.

  • Faculty roles in teaching, research and service are identified clearly and are congruent with the mission, goals, and expected outcomes of the academic unit.

STANDARD II. INSTITUTIONAL COMMITMENT AND RESOURCES

Auburn University demonstrates ongoing commitment and support through available resources to enable the academic unit to achieve its mission, goals, and expected outcomes.

Key Elements:

  • Auburn University and the academic unit provide and support an environment that encourages faculty teaching, research, service, diversity and practices in keeping with its overall mission, goals, and expected outcomes.

  • Fiscal and physical resources are sufficient to enable a unit to fulfill its teaching, research and service responsibilities. These resources are reviewed, revised, and improved as needed.

  • Academic support services are sufficient to ensure quality, and are evaluated on a regular basis.

  • Faculty compensation is consistent with qualifications, experience, creativity, and productivity.


  • STANDARD III. CURRICULUM AND TEACHING-LEARNING PRACTICES

    The academic unit’s curriculum is developed in accordance with its mission, goals, and expectations for student success and reflects Auburn University standards and guidelines as well as the needs and expectations of the discipline. There is a synergism between the teaching-learning experience and the success of the student. The environment for this educational experience fosters student achievement.

    Key Elements:

  • Development, implementation and revision of the curriculum reflects clear statements of expected student learning consistent with the unit’s mission and goals.

  • The curriculum is logically structured to meet the unit's expectations.

  • Curriculum and teaching-learning practices are evaluated regularly at scheduled intervals to promote ongoing student improvement.

  • The curriculum and teaching-learning practices developed consider needs and expectations of the identified discipline.

  • Faculty credentials are appropriate to the courses assigned to them.

  • Curriculum and teaching practices are consistent with current research in the discipline.

  • Expertise used in instruction reflects the state of the art of technology for the discipline.

  • Learning is supported by appropriate use of current technological resources.


  • STANDARD IV. STUDENT PERFORMANCE AND FACULTY ACCOMPLISHMENTS

    The academic unit is effective in fulfilling its mission, goals, and expectations. Student learning is consistent with the mission, goals, and expectations of the unit. Alumni satisfaction and accomplishments of its graduates attest to the effectiveness of a unit’s program offerings. Faculty activities are consistent with the mission, goals, and expectations of the unit. Data on program effectiveness are used to promote ongoing improvement.

    Key Elements:

  • Student performance is evaluated by the faculty and reflects achievement of expectations. Evaluation policies and procedures are clearly defined and consistently applied.

  • Information about student, alumni, and employer satisfaction, and demonstrated achievements of graduates, is collected and used for program improvement.

  • Faculty members are academically and experientially qualified.

  • Faculty numbers are sufficient to accomplish the goals and expected outcomes of the academic unit.

  • Faculty loads for teaching, research and service are consistent with demands for creativity, productivity, relevance, and scholarship.

  • Faculty members collaborate to ensure the unit meets its mission, goals and expectations, and enhances program quality and effectiveness.


  • STANDARD V. ASSESSMENT OF STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

    Each academic unit will analyze available assessment data to determine strengths and weaknesses and to identify specific steps needed to remedy weaknesses. The academic unit will evaluate its current standing among peers and offer strategies to achieve future aspirations.

    Key Elements:

  • Programmatic data are analyzed to provide evidence of the unit’s effectiveness and are used to cultivate ongoing improvement.

  • Faculty demonstrate achievement of the unit’s mission, goals, and expectations, and enhance program quality and effectiveness.

Additional Materials

 

Last Updated: August 6, 2012