Periodic Program Review to Complete Year Five in Initial Seven Year Cycle
—Jodi Levine Laufgraben, Associate Vice Provost, Director, Periodic Program Review
Jodi Levine Laufgraben,
Associate Vice Provost,
Director, Periodic Program Review
Temple University will complete its 5th year of periodic program review (PPR) in June. As of May 1, 2008, 63 reviews have taken place with one additional review scheduled for early June.
Since the policy was implemented in fall 2003, the number of reviews has been increasing annually. In academic year 2003–2004, the first full year of periodic program review, 7 reviews were conducted. In the second year (2004–2005), 10 academic units were reviewed, along with 1 non-degree granting unit that supports academic programs. In year three (2005–2006), 12 academic units were reviewed and 1 non-degree granting research center. In the fourth year (2006–2007), 13 academic departments were reviewed, along with two research centers and one international campus. Twelve academic units, 2 student support centers and 3 non-degree granting research centers will have completed reviews in 2007–2008 for a total of 17 reviews; the most reviews conducted in an academic year to date.
The reviews of the Boyer College of Music and Dance, College of Engineering, School of Pharmacy, School of Podiatric Medicine, and School of Tourism and Hospitality Management are complete. Three colleges—the College of Science and Technology, College of Health Professions, and College of Education—have completed the reviews of their individual academic departments. The following schools and colleges have conducted a program review for at least one academic unit: Ambler, Liberal Arts, Medicine, Communications and Theater, Tyler School of Art, and the Fox School of Business and Management. The School of Social Administration, Kornberg School of Dentistry and the Beasley School of Law will be reviewed in the next two years.
Temple University established periodic program review in July 2003. The policy on periodic program review can be found on-line (Policy on Periodic Program Review, Policy Number 02.60.11, Appendix A). PPR was implemented to provide a regular process for departments, schools and colleges, and centers to reflect on how to improve their academic programs and teaching, scholarly/creative, and service activities. Temple’s process aims to assess what programs do; clarify rationales for teaching, research and service missions; review indicators of quality and student outcomes; and establish action plans for improvement. Each review consists of three components: self-study, external review, and a plan for improvement. A progress report is submitted two years after the visit to inform the Office of Periodic Program Review of changes implemented since the review process.
The Office of Periodic Program Review oversees the scheduling and coordination of the reviews and provides training and support for the academic units as they develop their self-studies and prepare for the visit of the external review team. An annual orientation session is held each fall for units scheduled for review, and the program maintains a website with resource materials. The office regularly provides updates to the Faculty Senate, and this is the second article published in the Faculty Herald.
Five years into our initial cycle: what have we learned and how have we used program review to improve the university and its programs? Looking back across the first half of the initial cycle, PPR has served three important functions: (1) assessing program goals and effectiveness, (2) supporting planning and accreditation, and (3) guiding change.
Assessing Program Goals and Effectiveness
Periodic program review is one of the primary ways the university’s faculty and academic administrators assess the goals and objectives and overall effectiveness of our academic programs. For example, two departments used program review to explore their readiness to offer doctoral programs. One of the departments has developed a proposal for a new Ph.D. and the other is restructuring their undergraduate offerings and proposing a change in department name as it prepares to develop a proposal for a doctoral program.
Self-study has been an effective way for departments to assess their missions. As part of developing the self-study, several departments held faculty retreats to review the unit’s mission statement and goals. Post-visit faculty meetings are a valuable opportunity for a department to consider the recommendations of the visiting team as it considers its short-term and long-term steps towards improvement.
Our regional accrediting body, Middle States, requires an emphasis on institutional assessment, and assessment of student learning. In Temple’s Periodic Review Report submission to Middle States in May 2005, program review was featured as a primary way the university assesses the overall effectiveness of its academic programs. In our upcoming decennial evaluation (2009–2010), the university will need to provide evidence of its commitment to the continuous assessment and improvement of teaching and learning. The program review process and use of information to improve programs will be highlighted in the self-study currently being prepared for this important, upcoming Middle States re-accreditation report and visit.
Supporting Planning and Accreditation
Program review is a valuable opportunity for the academic unit to examine itself, outline priorities, and consider advice on strategies for improvement. Deans, in consultation with department leadership, have strategically scheduled program reviews to allow them to look at strengths and weaknesses within programs, by disciplinary areas, or across the school or college. As a result, deans and departments are able to incorporate program review recommendations into on-going planning, including hiring and budget requests.
As described by Ron Brown, Dean of the College of Health Professions:
Dean, College of Health Professions
The College had a five year plan to accomplish its objectives in updating our curriculum and expanding our programs of research across several areas. The Office of the Provost and I worked together to evaluate each of the programs over a three year period. As of Spring  all of our programs will have been evaluated and the information that I have attained has been invaluable.
Program review also supports accreditation activities. It allows the school or college to evaluate a program’s readiness for an upcoming accreditation review; or if scheduled following an accreditation visit, provides the academic unit with advice on how it might address any deficiencies or concerns raised in an accreditation report.
The self-study and external review process has also informed the planning for new or restructured degree programs. The Graduate School regularly refers to program review recommendations when they receive proposals for new or restructured programs. Program review team reports helped guide and facilitate the development of new degrees in occupational therapy and public health.
A “full cycle” of program review consists of: self-study, team report, plan for improvement and a progress summary. The plan for improvement is typically submitted in the fall following the academic year in which the visit took place and the progress summary is submitted the next fall, about two years following the review. Once progress summaries are submitted, the Office of Periodic Program Review tracks areas of actions. Academic units reported actions or improvements in the following categories:
1. Leadership / organization
2. Administrative / technical support
4. Service / Outreach
8. Collaboration with other programs
Changes were most frequently reported in the areas of curriculum, faculty, students, and research. All programs reported actions: from a low of 3 of 11 areas to a high of 9 of 11 areas. On average, academic units reported change in 5–6 areas.
Leadership and organizational changes included external searches and appointments of new department chairs. In the area of research, academic units described increased grant submission, new funding opportunities, and collaborative research opportunities with other programs. Faculty in one department are collaborating with Temple colleagues in Engineering, the Medical School, and the College of Liberal Arts; as well as with researchers at Johns Hopkins.
As previously described, new curricular offerings were developed for several programs including occupational therapy and public health. Program review has also informed decisions about faculty searches or in cases where searches were already authorized help departments develop hiring plans for targeted areas. In 2006–2007, faculty searches in the College of Liberal Arts were based on recommendations from program review team reports. Team recommendations informed decisions about increasing or decreasing graduate admissions, and led to improved academic advising or mentoring opportunities. Following its review, the Department of Communication Sciences changed its name to the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders to better reflect its mission and disciplinary focus.
As described by Ira Shapiro, Professor and Chair, Sport and Recreation Management:
School of Tourism and Hospitality Management
For me, Periodic Program Review turned out to be a positive and constructive experience. The recommendations of the external review team were appropriate, and the Plan for Improvement has proven to be an effective guide for advancing the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
Thirty academic units and approximately 13 non-academic support or research centers will be reviewed in the remaining two years of this initial cycle. There will be a review of the process initiated during 2009–2010 and the information will be used to guide planning for the next cycle (scheduled to begin in 2010–2011). One question already being considered is the length of the cycle. “Is every seven years the right timeframe?”
Another question likely to be raised is, “Did we always have the correct unit of analysis?” For example, following the review of Engineering as a college, we discussed the feasibility of conducting 3 separate reviews—electrical, mechanical and civil—in the next cycle. Just as the review of our academic units focuses on continuous improvement, the process of PPR will be examined to identify ways our model can better meet the needs of its various constituents and stakeholders.