All academic units at Santa Clara University are involved in ongoing program review and improvement efforts. While program review certainly is informed by the WASC accreditation process, the primary goal of program review at SCU is to improve our academic programs. Program review gives departments and programs the opportunity to systematically evaluate their personnel resources (both faculty and staff), material resources and facilities in light of the department’s programmatic mission and goals. Findings are often used to advocate for resources, revise curriculum, encourage scholarship, and refine the focus of the program.
The Program Review Process
Program review is a multi-step process. First, the department’s faculty (and, as appropriate, staff) develop a mission statement that articulates the fundamental philosophy of the unit. Next, the faculty develop a series of goals and objectives tied to that mission statement. This initial stage concludes with the department’s members constructing an alignment matrix that allows the faculty to evaluate whether the current curricula effectively addresses those goals and objectives.
The department or program then undertakes a more systematic self-study. This document provides a thorough analysis of resources, strengths and weaknesses, and a summary of the more pressing questions or issues the unit currently confronts.
This document is typically shared with the dean of the academic unit, any external reviewers who are selected by the department or program and the public (e.g., on the department's or dean’s Web site).
The academic unit then selects external reviewers to evaluate the academic unit. These reviewers typically meet with all members of the unit’s faculty and staff. They also meet with other affiliated constituents such as the dean, members of affiliated or associated departments, and the provost. The external reviewers issue their own report, keeping in mind the culture of Santa Clara University and the typical expectations associated with rank and tenure issues.
Finally, the department or program offers its own response to the external reviewers’ report. The report responds in a manner that suggests the unit’s next steps in their program improvement process.
Program review typically includes the academic unit’s efforts to assess a departmental goal or objective that is fairly central to the University’s broader mission. This allows an attempt to test the veracity of the assessment plan, study its processes, and gain evidence that may help in later discussions or modifications.