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University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus

Office of Academic Resources & Services

Academic Program Review

Self-study Guidelines

Assistance to units writing self-studies

The foundation of each program review is an analytical and evaluative self-study document prepared by the unit under review with the active involvement of faculty and staff who work in the unit.  The self-study process should cover all levels and types of education—undergraduate, graduate, professional, online and continuing.  Additionally centers and institutes that are part of the unit under review must also be addressed by the self-study.  The self-study includes supporting material as needed in appendices.  The unit is responsible for providing an electronic copy to the Office of Academic Resources and Services (OARS) and sufficient printed copies to be distributed to the provost’s office, the dean, the AVC–OARS, the External Review Team and Program Review Panel liaison.

All self-studies shall include the elements enumerated below.  The questions and statements in each section are intended to guide the content.  Schools and programs may require additional information or steps in the self-study process.  (The School of Medicine has written their own document detailing self-study preparation for SOM departments.) Your school or program liaison will address additional information needs.  (The Office of Institutional Research and the budget office can assist in collecting some of the base information.)

View print-friendly version of Self-study Preperation


Self Study Preperation:

1. Introduction, overview and unit description

    • General unit description – organization, purpose, programs
      • Note its outstanding characteristics, role and mission within the university, programs offered, personnel, national reputation, financial status, and placement of its graduates.
    • General description of the self-study process including who participated in the preparation of the self-study document.

2. Mission, Vision and Values, and Strategic Plan

    • Provide the program’s current mission statement, vision and strategic plan (or reference the strategic plan).
    • How is the strategic vision consistent with the current university Strategic Plan?
    • To what extent are stated program goals and objectives being met and what evidence is provided for these achievements?

3. Progress since last review

    • Describe implementation of previous program review recommendations, if appropriate.

4. Academic programs and the educational experience

    • Provide a description of the educational activities of the department – undergraduate, graduate, residents, fellows and other learners, state funded and cash funded programs, as well as any other training programs.  Do not forget to address online courses and programs.
    • Trend data on students and other learners – courses taught, enrollments, degrees, majors.
    • Curriculum:
        • How relevant, rigorous, and consistent with professional or disciplinary standards is the curriculum?
        • Are the numbers of courses, sections of courses, varieties of courses, and sequencing of courses offered sufficient?
        • If there is curricular overlap with other departments, disciplines, and/or programs, how is such overlap justified or appropriate? How is the curriculum relevant to the needs of students?
        • How is the rigor of the curriculum measured?
        • How have students evaluated the availability, adequacy, and responsiveness of academic advising?
        • How have students evaluated the availability of faculty for out of classroom interaction?
        • What support options are available to assist students with problems?
    • Analyze student and other learners’ outcomes assessment data (Include annual report with at least two years in the self-study appendix)
        • What are the knowledge and skill goals for undergraduate and, if relevant, graduate student and other learning?
        • How are the knowledge and skill goals made known to students and other learners?
        • How well are the knowledge and skill goals being met?
        • How are learning outcomes measured?
        • If the learning outcomes measures have changed since the last program review, specify the reason(s) for abandoning one measure and for adopting a different one in its stead.
        • How well are student majors in each program finding employment, or being accepted into graduate programs in or related to their field of study?
        • How have the results obtained from measuring learning outcomes been used to revise and strengthen the program(s)?

5. Faculty activities

    • Faculty data
      • Numbers of faculty by meaningful category (rank, appointment or type).
      • Description of faculty effort.
      • Comparative data from similar national programs.
    • Review and possibly make recommendations for revision of criteria for reappointment, tenure, promotion and post-tenure review.  Must include documentation that the primary unit head and the dean support the changes.  (NOTE: If the primary unit and the program review unit are not the same, an alternate schedule for review of primary unit criteria must be created.)
    • Discuss faculty recruitment, development (including mentoring) and retention.
    • Do the faculty have the professional competence needed to achieve the goals of the department, college/school, campus and Board of Regents?
    • Faculty Research and Creative Work
        • Describe the major scholarly, research and creative work interests of the department—evaluate the focus, extent, quality and productivity of the research effort.
        • Describe areas of strength and trends in activity and productivity.
        • Describe collaborative efforts.
        • Describe any problems or deficiencies in research and creative work and planned activities to correct them.
        • Assess the adequacy of resources to support research and creative work.
        • What is the quality of the scholarly contributions of faculty and professional staff?  How do appropriate external professional communities recognize the quality of these contributions
    • Faculty Clinical Activity (if appropriate)
    • Faculty Service – both university and public
        • How are the faculty engaged with the appropriate professional communities?
    • Faculty Teaching
        • What ratings have students given in evaluating teaching?  what steps have been taken to improve low evaluations of teaching?  What other steps could be taken to improve teaching?

6. Diversity

    • How are you recruiting diverse students?  How diverse are the students matriculating and graduating with degrees in the program?
    • How are you recruiting diverse faculty and staff?  How diverse with respect to gender and ethnicity are the faculty and staff?  Is this diversity sufficient to be responsive to a diverse student body and to recruit and retain a diverse student body?
    • To what extent are issues related to diversity addressed in courses in the curriculum in your academic program?
    • How well do faculty engage with students from diverse communities and with diverse perspectives?

7. Resources

    • Provide an analysis of facilities, fiscal, and other resources – include all sources of funds.
    • How adequate are the program’s resources – physical, financial?
    • How adequate are support resources (e.g., collaborating faculty from other disciplines, professional staff, support staff, library, media, operating expenses, space, technology) to achieve the goals of the program?
    • As appropriate, comment on:  (1) the student/faculty ratios, (2) the program’s costs, (3) the costs per student, and (4) the costs per faculty member.  How do these compare with peer institutions?

8. Summary

    • Analysis of the unit’s scope of responsibilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
    • Evaluation of emerging opportunities, important trends, significant accomplishments.
    • Recommendations for program improvement.
      • What improvements should faculty, professional staff, and administrators undertake to enhance the program?
      • What steps are most critical to take your unit to the next higher level?

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