Periodic review of each University of Oregon degree program is essential to maintaining excellence and for effective long-range planning. This academic review process is a positive approach to academic assessment, promoting each unit’s desire to develop and reaffirm its commitment to excellence.
Academic program review is a primary means to maintain and improve program quality. As a result, academic units can realize many benefits from a thorough program review. Some of the most positive outcomes include:
- An examination of the quality and value of the unit’s academic programs by the faculty, students, and administrators.
- An evaluation, and perhaps revision, of objectives for the teaching, research, and service missions of the academic programs as they relate to the university's academic mission and strategic priorities.
- A clarification of program goals, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.
- An improved source of information to help guide decisions on strategic priorities and associated resources.
Policy and Process
As delegated by the provost, the associate vice provost for academic affairs is responsible for coordinating the necessary periodic reviews of degree programs, is the main point of contact for programs being reviewed, and has responsibility for oversight and implementation of the program review process. The university will review each of its programs approximately every 10 years (more frequently, if required) and report results to the university community.
Accreditation and Program Review
Accreditation and program review are different. Accreditation, an external review process, typically measures minimum standards of performance. Program review, an internal process, focuses on identifying goals and objectives, and assists a program to reach its greatest potential.
In most cases, units and programs with specialized/programmatic accreditation will no longer be asked to undergo two separate processes for program review and accreditation. As these reviews respond to different questions and concerns, units undergoing specialized accreditation will simultaneously complete the program review self-study outline as part of their specialized accreditation and program review process.
Program Review Process Revision
The program review process was postponed for the 2017-2018 academic year. The pause was intentional. It allowed us to revisit the purpose and practice of program reviews. It also allowed us to address widespread concerns that, in our attempt to be comprehensive, program reviews had become excessively burdensome and involved redundancies of effort without a clear sense of outcomes for units and programs. Additionally, our previous program review process made no distinctions between units and programs of different sizes, imposing a one-size-fits-all approach. Units and programs with specialized/programmatic accreditation reviews also underwent a separate program review process that duplicated efforts.
We have now taken steps to address these concerns with a significant restructuring of our program review process, with an emphasis on a data-driven approach that highlights meaningful engagement with the key issues identified by units and their faculty members.
Some of the most significant changes include:
- Many units and programs with specialized/programmatic accreditation will no longer be asked to undergo two separate processes for program review and accreditation.
- The process has been streamlined to reduce the breadth and duration of the review process, and to differentiate the process according to the size and scope of units and programs.
- Program reviews will include the development of a new, concise self-study report. Not all programs will have site visits from external reviewers.
- Units and programs undergoing review will receive data summaries that are regularly available and in a familiar format in order to facilitate the use of relevant data in self-study reports.
- The new self-study process identifies and explores key issues identified by units, with data and support to address these issues in the review process.
- Program reviews will be opportunities for units to do strategic planning, and to implement steps toward short- and long-term goals to improve programs, and increase student success and satisfaction.
The Office of the Provost has developed a new self-study outline that each unit undergoing the program review process will complete. The self-study report prepared by the unit is an essential part of the program review process. In preparing the self-study, units are asked to reflect upon objective data, and to engage in thoughtful reflection and analysis of their efforts, goals, and future plans.
Program Review Pilot
In spring 2019, five units and programs formed a pilot group that will undergo the newly revised program review process during 2019-2020. We will be evaluating the pilot year to see what worked well and what needs to change, and reporting back out the results about any changes moving forward.
If you have questions about program review, please contact OtP@uoregon.edu.