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Self-Study Guide

The self-study is expected to be a candid assessment of the program’s current state. The primary audiences are program members, the Academic Assessment Committee, and associate dean and vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college.

The self-study can be organized and formatted at the discretion of the department chair or program director; however, the following criteria should be included in order to ensure that the study is systematic and thorough. Responses to the criteria should be limited to 15 pages, with supporting documentation included as appendices.

Self-Study Framework

Provide a brief description of the department/program. Consider including: significant historical and/or recent developments, size and scope, course load (both majors and non-majors), student characteristics (enrollment counts, number of current majors/minors, ethnicity, grade-point averages, etc.), faculty c.v.’s, and evidence for the needs of the department (in support of general education, as a vital component for a liberal arts education, to fill an external need, etc.).
Provide evidence for the achievement of program goals. Consider including: demonstration of the achievement of student learning outcomes, alignment of learning outcomes and course content, student understanding of the program’s mission and perception of whether goals are achieved, alignment and support of the institution’s mission, etc. If findings show that goals are not being met, discuss preliminary recommendations for the most critical areas to address.

Provide an assessment of the current curriculum. Consider including: relevance of curriculum with practice in the profession or field of study, currency of curriculum and course content, relationship of the curriculum to peer programs at other institutions, future directions, etc.

  • How frequently does the program offer courses in the catalogue? Special topics courses?
  • Is there a rationale for rotation of courses and for special topics?
  • Do special topics and upper division courses form a coherent major or do they simply reflect the specialized interests of the faculty? Do they do both?
  • Does the major make the best use of its course offerings?
Specific attention might also be paid to how any senior project or comprehensive requirement helps students to integrate information, concepts, and skills in order to demonstrate the depth and breadth of their knowledge of the field.

Provide evidence for how the program is meeting student needs. Consider including:

  • Case studies of student success and persistence in the major
  • Impact of the program (based on student placement in graduate programs, employment in professional positions, post-test outcome results such as LSAT, MCAT and GRE scores)
  • Internal and external honors received by students
  • Participation in community-based learning, participation in co-curricular activities, etc.

Assessment of the student experience might also include student satisfaction with access to faculty, mentoring and advisement services, as well as course content, assignments, teaching methods and effectiveness, etc. This data can come from internal surveys as well as NSSE and HERI surveys.

Provide an assessment of current resources with respect to the achievement of the program’s stated goals. Consider including:

  • Library holdings and information resources
  • Physical facilities
  • Support staff
  • Network infrastructure, hardware and software
  • Media equipment
  • Supply budgets
  • Office space, etc.
Project future needs for the program over the next 5-7 years considering possible changes within the field, changes within the student population, potential recruiting issues, the impact of technology, etc.

Roles and Responsibilities in Department/Program Review

Academic Department/Program Review is the responsibility of all faculty and staff associated with an academic department/program. In addition, student involvement in the review process should be encouraged as much as possible through surveys, focus groups, demonstrations of student achievement, or other means. The process also requires significant cross-departmental collaboration and communication.

The following work together in the review of each program:

  • Department chair or program director
  • Department/program faculty and staff
  • Associate dean of the college
  • Vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college
  • Assessment coordinator
  • Director of institutional research
  • Registrar

The department chair/program director is responsible for managing the process, communicating and coordinating with all those involved, authoring the Self Study together with program personnel, meeting with external consultants, and implementing changes based on review findings as appropriate. The chair/program director initiates this process by creating a data portfolio with the help of the assessment coordinator, registrar, and director of institutional research.

The standard data portfolio for each program will include the following:

  • Faculty Information
    1. Full-time faculty in the program disaggregated by rank, race/ethnicity, and gender (chair provides)
    2. Total faculty in the program, including adjuncts, disaggregated by rank, race/ethnicity, and gender (chair provides)
    3. Updated faculty c.v.s (department faculty provide) 
  • Degrees Awarded
    1. Degrees awarded disaggregated by race/ethnicity (last five years; director of institutional research provides)
    2. Comparison of degrees awarded in program as percent of total degrees awarded (last five years)
  • Accessibility of Faculty
    • Number of advisees for each regular faculty member (last two years; department faculty can provide using AscAgnes)
  • Average Class Size
    • Average class size by 100, 200, 300, and 400 level courses (last two years; assessment coordinator will provide)
Department/Program faculty and staff are responsible for engaging in the process, contributing thoughtful input and writing to the Self Study, and implementing changes based on review findings as appropriate.
The associate dean of the College is responsible for overall management of the reviews. The associate dean develops the official review schedule for all programs, and meets with department chairs/program directors (and the assessment coordinator) to clarify expectations. The associate dean, along with the vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college, also reviews all documents and reports and assists in the development of the action plan.
The vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college reviews all documents and reports, meets with external consultants (if requested) and program personnel, incorporates findings into budget planning, and writes the final Action Plan.

The assessment coordinator, the director of institutional research and the registrar will act as resources as needed for academic assessments and evaluation, and by developing surveys directed to current majors, alums, employers, etc. Please note that if assessment services are intended to be included in the self-study, programs should request the assistance before, or at the beginning, of the semester in which the study is due. Potential assessment services include:

  • Assessment Plans
    • Assistance in developing or revision of a program's current mission, goals, learning outcomes, curriculum alignment, and the implementation of assessment methods.
  • Learning Outcomes Assessment
    • Assistance in developing outcomes-based rubrics, portfolios, assignments, tests, etc., and in tabulating and analyzing results.
  • Qualitative Research
    • Assistance in developing instruments and procedures for the collection of qualitative data from surveys, interviews, focus groups, etc., and in tabulating and analyzing results.
  • Syllabi Analysis
    • Assistance in compiling and analyzing syllabi to ensure course alignment with the program’s stated goals and learning outcomes.
  • Assessment Analysis & Reporting
    • Assistance in summarizing findings for final reports, and in compiling data from multiple reports to summarizes overall or longitudinal findings

If requested by a department, program, or the dean, the external consultants are responsible for reviewing all program documents, meeting with faculty, students, staff in the department, and the associate dean and vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college on-site, and providing a written summary of findings to the associate dean, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college and the department within a week of their visit. Consultants will be provided with the following information:

  • Self-study
  • Program assessment plan
  • Data portfolio
  • Guide for program review
  • Agnes Scott College catalog and department/program web page addresses
  • Current curriculum vitae and resumes for all department members

The summary of findings report format can be designed to best fit the needs of the external consultants and the members of the program under review. Findings should be based on evidence, however, collected in response to the primary focal points of the self-study: goal achievement, curriculum relevance, student experience and program resources.

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