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Tips for a Successful Academic Program Review

The overall purpose of an academic program review (APR) is to identify a program’s successes and challenges and develop strategies for the future.  There are excellent recommendations in the article “Avoiding the Potholes of Program Review” written by Halonen and Dunn (2017).  It is recommended everyone on the steering committee read the article. The article can be found here: 



Some of the recommendations for a successful APR from Halonen and Dunn’s (2017) article are summarized here for your convenience:

Number 1:  You need a village.
Deans, department chairs, and faculty need to participate in the self-study report writing. Creating a steering committee with key faculty who will direct and write the report will help share the responsibility and show a cohesive faculty cohort that is ready to tackle the program’s challenges. After the consultants have reviewed the report and conducted the site visit, the dean, department chair, and faculty should collaborate to develop a strategy for moving forward based on the consultants recommendations.

Number 2: The past is history but it’s important
The steering committee should find and distribute the previous APR to the department. The information in the past APR should also be shared with the upcoming consultant as part of the self-study report. The self-study report template includes a synopsis of the previous APR in the first section and the previous APR could be included as an appendix to the new report.

Number 3: Set a timeline and stick to it
There are a minimum number of days to hire the consultant, create the self-study report, conduct the site visit, and develop a strategic plan established on the APR website. The steering committee should set dates for each milestone and allow some extra time for delays and proofreading.

Number 4: Don’t hire your buddy
The consultants should be experts in the program’s discipline and the two consultants together should provide a combination of perspectives for the program’s future. However, hiring a close friend will not provide the objectivity and analysis needed for a thorough review.

Number 5: Last but probably should be done first—Update the website
The consultant is going to read the department and program’s website as soon as they are hired. Dedicate a person on the steering committee who will work with the administrative assistant and IT to update the department and program’s website.