DASA External Program Review
In the Spring 2016 semester, the Division of Academic and Student Affairs (DASA) embarked on a seven-year External Program Review process for DASA units. Program Review focuses on ensuring continuous improvement throughout the division and allows units to engage in self-study, to identify important issues and challenges, to receive support and suggestions on how to meet those challenges, and to communicate positions and priorities to DASA Leadership.
A Strong program review process must rest on a foundation of several principles, including:
- Commitment and support from DASA Leadership for the process;
- A strong partnership between the leadership, the DASA Office of Assessment, and the participating unit;
- A focus on identifying opportunities for positive change and growth (looking forward; not being punitive);
- A belief that the process is just as important as the reports and conclusions, and that the process has impact beyond the review;
- A sense of trust that information is not shared beyond the reviewers and participants;
- Broad participation from all units and stakeholders within the Division (all units must participate and include all stakeholders in the conversation);
- A comprehensive and systematic process grounded in solid standards and practices.
At a minimum, the External Program Review process for DASA units includes the following components to ensure a comprehensive, high-quality, and effective effort:
Notification and Training – The Office of Assessment developed a seven-year schedule so units can plan well in advance of their review. Additionally, units receive formal notice of Program Review approximately six months prior to the on-site review. The formal notification includes specifics for scheduling the on-site review, guidelines for the selection of standards, and/or requests for individuals to include on the review team. The Office of Assessment provides training and support to the unit and to those participating in the review to ensure a high-quality process.
Structure and Standards – Program Review is a highly structured, though flexible, process that includes several key aspects:
- Self Study – each unit engages in a Self-Study grounded in guidelines or standards chosen by the unit in consultation with the Office of Assessment and Division leadership. The unit has the option of utilizing the DASA Self-Study Guidelines, CAS Standards, professional standards from an association or accrediting body, or another acceptable source (e.g., Baldridge Quality Standards).
- At a minimum, each unit produces a report that covers their guiding principles (mission, purpose, and function), organization, resources, and departmental performance, as well as strengths, challenges, and areas of opportunity. This report is made available to DASA Leadership and to the review team to provide the background and guiding information to conduct their investigation into the unit.
- Review Team – Facilitated by a staff member from the DASA Office of Assessment, a review team of internal (NC State member(s) from outside of DASA) and external (from outside the university) members conducts an on-site visit of one to three days.
- On-Site Visit – the team engages in candid conversations with students, DASA and University faculty, staff, and administrators, and other stakeholders to learn more about the unit, its performance, strengths, and areas of opportunity. The culmination of this visit is a report from the review team that outlines their general findings, conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of the unit, and their recommendations for improvement. The report is shared with the unit and with DASA Leadership.
- Formal Unit Response – Based on findings from the self-study, the conclusions and recommendations from the review team, and conversations with DASA Leadership, the unit ultimately produces a formal response, which includes a plan with specific actions for moving forward. The strategic priorities should guide the actions of both the unit and DASA.
A more detailed timeline is found here, but a general timeline for the Program Review Process is included below.
- The unit under review receives official notification of their review approximately six months before the on-site visit occurs. The Office of Assessment schedules an overview and training session with the unit after the official notification.
- Complete the self-study and a full schedule at least two weeks prior to the on-site visit.
- The review team submits the report to the unit, the Office of Assessment, and DASA Leadership no more than one month after the on-site visit. Subsequently, this is followed by a meeting of DASA Leadership, the Office of Assessment and the reviewed unit’s leadership to discuss findings and potential action items.
- The Formal Response from the reviewed unit is due no later than four months after the on-site visit. The unit turns in an update on the progress of meeting action items outlined in the Formal Response one year later.
Support & Resources
Program Review requires significant resources in terms of time and money. Each external review team member receives an honorarium, as well as travel, food, and lodging costs. Units are responsible for planning for coverage of the costs of their review; however, for units with constrained resources, DASA Leadership decides the distribution of Program Review funding.
There is also a great deal of time and effort required to plan, schedule, and run an effective Program Review. The unit and the Office of Assessment divide responsibilities for scheduling, communication, etc., with support from DASA leadership where needed. Specific responsibilities are indicated in the Roles and Responsibilities table.
Program Review Documents