The ultimate purpose of Program Review is to ensure continuous improvement throughout the division. The process allows units to engage in self-study, to identify important issues and challenges, to get support and suggestions on how to meet those challenges, and to communicate 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 DASA (all units must participate and all stakeholders must be included in the conversation);
- A comprehensive and systematic process grounded in solid standards and practices.
At a minimum, the Program Review process for DASA units includes the following components to ensure a comprehensive, high-quality, and effective effort:
Notification and Training – A seven-year schedule for Program Review has been developed so units have the opportunity to plan well before their review begins. Additionally, units will be given a formal notice of Program Review approximately six months prior to the on-site review. This formal notification may also include any specifics on scheduling the on-site, guidelines for the selection of standards, and/or requests for individuals to be included on the review team. The Office of Assessment will provide 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.
- Six Months Pre-Review – The unit under review will receive official notification of their review approximately six months before the on-site visit will occur. An overview and training session with the Office of Assessment will be scheduled shortly after the official notification.
- Two Weeks Pre-Review – The self-study and a full schedule will need to be completed at least two weeks prior to the on-site visit.
- Within One Month Post-Review – The review team report will be submitted to the unit, the Office of Assessment, and DASA Leadership no more than one month after the on-site visit. Subsequently, this will be followed by a meeting of DASA Leadership, the Office of Assessment, and the reviewed unit’s leadership to discuss findings and potential action items.
- Within Four Months Post-Review – The Formal Response from the reviewed unit will be due no later than four months after the on-site visit. An update on the progress of meeting action items outlined in the Formal Response will be due one year after the review.
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.