Program Review Frequently Asked Questions



Program Review Process: Step 1. Launch Meeting, Step 2. Complete Self Study, Step 3. External Reviewers Visit, 4. MOU Meeting, 5. MOU Signed and Filed, Step. 6. Program Implementation of MOU

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General Program Review Questions

What is program review?
It is a process that will give you the opportunity to:
  • examine programming, services, directions, organizational efficiency, and resource capabilities
  • summarize the changes that you have made based on assessment data
  • validate your program’s strengths
  • identify opportunities for improvement of your program
  • communicate with your colleagues, your Dean, and other administrators including those in the Office of the Provost
What's the role of the Office of Academic Assessment and Program Review?
The Office of Academic Assessment and Program Review is not here to admonish or judge. The Office is intended to provide support to the Programs/Departments undergoing review, specifically during the final year of your 5-year program review cycle when you write the self-study, conduct an external review, and write a new MOU for the next 5 years. In addition, the office provides you with some of the files needed for the review (i.e. assessment reports, the previous self-study and MOU, etc.) The Office is happy to answer any questions or address any concerns throughout the process.
Who's in charge of Program Review?
Though Program Review is housed in CIELO, it operates through the Office of the Provost.
What happens at the Launch Meeting? Who is invited? (Step 1.)
The initial phase of program review begins with the Launch Meeting. At that meeting, general information about the program review process and the self-study in particular is provided to programs up for review in the current year. The Program Review Coordinator invites the Chairs and self study authors to this meeting. The faculty member responsible for annual assessment work in each of these programs is also invited.
What is a self study? Who writes it? (Step 2.)
The self study is a report documenting the program’s progress over the past five years. The report has five parts:
Part 1-Key background information about the department/program
Part 2-Discussion of assessment, strengths, and weaknesses
Part 3- Focused discussion of key strengths and challenges
Part 4- Discussion of the department or programs’ response to the previous MOU
Part 5-Appendices
(See the Self Study Guidelines on the Forms, Guides, and Resources page for detailed information about what to include in the self-study.)The self study is a collaborative effort involving all faculty in the department or program, with one faculty member usually selected to compile the information and write the final report, in consultation with the Department Chair or Program Coordinator. The self-study isconsidered complete when approved by the College and signed by the Dean (see Section 6: College Level Review on the Policy and Procedures document) Once approval is received, the program sends a hard copy of the signed self study to the Office of Program Review along with an electronic copy for distribution.
How do we get external reviewers? How many do we need? What is their role? (Step. 3)
After the self study is complete and approved, the Chair of the Department/Program should compile a list of names AND email and phone contact information of potential reviewers from different campuses. Keep in mind that both reviewers should not come from the same campus and that it is recommended that at least one reviewer comes from another CSU campus. Then the list must be approved by the Dean of the College. Once it is approved, the Chair/Coordinator sends it to the Office of Assessment and Program Review. The names may be ranked in order of preference. If there are any dates that should NOT be scheduled for the visit of the external reviewers (such as conference dates when several faculty will be gone), include those dates with the list. The Office will then make the offers to potential individuals and will schedule two reviewers who are available on two consecutive days when the Department can host the review. External review visits last about a day and a half, ending with a one-hour Exit Meeting on the second day. The Office of Assessment and Program Review is responsible for scheduling all non-department meetings (including those with the Vice Provost, Dean, Associate Dean, and Associate Vice Presidents of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies) and the exit meeting. The Office is also responsible for providing reviewers with travel arrangement information and supplying parking passes for their visit. The Chair or Coordinator is responsible for scheduling all other meetings with external reviewers, and is also responsible for hosting the reviewers, including possibly providing an escort around campus. (See example schedule on the website). External reviewers provide recommendations and commendations at the Program Review Exit Meeting and then write a report based upon approved report guidelines up to three weeks after the visit. The Office only reimburses expenses incurred by the external reviewers such as individual meals or travel arrangements, but does not reimburse expenses incurred by the Department or Program such as faculty meals with the external reviewers. (See Section 7: External Review on the Policies and Procedures document on the website)
What is an MOU and what happens at the MOU Meeting? (Step 4.)
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a report containing commendations and recommendations for the Program. It is drafted by Program Review Coordinator, in consultation with Vice Provost, based on the external reviewers’ report. The draft is circulated to the Chair (or Program Director), Vice Provost, Dean, Associate Dean, Associate Vice Presidents of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies, and the EPC and GSC Representatives. The Chair distributes copies of the draft to other relevant faculty members. The Program has the option to respond to the MOU with a written response. The draft MOU and any response from Program (which can be written in advance if the program chooses) is thoroughly discussed at the MOU meeting, scheduled by Program Review Office and convened by Vice Provost. The final MOU is drafted by the Program Review Coordinator based on decisions made at this meeting.
Who approves the MOU? (Step 5.)
The final MOU is approved by all attendees at the MOU meeting. It is then signed by the Vice Provost, after which the Office of Program Review sends it to the President, Provost, Program, and attendees of the MOU meeting.
What happens as a result of this external review? (Step 6.)
The Program implements the recommendations as laid out in the MOU. Progress on the implementation of these recommendations and related program activities will be on the agenda for at least one faculty meeting each academic year between reviews. The Program should continuously review its MOU and assessment results to implement changes for the future until the next launch meeting
I have more questions. Whom do I contact?
Eli Bartle is the Program Review Coordinator for the Office of Academic Assessment and Program Review, and Mayra “Roxi” Diaz is the Graduate Assistant. They can both be reached at 818- 677-6717 or by email at ebartle@csun.edu and mayra.diaz.222@mycsun.edu.

For Programs/Departments

How do I know when my program will be due for review?
You can find the next review date for your program on the Resources page where the Master Schedule of Program Review is located. You may also contact the Office of Academic Assessment and Program Review to check on your status and timeline. If your program is currently in the process of review, there is a table located in Status of Programs up for Review on this website that details the current status of all programs in the process.
What if we can't finish the self study and external review by the end of the five year cycle?
If it becomes unfeasible to complete the review by the end of the five years, the Office will work with your Department/Programs to complete the review in a timeline that is manageable for all parties.
What are the department's responsibilities?
See the breakdown of the responsibilities of the department and the Office of Program Review throughout the review process here or on the Resources page
Why are program reviews needed?
Program reviews assess program quality and facilitate program improvement. It also provides support and credibility for program successes. Finally, it is required by the CSU Chancellor’s Office for all degrees that are not accredited (reviewed) by an outside accreditation body.
What is the role of EPC and GSC representatives in the review process?
The Educational Policies Committee (EPC) and the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) appoint one representative each to attend the exit meeting, MOU meeting, and possibly other meetings during the review process, dependent on scheduling. The representative chosen usually comes from another college to increase objectivity and perhaps offer a unique perspective. The representatives receive copies of the self study, the final reviewer report, and the MOU. They are invited to discuss the report at the MOU meeting and contribute to the final MOU draft. They will share the final agreed-upon recommendations for the program with their respective committees.
What does a schedule for external review look like?
You’ll find a link to a sample schedule on our resource page.
Who handles the details of scheduling
. The Office of Academic Assessment and Program Review schedules the Vice Provost, the Dean, Associate Dean or Special Assistant to the Dean, the Associate Vice Presidents of Graduate Studies and Research and Undergraduate Studies, and the EPC and GSC Reps. The program Chair or Coordinator is in charge of scheduling all other meetings.
What is the timeline of Program Review
Program Review is a five year cycle with the goal of completing a self study and new MOU in the fifth year of the cycle. A detailed timeline can be found on the Resources page.

For External Reviewers

Reimbursement: How does reimbursement work? What gets reimbursed? When do I get paid?
Each external reviewer is provided a $500 stipend for their service. The university reimburses for the cost of transportation, individual meals, and lodging. To be reimbursed, reviewers need to turn in ITEMIZED receipts attached to an invoice provided by the Program Review Coordinator. Reimbursements are paid AFTER the external reviewers’ final report is received by the Office.
Scheduling and Timing: How long is external review? What arrangements do I need to make?
External review is scheduled on two consecutive days. The meetings last a day and a half, with the exit meeting usually scheduled in the late morning or early afternoon on the 2nd day. The parking pass will be arranged by the Office of Assessment and Program Review. Passes for both days will be available at Info Booth 2 at the Prairie Street Parking Kiosk in the B4 parking lot the morning of your first meeting. Information about travel arrangements will be sent via email to you by the student assistant once a date for the review has been confirmed.
What goes in the external reviewers' report?
See The Guidelines for External Reviewer Report. There is only one report that both reviewers write and submit it together.
How long do we (the external reviewers) have to write the report?
Three weeks after the exit meeting are usually recommended for the writing of the report.