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Program and Unit Review

Comprehensive reviews of academic, student success, and administrative programs are a best practice in higher education quality assurance and continuous improvement. At WCU, our academic programs engage in comprehensive evaluation through programmatic and professional accreditation review or WCU's institutional program review process. Student support services and administrative units also participate in periodic review of their operations and strategic direction. 

Academic programs that are not accredited by a professional or programmatic accreditation agency engage in WCU's program review process.  Similar to accreditation reviews, WCU's program review process involves a self-study document and on-site visit by a review team.  The review team consists of two disciplinary experts external to WCU who provide feedback and recommendations for quality enhancement and two reviewers internal to WCU who provide institutional context.  Each academic program is guided by seven quality standards which fall under three categories: Significance, Resources, and Administrative Operations.  The self study document addresses all of the componens of these standards.

Standard 1: Purpose of the program reflects and supports the mission and strategic vision of WCU and the mission of its school and/or college.

  • Program purpose
  • Alignment of program purpose with WCU, college, and departmental missions
  • Distinctive aspects of the program
  • Primary strengths/weaknesses of the program

Standard 2: The program engages in ongoing, systematic planning that is reflective of the university's strategic priorities.

  • Program's strategic goals and objectives
  • Process for developing/modifying goals and objectives
  • Relation of program goals and objectives to curricular and programmatic activities
  • Process for implementing program goals and objectives

Standard 3: The program provides and evaluates a high quality curriculum that emphasizes student learning as its primary purpose.

  • Alignment of curriculm with disciplinary standards
    • Establishment of and adherence to pre- and co-requisite courses
    • Rationale for selection and organization of courses in the curriculum
    • Logic, sequence, and coherences of the curriculum
  • Amount of time needed to complete the curriculum
  • Multi- or interdisciplinary strengths of the programs
  • Alignment of curriculum to meet WCU needs (i.e. General Education/Liberal Studies)
  • Statement of course objectives that reflect the expected student learning outcomes in syllabi
  • Internal process used by the program to modify the curriculum

Standard 4: The program has sufficient faculty resources to meet its mission and goals.

  • All faculty credentials are consistent with SACSCOC and program accreditation standards (if applicable)
  • Faculty backgrounds that adequately span the major concentrations in the program
  • Representative nature of faculty in terms of demographics, tenure, and diversity
  • Faculty that demonstrate continuous growth as professional practitioners, teachers, and scholars
  • Adequacy of professional and pedagogical development opportunities for faculty
  • Presence of a positive, productive work environment for all faculty in the program
  • Equitable distribution of instructional loads among faculty
  • Rational and coherent performance standards for faculty review, tenure and promotion
  • Orientation of graduate teaching assistants to the mission and goals of the program (if applicable)
  • Mentoring and evaluation opportunities for graduate students (if applicable)

Standard 5: The program attracts, retains, and graduates high quality students.

  • Size and demography of students enrolled in the program appropriate to its mission and goals
  • Diversity of student population
  • Enrollment patterns in the program relative to institutional and national enrollment patterns
  • Future viability of the program in terms of enrollment
  • Academic qualifications of students admitted to the program compared to the general profile of Western students
  • Accuracy and consistency of student advising
    • Mechanisms to monitor students’ progress toward degree
    • Use of or collaboration with professional advisors and other student support services to provide quality advising to their students
  • Student opportunities to engage in enriching activities that have been shown to promote retention and graduation such as involvement with faculty research, independent study, study abroad, internships and cooperative education, volunteerism, honor societies, and student organizations
  • Processes/activities to recruit and retain students
  • Student performance on licensure or professional certifications exams relative to regional and national standards
  • Adequacy of financial support/opportunities to recruit and retain high quality students

Standard 6: The program has an administrative structure that facilitates achievements of program goals and objectives.

  • Processes in place to ensure efficient and effective decision-making
  • Support and training opportunities provided for faculty serving as department heads, program directors, or other leadership positions
  • Faculty involvement in ongoing program activities such as assessment, curriculum development and review, and faculty review, tenure and promotion
  • Involvement of students, alumni, and other program constituents in program decision-making
  • Evaluation of administrators

Standard 7: The program has adequate resources to meet its goals and objectives.

  • Adequacy of budget to support the mission and goals of the program
  • Currency and adequacy of facilities and laboratories, instructional technology, and library resources to support the mission and goals of the program
  • Program staffing needs
  • Effective and appropriate use of staff

Student success units in Academic Affairs particiapte in WCU's program review process.  There are six components of the student success self-study: History, Mission Alignment, Demand, Quality, Cost Effectiveness, and Opportunity Analysis.   

  • Primary purpose, key functions, goals/priorities
  • Organization structure of the unit
  • Contribution of student employees and graduate assistants
  • How previous recommendations have led to changes/improvements
  • Alignment of the unit mission with the university's/division's mission and strategic plan
  • Who are key users and participants 
  • Importance and unique contributions of the program/services
  • Measurements of demand for program/services
  • Quality measures and benchmarks
  • Use of annual assessment data for continuous improvement
  • Major accomplishments related to unit functions and university strategic goals
  • Measurements of cost effectiveness
  • Three year itemized budget and expenditures
  • Quality enhancement
  • Impact of other institutional programs/services
  • Benchmarking peer and aspirant institutions
  • External funding opportunities
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