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Appendix L

Guidelines for Academic Program Review

(formally Appendix N)

The principal functions of an Academic Program Review (APR) are to (re)define the mission and objectives of the department/program, to assess program quality and effectiveness in relation to these goals and objectives, to generate plans for improvement, and to provide guidance for administrative decisions. An APR includes an internal self-study and an external review by a visiting committee, resulting in the formulation of an academic plan for each department and program. Both the internal self-study and the external review focus on the intellectual vitality of the department or program as it manifests itself in teaching, scholarly or artistic activity, and contribution to the academic life of the College as a whole.  Each department and program is assigned to one of four groups undergoing reviews during a given three-year period; within a twelve-year cycle all departments and programs will therefore systematically undergo an APR.  The timetable for an APR is a year and a half, beginning in the spring term and concluding by the end of the next academic year. A sample timetable is attached.

Additionally, each department and program will devote one extended faculty meeting every three years to an interim discussion which involves reviewing the APR and assessing and updating the data connected to it.  Descriptive minutes of the extended department meeting and the updated data will be sent to the Provost as part of the chair’s annual report in those years when the three-year interim discussion takes place.

The Self-Study is developed by the department's faculty and is intended to encourage members of a department to analyze its curriculum in relation to the goals of the department, related interdisciplinary programs, and, more broadly, the College. Intense faculty involvement is fundamental to the process. The aim is for the right balance between constructive self-criticism and recognition of programmatic strengths. Where change is recommended, it should be in the context of planning by transformation and growth by substitution.

The Provost or Assistant Provost meets with each department or program as it begins the review process and helps to formulate issues and questions specific to the department. The department first investigates the effectiveness of its curriculum in relation to the desired outcomes (as perceived by students, alumnae and faculty members); evaluates its curriculum in light of curricula at selected peer institutions; reviews various internal procedures to determine strengths and weaknesses; evaluates the effectiveness of current levels of resources on the ongoing programs; and suggests needed changes in program content, department organization and procedures, and resources. It also responds to questions that are submitted to the department by the Committee on Instruction, based on the COI's knowledge of the department's curriculum in relation to other College programs and curricular requirements. These department-generated and COI-generated questions are aimed at the courses and major, the department's contributions to interdisciplinary programs, and to the academic purposes of Barnard College as a liberal arts institution. The product of this process is a Self-Study; a recommended format and topics to be covered are indicated in section A below.

The department/program submits the Self-Study to the Provost, who will share it with the President and the Faculty Budget and Planning Committee. The portion of the Self-Study dealing with curriculum will be sent to the COI. The Self-Study is considered a privileged document, that is, the Provost will not release it to others. The department is free to share the report as it chooses.

A. The Internal Department Review and Self-Study Report

The self-study process for the APR should be broadly participatory and involve all members of the department or program. The outcome of the self-study process should be an organized report that comprehensively describes the current status of the department or program and contains a projection of where the department aspires to be in the next ten to twelve years. Depending on the size of the department, the Chair should appoint a departmental review committee to prepare the Self-Study report. Reports from other institutions indicate that the generation of the report will be facilitated if a small core of full-time, tenured, senior faculty are involved in the data gathering and writing of the report. It should express the views of all members of the department and include reference to areas where consensus is not achieved. Where interdepartmental coordination or cooperation is a relevant factor, the department should solicit the views of other Barnard departments as part of the process. Similarly, where appropriate, the department should invite the Columbia counterpart department to participate.

The text of the report should not exceed 20 single-spaced pages, not including tables and figures. Appendix materials should relate directly to the substance of the report and/or to any special issues. Departments and programs may call upon the Office of the Provost to assist in data collection.

Organization of the Self-Study

Overview and Mission: Provide a brief history of the department and a statement of the department's sense of itself and its relation to the mission of the College. Identify any specific objectives the department has, e.g. accreditation in a particular field, service to other departments/programs.

Assessment: Describe (or include copies of) the department’s mission and student learning outcomes.  Demonstrate that the department is up-to-date on annual assessment reports and plan, and summarize findings, actions taken, and impact.

Resources: Describe the current state of the resources - human (faculty and staff); physical (space, equipment, audio-visual, computer hardware and software); and fiscal (operating budget, endowed or special funds, external grants for departmental programs) - which are available to carry out the department's goals and objectives, and an evaluation of prospects for the future. Describe grants awarded to individual faculty members and means for encouraging faculty to obtain external support for instructional and research purposes. Analyze the scope and adequacy of central facilities such as the Barnard library, Columbia University libraries, IMATS, CCNMTL etc to support the instructional and research needs of the department.

Faculty: Provide information in tabular form on full-time faculty members with respect to teaching and research specialization, publications, extra-departmental teaching in the College and Columbia graduate courses, participation in College committees, teaching programs and student advising (first & second year, major, interdisciplinary and independent programs). Supervision of field work, independent work and senior essays should also be included here. Appendices should contain current curricula vitae of all faculty. Accompanying these data should be commentary that addresses: (1) the adequacy of the department's representation of the discipline, (2) the appropriateness of the distribution of the teaching and advising function by rank and field, and (3) the relationship between teaching assignments and scholarly interests.

Describe recent faculty recruitment activities, including the search process and selection criteria.

Describe department procedures for the evaluation of faculty (and staff, as appropriate) for re-appointment, tenure and promotion, including student course evaluations and how the data derived from them are used.

Describe the department's efforts to facilitate faculty development, both in teaching and research, with particular attention to the mentoring of junior faculty.

Comment on the diversity of the faculty within the department, and what the future staffing goals in this area might be.

Curriculum and Enrollment: Analyze the ways in which the department courses and the major, both in content and manner of teaching, contribute to the academic purposes of Barnard. Discuss your department's relationship with its counterpart Columbia department, and/or most closely related Columbia programs. Representative syllabi from courses at all levels and in all fields of the discipline should be included in the appendix.

Outline the program for majors with course descriptions appended, including a description of the typical path(s) of majors, gathered from historical transcripts as well as from current students. Comparisons should be drawn between the Barnard major and the Columbia major, as well as those offered by peer colleges. Be sure to discuss the extent to which courses offered by Columbia are available (or essential) for the Barnard major.

Evaluate the quality of major advising and the frequency of student-faculty contact outside of class.

Present projections for the growth (or reduction) in the number of majors, and for new or revised directions in the major field.

Analyze the participation of non-majors in the department's courses, including a description of typical paths of non-majors as they take the department's offerings, including those in satisfaction of general education requirements.

Describe the contribution of the department to first-year seminars, other majors, and interdisciplinary programs, and make projections for the next three to five-year period.

Describe the curricular offerings related to issues of diversity, i.e. issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and more.

Students: Summarize and analyze the career choices and perceptions of a random sample of recent graduates from the major, derived from alumnae questionnaires, and supplemented, as the department sees fit, by additional mail and telephone interviews.

Summarize and analyze perceptions of current undergraduate majors based on the College's current student questionnaire with additional discussion/focus groups as desired.

Critical Analysis and Priorities for the Future: Describe and analyze the department's strengths and deficiencies and proposed changes. Identify unresolved problems on which an external review panel might provide special counsel and prepare a list of specific questions you wish to send to them. Particular attention should be given to issues regarding faculty recruitment, retention and advancement.

Describe plans for the future direction of the department for the next ten to twelve years, consistent with the mission and future direction of the College.

B. The Selection of the External Review Panel

The visiting committee ordinarily consists of three persons (two from outside Barnard and one from another Barnard department). External reviewers based in the discipline should have relevant experience at select liberal arts colleges as well as with academic research at the highest levels of quality. The department provides the Provost with names of suggested individuals along with pertinent biographical information. Additional names are sought by the Provost from other knowledgeable persons. The Provost or her designee formalizes all arrangements with members of the visiting committee. External members of the visiting committee receive a modest stipend, and their travel and housing expenses are paid by the College.

C. The Site Visit

The visiting committee visits the campus, usually for two days. At least four weeks prior to its arrival, the committee receives the Self-Study report and specific questions prepared by the department, as well as background material on the department and the College provided by the Chair and the Provost. Should the President and Provost have questions that they particularly wish to see addressed by the visiting committee, they are included with these materials.

The Provost, in consultation with members of the department, establishes a schedule for the visit, to include minimally:

- an initial meeting with the Provost, joined when possible by the President;                     
- a tour of facilities;
- examination of additional materials, e.g. course syllabi, sample examinations and student work, scholarly or creative works of the faculty, etc.
- a meeting with the Barnard department as a whole;
- a meeting with members of the counterpart Columbia department or program;
- individual meetings with all full time faculty;
- meetings with selected members of the Barnard faculty from related departments or from interdisciplinary programs;
- meetings with students, and if possible, recent graduates;
- attending classes;
- an exit interview with the Chair and tenured faculty;
- an exit interview with the President and the Provost.

The final report is expected within two weeks of the site visit.

D. Departmental Response to the Reviewer's Report

As soon as the Provost receives the Report, she distributes it to the department and the President. The department then examines the report for accuracy and analyzes its recommendations. It is expected that it will serve as a basis for broad discussion within the department. The department may develop a written response to the Report, correcting factual errors or misperceptions if any, and offering a plan to incorporate the suggestions made by the reviewers into the department's action agenda for the next 10 to 12 years. The department's written response should be developed as quickly as possible, no later than one month after receiving the reviewers' report.

E. Follow-Up Meetings

The Provost sets up a meeting for the tenured faculty of the department with the Provost and President to discuss the report and response (if any).  The Provost will give an oral report of the meeting with the department’s tenured faculty to the FBPC, and will develop a written report as needed.

Revised July 2010