Learning Assessment in Academic Program Review

The Academic Program Review (APR) process is an important recurring exercise in self-assessment of an academic program. Student learning outcomes assessment is a key process that programs are asked to describe in their APR Self-Study reports. The APR is an opportunity for a unit to self-examine its assessment process and report findings on student learning. These findings, developed from measurable learning outcomes and outcome-aligned assessment activities, can lead to productive faculty discussions about curriculum and instructional practices that may need change. The diagram below summarizes the steps involved in the learning outcomes assessment review process embedded in the APR. Details of the process are listed below the diagram.

Please note that Academic Program Review includes, but is not limited to student learning outcomes assessment.

Diagram of assessment improvement cycle; details are also available in the text below the diagram

Spring Prior to APR Self-Study Submission 

As academic units prepare for their Academic Program Review (APR) in the upcoming academic year, assessment specialists in the Office of Instruction & Assessment (OIA) host a workshop to address the Student Learning Outcomes Assessment requirements and reporting in the Taskstream Accountability Management System (AMS).

During the Academic Year in which the Self-Study is Submitted

  • The learning outcomes assessment information reported in the AMS is included in the APR Self-Study Report, as an appendix. Summaries of the assessment process in the undergraduate and graduate programs are included in the body of the Self-Study Report. (See the APR Manual.) 
  • After the Self-Study Report is submitted to the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs (VPAA), at least two OIA assessment specialists separately review and evaluate the Student Learning Outcomes Assessment section(s) of the unit’s APR Self-Study, using a rubric. Graduate and undergraduate programs are reviewed separately. The assessment specialists then meet, confer on their ratings, and come to agreement on a rating and comments appropriate for each of the rubric criteria.
  • The scored rubric(s) is(are) sent to the unit head in advance of the APR site visit, with a copy sent to the VPAA. The rubric ratings are discussed at the site visit meeting.

During the Spring or Summer of the Year following the Self-Study Submission

  • The unit head is contacted by one of the OIA assessment specialists who conducted the evaluation to set up a meeting, if necessary, to discuss evaluation results and next steps for improvement. The meeting  includes as many individuals as the unit head invites to be present; e.g., the directors of undergraduate and graduate students, program coordinators.
  • After the meeting, the OIA assessment specialist prepares a draft memo for the VPAA outlining next steps for assessment of student learning in the unit. The draft memo is shared with and revised as necessary by the unit head or the unit’s designated person. When everyone is in agreement on the content of the memo, the Post-APR Feedback Memo is sent to the VPAA and copied to the unit head and College Associate Dean.

Beyond the Self-Study Year

  • The OIA assessment specialist working with the unit continues coach and provide feedback on improvements to its assessment process.
  • The unit updates and submits its assessment information in the AMS each year, by Sept. 30.
  • One year following the APR, an OIA assessment specialist reviews the information in the AMS and uses the rubric to once again evaluate the unit’s assessment process. Ratings and comments are sent to the unit head, with a copy to the College Associate Dean.
  • Consultations and feedback continue if requested by the unit. The evaluation is repeated again at three years and five years post-APR.
  • It is important for units to update their AMS information annually to enable the review process and to be ready for the next APR in the seventh year.