Academic Review Process
Degree programs scheduled for an Acadmic Program Review are contacted approximately one year in advance of their review to allow ample preparation time. The process is initiated with an introductory meeting between the APR Coordinator, the degree program, and interested college representative to convey expectations and provide tools to prepare for review.
The Academic Program Review process is outlined in detail on the following pages. The process can be conceptualized into five stages:
- Nominating members for the external review team
- Preparing the self-study
- Establishing the itinerary for the on-site visit
- Generating the response document
- Attending post-review meeting and reporting
Template: Nominating the External Review Team
Template Nomination Memo
Nominating the External Review Team
An important task for the Degree Program is to develop a list of 8 to 10 potential reviewers. Nominees should be professionally prominent individuals who have experience not only with undergraduate and graduate programs, but also with teaching, research, and engagement or service components as appropriate. Programs should identify a diverse group of nominees from peer or aspirant peers. When appropriate, nominees may also be from business or government. A team member who participated in a previous review is recommended, but not required. Degree Programs should coordinate their nominees in consultation with the appropriate college dean.
The memorandum identifying the list of potential reviewers will contain the following information:
- Preferred potential reviewers
- Complete job title, rank, and name of a reviewer’s department or program
- Nominee’s principal area of scholarly activity (related to degree program being reviewed)
- Name of university or organization
- Contact information (full mailing address, e-mail, and telephone number)
- Preference for chair of external review team (top 2 choices)
When the nominee list is finalized, submit the nomination list to the Provost, through the college dean, APR Coordinator, and Vice Provost for Academic Affiars. The deans are responsible for certifying that the list of candidates meets the requirements as listed in the previous paragraph.
Upon receipt of the college-approved peer review candidates, the APR Coordinator will forward the list of candidates to the Provost for approval. After approval by the Provost, the APR Coordinator will invite the reviewers.
Review team members selected from the list of potential reviewers will be chosen according to the following criteria:
Number of Reviewers per team:
- Bachelor’s or Master’s programs only = 2 reviewers total
- Master’s + Ph.D. program(s) = 3 reviewers total
- Bachelor’s + Master’s + Ph.D. programs = 4 reviewers total
- At least 2 external reviewers with subject matter expertise must be employed by institutions of higher education outside of Texas.
- External Reviewers must be part of a program that is nationally recognized for excellence in discipline; they will be asked to benchmark Texas A&M’s programs based on discipline-specific rankings and other publicly available comparisons to gradute programs.
- External Reviewers must affirm that there exists no conflict of interest related to the program under review.
Preparing the Self-Study Document
The Program’s faculty prepare the self-study prior to review. This study provides detailed information about the program and includes an assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The self-study is the faculty’s opportunity for self-evaluation and reflection both on historical data (the past five years) as well as a strategic path forward (the next five years). Degree programs are encouraged to commit themselves to specific, long-range planning in the self-study. An analysis of each major section of the self-study helps reviewers put the program data into context within the college and larger institution.
A final draft self-study must be submitted to the dean and Provost’s office two months before the on-site visit.
Programs should follow closely the self-study outline provided on the next page. This outline ensures that key elements required by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) are addressed. Previous self-study documents, which may be helpful, can be found at http://apr.tamu.edu. Please note that requirements may have changed since previous self-studies were completed. The APR Coordinator may assist in the self-study process, and the Office of Data and Research Services (DARS) will provide data to be utilized in the self-study.
Contents of the Self-Study Report
The degree program’s self-study will be your external review team’s primary source of information. In addition to presenting the information requested in tables, charts, and narratives, the degree program should complete each section with an analysis.
Organize the self-study report according to the order of required items as listed.
Sections of the self-study denoted with * are required by the State of Texas ( see “Characteristics of Texas Doctoral Programs” and Texas Administrative Code Rule § 5.52). Some data are provided by Data and Research Services (DARS) whereas the Program will be have the information related to learning outcomes and assessments or degree program evaluation metrics for faculty performance evaluation. Please contact the APR Coordinator if you need guidance in gathering information.
- External Review Team Charge
- Executive Summary of the Self-Study Report (1-2 pages)
- Introduction to degree program
Academic Programs and Curricula
- Programs Offered.
- Program curricula (including duration and comparisons to peers).
- Admissions criteria (doctoral students)*.
- Number of degrees awarded per year (most recent 5 years).
- Average time to degree (most recent 5 years).
- Academic enhancement / high-impact opportunities for students.
- Assessment of student learning outcomes (all degree levels).
- Analysis: Briefly discuss improvements made based as a result of the department/program’s assessment of student learning outcomes (all degree levels).
Core faculty defined as appropriately credentialed individuals integral to the program, such as those who teach courses, mentor students, or serve on committees
- Number of core faculty*
- Core faculty / student ratio*
- Publications (most recent 5 years)*
- External grants (most recent 5 years)*
- Teaching load*
Faculty other than core (as defined above)
- Faculty / student ratio
- External grants
- Teaching load
- Faculty diversity*
- Faculty qualifications (i.e., expected qualifications for faculty hired by the degree program).
- Analysis: Is the number of full-time faculty members adequate to support the mission of the institution and to ensure the quality and integrity of its academic programs? Using the degree program’s standards (i.e., Departmental/Program Evaluation Metrics for faculty teaching, research, and service as submitted to the provost, as well as other relevant data such as annual reviews and Academic Analytics or other benchmark services), discuss the faculty’s overall performance.
- Concluding Observations
- Faculty CVs (abbreviated versions are preferred)
- Institutional Profile (Official documentation will be provided by the Office of the Provost that includes a letter from the President, the SACSCOC institutional summary, and the most recent SACSCOC financial profile).
Data and Research Services (DARS) Reports for Degree Program
Data provided will cover the most recent 5-year period, and will include the information summarized below. Note that some reports will vary based on structure of degree program as well as the quality of data available.
- Student enrollment by degree program (by semester and academic year)
- Student demographics (gender, ethnicity, domestic vs international) by level (by semester and academic year)
- Average SAT/GRE scores and GPA for enrolled students by level; also compared to the average for the affiliated academic college (by semester and academic year)
- Degrees awarded by degree program (DARS will attempt to pull by semester and academic year)
- Number of applied/admitted/enrolled students for degree program by degree program and by level (fall semesters only)
- Average time to degree by degree program (by academic year)
- Average retention rates by degree program (by academic year)
- First time in college by Texas high school
- Average annual faculty salary by rank (by academic year converted to nine- month salaries); this will include full-time faculty only and will be divided among tenured/tenure-track individuals and non-tenure-track individuals
- Average faculty salary by rank relative to TAMU, and relative to peer institutions comparable degree programs; this will include full-time faculty only
- Faculty demographics (gender, ethnicity, age) by rank (divided by full time and part-time)
- Teaching load per faculty rank by level (by academic year)
- Faculty to student ratio; also compared to other degree programs within the affiliated academic college (fall semesters only, using STAR-Semester Teaching Analysis Report created by DARS)
- Semester credit hours taken by major (regardless of degree program) by level (by semester and academic year).
- Semester credit hours taught in degree program courses (regardless of major of student taking the course) by level (by semester and academic year).
- Courses taken by major
- History of courses taught
- Outside-degree program students by gender and level
- Outside-degree program students summary by gender and level
Establishing the Itinerary for the On-Site Visit
External reviewers arrive in College Station on Sunday afternoon and depart Wednesday afternoon. The site visit consists of Entry/Exit Interviews with the APR Administrative Team, various meetings with the dean of the college (or designee), DH/PC, faculty members, and students, and tours of degree program facilities. Below is a sample itinerary. This is a suggested itinerary and is flexible with the exception of the breakfasts that are scheduled by the APR Coordinator.
Transportation, Meals, and Lodging
The degree program is responsible for arranging all transportation for the external review team. Transportation should be arranged at least two months prior to the review to help defray costs. Arrival time should be scheduled for reviewers to attend a welcome dinner Sunday evening and depart after lunch on Wednesday. Degree programs should book flights using standard administrative business practice. Reviewers are at liberty to schedule their own flights as long as they travel economy class and do not exceed $600. Reimbursement will be provided after receipt of the external review team’s final report. Arrangement of one rental car for the review team is allowed if needed. The degree program is also responsible for escorting the external review team to and from Easterwood Airport.
The degree program is responsible for arranging lunches, dinners, and the reception for the external review team. Meals should be arranged approximately one month prior to the visit. Meals should not be extravagant and should be fiscally responsible. Any expenses for alcohol will be covered by the degree program. See “Sample Itinerary” for more specifics regarding meal arrangements and note the different options to be utilized for lunches. The APR Coordinator is responsible for arranging breakfasts.
Lodging is arranged by the APR Coordinator.
The Provost’s Office will subsidize some of the expenses incurred by the degree program. The APR Coordinator will request a 02 account during the month of August prior to the APR cycle. Funds will be transferred into the account to be used by the degree program at their discretion.
Expenses covered by the degree program
|Self Study Report
Copying, binding, mailing costs, however, it is recommended this document be shared electronically
||$600 per reviewer
Expenses for one rental car for the use of the team if necessary
Welcome Dinner with review team, DH/PC and degree program representatives/committee (size of delegation to join review team is at DH/PC's discretion)
|Degree Program Reception
|Meals During Review
Lunches and Dinners
Expenses paid by the Provost's Office
To be paid/reimbursed once the external review team's final report is received in the Provost's Office
|ERT Professional Fee
||$1500 per reviewer
Any expenses incurred by the ERT member such as parking, mileage, rental car (if needed) from IAH or Austin to College Station, and meals during travel.
Lodging and breakfast will be coordinated and paid by the Provost's Office.
The External Review Team's Final Report
Once the external review team completes the site visit, and based on state reporting requirements, the Chair has 21 days to transmit the final report to the Provost and Executive Vice President.
The Response Document
The APR Coordinator will forward the external review team’s final report to the degree program, the college, and other relevant parties upon receipt. The degree program has 30 days to provide a draft written response on the external review team’s report to the dean. During this time, the DH/PC will share the response with the faculty and provide the opportunity for input and discussion. The degree program will then submit the report to the college dean. The college will then have 30 days to submit the final degree program response to the APR Coordinator.
The degree program must address all recommendations identified in the external review team’s report. If the external review team has made a recommendation with which the degree program disagrees, that too should be addressed in the response.
Note that the response must be a stand-alone document such that individuals could read the response without having seen the self-study or the external review team’s final report. Therefore, the recommendations shall be extracted verbatim and copied into the response. For example:
1. Recommendation: XXXXXXXXXXXX.
Degree program response: xxxxxxxxxx.
Action item: xxxxxxx. (Including, as appropriate, implementation, action plan and timing).
Post-Review Meeting and Reporting
The goal of the post-review process is continuing institutional improvement as a result of the APR. Post- review consists of a post-review meeting, submission of an institutional response, and submission of both 1-year and 5-year status reports.
THE POST-REVIEW MEETING
The post-review meeting is held within 90 days after the site visit. This meeting is led by the DH/PC and attended by the APR Administrative Team and the college dean (or designee). With prior approval, the DH/PC may invite other degree program or college personnel as appropriate. The post-review meeting provides the DH/PC the opportunity to present and discuss the Degree Program Response and the proposed actions based on the external review. The APR Administrative Team, college dean, and DH/PC will subsequently reach consensus on what actions are to be taken.
The outcomes of the Post-Review meeting, as well as the degree program response, will be outlined in the Institutional Response. The Institutional Response includes actions to be taken and discussion of any resources necessary for implementing the plan. The Provost’s Office will submit the Institutional Response to the THECB as required.
1 Year Status Report
Approximately one year after the site visit, the degree program submits to the Provost, through the dean, a 1-Year Status Report addressing actions taken as discussed in the Post-Review meeting and the Executive Summary. The Provost forwards the 1-year status report to the external review team for their information.
5 Year Status Report
Approximately five years after the site visit, the degree program sends to the Provost, through the dean, a status report on actions taken and results of changes implemented as a result of APR as outlined in the Institutional Response.