Institutional Quality Assurance Process

Cyclical Program Reviews - Graduate Programs

Western’s protocol for Cyclical Program Reviews has five principal components:

  1. Self-Study;
  2. Evaluations (including site-visit) with a report, and internal responses from the academic unit and Dean to the report;
  3. Institutional Evaluation;
  4. Recommendations;
  5. Ongoing Monitoring - Annual Planning Process.

Schedule of Reviews

The schedule is designed to allow the undergraduate and graduate programs within an academic unit to be reviewed concurrently; however, although the reviews will occur concurrently, they will normally undergo separate review processes with different external consultants.

The review schedule includes all collaborative, joint, and interdisciplinary programs. In addition, the programs offered by Western’s affiliated university colleges are included in the schedule. Joint programs that involve more than one institution will identify a lead institution to prepare the self-study document, consulting and obtaining relevant input from all participating institutions.

Protocol for Cyclical Program Reviews

The Provost and Vice-President (Academic) is responsible for Cyclical Program Reviews and for reporting their outcomes to the QC. In the review of graduate programs, the Provost is supported by the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies). The Committee on Program Review advises the Provost on all matters related to graduate program review.

Process/Timelines

  1. The self-study brief is developed by the program with support from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (for graduate programs).
  2. The brief is received by SUPR-G; SUPR-G appoints internal reviewers and external consultant(s) to review the brief and conduct a site visit. The external consultant(s) submits a written report of the review; the internal reviewers prepare a summary report of the review for SUPR-G.
  3. On the basis of the external consultants’ report, the academic unit’s response to the report, and the internal reviewers’ summary, SUPR-G submits a final assessment report to SCAPA (and shares this report with the program and Dean). This report includes acknowledgement of program innovations and recommendations for program improvements.
  4. SCAPA reviews the report of SUPR-G and makes an executive report to Senate.
  5. The Provost, through the Vice-Provosts, ensures that recommendations for improving the program and a plan for their implementation are shared with the Dean of the program’s Faculty.
  6. Provost’s Office includes the outcome of the cyclical review in the annual report to the Quality Council.
  7. Implementation of the recommended improvements is monitored by the University through the Annual Planning Process.

Self-Study

The self-study will comprise a broad, reflective, critical and forward-looking analysis of the program. It will reflect the involvement and consultation of faculty, staff and students of the program being reviewed and it will include data on university recognized indicators. In large part, these data will be provided by, or corroborated by, the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

The self-study document will address:

Where appropriate, input of others deemed to be relevant may be included in the self-study brief. For example, input from graduates of the program, professionals, industry representatives, and employers may be included. The Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), or his/her delegate, will review and approve the self-study report for graduate programs undergoing cyclical review.

Evaluation

The Review Team

The evaluation will include internal and external reviewers. The review team will normally include:

The faculty member internal to Western and the student comprise the internal reviewers. The Chair of SUPR-G may invite additional discretionary members of the Review Team if circumstances warrant.

All members of the review team will be at “arm’s length” from the program under review. Internal reviewers will not be from the program being reviewed. Additional conflicts of interest may include family ties, partnership ties, supervisory relations or other types of relationships with individuals in the program being reviewed. Any such relationships must be declared to determine the potential for conflict of interest. The Chair of SUPR-G, in consultation with the Provost, will evaluate the potential for conflict of interest. External consultants will normally be associate or full professors, preferably with some program administration experience, and must be at “arms length” from the program under review. “Arms length” reviewers have no family ties, partnership links, supervisory relationships or other relationships with anyone in the program being reviewed. A conflict of interest would exist in cases where the proposed consultant has collaborated or published with a member of the program within the past 7 years, has an administrative or family link with a member of the program being reviewed, has been a supervisor or supervisee (graduate or postdoctoral) of a member of the program being reviewed within the past 7 years, is a former member of the program being reviewed, is a friend of a member of the program being reviewed, or has been a recent (within the past 5 years) visiting professor in the program being reviewed.

The Chair of SUPR-G will appoint the internal reviewers. The faculty member internal reviewer will be a member of SUPR-G. Student members of the review teams will be selected from a list of student volunteers and student members of SUPR-G.

The Chair of SUPR-G, in consultation with the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), will select the external consultants from the list of potential consultants provided by the program.

All members of the Review Team will receive the program’s self-study. In addition, they will be provided with a volume containing the CVs of all of the full-time faculty members in the program under review.

The Chair of SUPR-G has the responsibility to ensure that the Review Team will:

These expectations will be shared with the Review Team in the form of written instructions and through face-to-face meetings.

The Site Visit

The site visit will be arranged by the Office of the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies) in collaboration with the program. The visit will normally be for two days and the internal reviewers will participate with the external consultants in all aspects of the site visit. The visit will include meetings with:

The review team will be free to seek information from other sources and to suggest other individuals and groups with whom to meet during the site visit.

The Report of the External Consultant and the Internal Reviewers’ Summary

The external consultants will normally provide a joint report appraising the standards and quality of the program and addressing the evaluation criteria in Section 4.3. The consultants will be instructed to submit their report to the Chair of SUPR-G within two weeks of the on-site visit.

The report of the external consultant(s) will be shared with the relevant Dean(s) and unit/program Chair(s) or Director(s) and their response to the report will be requested. In addition, the report will be shared with the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), who may provide a written response. The response of the Dean(s) and/or Chair(s)/Director(s) will comment on:

and will describe:

The internal reviewers will prepare a summary of the onsite visit, the report of the external consultant(s), and the response(s) to the report; this summary will constitute a draft of the final assessment report that SUPR-G will submit to SCAPA. SUPR-G will receive the summary, in addition to the report of the external consultant(s) and the response(s) to the report. The internal reviewers’ summary will:

Report to SCAPA and Senate

SUPR-G are subcommittees of Western’s Senate; they report directly to the Senate Committee on Academic Policy and Awards (SCAPA). SUPR-G will review the report of the external consultant(s), the response(s) to the report, and the summary of the internal reviewers. SUPR-U / SUPR-G may consult with the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), or the Provost in its evaluation of a program’s review. SUPR-G will recommend to SCAPA a final assessment report that identifies:

SCAPA will review the final assessment report from SUPR-G. SCAPA may seek clarification or additional information from SUPR-G prior to acceptance of the report. The final assessment report, exclusive of any confidential information, will be provided to the program and to the Dean(s) responsible for the program. A copy of the final assessment report will also be sent to the Quality Council. Implementation of the recommendation included in the report will be monitored through the Faculty Annual Planning Process where Deans will be required to report on steps taken to address the recommendations in the final report. SCAPA will report an executive summary of the final assessment and recommendations to Senate.

Following Senate’s receipt of the executive summary of the final assessment, the University Secretatiat’s office will post the executive summary of the review on the University’s webpage. Implementation of the recommendations resulting from the review will be monitored through the Annual Planning Process.

The Provost, in consultation with the University Secretariat, the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), and the Faculty Deans, will determine to what extent the public will have access to:

Annual Report to the Quality Council

Western will provide an annual report to the QC that includes the executive summary of the final assessment for all cyclical program reviews conducted during the year, as well as all major modifications approved by Senate during the year.

Accreditation Reviews

Cyclical program reviews may be scheduled to coincide with accreditation reviews. The normal period between reviews may be shortened to allow a program’s cyclical review to coincide with an accreditation review; however, synchronization of the cyclical review and accreditation review will only be permitted in cases where the maximum period between cyclical reviews does not exceed 8 years.

Although cyclical program reviews may be scheduled to coincide with accreditation reviews, accreditation reviews will not take the place of cyclical reviews. A cyclical program review will normally be conducted in addition to the accreditation review to ensure full consideration of all aspects of the cyclical review.

Evaluation Criteria

Objectives

Admission Requirements

Program Structure and Curriculum

Assessment of Teaching and Learning

Resources for All Programs

Resources for Graduate Programs

Quality and Other Indicators

In addition to the evaluation criteria above, the reviews should include relevant information (as available) regarding:

Quality Enhancement

Initiatives that have been implemented to improve the quality of the program and the associated learning outcomes and teaching environment.