Initial Publication Date: February 24, 2009

Departmental Review Discussion Summary

Positive impacts of departmental reviews:

  • added a faculty line
  • filled four lines
  • 21 new petrologic microscopes/classroom renovations/computer lab
  • new wing on science building that allowed consolidation of dept space
  • building renovation
  • new college (not clear that it was the review that got this)
  • empowered junior faculty regarding vision and direction
  • change in curriculum led to increase in majors
  • saved department
  • wake up call, benchmark that led to one more chance to improve with cash infusion and follow up review

Negative impacts of departmental review:

  • department eliminated
  • graduate program downsized

Wisdom regarding departmental reviews

Picking reviewers

  • choose reviewers who are respected by high administration - this may be people respected in discipline
  • may be worthwhile to align specialty of the reviewers with the focus of the department
  • picking people who can comment on the particular areas needing comment
  • alums (not necessarily academics)
  • may be helpful to have a high level adminstrator (provost, dean)
  • important to have reviewers who understand or can learn about institutional contexts

Opportunity to strengthen department

  • self-study is an opportunity to get faculty talking to each other
  • learn what your peers (people who are like you in some respect) are doing and how you compare to them (this can also lead to good discussion among faculty).
  • opportunity to normalize to community-wide expectations

Taking a Proactive Stance

  • a stance of working with the institution on review/accreditation leads to positive results
  • poor effort in preparing review leads to bad consequences
  • strengthen the request from the administration to lead to a positive experience and a valuable review
  • recognizing opportunities to be a leader/example for the institution
  • need to know administration and their priorities/needs/objectives – these may not be the goals/mission/vision. Brief reviewers before they meet with the upper administration

Develop case for institution about the value added by department

  • Students choosing the major after they start college is a clear indicator of value added
  • Use CLA (pre-in-post) to identify learning trajectory on things like writing, critical thinking and relationship of majors to whole population
  • Use portfolios to capture samples of trajectory and analyze for pre-major, introductory courses, post-major changes.
  • Reviewers show with whom you can/should associate yourself

Other issues/outstanding questions:

  • Many of us are finding that departmental reviews are not having the impact they could/have in the past.
  • How can we bring value of departmental reviews into consciousness of accreditors?