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The three Academic Program Review processes at John Carroll University involve the systematic self-examination of an academic program by its faculty members in order to sustain or improve educational effectiveness in a collaboration between faculty and academic leadership (a group selected by the Vice President for Academic Affairs and including at minimum the academic deans). Specifically, the processes strive to answer four key questions:

  1. Are new programs on track for long-term success?
  2. How are all of JCU’s academic programs performing?
  3. How can we best leverage internal and external expertise to improve programs?
  4. How can replicate one program’s successes across the institution.

The University will answer the initial question through the New Program Checkpoint process.  During each new major’s or graduate program’s third year of operation, it will be required to complete the New Program Checkpoint. Institutional Effectiveness (IE) will provide a small Pulse Check dashboard with a few key datapoints. The program’s faculty will then craft a Prospectus: a brief narrative explaining changes from the program’s original proposal (which will be provided) and reflecting on the program’s growth over the past three years. The program will arrange a New Programs Consultation with a faculty member in a similar program at another University who will read the Prospectus, meet virtually with faculty (and staff and students, if warranted). The New Program Consultant will provide a written report to the dean’s office. The leadership group, led by the appropriate dean, will then decide to either allow the program to enter the normal review cycle or develop an action plan for sustainability with a second Checkpoint scheduled for one to three years after the initial Checkpoint.

Programs that are released into the normal review cycle will then 1) develop their official plan for assessment of student learning and begin the Annual Assessment Report process; and 2) participate in the Annual Health Check.

This process will be rolled out for 2024-2025.

The University will answer the second question through the Annual Health Check process.  IE will maintain an at-a-glance departmental dashboard with links to program-level details and a dashboard designed for data exploration. Each department and interdisciplinary program will first review the dashboards and self-evaluate on a few other measures. Faculty will then submit a one-page summary of current strengths and key challenges facing the department’s programs in the next few years. The leadership group will review the Health Checks provide a brief response providing feedback to the Health Check.

Programs and departments with programmatic accreditation or recognition may submit accreditation reporting materials in lieu of the Annual Health Check submission. Programs selected for participation in a Targeted Review will receive their Review charge instead of a response and will be exempted from the Annual Health Check during their Review period.

This process will be piloted in Spring 2024.

The University will answer the third and fourth questions through the Focused Review process. The academic leadership group will select a cohort of programs each year to participate in Focused Reviews based on data from recent Annual Health Check, institutional context and priorities, or other factors. These will often be programs with a specific problem to solve or strong programs whose successes might be shared more widely across campus. “Program” in the Targeted Review context should be understood to mean any unit within Academic Affairs (e.g., a college, school, academic department, a major or group of majors, a minor, a concentration, or an office). Once programs have been selected, the appropriate administrator (usually the academic dean) will give the program its Charge, which will delineate the desired outcomes of the Targeted Review, the nature of the Consultation, and the specific timeline. Material in this document relating to the Targeted Review should be understood as an example, subject to modification by the Charge.

The Focused Review process is based on JCU’s original Academic Program Review process (2007-2023). IE will modify the basic APR template and data package in light of the Charge. One or more faculty members from each of the programs selected for Targeted Review will then draft a Self-Study with input from all faculty in the program on the final sections of the document. The program will have some form of Consultation (as described in the charge). This may involve multiple faculty members in similar programs at other universities who will read the Self-Study and meet virtually or in-person with faculty and students. Or it may involve a conversation with an expert in curriculum, student success, marketing, or enrollment, either a JCU employee or an outside person. In all cases, the Consultation will result in a written document, answering questions from and making recommendations in light of the Charge. The appropriate administrator’s office will then work with the program to develop a three year action plan with designated check-in points.

  • Cohort for 2024-2025: Neuroscience; Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies



The first cycle of the modern incarnation of APR at JCU began in the College of Arts & Sciences in academic year 2007-2008. In the first four years, six departments completed APR. The APR process was suspended for three years (Fall 2011 through Spring 2014) and revised by CAS department chairs to include more focus on student learning and the integrative core curriculum. It was re-activated in 2014-2015 and expanded to include interdisciplinary programs and Boler College majors. Graduate Program Review (which ran consistently from the 1990s until 2014) was once a separate process until it was folded into APR with the 2014-2015 revision. At the insistence of the Higher Learning Commission, all academic programs completed their first APRs by the end of the spring semester in 2016. 

The second cycle of APR was interrupted when the strategic planning process required every academic program to undergo an Academic Program Evaluation. As the University returned to normal operations following pandemic lockdowns, the College of Arts & Sciences piloted Targeted Reviews.

  • 2016-2017 - Cycle 2 as scheduled
  • 2017-2018 - Cycle 2 as scheduled + Library + Focused Review for Advising
  • 2018-2019 - Cycle 2 as scheduled
  • 2019-2020 - Academic Program Evaluation (all programs) + Focused Review for Pilla Program
  • 2020-2021 - No Reviews for COVID
  • 2021-2022 - Focused Review for Communication (Co-Curriculars)
  • 2022-2023 - Focused Review for Spanish

The current APR processes commenced following pandemic-related and change-of-leadership-related delays. It incorporated some of the data-focused elements of the Academic Program Evaluation process and the focus of the Targeted Reviews.

The Office of Institution Effectiveness (IE)’s Assessment function is charged with oversight of two separate but inter-related processes: APR and the routine assessment of student learning.  Student learning assessment is a routine part of each academic program’s activities, in which they use a variety of direct and indirect measures to compare student learning to their articulated learning goals. Based on the assessment data, program faculty make changes to improve student learning and report on their progress annually to IE. APR is a periodic examination of the entire academic program. While there is a focus on student learning assessment data, the full body of data examined in APR reaches far beyond student learning. The changes made because of APR are tracked and assessed as part of the annual student learning assessment reports to IE.