Site visit overview
Academic Program Reviews (APR) serve many purposes, the most important of which is to provide information to academic units and the university for continuous program improvement. The review should identify strengths and areas for improvement and identify opportunities for future development. The site visit team plays an important evaluative role in the process by providing objectivity and helping the unit and university determine where the program fits within the discipline at regional, national, and international levels.
Site visit schedule
Entry and exit meetings
The site visit is scheduled for two full days. Please refer to Appendix 6 for a sample two-day site visit schedule
The site visit begins and ends with entry and exit meetings. The UPRA Office sets the time of the meetings. Entry and exit meetings are the first and last meetings of the visit and are scheduled at 8:30-9:30 a.m. on day one and 2:30-3:30 p.m. on day two. The entry meeting attendees are the dean, associate director UPRA, unit head, and any additional people at the dean’s discretion. The dean will determine if any additional people should be included in the exit meeting. The unit should provide the dean-approved site visit schedule to the UPRA Office at least three weeks prior to the scheduled visit.
During the construction of the site visit schedule, please allow the site visitors at least one hour preceding the exit meeting to discuss major issues and preliminary findings in preparation for the site visit report and exit meeting discussion points. The unit should provide a quiet room with computer access for the site visitors.
- It is the responsibility of the unit to make the non-local site visitor hotel reservations and arrange for ground transportation to and from the airport. Parking reservations should be made for the local visitor and the unit should communicate parking instructions via the Logistics Letters (Appendices 4A and 4B).
- The unit is responsible for reimbursement of expenses and payment of the honorarium for the site visit team immediately upon receipt of the site visit report. If the unit makes arrangements for entertainment, receptions, or other social functions, the costs of those activities will also be the responsibility of the unit. The unit is not obligated to provide entertainment.
- Since the community member of the site visit team should come from the metropolitan Phoenix area, it is not expected that they will incur expenses beyond parking and any meals scheduled during the site visit. Should the unit choose to nominate a recent graduate who does not reside locally, the unit will reimburse for travel and lodging
- It is the responsibility of the unit to arrange a tour of its facilities; time for reviewing honors theses, master’s theses and doctoral dissertations; and to schedule the appropriate meetings with faculty, students, and staff. Junior faculty members and senior faculty members should have time with the visitors without the presence of the other group to facilitate candid conversation. The same is true for undergraduate students and graduate students who have different needs and perspectives. Staff should have time with visitors without supervisors present.
- The unit will ensure that all meetings are on the calendars of the appropriate participants.
- Lavish entertaining of the site visitors is not expected nor encouraged. They will have a busy day reviewing the academic unit and will need time to discuss findings. Please leave dinner and evening hours free whenever possible.
- If faculty members wish to go out to dinner or lunch with the visitors, they or their unit will be responsible for those expenses.
- The unit should consider arranging a representative to escort the visitors to and from the hotels, scheduled meetings, and activities on campus.
Visits with students
- Careful planning should be employed to set up meetings with a representative and a sizable group of undergraduate and graduate students (separate meetings are best). A faculty member and student representatives should be given responsibility for organizing these meetings. These meetings, if left to last minute planning, may be poorly attended, and can leave a lasting (possibly negative) impression on the site visit team. The schedule should be finalized at least three weeks prior to the scheduled visit.
- Brown-bag lunches, coffee hours, class meetings have worked well. Because students often bring up questions for which the site visitors will want to seek answers, these meetings should be set early in the schedule.
- After the visitors are introduced and their purpose explained, the unit meeting coordinator and/or faculty member should leave so that students feel free to have a candid discussion with the site visitors.
- Time should be set aside for the site visit team to review dissertations, theses, and honors projects.
Visits with faculty members
- Depending on the size of the faculty, two or three small group meetings might be desirable. Meetings with individual faculty members are discouraged. The head of the unit should not attend the meetings with faculty.
- Please make sure that tenured, tenure track, and non-tenure track faculty have the opportunity to meet with the site visit team separately.
- Where appropriate, there should be meetings with other relevant faculty groups (e.g., graduate advisory committees, undergraduate curriculum committees whose work relates to the program review).
- If possible, it is strongly recommended that site visitors meet with faculty from other related disciplinary areas with whom the unit under review interacts.
Visits with unit administrators
- Immediately following the entry meeting, visitors should have the opportunity to meet privately with the dean to ascertain any specific requests for the visiting team.
- At least one-half hour should be scheduled for the site visitors to meet with the head of the academic unit. Because the site visitors will have developed a better understanding of the unit under review, this meeting should probably occur in the afternoon of the second day of the site visit.
Visits with university administrators
- The UPRA Associate Director will attend the entry and exit meetings. (See more information on entry and exit meetings above.)
Instructions to site visitors
Prior to and during the site visit, the visiting team will analyze the self-study report, collect additional relevant information as well as meet with faculty, students, alumni, community representatives, and unit administrators (e.g., dean, provost’s office, when applicable). The team will also tour the university to examine facilities and other resources, if relevant for their review.
The team will prepare a report identifying program strengths, concerns, and recommendations. The Site Visit Report template and signature page is found in Appendices 7A and 7B.
One of the site visitors should take the lead in drafting the report, but all are full participants and contributors to the report. The following information describes specific site visitor functions, responsibilities, and suggestions for maximizing the effectiveness and outcome of the APR process.
Site visitors will be granted access to a shared folder containing the relevant documents as a shared space to collaborate on producing the final site visit report.
A checklist of responsibilities is available for the site visitor's use and convenience and is found in Appendix 11.
Communication between the site visit team and unit under review
The appropriate business paperwork should be sent to the visitors by the unit under review along with the site visit logistics letter (Appendix 4A and 4B) shortly after the site visit team is confirmed. Site visitors should send the unit their original travel receipts along with the completed business paperwork at the conclusion of their visit.
The unit under review will reimburse any appropriate site visit expenses and an honorarium for each visitor upon receipt of the final site visit report.
Two to three weeks prior to the site visit
Two to three weeks prior to the site visit, the UPRA Office will upload the self-study report, along with any necessary appendices, and the final site visit schedule to the folder shared with the visiting team.
Three to four weeks after the site visit
Once the site visit report has been received (along with a signature page from each visitor, Appendix 7B), the UPRA Office will notify the unit under review so they can process expense reimbursements and honorariums.
Site visit report
Three to four weeks after the visit, the site visit team is asked to provide an assessment of the future direction and strategic initiatives of the unit as they relate to the unit’s mission and vision for its programs. The site visit report template is provided in Appendix 7A as a guide for the report. The site visit report should be submitted electronically to the UPRA Office at email@example.com.
The UPRA Office will distribute copies to the dean, the head of the unit, and any other appropriate parties. The site visit report should be accompanied by a signature page (Appendix 7B) executed by each visitor indicating their concurrence or disagreement with the report. There is space provided on the signature page for explanation of any disagreement.
Guidelines for preparing the site visitors report
There is not a specific format requirement for the site visit report. The contents and length vary depending on the nature and size of the program under review. Although we ask that the report address each of the substantive areas described below, other program dimensions important to program quality and future development may also be addressed.
Mission and goals
- Are the mission and goals adequately addressed? Do they seem appropriate given the university mission? Are there on-going mechanisms in place within the unit to evaluate the currency and relevance of those goals?
- Assess the contribution of the unit in advancing the state of the discipline/profession and the program’s position relative to peer institutions.
Strategic initiatives and future direction of the unit
- Provide an assessment of the strategic initiatives identified by the unit and the future direction of the program as articulated in the self-study report — the state of the discipline, emerging areas in the national scene, peer institutions and aspirational peers as identified by the unit should be taken into consideration as this assessment is done.
Learning objectives and curricular effectiveness
- Does the unit have a clear understanding of curricular content and sequence? Are there appropriate learning objectives and outcome measures?
- Based on your knowledge and/or understanding of the discipline, is the undergraduate and graduate curriculum current and does it provide adequate training/education for graduates of the program?
- Are areas of program emphases (e.g., concentrations, certificates, tracks) appropriate in view of available resources (human and physical), and do they address community, regional, or national needs? If not, what would the site visit team recommend?
- Does the unit have adequate assessment plans in place to evaluate the effectiveness of their undergraduate and graduate programs (i.e., outcome measures)?
- How successful is the unit in using the assessment reports of student learning to improve its undergraduate and graduate programs?
Student recruitment, retention and placement
- Are there unit processes in place to ensure quality recruitment and retention practices? In what ways does the unit address student retention? Is the diversity of the student population appropriate or should efforts be undertaken to further diversify the program?
- Assess the depth and quality of efforts by the unit to retain students and foster graduation rates, reduce the time to degree, and increase faculty involvement with undergraduate and graduate students in both teaching and research.
- Is there adequate attention placed on career advisement, development, and placement for both undergraduates and graduates?
Faculty and staff quality
- How does the level of faculty research/scholarly activity compare with peer institutions? Are external funding levels appropriate? Please note any exceptional faculty contributions to the mission of the unit and university.
- Is the faculty research/scholarly agenda appropriately integrated into student learning? Are there missed opportunities that should be considered?
- Assess the staffing levels, diversity, and quality.
- Are there unit processes in place to ensure quality recruitment and retention of faculty? In what ways does the unit address faculty retention? Is the diversity of the faculty population appropriate or should efforts be undertaken to further diversify the program? How does this affect or not affect student diversity?
- Does the unit make appropriate use of existing resources including physical (e.g., lab, office space), educational (e.g., university instructional, advising), and internal fiscal resources?
- Do all students and faculty have equal and fair access to those resources?
- Are there specific resources set aside for under-represented groups?
- Assess the level of engagement and impact with community professionals/constituents. If improvement is necessary, what steps might the unit take to foster stronger relationships?
- New curricular initiatives. If the unit has proposed, or plans to propose, a new program (e.g., degrees, certificates), please evaluate the potential for quality, success, faculty workload responsibility, resource adequacy, and quality of student recruitment and placement.
Conclusions and recommendations
- What are the major strengths of the program?
- What areas need greatest improvement?
- What opportunities exist for future development? What are the major limiting factors for future growth and development of the unit?
Submission of site visit report
Once all members of the site visit team have reviewed and concur or disagree with the contents of the report (signified by individually executed signature pages, Appendix 7B), the report and signature pages should be emailed or mailed to the UPRA Office:
U.S. Mail to:
University Program Review and Accreditation Office
Executive Director for Accreditation and Academic Program Review
Office of the University Provost
Arizona State University
PO Box 877805
Tempe, AZ 85287-7805
*Upon receipt of the site visit report and a signature page executed by each site visitor (Appendix 7B), the UPRA Office will notify the unit to reimburse site visitor expenses and honorariums.