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Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness

Preparing the Self Study Narrative 


The Self-Study Document Consists of Two Parts


Part 1, the narrative includes three major sections addressing program quality, program effectiveness, and a concluding summary section.


Part 2, the appendices, provides supplementary information to explain further and support Part 1.

Ideally no longer than 25 pages (excluding the appendices), the narrative section is an opportunity for departments to address program effectiveness by examining any program strengths or weaknesses, documenting previous milestones or success and outlining goals and action plans for coming years (5-7 years). The more effective self-study narratives combine data and data analysis within their discussion referencing data provided in the appendices. Integrated with the operational planning & assessment cycle at Spelman College, the Self-Study helps to clarify and communicate program needs over time.

Optional Review Foci

Those programs that have completed consistent and cyclical review processes have the option, upon consultation with the Provost, to identify specific topics on which to focus their Self-Study. These topics should address key questions or concerns that have the potential to significantly impact the program or program improvement within the immediate future or that speak to very specific and current needs of the program. While the self-study must address the core review criteria of program quality and effectiveness in general, this option gives some flexibility to the department.

The request should be made at least a semester prior to the programs next scheduled review cycle.


Part 1: Preparing the Self-Study Narrative


Cover Page

Provide the following information:

  • Academic Program: List the program and department.
  • Division: List the division and the Division Chair for the program
  • Program Majors/Minors Offered: List any majors and minors offered and the degrees conferred with each. Include any centers or initiatives.
  • Program Review Team: Provide the names of all faculty members completing this self-study and their roles (if applicable).
  • Submission Date: Date self-study document is submitted to the Office of the Provost.

Program Description 


Provide the hyperlink to the current Spelman College Bulletin or appropriate website.

Briefly present the program’s current strengths. Outline any areas that require attention or need enhancement.

Response and Follow-up to Previous Program Review (if applicable):
Summarize the findings and recommendations from the last program review process. Discuss actions or strategies implemented and the status of any program modifications.


The Narrative 


The narrative generally consists of three sections. The first section examines program quality and may address issues related to accreditation or accreditation criteria, mission alignment and program resources (both human and physical resources). The second section addresses program effectiveness and examines the curriculum, student success, student learning outcomes and assessment. The third section summarizes the program’s self-study findings, discusses implications, strategic planning goals and priorities.

The following inventory of questions provides prompts and suggestions on what to address in each section of the report.

Section I: Program Quality 

Program quality refers to specific attributes of the program including program accreditation (if applicable), program mission alignment, program resources (fiscal, human and physical) and the methods and processes for ensuring quality within these areas.

  1. Accreditation (if applicable)

    Provide details of any external accreditations held by the program.

    1. List all accrediting bodies that are relevant to program offerings.
    2. Describe the current accreditation status of the program.
    3. Describe future accreditation plans or reporting schedules.


  2. Program Mission Alignment

    Discuss how the program mission aligns with the strategic mission of the college.

    1. Summarize the history of the program or department.
    2. Discuss the program’s mission, vision and goals and their alignment with the mission of the college as well as that of the division or department.
    3. Consider the program’s contribution to delivering the Spelman Promise and elevating the Spelman difference. Discuss academic innovations within the program that support the College’s service, social and economic roles. Briefly highlight the program’s research and scholarly products and its creative activity in support of the mission. (More detail may be provided in the section on Faculty Scholarship, Research and Creative Production).
  3. Program Resources

Provide details regarding the organization of the unit, faculty and staff qualifications, appointments and workloads, faculty research, scholarship, recruitment and retention, financial resources and budget allocation and physical resources and facilities.


Organization of the Unit:


Discuss the various leadership roles and their assigned duties within the program. Discuss faculty and staff work distribution and the adequacy of support staff.

  1. What are the duties of the department chair, program chair, or unit director? Are these explicitly outlined in the Faculty Handbook? If so, this statement could be used along with specifics from the program.
  2. How is work distributed to faculty and/or staff in a manner that enables the unit to function efficiently?
  3. Is the support staff adequate to support the program/department operations? Is support staff sufficiently qualified and trained?

Faculty and Staff Qualifications, Appointments & Workloads (past five years):


Discuss faculty and staff qualifications. Discuss faculty and staff teaching loads/workloads and the extent to which current staffing supports the needs of the program.

  1. List the qualification and rank of Full-Time (F) & Part-Time (P) Faculty. Describe the faculty and staff’s areas of expertise. (See Attachment 1 for format).
  2. What is the balance in terms of senior and junior appointments? Describe faculty career stage distribution and tenure flow.
  3. What are the teaching loads for faculty and workloads for staff? Discuss the workloads of online faculty. What are the indicators of faculty satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their workloads?
  4. To what extent are existing faculty and staff able to meet current needs of program.If new appointments are needed, how would the new faculty or staff line(s) complement the existing competencies within the department?
  5. Comment on the overall quality of the faculty.

Faculty Scholarship, Research and Creative Production:


Discuss program faculty scholarship, research and creative activities that advance the culture of teaching and foster academic innovations. Comment on faculty quality, productivity, and standing in the field.

  1. Discuss the depth and quality of faculty scholarship, research and creative activity. Does the department’s scholarship/creative production reflect current practice in the discipline?
  2. Discuss the impact of faculty scholarship, research and creative productions on the delivery of effective, high quality educational experiences and student services.
  3. Comment on the faculty’s pursuit of external funding to support the research, teaching, and creative production enterprises.
  4. Describe faculty engagement in interdisciplinary teaching, and/or scholarship. How does such activity benefit the department?
  5. How does the program recognize, reward and enable research and academic innovation of its faculty? Discuss the structures that foster ongoing academic innovation within the program.

Faculty Recruitment & Retention:


Discuss faculty recruitment and retention efforts.

  1. Discuss any significant recent hires or departures within the last 5-7 year.
  2. Has the department been successful in recruiting and retaining top faculty? If not, discuss any major challenges or barriers.
  3. How does the department engage and mentor junior faculty?
  4. What structures are in place to develop academic leadership?
  5. What are the program retention patterns?
  6. Is there adequate support for faculty professional development (including faculty mentoring and professional development opportunities beyond the college)?

Financial Resources-Budget Allocation:


Discuss in brief the adequacy of budget/financial resources and how the resource allocation aligns with the strategic priorities of the college.

  1. Provide a copy of the current departmental budget.
  2. Detail how program planning and assessment help direct operational planning decisions.
  3. What are current and future operational goals and how are these aligned with budgetary planning?
  4. What are the most urgent budgetary needs? How are these prioritized? Discuss short- and long-range plans that address these priorities and how resource allocation might support program quality or effectiveness.
  5. Do faculty have input into developing budget priorities?

Physical Resources and Facilities:


Discuss the adequacy of physical resources to support the strategic priorities of the college.

  1. Assess quantity and quality of space available to department.Does it meet the needs within the department?
  2. How adequate are computers, computer support, computer networking, laboratories, and special equipment? How adequate is maintenance and upkeep?

Section II: Program Effectiveness [content, curriculum, and outcomes] 


Program effectiveness addresses program content, the curriculum, student learning outcomes, student success measures and program assessment and the extent to which these are effectively delivered.

  1. Curriculum

    Discuss the program’s course offerings and how they meet student needs and progression toward graduation.

    1. Include a hyperlink of program descriptions from the current College Bulletin.
    2. How does the curriculum incorporate new developments in the discipline?
    3. What are the strengths and distinguishing characteristics of the program’s curriculum?
    4. Include the Program Curriculum Map. Are program learning outcomes addressed within the appropriate sequence in the curriculum? Are course sequences appropriate and support effective student learning? (See Attachment 2 for an example of a curriculum map.)
    5. Which core courses offered within the program support program learning outcomes? Which do not?
    6. If there are Centers or Institutes housed in the department, describe how these units support the mission of the program and effective teaching and learning.


  2. Student Learning Outcomes

    Discuss program student learning outcomes and achievement measures.

    1. What are the student learning outcomes of the program?
      • a.How are the learning objectives assessed and revised, as necessary? Include a copy of the Student Learning Outcomes Reports for the Program.
      • b.Summarize annual program assessment results. What evidence is there to show that students are acquiring the desired competencies?
      • Identify and discuss any strengths or challenges related to the program’s student learning outcomes.
    2. Describe the strengths and weaknesses of advising for majors and non-majors. Describe the nature and effectiveness of faculty involvement in advising.


  3. Student Profiles and Student Success

    Discuss the enrollment, retention and graduation in the program majors and minors

    1. Based on data tables provided in Appendix C, provide a narrative analysis of the majors and minors enrolled in the program. Indicate any trends in the data and provide justification if necessary.
    2. Based on data tables provided in Appendix B, provide a narrative analysis of the program's graduation and retention rates and describe student recruitment and retention strategies used by the department.
    3. Based on data tables provided in Appendix B provide a narrative analysis of student-faculty ratios and average class sizes.
    4. Are any specific goals set around these student data?


  4. Program Assessment

Discuss program assessment strategies and how these strategies are used to improve student success, teaching effectiveness and faculty excellence.

  1. What are short-term and long-range strategic goals of the program?This is separate from the student learning outcomes which are addressed in other sections of the report.
  2. In what ways do the department’s objectives support the College’s institutional goals for the Spelman graduate?
  3. Discuss any major changes to the curriculum since the last program review. Include the rationale for any such changes.
  4. How does the department use planning and effectiveness tools, such as operational plans?
  5. How does the department use tools that evaluate teaching effectiveness, such as course evaluations?
  6. Address the extent to which strategic goals presented in (or since the) previous program review cycle have been achieved.
  7. What do the majors do after graduation? Does the department poll recent graduates to determine their satisfaction with the program?
  8. Explain any plans to modify the program.
  9. Are there program areas that need attention, enhancement or that should be de-emphasized? Consider student and faculty interests, faculty expertise and available resources.
  10. Discuss any recent trends or development within the discipline and how these are likely to impact the program over the next several years. What is a reliable indicator? Does the department track these trends on the program’s dashboard? -
  11. How does the program plan to respond to these trends?

Section III: Summary and Implications 


Bringing together what has been reported. This section can be a useful summary for the External Review Team.


Bringing together what has been reported. This section can be a useful summary for the External Review Team.

  1. Key Findings and Considerations

    Enumerate key findings from the self-study.

    1. In view of the program’s description, mission, vision, and goals, what are the program’s major strengths? What areas of improvement exist?


  2. Implications

    Provide an interpretation of the evidence in support of the program’s overall quality and effectiveness.

    1. What conclusions can the department draw regarding the effectiveness of the department and the curriculum?
    2. What are the indicators that support these conclusions?
    3. Comment on how the department contributes to the standing of the College locally, nationally, and internationally.


  3. Future Goals and Priorities

How might the program, the faculty and the college build upon these strengths and opportunities?

  1. What opportunities exist for improving the program? This may include a discussion of program enrollment and retention, curriculum updates, resource allocation, etc. (Are there any measures identified in conjunction with the president, provost, faculty council or the board?)
  2. Describe how the academic field(s) are changing nationally and how the department plans to respond to these changes?
  3. Given current resources, outline the strategic plans to enhance the quality and stature of the department.
  4. Describe three to five opportunities or threats the department must address in the next 5-7 years and how the department will address each. (This list may assist the external reviewers in addressing specific program concerns).

Part 2: Appendices 


Appendix A: Faculty

Include information on program faculty. Data must cover the past five years.

  1. Complete set of faculty CVs
  2. Describe faculty demographics—gender, ethnicity, nationality, etc.
  3. List faculty publications (books, journals), performances, exhibits, presentations (including conferences), faculty fellowships, grants, and awards.

A format for presenting this information is provided below. See Attachment 1, Qualifications of Full-Time (F) & Part-Time (P) Faculty.


Appendix B: Students

Include data and information on students within the program. Data must cover the past five years.

  1. Number of majors and minors
  2. Enrollments in service courses
  3. Enrollments in courses for majors
  4. Number of students cross-registering from other AUC schools (if applicable)
  5. Graduation and Retention by Majors (in fact book)
  6. Student/Faculty Ratio

Note: The Institutional Research Office will provide much of this information to you.


Appendix C: Academic Program

Provide additional data and information on the academic program. This includes the program’s curriculum map, schedule of current classes, advising system, additional programs and teaching evaluation process.                                                                     

  1. College catalog description of departmental programs (hyperlink)
  2. Program Curriculum Map (See Attachment 2)
  3. Schedule of classes, including the courses the department is currently offering (Institutional Research Office may provide this data)
  4. Description of the department’s advising system, including number of advisors and number of students per advisor.
  5. Description of additional programs and services (e.g., honors program) which the department houses.
  6. Description of procedures for evaluating teaching effectiveness within the department beyond the Student Course Evaluation.
Attachment 1: Qualifications of Full-Time (F) & Part-Time (P) Faculty*

Academic Rank  Name (F,P)  Academic Degrees &
Area of Expertise
Years at Spelman  Type of Appointment [1] Courses Taught Including Term, Course Number & Title, Credit Hours (D, UN, UT, G) [Dual]
Qualification to teach in area? 
Assistant Professor            

* Based on SACSCOC Faculty Credentials Guidelines

[1] Types of appointment: tenure-track, tenured, multi-year, 1-year term, 3-year term, other.

Abbreviations: F, P: Full-time or Part-time; D, UN, UT, G: Developmental, Undergraduate Nontransferable, Undergraduate Transferable, Graduate; Dual: High

School Dual Enrollment

Attachment 2: Curriculum Map Template

Core Courses / Experiences
 1.  2.  3. 4.
1 200 level - formative x x    
2 200 level - formative x   x x
3 300 level - formative/summative   x
4 300 level - formative/summative   x    
5 400 level - summative  x      
6 400 level - summative (capstone) 
x x x

Identify at least one formative and one summative assessment for each SLO, including the student Artifact, Rubric, Performance Standard and Rationale.

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