Office of Institutional Research and Assessment

Academic Program Review

Overview of APR

Academic Program Review is a multi-year process in which an academic unit identifies the mission, goals, and learning outcomes of its degree programs. The unit, with help from the Office of Institutional Assessment, uses a variety of data sources to measure whether program goals and learning outcomes are being achieved. These results are used to create action plans for the ultimate purpose of improving student learning and student success. At the end of the process, the unit submits an APR report, which is reviewed by a group of peer reviewers as well as associate provosts and OIA.

The Office of Institutional Assessment requires most units to submit an Academic Program Review report every seven years. Time between reports should be spent making the recommended improvements or changes. Programs are also encouraged to routinely discuss the educational goals of the program and the program’s learning outcomes and curriculum map during the years between APR reporting.

Benefits of APR

APR can be a very rewarding process. It not only identifies areas in which a program can be improved, it illuminates successes as well. Many of the activities involved in APR, such as delineating student learning outcomes and creating a curriculum map, can enhance communication and collaboration among faculty within a program. These activities clarify how each course and educational activity offered by the program contributes to the program’s learning outcomes and educational goals.

Institutionally, APR and related assessment practices are important for accreditation purposes. Regional and state accreditation agencies review APR data to ensure that Mason students are meeting their degree program’s student learning outcomes.

APR Peer Review Process

All Academic Program Review reports are peer reviewed, with tenured faculty from Mason serving as reviewers. Each APR report is read and evaluated by a review team consisting of at least two faculty reviewers. Several (3-6) reviewers are assigned to read reports from large units that run multiple degree programs. Every Spring semester, review teams read their assigned APR reports and submit a response document to OIA. Review teams evaluate their assigned APR report and write a response document that addresses the unit’s program goals, action plans, learning outcomes assessments, and alignment with the university’s mission and strategic plan. The response document also identifies issues that may require further attention. Each review team meets with the Provost and OIA staff to discuss their assigned APR report. After review teams have submitted their response document and met with the Provost, the review response document is sent to the unit. Finally, each unit meets with the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, Associate Provost for Graduate Education, College Dean, and OIA staff to address any outstanding issues and to create follow-up plans as needed.

If you have questions about Academic Program Review, please contact the Office of Institutional Assessment at assessment@gmu.edu or 703-993-8834.