Breakout Session

Academic Program Review:   Making it Meaningful

Track: Assessment

Friday, November 30th, 9:20am – 10:15am

Academic Program Review is a cornerstone of every college’s improvement process.  There are many different models and visions, and it’s often difficult to get faculty and other stakeholders on board.   Key considerations include:
• What are the institutional priorities?
• How can this job be made manageable?
• Can the process be standardized institution-wide yet still leave room for individualization?
• How can the program review process be centralized and documented?

This session showcases how MCCC standardized quality and viability indicators for the Academic Program Review process, shifted the focus to student learning outcomes, and created a cloud-based repository to facilitate reporting.


Deborah Kell
Dean, Instructional and Institutional Effectiveness
Mercer County Community College

Bio / Expertise
Debbie is a recently retired Dean who held responsibilities for MCCC’s Distance Learning program, which accounts for approximately 5000 student “seats” in credit courses each year.   Additionally, Debbie has been active in Middle States accreditation processes, and had oversight of institutional assessment initiatives and faculty professional development.   Debbie developed a custom Microsoft SharePoint solution to serve as a repository for MCCC’s assessment records.

In providing technical support services to the College, Deborah has managed semester rollovers for the Academic Testing Center, and has designed and coordinated technology and software rollouts to faculty and staff.

Debbie’s areas of expertise include institutional assessment, distance learning and applications of classroom technology and she is regularly called upon to conduct trainings and presentations on these topics.
Deborah has presented at numerous regional and national conferences, including NJEdge, the NJ Council of County Colleges, NCSPOD, the Workforce Investment Board, the Instructional Technology Council, The League for Innovation, NISOD, and the Sloan Consortium.


Linda Scherr
Mercer County Community College

Bio / Expertise:
Dr. Linda Scherr is a Professor of History who has served in assessment leadership roles at Mercer County Community College since 2002. She has presented on assessment initiatives at statewide and national conferences. At present, Dr. Scherr is a Faculty Assistant to the Vice President of Academic Affairs for Instructional and Institutional Effectiveness.


Presentation Content:
Summary Statement: MCCC’s Academic Program Review template, and the process that defined it, will be showcased (both conceptually and as a cloud-based repository).

Description of activity, project, or solution: Academic Program Review was an arduous process for program coordinators.   In 2008, the VPAA worked closely with key members of MCCC’s College Effectiveness and Assessment Committee to research and cleanly articulate the critical components that should be addressed.

This included a major shift to focus on student learning outcomes, as well as tightly defined Quality and Viability Indicators.   By 2009, Academic Program Review had become an annual process that fed a more comprehensive 5-year self-study.

In addition to a well-defined process, there was a need for an effective way to store and access these program review records.    Microsoft SharePoint was used to develop a customized cloud-based repository for the APR and other assessment records.

Outcome:  This process and repository received commendations from the Middle States Council on Higher Education during our last Periodic Review Report (2010).  Program Coordinators now regularly follow this process and utilize the customized repository, which now houses nearly 80 program reviews.

Importance to other institutions: Academic Program Review is a key component of every institution’s comprehensive assessment plan.  It is critical that the program review focus on accountability, provide clear expectations and guidelines for compliance, and yet still be manageable and sustainable. This session will allow attendees to share strengths and weaknesses of their own program review components and return to their own institutions with new approaches.


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