2. External Evaluation

Selection of the Review Committee

Typically, the review team will consist of four members. Two of these members (including the Chair) will be well-respected, impartial experts in the particular discipline or area, chosen from other universities and independent of Nipissing University. The reviewers should be at “arm’s-length” from the program under review and will be required to declare the same in writing. The other two members normally will be chosen from the Nipissing University community, one representing a closely related discipline or area, and the other representing the University-at-large. Members of the review team should be chosen to avoid any conflict of interest. Wherever appropriate, one of the two internal members may be replaced by a representative of the relevant professional community. The size of the review team will be determined by the size, level of the degrees offered and the complexity of the unit under review.

After review of the self-study/ies for the programs, including the list of proposed external reviewers, AQAPC will identify a ranked list of the most appropriate external reviewers and internal members. The Office of the VPAR will contact proposed reviewers directly, confirm those willing and able to serve, and oversee the arrangements for a campus site visit. The visits will normally be scheduled over two consecutive days.

Review Committee Instructions

The Office of the Vice-President, Academic and Research will provide to each member of the review Committee a copy of standard instructions with respect to the review and the preparation of the committee’s report, which will direct the reviewers, for each program under review, to:

  • Set out roles and obligations.
  • Identify and commend the program’s notably strong and creative attributes.
  • Describe the program’s or programs’ respective strengths, areas for improvement and opportunities for enhancement using the Evaluation Criteria
  • Recommend specific steps taken to improve the program, distinguishing between those the unit can make itself and those that require external action.
  • Recognize the institution’s autonomy to determine priorities for funding, space and faculty allocation.
  • Respect the confidentiality of the review process.

In addition, members of the Review Committee may be asked to respond to special instructions from the Vice-President, Academic and Research in the final report. Such instructions may include:

  • Issues of special concern identified by the VPAR and/or AQAPC for the program under review.
  • Concerns and/or recommendations raised in previous external reviews of a program.

Materials Assessed by Review Committee

The VPAR, in cooperation with the Dean and the Chair/Director of the unit whose program(s) is (are) under review, will ensure that the external reviewers receive all required information and documents indicated below, including any additional materials that the VPAR, and the Dean may deem helpful to the assessment process.

  • The self-study report of the unit whose program(s) are under review, including an indication of the program outcomes in light of the University’s Mission Statement, University’s strategic plan (and that of the unit where applicable), and Nipissing University’s Guidelines for University Degree Level Expectations.
  • Full details of the program(s), including program and course descriptions, calendar information, program outcomes;
  • Standard, short format curriculum vitae of tenured/tenure-track and limited term faculty members, including full-time and part-time instructors;
  • Plans for new programs and courses, if applicable;
  • Enrolment data: current, projected and for the preceding five-year period;
  • Information on current teaching loads, showing number of courses and students taught by each faculty member including full-time and part-time instructors;
  • Course outlines; grading systems/assessment methods;
  • Aggregate information regarding the quality of courses taught in the program(s);
  • A grade distribution profile of all courses for the past five years;
  • Feedback from graduates and students of the program(s), gathered from questionnaire;
  • Feedback from employers where applicable;
  • A description of teaching, laboratory and research space, and equipment as applicable;
  • Faculty teaching awards and recognition;
  • Faculty research awards, including funding amounts and sources since the previous review;
  • Faculty Statements on Library and IT holdings, resources (prepared in collaboration with the Library and University Technology Services), with commentary on special features of the collection/services;
  • Employment, postgraduate scholarships and career data on program graduates, as available; success in entry into graduate and professional programs;
  • Details of structures and procedures within the unit for facilitating new initiatives in teaching, research and community service learning;
  • Interdisciplinary courses; cross appointments;
  • Budgetary information on the program(s) (excluding faculty salaries), with a breakdown of major budget items;
  • Schedule of activities during the site visit.

The reviewers shall have received all documents at least two weeks prior to their visit to the campus during the regular academic semester while classes are in session.

Site Visit

The Office of the VPAR will finalize the visit schedule in consultation with the academic units being reviewed which shall work jointly to provide a draft schedule listing the individuals to be interviewed and further details respecting availability.

The review team will visit the university together for two to three days during the regular teaching semester prior to preparing their report. While on campus the review team will consult widely with academic and administrative staff, students, administrators, alumni and external partners involved with the programs and activities of the unit under review. They should meet with the faculty individually and/or in groups, with staff independently as a group, with undergraduate students independently as a group, with graduate students independently as a group, with the Librarian, the Dean, the Vice-Presidents, and where appropriate, members from other units or post-secondary institutions involved in collaborative programs.

Review Committee Report

Within four weeks of the site visit, the reviewers shall prepare one report that addresses the Evaluation Criteria and provide:

  1. An assessment of the numbers and diversity of academic and non-academic staff and their responsibilities; the resources provided and the appropriateness of their use; the effectiveness of the unit’s organization; the suitability of the work space; the relations of the unit to others; the quality of educational opportunities provided to students—both graduate and undergraduate; and the effectiveness of the means or measures to evaluate student and program success.
  2. An opinion on the quality of the research and scholarly activities of the unit and the programs offered, and the effectiveness of the relationships between teaching and research - at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
  3. A considered assessment of the weaknesses and strengths of program(s) with reference to, inter alia, the assessment criteria listed above. They will also suggest steps that units might take – with and without additional resources - to improve their program. The spirit of the review should be formative and constructive.
  4. Specific recommendations that will be a catalyst for re-examining and revisioning in the short term (next two years), medium term (3 to 5 years) and long term (5+ years) to support the unit in its future advancement and development.

The report should be presented in accordance to the Review Committee Report Template. While preparing the report, the VPAR and the Dean of the Faculty, will be available to the review team to provide any additional information requested. Although the report is primarily the responsibility of the external reviewers, the internal reviewers will be provided an opportunity to comment on the draft report.

The findings and recommendations of the review team should be presented in the form of a brief, concisely written report (with an executive summary) that will be received by the VPAR on behalf of AQAPC. The report should clearly distinguish those recommendations the unit is responsible for and identify those that require action external to the unit under review.

Comments on individuals in the unit under review should not be included with the reviewers’ report. Any reviewers’ comments or observations regarding individuals in the unit or other confidential information is to be included in a confidential report under separate cover to the VPAR for distribution to the Dean of the Faculty. These comments may not necessarily be forwarded to the department or the AQAPC.

Provided that matters of individual sensitivity or confidentiality are handled with discretion or deleted, the report will be made available to the Dean, the unit under review, AQAPC and other interested parties.

The report will be considered a public document and at the completion of the review process will be available (on request) to members of Senate along with the unit’s response.

Related Resources File Sample
Evaluation Criteria for Cyclical Program Reviews (Appendix C) x
Guidelines and Format for the Site Visit (Appendix E) x
Review Committee Report Template (Appendix F) x