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External Review

Criteria and Process for Selection of External Reviewers

(for non-accredited programs)

The role of the external review team is important in the program review process. Each program review includes a visit by 2 external reviewers from other institutions.

The external review will:

  • promote comparison with similar programs at other aspirant institutions
  • provide faculty and administrators a wider perspective on the program
  • ensure that the academic program being reviewed is current and not isolated from the larger academic community
  • address issues that may come to light during the self-study or site visit
  • inform an institutional and program action plan in response to the program review.

Reviewers are expected to bring an informed and unbiased view to the assessment of the program. External reviewers will consider whether the plans of the department are appropriate, considering such factors as the current quality of the program, trends in the discipline and in higher education, the quality of the faculty, quality of teaching and student support, characteristics of the students and the community the program serves, quality of student work and post-graduate success, and strategic priorities of the university.

In consultation with the Office of Strategy and Educational Effectiveness (SEE) and the Provost, the Dean of the program will select the external reviewers. Academic units may recommend the names of 3-5 external reviewers to the Dean, and provide links to website bios or CV's if available. At least one reviewer nominated by the academic unit will be selected by the Dean for the two-person external review team.

To be eligible as an external reviewer, candidates must:

  • have a record of distinguished scholarship and/or professional experience appropriate to the program under review.
  • be recognized as an active member of scholarly and/or professional societies appropriate to the program under review.
  • have prior experience with program evaluation, student learning assessment, program administration, institutional effectiveness, external review, or accreditation.

The academic unit, in nominating external reviewers, should attempt to maintain a balance in gender and racial/ethnic representation. The academic unit may also indicate priorities and preferences with regard to the strategic make-up of the review team, which the Dean and Provost will take into consideration.

Whenever possible, nominees should reside within a reasonable distance from Pacific (i.e., Arizona, California) to keep costs reasonable.

The nominees can have no conflicts of interest regarding the program under review (e.g., not a former employee, co-author, dissertation advisor, relative or friend of current faculty member, etc.).

Academic units should NOT contact the individuals nominated, or solicit vitae or biographical information from potential external reviewers. After the Provost and Dean select the external reviewers, the program will be notified. The Deans' administrative staff is the point of direct contact with the reviewers prior to and following the review.

The External Reviewers' Site Visit

The site visit is conducted in the spring semester, and usually lasts 1 day. This includes a working dinner the night before the visit starts, and meetings with key stakeholders.

External reviewers will be asked to sign a Letter of Agreement, which describes the responsibilities, conflict of interest, compensation, and expectations for confidentiality. The school/college must obtain the signed Letter of Agreement from each external reviewer and send copies to the Vice-Provost for Strategy & Educational Effectiveness (SEE).

The school/college is also responsible for hosting the review team; paying for and arranging transportation and lodging, scheduling meetings and reserving meeting rooms, etc. Detailed information about contracting with reviewers and setting up the site visit is available from SEE.  SEE will reimburse the schhol/college up to the established amount for external reviewers.

At least 2 weeks prior to the external review, the Dean's administrative staff should provide the reviewers the following documentation (in electronic format):

  • Self-study report, including all supporting data and appendices
  • Current Pacific catalog
  • Student handbook
  • Course descriptions for the program
  • Admissions policies and processes
  • Faculty hiring and promotion policies and processes
  • Advising policies
  • Marketing materials for the program
  • Representative samples of student work, or access to a repository of such examples
  • Data packet from Institutional Research containing program enrollment, demographics, etc.
  • CV's of department faculty
  • Other supporting program materials

Creating and giving reviewers access to a Box, Dropbox, or similar site might be the easiest method for providing the documents. 

Departments may also work with SEE to provide the External Reviewers with access to student learning results stored in Taskstream.

Below is an example of a typical site visit schedule:

First Evening

  • Dinner with the Dean

Full Day Review

  • Meeting with Department Chair and self-study group
  • Meeting with rest of faculty (or, if big department, meeting with junior faculty)
  • Time for document review, including review of student work
  • Lunch with students and alumni
  • Meeting with senior faculty
  • Afternoon time for final review of documents and notes from the day's meetings
  • Exit meeting with program/department (at minimum, dean, chair)

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