Department and Program Curriculum Review

A Self-study Guide
(Revised Spring 2014)

Background

When the Faculty adopted the present curriculum plan in 1976, it established the expectation that each department and major would be reviewed periodically. After the first cycle of basic curriculum revision, regular triennial reviews of departments and schools commenced in the fall of 1982. This pattern was revised by the Faculty Senate on October 1, 1984, to establish a quadrennial cycle. In 1990, we began moving toward five-year intervals between scheduled reviews.

Purpose

Five year reviews are intended to ensure that curricula of departments, schools, and programs continue to meet the educational needs of students and the objectives of the university. In conducting a review, each department is asked to reassess its purpose, requirements, and courses, as well as its future directions and goals. The reviews also allow the Curriculum Committee, acting on behalf of the faculty as a whole, to exercise the responsibility for the curriculum that rests squarely with the faculty. These functions include fostering ongoing discussions about curricula and pedagogy, maintaining an ongoing educational assessment plan, and assuring the quality and integrity of the University’s academic programs.

References

The principal reference on the curriculum is the Curriculum Statement, a copy of which is enclosed for your use during the departmental or program review. This statement derives from the Curriculum Plan originally passed by the faculty on May 10, 1976. Parts of this document were amended by the faculty during 1990-1991, 1999-2000, and 2003-2004.

Procedure

Each department, school, or program should design and conduct its review in the manner it regards as most appropriate. Any existing materials on the current curriculum may be used as resources. Upon completion of the review, the department chair should forward to the Curriculum Committee a report containing the following.

  1. A summary of the procedures followed in the review and its main conclusions
  2. A response to each of the numbered questions posed in the sections below
  3. A copy of the current syllabus for each course in the department or program curriculum, preferably as double-sided copies.

Review Questions

The department or program review should look at the curriculum as a whole, giving particular attention to changes that have occurred since the previous review and to any questions raised at the conclusion of the last curricular review. These might include changes in the discipline or field (whether in content, orientation, pedagogy, or methodology); new ideas about ways of educating both majors and non-majors; shifts in department faculty; and differing patterns of student interest and enrollment. In this discussion, the department or program is invited to explain the extent to which curricular changes have been influenced by information from assessment, disciplinary guidelines, licensure requirements, or external consultation.

  1. Giving due consideration to the intellectual and educational directions of your discipline or field, to the University's stated educational goals, and to changes within the university, how would you currently define your educational mission?
  2. Explain how the department or program curriculum provides the best possible educational experience for majors, minors, and other students who constitute the department’s or program’s clientele, giving particular attention to student learning outcomes . Please include specific references to structure (e.g. threshold and capstone courses), sequencing (lower and upper division spread in requirements), and course content in your analysis of major and/or minor curricula.
  3. If your departmental major requirements exceed nine units in the major field, please explain why any extra units are required. Explanations should address how the integrity of the major would be compromised by adhering to the nine-unit limit, and take into account that a liberal arts education assumes breadth of study across disciplines. If your major requirements include courses outside of your department, please explain the relationship of those courses to departmental goals. If your department or program offers an interdisciplinary major, please explain the disciplinary balance in the curriculum and the relationship of the number of required courses to program goals.
    1. For departmental reviews: What is the extent of departmental faculty involvement in university core courses, non-departmental courses, interdisciplinary courses, or freshman advising? Assess how such commitments have enhanced or limited the department. If the major or minor includes courses from other departments, what is the extent of interdepartmental cooperation in the ongoing evaluation and revision of the program?
    2. For interdisciplinary program reviews and reviews of interdisciplinary majors within departments: What is the extent of interdepartmental cooperation in planning, teaching, and advising in the program? If there is a program advisory committee, how is it selected and what role does it play in the ongoing evaluation and revision of the program?
  4. Explain how the department or program meets the requirement for Writing in the Major, with specific reference to the assignments of an appropriate course or courses. Please see Addendum A.
  5. How does the curriculum of your department, school, or program engage with the university’s Diversity Statement?
  6. If the department or program allows any of its courses to satisfy both a major, a minor, and a Core requirement, explain reasons for that practice.
  7. If the department or program is adding new courses, explain how they will be staffed within the existing complement of faculty. If the department or program is retaining courses with consistently low enrollment or courses which have not been offered within the past four years, explain any reasons for their retention.
  8. Explain how the use of library and information resources is integrated into the learning process in your curriculum.
  9. Explain how you evaluate student achievement of learning outcomes and how the results of this assessment are integrated into department or program planning processes.
  10. (optional) What are your long-range plans for continued curriculum development (including the use of technology)? Please describe the resources (human, physical, and/or financial) needed to accomplish those plans.

Course Changes

If the department or program elects to modify requirements or individual courses at this time, the new material should accompany the review report. The standard course proposal forms are to be used to request approval for any course changes. If any course changes, scheduling changes, or changes in requirements discussed in the five-year review affect requirements or courses in other departments or programs, please indicate specifically the courses or requirements involved and the departments or programs affected. Finally, if the department wishes to revise its catalog copy, the new copy should be submitted as part of this review.

Deadline

Please forward your review report to the Associate Deans' Office (Jones 212) for submission to the Curriculum Committee. Departments and programs scheduled for review in a given year may choose one of two dates for turning in their reviews. Departments that submit review materials by May 15 of the preceding academic year may stand assured that a discussion of their materials will begin early in the fall and that the review will be completed in time for any changes in catalog copy to occur for the following year. Departments who wish to work on the review during the summer or early fall may choose October 15 as a deadline, with the understanding that the Curriculum Committee will do its best to move expeditiously in the review.

Resources

Departments or programs seeking assistance with the review process may contact members of the Curriculum Committee and the staff of the Associate Deans' Office for aid or advice. Current curriculum materials for your department or program are available for review in the Associate Deans' Office.

Addendum A

WRITING REQUIREMENT IN THE MAJOR

  1. Because the Written Communication core requirement anticipates a further development of writing abilities throughout the undergraduate years, it is appropriate that all students should encounter substantive writing experiences within their major fields of study. Each department, school, or program with an undergraduate major shall demonstrate to the Curriculum Committee that the major contains significant writing expectations within its curricular requirements.
  2. Departmental and program responses to the requirement for writing within the major should emphasize thinking and writing within the discipline or, when appropriate, within an interdisciplinary context. Faculty members within the major area can best emphasize the connections between writing and critical thinking in that area, can best explain the conventions of writing in a given discipline, and can best explore with students the varieties of writing appropriate to communication with specialists and with an intelligent lay audience.
  3. A plurality of structured approaches may meet the requirement for writing within the major. A department or program might address the requirement, for example, by offering (a) a single, intensive writing course within the major or (b) an integrated pattern of writing spread over a series of courses. Other structures may also serve; the Curriculum Committee will conduct its reviews with no procrustean model in mind. (Adopted by Faculty Senate 3 March 1989)