Q: How do we select an external reviewer?
A: The program chair/director should consult with the Dean's Office to select an appropriate external reviewer for the program. The external reviewer may be a faculty member of a comparable program at a University System of Maryland (USM) school, one of Salisbury University's performance peers, or another equally creditable institution. Also, see this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education about choosing an external reviewer. Care should be taken to select a respected external reviewer that can appropriately review the program in the time frame necessary and provide a written report of their findings.
Q: What is the cost of an external review?
A: That depends. During each scheduled review cycle, it is expected that all programs in each College or School undergo an on-site visit. However, due to the pandemic, it is suggested that the on-site visit be replaced with a virtual on-site visit. Although the cost associated with this exercise is well worth the value, budget issues may compel some modification to the guidelines. A reviewer should be paid an honorarium, typically $500 - $1000 (depending on the size of the program, number of programs reviewed, etc.), and reimbursed for all traveling expenses. In the past the expenses were included in the Provost's budget. However, as of the 2016 - 2017 academic year the units were generally directed to budget the cost of external review within their own fiscal year budget request. Therefore, the spring prior to the APR year, the unit should request monies for the external reviewer's honorarium, travel, lodging, and meals - although the latter three would not apply if a virtual on-site visit was planned. As a frame of reference, please consult peers that have performed an external review, but a typical honorarium for a single program's review is $500.00 - $750.00. However, if an external reviewer will be asked to review both the undergraduate and graduate degree programs for a department, then it would be appropriate to increase the amount accordingly for two program reviews. Travel and lodging expenses depend on the external reviewer's particular needs (e.g., distance to travel) as well as if it is a virtual on-site visit. Please contact Human Resources for details on payment forms and processes for the honorarium or travel expenses prior to arranging travel or payment.
Q: What documents should be provided to the external reviewer?
A: Each program under review must provide an external reviewer with a base of relevant information concerning the program. In addition to the current draft of the program’s internally generated Academic Program Review report, the external reviewer can also request relevant information and documentation. Common requests are for:
- current or recent course syllabi,
- representative examples of course materials (e.g., exams, assignments),
- the program’s student assessment and learning outcomes plan,
- evidence of student learning,
- the current course catalog,
- the previous APR report (if applicable),
- and any other materials that will provide an adequate stock of resources from which to assess the program.
Q: Are there guidelines we can provide to the external reviewer(s)?
A: Yes. Please refer to Appendix C "External Review Guidelines" in the APR Purpose & Guidelines document (find under Documentation) or the APR External Reviewer Guidelines.
Q: What activities should be included for the on-site visit, virtual or in-person?
An on-site or virtual remote visit provides the opportunity for the reviewer to evaluate the program in an applied manner that cannot be achieved to the same degree through a rigorous review of supporting documentation. When a reviewer is visiting SU, the program should plan activities such as:
- individual and/or group meetings with all program faculty (including part-time faculty if possible);
- meetings with any administrative assistants, other office personnel, or faculty leaders that help in the day-to-day operations of the program;
- meetings with the faculty of collaborative programs (e.g., those that frequently have shared students as majors/minors);
- meetings with academic advisors (first-year students are advised by the Academic Advising Center staff); sophomores, juniors, and seniors are advised by either or both Academic Advising Center staff and departmental faculty);
- meetings with representatives from the Dean’s Office;
- meetings with students (diverse representation) and student groups, if applicable;
- visitations to representative classes of both lower and upper-division course offerings;
- the opportunity to review program resources (e.g., library holdings, technology, supplies, classrooms, labs, office space, studio space); and
- the opportunity to examine additional documentation that may not have been included in the pre-visit information packet, but are deemed relevant by a reviewer and/or the program.
Q: What are the expectations of an external reviewer?
External peer review provides the opportunity to obtain an objective qualitative assessment from respected colleagues. A reviewer must be able to apply professional standards of evaluation consistent with the goals, expectations, and educational context of the University as well as the standards identified by the program under review. An external reviewer should attempt to affirm the strengths and weaknesses of the program, validate the evidence addressing student learning outcomes, critically evaluate program capabilities and resource needs, and address the issue of academic rigor. An external reviewer should also evaluate the overall quality of the educational experience for program graduates. Within a month of the visit, a written report detailing the external reviewer’s conclusions must be submitted by the external reviewer or review team to the Department Chair/Program Director, UARA Sarah Winger, and the Dean’s Office. This report is an essential supporting document and a critical resource for future planning. For further details, please refer to Appendix C "External Review Guidelines" in the APR Purpose & Guidelines document (find under Documentation) or the APR External Reviewer Guidelines.