Office of Academic Assessment

Audit and Review

The Audit and Review process at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is intended to facilitate the continuous improvement of all academic programs. Programs complete a comprehensive self-study and reflect on their achievements, progress, areas for improvement, and goals for the future. The process provides an opportunity for programs to talk about trends, issues, and progress over time, and to discuss these areas with their dean/s and the provost.


Purpose

Conducted within all instructional areas on a five-year cycle, the Audit and Review process facilitates continuous program improvement by:

  • Identifying needs for further study and/or planning.
  • Helping programs set priorities.
  • Ensuring appropriate standards for program quality.
  • Identifying needs and unique circumstances of specific programs.
  • Identifying non-functional and unnecessarily duplicative programs.
  • Identifying needs for structural changes in programs or administrative units.

Process and Timeline

Downloadable Graph

Self-Study 

When a program is schedule for Audit and Review, it composes a self-study. Authors often begin by consulting the self-study and final report from the previous Audit and Review process—see Self-Study FAQs for information on how to locate—and the Undergraduate Self-Study Instructions or the Graduate Self-Study Instructions.

In its self-study, the program covers the following areas:

  • program purpose and overview, including program mission, goals, and accomplishments
  • assessment of curriculum and student learning
  • student recruitment, enrollment, retention and graduation
  • resource availability and development

The program submits a self-study draft to the dean by October 1; it submits a final version to the Undergraduate or Graduate Audit and Review Committee by November 1.

Committee Draft Report

The Audit and Review Committee goes through a systematic process of evaluating a self-study.  Each member evaluates the self-study through a Qualtrics survey, and the committee meets to discuss survey output.  In a (draft) report on the self-study, which it submits to the dean and program coordinator or department chair, the committee recommends one of the following results:

  1. Insufficient information in the self-study to make determination
    The program should revise and resubmit its self-study.
  2. Continuation without qualification
  3. Continuation with minor concerns
    At the committee’s discretion, the program may need to provide a progress report.
  4. Continuation with major concerns in one or more of the four areas
    The program will submit progress reports that address the major concerns outlined by the review committee to the college dean and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
  5. Withhold recommendation for continuation and place program on probation
    At the committee's discretion, the program may need to complete another Audit and Review within 1-3 years.
  6. Withhold recommendation for continuation, place program on probation, and recommend placing in receivership within college
    At the committee's discretion, the program may need to complete another Audit and Review within 1-3 years.
  7. Non-continuation of program

This list of recommended results does not work as a grading scale. For example, “Continuation without qualification” is not equivalent to an A, and the requirement for a program to submit a progress report does not, in itself, suggest a below average program. However, the process does affirm a program receiving the result of "continuation without qualification" as exemplary.

Face-to-Face Meeting

The program coordinator/department chair, college dean, provost, and members of the Audit and Review Committee meet face-to-face to discuss the committee's draft report and determine recommended actions and results. The process is meant to be collaborative; during this meeting, parties may discuss discrepancies in how they understood or assessed the program.

Committee Final Report

In its final written report, the review committee summarizes the discussion at the face-to-face meeting, lists program strengths and weaknesses, and makes final determination on recommended actions and a recommended result.

  • Which academic programs complete the Audit and Review process?

All undergraduate majors, undergraduate stand-alone minors, and graduate programs complete Audit and Review.

  • Why must programs justify their existence through Audit and Review if program faculty are the experts?

Rather than a process for justifying academic programs, Audit and Review helps programs improve their quality by periodically self-reflecting and receiving feedback from university colleagues. The multiple university stakeholders beyond a program’s faculty who review the assessment data—Audit and Review committee members, dean, and provost—help ensure the currency of the program by providing different perspectives on it. In addition, the administration takes program assessment seriously; the college dean and the provost attend face-to-face meetings, gaining information from these meeting that assists them in strategic planning and resource allocation.

  • Why must my program undergo Audit and Review if it is already reviewed periodically by an accrediting agency?

The questions accrediting agencies use are not always the same as those of the Audit and Review process, and these agencies’ purposes, though similar, are not always entirely consonant with the Audit and Review Committee’s purpose. That said, we encourage a program completing a self-study for an accrediting agency to copy and paste relevant segments from an Audit and Review self-study and to contact the committee chair about aligning reports.

  • How often do programs undergo Audit and Review?

Academic programs undergo Audit and Review on a five-year cycle. For dates, see Review Schedule and Evaluations.

  • How are Audit and Reviews scheduled, and is there any flexibility?

The director of Academic Assessment maintains schedules of the Audit and Review processes for undergraduate and graduate programs. The director coordinates these schedules to accommodate academic departments with both undergraduate and graduate programs, seeking approval from the provost. Whenever possible and appropriate, the director also coordinates on-campus Audit and Review processes with accreditation and other external reviews.

Departments or programs subject to accreditation may negotiate the scheduling of Audit and Review processes immediately before, during, or immediately after the year of accreditation. Departments or programs subject to five and ten-year accreditation cycles participate in the on-campus Audit and Review processes every five years. Departments or programs subject to other accreditation cycles participate in the on-campus Audit and Review processes at least every five years, adjusted to coincide with the accreditation cycle. Departments or programs not subject to accreditation are reviewed every five years. An approximately equal number of departments or programs are reviewed each year.

  • What are the major steps in an Audit and Review?

Audit and Review is a four-step process.

For the first step, a program drafts a self-study, explaining the following:

  • Program purpose and overview, including program mission, goals, and accomplishments
  • Assessment of curriculum and student learning
  • Student recruitment, enrollment, retention and graduation
  • Resource availability and development

By no later than October 1, the program sends this draft to the dean for review. By no later than November 1, the program submits to the Audit and Review Committee a final self-study that has responded to the dean’s feedback.

For the second step, the Undergraduate or Graduate Audit and Review Committee reviews the self-study. Committee members meet to discuss the results of a Qualtrics survey they complete, in which they assess program strengths, weaknesses, questions, and recommended actions and results. Following this meeting, a member or members of the committee draft a report of the self-study and send it to other members for review; the committee then forwards the report to the coordinator/department chair and dean of the college of the program undergoing Audit and Review.

For the third step, the program coordinator/department chair, college dean, provost, and members of the Audit and Review Committee meet face-to-face to discuss the committee's draft report and determine recommended actions and results. The process is meant to be collaborative; during this meeting, parties may discuss discrepancies in how they understood or assessed the program.

For the fourth step, the committee drafts a final report, which includes a summary of the discussion, the final recommended actions, and the final result. All parties review the final report before it is uploaded to the Audit and Review website.

  • Who oversees Audit and Review?

The provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs provide the overall leadership for all Audit and Review processes. A number of parties support this responsibility:

  • The director of Academic Assessment, who serves as an ex-officio member of both the Undergraduate Audit and Review Committee and of the Graduate Audit and Review Committee;
  • The dean of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education, who serves as chair of the Graduate Audit and Review Committee;
  • The chairs of the Undergraduate Audit and Review Committee and the University Assessment Committee; and
  • The director of Institutional Research and Planning.

In conjunction with these individuals, the provost seeks to maintain efficient and effective Audit and Review processes by coordinating them with accreditation and other external reviews. In addition, the provost serves on the Strategic Planning and Budgeting Committee.

  • What happens after Audit and Review?

The Undergraduate Audit and Review Committee and the Graduate Audit and Review Committee each prepare an annual report for the provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. The committees provide copies of the reports to the dean of each affected program, the chair of each affected program, the dean of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education, Faculty Senate, University Curriculum Committee, Academic Development Committee, Faculty Budget Committee, and Graduate Council. The University Curriculum Committee and the Graduate Council respond to the reports and make recommendations to the provost relative to their specific areas of responsibility.

 The provost distributes the specific observations, recommendations and expectations for each academic program to the college deans and to the dean of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education; in turn, these deans report annually to the provost concerning progress in response to previous Audit & Review recommendations.

  • Who are the parties involved in the formation of the self-study?

Audit and Review Committee

->

Sets the schedule, scope, and format for the self-study.

 

Academic department or program

->

Composes and submits the self-study.

     

Dean of college

->

Reviews the self-study, offering feedback to the program and approving it before it is submitted to the committee.

 

(Each college may establish preliminary Audit and Review processes at the college level, involving faculty committees, administrative committees, administrative review, or some combination of the preceding three possibilities.)

 

 

 

Program chair or coordinator

->

Submits completed self-study to the Audit and Review submission portal for access and review by Audit and Review Committee members.

  • When is the self-study due?

By October 1, a program should submit its self-study draft to the dean for review. By November 1, the program should submit to the Audit and Review Committee its final self-study, which has responded to the dean’s feedback.

 

  • How long should a self-study be?

There is no standard length because academic programs can vary considerably in their size and complexity. We encourage self-study authors to create focused discussions and, where possible, to provide supporting evidence in the form of attached tables or rubrics.

 

  • How do I submit the self-study?

Submit through the online Audit and Review Portal, which enables programs to write, distribute, and edit self-studies.

  •  How do I begin writing the self-study?

Review the self-study and final report from the previous Audit and Review process. You can find the final report in dashboard Review Schedule and Evaluations. Former department chairs or program coordinators may have copies of the previous self-study. You may locate any self-study submitted since fall 2015 in the Audit and Review portal; if you cannot locate a copy of the self-study, feel free to contact us (assessment@uww.edu, x1806). Also visit the “Data for Self-Studies” tab on this webpage, which contains resources for self-study authors, including UW-W’s Mission and Core Values and links to some important surveys. Finally, read over the self-study instructions found in the webpage dashboard.

 

  • In the self-study, what’s the difference between program goals and assessment?

Program goals, covered in Section I, are broad and embedded in program mission statements or purpose statements. While program goals often affect students' learning in the program, they are not focused specifically on student learning outcomes. Example goals include increasing enrollment; developing or revising emphases, modules, certificate programs; increasing international opportunities for students and faculty in the program; attaining accreditation from an existing agency; or serving as a political, economic, cultural, or other outreach to the community, region, or state.

Academic assessment, covered in Section II, refers to examination of a curriculum—including existing majors, minors, modules, and certificate program—alongside an evaluation of learning within courses in this curriculum. All academic programs must establish plans for assessing student learning outcomes.

 

  • In Section II of the self-study, what should I discuss when I cover assessment of curriculum and student learning?

First, describe the program and its emphases, minors, modules, or certificates clearly by, for example, providing check sheets or other visual descriptions of the program that comprehensively outline requirements.

Second, beyond the coursework, attend also to students' experiences directly related to enhancing their learning, such as professionally-based student organizations, mentoring programs, undergraduate research, internships, opportunities for international study, and service learning opportunities. Prior to graduation, students also must satisfy a writing requirement; each program determines how the students can satisfy this requirement and whether the writing is competent.

Third, note that expectations of undergraduate and graduate students in dual-listed (300/500-level courses and 400/600-level courses) differ in content, intensity, and self-direction, differences that should be specified on course syllabi.

Fourth, attend to the program’s operating plan to assess student learning outcomes, a plan that every program should have. Provide the following information:

  • State what students should be able to know and do upon completion of the academic program.
  • Describe what data the program has collected to assess students’ acquisition of the knowledge and skills specified. Data should include both direct and indirect measures. Examples of direct measures are content area tests; scores on standardized exams; evaluations of capstone experiences, portfolios, performances, papers, or other products; and evaluations by internship supervisors, employers, or Advisory Board members. Examples of indirect measures are the University's Senior Outcomes Assessment Survey (SOAS); a departmental exit survey; and students' self-reports of learning.
  • In light of what the data shows, outline changes the program has made to enhance student learning. This step, demonstrating how specific assessment data has been used to make program changes, is often described as "closing the loop.”

 

  • In Section III of the self-study, why is information on enrollment, retention, and graduation required?

Some academic programs show stable rates over time, while others fluctuate due to demographics, employment trends, economic conditions, etc. This section asks programs to reflect on these trends, allowing them to identify reasons for fluctuations they have experienced. Programs can demonstrate that they are up-to-date with employment trends and market conditions and their overall currency as they report plans for retention while outlining systematic methods used to track the success of graduates.

 

  • In Section IV of the self-study, why create a table of faculty/staff contributions in teaching, research, and service AND describe the expectations of faculty/staff in these three areas?

This section asks that programs provide quantitative data alongside a qualitative description of the context for the data.

Programs can report quantitative data in the table, listing names of faculty and staff/graduate faculty; participation in teaching-enhancement workshops, presentations, seminars, etc.; bibliographic citations or other means for documenting research, scholarly activities, and/or creative activities; service contributions to the department, college, and university; and involvement in professional organizations, consulting, etc.

Alongside this quantitative data, programs should include 1-2 paragraphs that put into context faculty/staff efforts in teaching, research and scholarly activities, and service contributions. This qualitative description should help Audit and Review Committee members understand the unique expectations that different departments and programs have in each of these three areas. Various factors may affect teaching roles within the program, including FTE/SCH ratios, expectations of one-on-one instruction, and major responsibilities involved with core courses, proficiency courses, or graduate courses. Each program has its own definition of what constitutes “scholarly activity.” Programs with service learning or internship requirements may involve significant service obligations of faculty. When programs carefully explain factors that define and distinguish expectations of teaching, research and scholarly activities, and service contributions, they help the committee members to best understanding the specific demands placed on faculty and staff teaching in the program.

 

  • In the self-study, what is the importance of program evaluation and student learning assessment?

The Audit and Review committees closely attend to how programs assess student learning and evaluate themselves. During the process, academic programs receive feedback on their mission statements and systematic processes for setting and assessing program goals. Programs also define student learning outcomes, show how program learning outcomes align with campus learning outcomes, and report data related to assessment of these outcomes. Data from program evaluation and from assessments of student learning are used to inform program changes and improvements.  

 

  • How are self-studies evaluated?

When reading and reviewing each academic program, Audit and Review Committee members use an evaluation rubric that mirrors the organization of the self-study. While they now evaluate through a Qualtrics survey, they previously completed an evaluation form. Only committee members have access the Qualtrics surveys, but the evaluation criteria may be viewed in Self-Study Evaluation Criteria, which contains evaluation forms that directly reflect the contents on the Qualtrics surveys.

The committee discusses survey information to determine a recommended result, choosing from one of the following options:

  • Insufficient information in the self-study to make determination
  • Continuation without qualification
  • Continuation with minor concerns
  • Continuation with major concerns in one or more of the four areas
  • Withhold recommendation for continuation and place program on probation
  • Withhold recommendation for continuation, place program on probation, and recommend placing in receivership within college
  • Non-continuation of program

(For further details on these results, see FAQ Audit and Review Committees question)

 

  • To whom should I address questions that arise as I write the self-study?

Direct questions to the Office of Academic Assessment (assessment@uww.edu, 262-472-1806).

 

  • Who are the members of the Undergraduate Audit and Review Committee?

Faculty from each undergraduate college elect three representatives from to the Undergraduate Audit and Review Committee. All university faculty additionally elect three at-large representatives, who may be from one or more colleges. A representative from the Provost’s Office serves as an ex-officio member. (See current members.)

 

  • Who are the members of the Graduate Audit and Review Committee?

The Graduate Audit and Review Committee is comprised of two members from each college and one student member, regardless of college. Student members serve one-year terms, and faculty representatives serve three-year staggered terms. The dean of the School of Graduate Studies serves as an ex-officio member of the committee. (See current members.)

 

  • How do the committees assess self-studies?

Audit and Review committees use an evaluation rubric (submitted as an online Qualtrics survey) that mirrors the organization of the self-study in reading and reviewing each academic program. You may review a copy of the Undergraduate Audit and Review Committee's evaluation form and the Graduate Audit and Review Committee’s evaluation form.

 

  • What are the possible results of the Audit and Review process?

In its final written report, the review committee summarizes the discussion at a face-to-face meeting with key constituents, lists program strengths and weaknesses, recommended actions, and a recommended result. The recommended result is one of the following:

  • Insufficient information in the self-study to make determination
    The program should revise and resubmit its self-study.
  • Continuation without qualification
  • Continuation with minor concerns
    At the committee’s discretion, the program may need to provide a progress report.
  • Continuation with major concerns in one or more of the four areas
    The program will submit progress reports that address the major concerns outlined by the review committee to the college dean and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
  • Withhold recommendation for continuation and place program on probation
    At the committee's discretion, the program may need to complete another Audit and Review within 1-3 years.
  • Withhold recommendation for continuation, place program on probation, and recommend placing in receivership within college
    At the committee's discretion, the program may need to complete another Audit and Review within 1-3 years.
  • Non-continuation of program

When submitting comments before the meeting about a program's self-study, each Audit and Review Committee member independently selects one of the above results. Committee members' selections are shown on the draft report. After discussion at the face-to-face meeting between program representatives, dean, provost, and committee members, the committee will come to an agreement on a single recommended result.

  • Since the Audit and Review Committee seems to stress different components of the self-study across the years, how can I know what it will focus on when my program is scheduled?

While the composition of the Audit and Review Committee is a factor that determines the areas that committee members will focus on, the committee will always examine all four major components of the self-study:

  • Program purpose and overview, including program mission, goals and accomplishments
  • Assessment of curriculum and student learning
  • Student recruitment, enrollment, retention, and graduation
  • Resource availability and development

 

What is the review process like for progress reports?

Occasionally, an Audit & Review Committee will request a progress report from a program to check progress in specific areas prior to the next scheduled five-year review. The review process for progress reports is similar to that of self-studies: The Undergraduate Audit & Review Committee or the Graduate Audit & Review Committee reviews the progress reports and prepare written feedback. The face-to-face meeting for progress reports includes the Audit & Review Committee chair, program representatives, and any others the program would like to include.

Does the committee’s evaluation system of recommended results reflect a grading scale of sorts for academic programs?

The following list of recommended results does not work as a grading scale:

  • Insufficient information in the self-study to make determination
  • Continuation without qualification
  • Continuation with minor concerns
  • Continuation with major concerns in one or more of the four areas
  • Withhold recommendation for continuation and place program on probation
  • Withhold recommendation for continuation, place program on probation, and recommend placing in receivership within college
  • Evaluation System & Results

“Continuation without qualification” is not equivalent to an A, and the requirement for a program to submit a progress report does not, in itself, suggest a below average program.  The committee recognizes that academic programs at UW-Whitewater, which are generally sound, may be at different stages in their evolution.  The committee also understands that some programs are subject to accreditation reviews, while other programs are not, and that some programs may be dealing with circumstances beyond their control (e.g., retirements of faculty, enrollment trends, and budgetary issues).

At the same time, the committee believes it is important to recognize exemplary programs. In general, programs that earn the recommended result of "continuation without qualification" have a clear vision of their role in furthering UW-Whitewater’s mission and core values.  These programs establish program goals; demonstrate regularly monitoring of progress in meeting these goals; and establish new goals as they meet current ones.  Exemplary programs also have assessment plans that articulate and measure student learning outcomes using direct and indirect assessment data from internal and external sources.  They are able to show how assessment data is used in making program changes.  They perceive the changing nature of their discipline and adapt to fluctuations in enrollment or graduation rates.  Programs earning "continuation without qualification" may complete an expedited self-study during the next review cycle, with the next complete self-study to be completed in ten years.

The following are some resources authors commonly draw upon as they craft their self-studies:

  1. UW-Whitewater Core Values & Mission Statement
  2. UW-Whitewater Strategic Plan
  3. University-Wide Survey Results
    Contains results from a number of important surveys, including National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE), and Senior Outcomes Assessment Survey (SOAS).
  4. Fact Book
    Provides historical official statistics for UW-Whitewater.
  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
    Provides information on employment projections.
  6. Inclusive Excellence Guidelines
  7. UW-Whitewater Essential Learning Outcomes

For additional assistance with completing a self-study, contact the Office of Academic Assessment (assessment@uww.edu, 262-472-1806).

The Undergraduate Audit and Review Committee and the Graduate Audit and Review Committee conduct comprehensive reviews of program self-studies, drafting a final report on each audited program. This report identifies programmatic strengths and weaknesses, makes recommendations for specific required and/or suggested action(s), and recommends a summary conclusion or result.

Committees forward reports to the appropriate dean and to the affected department or program with a request for a meeting to discuss the report. The provost, other representative(s) from the Provost’s Office, college dean, program chair/coordinator, program faculty/staff, the Audit & Review Committee chair and committee representatives are invited to attend the meetings. Following these meetings, each committee finalizes its reports.

In addition to these two committees, a variety of affiliated committees and offices may help support for audit and review processes.

Location

Office of Academic Assessment
450 Heide Hall 
800 West Main Street 
Whitewater, WI 53190 

Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
7:45 AM - 4:30 PM

 

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