Academic Program Review: Post-Visit

External Review Team Focus and Report

The external review team should focus its evaluation and recommendations on the core criteria (as appropriate to the program undergoing review), as well as the questions provided by the Dean. One dimension of the academic program review for the external review team to explicitly consider is how a particular program at Iowa State University compares with the best programs of its type in the United States.

Listed below are the program review evaluation criteria with areas for the review team to consider.


  • Achievement of program mission and use of mission to inform decisions

Program Quality

  • Quality of the program, including achievement of intended learning outcomes
  • Quality, range, and focus of research, scholarship, or artistic activities of the unit
  • Quality and appropriateness of extension/outreach programs and activities

Planning for the Future

  • The unit's strategic planning for future development
  • The unit's effectiveness in planning and improving programs, as well as the unit's effectiveness in incorporating information about student learning into the planning process

The team's recommendations should focus on changes that might be made using resources that are currently available to the program. If recommendations are made for changes that would require additional resources, the need and priority for additional resources should be clearly specified.

The external review team should plan to present a summary of its major findings and recommendations during the exit interviews. Within four to six weeks following the visit, the team's report should be provided electronically to the Dean, who, in turn, will distribute the report to the unit. If factual errors occur, the team will be asked by the Department to correct and revise the report accordingly. A final electronic report, as well as a signed original, should be provided to the Dean by the review team within six to eight weeks of the visit. The Dean will distribute copies of the final report to the unit and to the provost office contact. The final report is to be made available to all members of the unit being reviewed.

Follow-up and Board Report

  • The Associate Provost for Academic Programs, director of academic quality, the Dean(s) and associate dean(s), and the department Chair meet approximately a month after receiving the team's report to discuss preliminary feedback and action items from the review process. 
  • The department chair and program faculty respond to the team's recommendations. The department/program response is submitted to and reviewed by the Dean. The Dean then forwards the department/program response to the reviewers' report to the provost office contact. The Dean in consultation with the program Chair forwards the Board of Regents Summary Report (PDF, 27KB) to the provost office contact.
  • The provost office compiles and submits annually to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, the Board of Regent Summary Reports completed that year.

Mid-Cycle Review

  • Approximately three years prior to the next scheduled program review, academic programs will submit a brief (3 pages or less) mid-cycle review report (via email). This mid-cycle review will serve:
    • To reflect on progress made since the last review visit
    • To identify any substantial changes associated with the program or its context
    • To assist in preparing for the next review visit
  • To address the first purpose, the department/program will review the visiting team recommendations and the departmental response from the last academic program review. The mid-cycle report will highlight progress made on the recommended action plans from the last program review. It will also identify any changes in planned actions that may have occurred because of substantial changes to the program or its context. The chart below can be used as a guide for this section of the mid-cycle review. 
Recommendation or FindingAction TakenFuture Action
Describe the recommendation for change that resulted from the self-study, external review, and department response.Describe the actions taken to implement the recommendation. If none, why?Describe additional actions planned to implement the recommendation, or changes in department affecting implementation of recommendation.


  • With increased emphasis on student learning outcomes assessment (from both the Board of Regents and the Higher Learning Commission), it is important that academic program reviews include a focused emphasis on student learning outcomes. Therefore, in preparation for the next review, departments/programs are also asked to summarize (in 1-2 pages) their program student learning outcomes and assessment plans. The following two bullets can serve as an outline for this section of the mid-cycle report. 
    • Provide the current list of the student learning outcomes for the program and levels offered by the department (e.g. if department has different outcomes for undergraduate versus graduate programs, share both lists.) If student outcomes have not been identified for all programs/levels, share the process you will use to develop the list of outcomes.
    • Provide a brief overview of the department/program’s plans and strategies for assessing whether students are achieving these outcomes. (Examples might include the following: we have mapped outcomes to particular courses and are assessing using exams/portfolios in those courses, we administer student surveys, we monitor national benchmark surveys, etc.). If the strategies/plans are different for undergraduate and graduate programs, share information on both.  If student outcomes assessment plans have not been fully implemented, share the process. 
  • Programs should submit (via e-mail) the mid-cycle review report to the Dean and the Associate Provost for Academic Programs (with a cc: to the Director of Academic Quality and Undergraduate Education).
  • The Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost will send the program/department chair and the Dean a response to the report.


Beardshear and central campus as seen from Curtiss Hall