New cycle of integrated program review and planning to be launched

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University is nearly ready to launch the second round of its integrated program review and planning process.

The second round, Learner Support Unit Review and Planning—LSURP—focuses on learner support units at the University. The first round, Academic Program Review and Planning, was completed during 2014-15.

Learner support units primarily offer programs that contribute to the learning, growth and development of learners outside of traditional curricular instruction. Although a majority of such programs at WMU fall under the Division of Student Affairs, a wide variety of the remaining units fall under the divisions of Academic Affairs, Multicultural Affairs and Intercollegiate Athletics.

The learner support round is similar to the previous round in that it is a collaborative Universitywide process that takes into account the goals and strategies included in WMU's strategic plan as well as the Criteria for Reaffirmation of Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

The new round is intended to provide a mission-driven, data-informed and participatory mechanism for continuous quality review that incorporates three phases: Self-Study and Self-Review; Next- and Division-Level Review; and Planning, Decision-Making and Implementation.

"Aligning effective assessment with campuswide continuous improvement is key to building a culture of student success," says Dr. Jody A. Brylinsky, associate provost for institutional effectiveness. "Learner support units make a valuable contribution toward the achievement of the University's mission and goals."

Overview, timetable

LSURP allows each University unit to focus not only on its and WMU's stated mission and goals, but also on how well goals are being accomplished, as measured by factors such as program efficiency and effectiveness, stakeholder satisfaction, resource allocation, and program outcomes.

Brylinsky says the LSURP Project Management Team, which includes representation from learner support units across campus, began extensive work in July 2015 to develop the necessary materials and procedures for the learning support round. She adds that the beta testing of those materials and procedures started in February and concluded at the end of April.

The proposed timetable calls for WMU to begin the learning support round June 1, with training and self-study activities running through Nov. 30. A campuswide observation team in January 2017 will review the self-review documents and present its observations to next-level and division-level supervisors for their review and future planning decisions.

Officials anticipate that all three phases of the process will be completed by June 30, 2017.

Activities during Phase One

The Self-Study and Self-Review phase is intended to improve the effectiveness of individual programs by linking professional standards to program improvement efforts.

Learner support units will complete a self-study for each of their identified programs. This work will be done using the Compliance Assist module from Campus Labs that is accessible through the GoWMU portal. Professional Standards for Higher Education self-study report templates developed by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education—CAS—are available to most units through Compliance Assist.

Units for which no CAS standards are available will provide program-specific evidence from existing sources within their units, such as self-study reports completed for specialized accreditation, certification and licensure. Once each program self-study is completed, these units will use their self-study findings to complete the standardized report template in Compliance Assist that contains criteria for LSURP.

Activities during Phase II

The Next- and Division-Level Review phase allows unit supervisors and senior administrators to examine programs and identify areas that meet or exceed expectations, or need improvement. It is intended to ensure that programs are functioning at the highest possible levels of quality, and are consistent with WMU's mission and strategic plan.

A campuswide observation team, comprised of staff members from learner support units, will examine the reports and provide feedback to next- and division-level administrators through Compliance Assist.

Next-level supervisors will then review the reports as well as feedback and provide recommendations to their units' senior leaders. Lastly, senior leaders will review all feedback and provide recommendations to their units so planning can begin.

Activities during Phase III

The Planning, Decision-Making and Implementation phase allows senior leaders to apply the information being reported to decision-making in their respective areas. As appropriate and relevant, senior leaders across divisions may discuss their findings with each other.

Planning directives will then be implemented at the unit level and incorporated into each unit's strategic plan. The directives will include indications regarding which programs are continuing to work toward growth or quality improvement, as well as which programs, if any, need remediation, restructuring or elimination.

For more information about LSURP or the integrated program review and planning process, visit wmich.edu/effectiveness/review. Direct questions to Brylinsky at jody.brylinsky@wmich.edu or (269) 387-2314.