Phase 3: Peer Review
The peer review phase affords programs a unique external perspective in identifying their strengths and weaknesses, assessing their ability to meet program learning outcomes, and evaluating the effectiveness of curricular design. The peer review phase generally runs through fall and winter quarters of the final program review year.
Basic Criteria for Nominees
- Nominees must possess a knowledge or familiarity of the discipline under review, although it is not necessary for every team member to have formal credentials in that discipline or field.
- External nominees must be from an institution other than Cal Poly and must not have close personal or professional ties to Cal Poly or other conflicts of interest that would prevent them from providing an objective review.
- Internal nominees must be a Cal Poly faculty member from outside the college of the program under review and have the potential to foster a future inter-departmental collaboration with the program.
- At least one reviewer selected to the team must have some experience with the assessment of student learning outcomes and act as the designated assessment reviewer.
- At least one of the external nominees selected to the team must be a leading faculty member or administrator from a peer or similar university, which may include non-California institutions.
Peer Reviewer Selection ProcessNominees for the peer review team should be submitted to the Office of Academic Programs & Planning no later than the 7th week of fall quarter. Final team selection by the dean should be completed by the end of fall quarter. For reviews where the program is seeking reaccreditation, the accrediting agency appoints the external reviewers. An internal reviewer is required for all program reviews.
Nomination and approval processStep 1: Beginning during fall quarter, faculty members discuss and nominate potential peer reviewers that meet the criteria established in the guidelines.
- The program chair/head fills out a nomination form per nominee detailing the faculty’s rationale for their nomination.
- A minimum of 4 external nominees and 2 internal nominees, representing a well-balanced pool of applicants, should be put forward.
- Note: It is the dean’s responsibility to determine the final make-up of the review team.
- The dean reviews the nominations and may, at her/his discretion, ask for additional prospective nominees to be put forward or may make her/his own additions in the interest of creating a well-balanced team.
- At this time, if desired, the dean may also wish to designate one of the review team members as the committee chair.
- The dean selects a minimum of 2 external and 1 internal reviewers for the review team.
- If the department wishes to discuss the final team selection, they should request, in writing, a meeting with the dean within 10 working days of notification.
HonorariaThe college is responsible for the payment of all expenses associated with the site visit, including reviewer honoraria. Depending on the college, payment of expenses is handled either at the department or the college level. External reviewers are typically provided $800-$1000 per person, depending on length of site visit, required level of input, etc. While serving as an internal reviewer is considered university service for Cal Poly faculty members, a modest stipend of around $500 is recommended depending on their level of involvement in the full review process.
Scheduling the VisitThe site visit is generally 2 days in length, with the department acting as host.
- Early during the self-review phase, the faculty propose several tentative dates for the site visit.
- The department head or chair confers with the review team, dean's office, and academic program's & planning office regarding their availability. Important: The Program Review Coordinator will determine availability of the Provost and Senior Vice Provost for the entrance and exit meetings.
- The department head or chair communicates the selected dates to the review team.
LogisticsCoordination of logistics for the site visit, including any travel or lodging arrangements, scheduling meetings, booking rooms, etc. are the sole responsibility of the department. One notable exception is the coordination of the entrance and exit meetings, which are coordinated in collaboration with the Program Review Coordinator.
- Academic Affairs Entrance Meetings are scheduled at the beginning of the site visit and include the senior vice provost, dean, associate dean, academic programs and planning faculty associate and review team. The purpose of the entrance meeting is to orient the review team to any pertinent issues and to provide them with a specific charge for their review process as appropriate.
- Academic Affairs Exit Meetings are scheduled near the end of the site visit and include the provost, senior vice provost, dean, academic programs and planning faculty associate and review team. The purpose of the exit meeting is to hear the preliminary findings of the review team.
ItineraryConsult the Peer Review Site Visit Checklist for a list of recommended or required meetings and events. Department heads or chairs are encouraged to communicate with the team prior to the visit for their input on whom they would like to meet with and what they want to see during the visit, in addition to the required meetings. If the department has a significant service contribution to other programs, the team may also meet with representatives of those client programs. The team generally asks to see samples of student work and tours the facilities available to the program. In addition to an exit meeting with the provost, dean, senior vice provost, and academic programs and planning faculty associate, the team usually has a report out with the associate dean, department head or chair, and program faculty. A draft itinerary should be sent to the associate dean and to the Program Review Coordinator no later than four weeks prior to the site visit. A finalized schedule should be sent no later than two weeks prior to the visit.
Reviewer Responsibilities & Report
Reviewer ResponsibilitiesPeer Review team members are responsible for reading the program's self-study, participating in a site visit, and writing a report documenting their findings and recommendations.
Team members agree to:
- Prepare a brief and concise team report of their findings after the site visit is complete. The draft report is submitted electronically to the office of Academic Programs & Planning. For accreditation program reviews, this may be done by the internal reviewer as an individual report or by the whole team as a complement to the accreditation report.
- Consider incorporating revisions (requested by the office of Academic Programs & Planning) after the draft has been checked by program faculty for errors of fact.
- Electronically submit a final copy of the review report to the office of Academic Programs & Planning. University receipt of final report signifies the completion of the reviewer responsibilities.
- Internal reviewers should plan to participate as much as allowed by her/his teaching schedule. (For accreditation reviews, the department chair or head should discuss in advance the extent to which the internal reviewer can be involved with the team chair.)
Reviewer Report GuidelinesThe review team will produce a written document of their key findings and recommendations. The following aspects should be evaluated:
- The quality of the program’s mission and goals.
- The effectiveness of the program’s learning objectives, curriculum, and pedagogy.
- The program’s ability to complete the assessment cycle of planning, assessing student learning, analyzing assessment results, and making improvements.
- The ability of students to meet the expectations established by the program learning objectives.
- The ability of students to persist in the program and graduate in a timely manner.
- The quality, quantity, and diversity of the program’s human resources: students, staff, and faculty.
- The quality and quantity of the program’s physical and intellectual resources: facilities, policies, and procedures.
- The program’s response to institutional themes; Cal Poly is currently focusing program review on diversity and inclusivity.
Reviewer Report Submission Process
Upon completion of the site visit, the review team has up to one month to submit a draft report.
- The peer review team electronically submits its draft report to the Academic Programs & Planning office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Program Review Coordinator distributes the draft report to program leadership and faculty, who have ten working days to review it for errors of fact. The Program Review Coordinator communicates any errors identified to the peer review team for their consideration prior to finalizing the report.
- The peer review team submits a final report to the Academic Programs & Planning office by emailing email@example.com.
- The final report is distributed to program leadership and faculty, and kept on file by the Academic Programs & Planning office .