Guide to How to Undertake an Undergraduate Program Review

Version 1. January 25, 2021

This section provides step-by-step guidance for a department chair and department members to conduct a periodic review of their undergraduate program and accompanying development of strategic goals with specific initiatives. This material can inform and augment existing practices, and guide the building of a process when needed. Guidance is provided on a

that includes holding conversations with members of your department and other stakeholders, gathering and analyzing data, writing a self-study report, identifying and hosting , identifying and mechanisms by which they can be implemented and monitored. For examples and templates see the resources on Program Review Timeline, Topics a Department Might Explore in a Program Review, Template for a Self-Study Report, Sample Agenda for an External Reviewers’ Site Visit, Sample MOU for Engaging an External Reviewer for Program Review, and Template for an External Reviewers’ Report. For advice to conducting program reviews, see the section on How to Serve as an Undergraduate Program Reviewer. For guidance on developing and implementing a more formal document such as an action or strategic plan, see the section on How to Create and Use a Strategic Plan. Processes outlined here follow recommendations of many institutional accreditors, thus streamlining departmental workload. Institution-specific requirements for program review vary widely, so not all recommendations will apply to all departments. A small department or a department undertaking its first review may want to be selective in choosing which parts of these guidelines to adopt. While the EP3 Guide does not explicitly address a department’s graduate or research programs, much of the advice given here can be generalized to those programs. Unlike most other sections of the EP3 Guide, this section describes a sequential process, and the effective practices should be studied and implemented in order.


Completing a periodic (optimally every five to seven years) review of your undergraduate physics program, as required for institutional accreditation, will provide your department with a summary of what was accomplished during the prior period and how it was accomplished, identification of potential initiatives to undertake or issues to address in a future action or strategic plan, stronger rationales when advocating for resources from your administration, a context for supporting such requests, and the ability to demonstrate to your administration and other stakeholders a commitment to proactive planning and ongoing improvement. The

described here, including garnering advice from , facilitates discussions that help guide a department in reaching consensus on strategic directions and specific initiatives. Upper-level administrators benefit from receiving an independent, authoritative review of your department, enabling them to work collaboratively with you to improve the physics program.

Effective Practices

  1. Engage your department and institution in developing a plan for the review process

  2. Develop a self-study report

  3. Plan and host a site visit

  4. Enact subsequent planning actions

The Cycle of Reflection and Action

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1738311, 1747563, and 1821372. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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