On PAR: An Overview
Through Program Alignment and Review (PAR), the Office of the Provost is fulfilling its commitment to continuously and formally review programs and the overall structure and alignment of instruction and research at Drexel in order to ensure relevance, quality, and measurable achievement. The process is designed to assess program quality and viability while facilitating program improvement. PAR also informs decisions about how best to use institutional resources, both human and financial. The information and data gathered in the course of the review assists in Drexel’s planning efforts and guides its academic decisions.
As part of PAR, many aspects of academic programs are examined. Among them are:
- The quality of educational programs, including an assessment of student outcomes
- The quality of research, creative activity, or scholarly work and the unit’s standing nationally
- The quality of outreach activities and service to the university, the profession, and the community
- The contribution or importance of the program to other campus programs
- The viability, potential, and future expectations for the program
PAR is intended to:
- Enhance the quality of a program and assist in determining a program’s ability to respond to future challenges and opportunities
- Evaluate strengths and weaknesses, and thus determine future priorities
- Aid in shaping a strategic plan for the program
There are three major components to the PAR process at Drexel: the self-study, the external review, and the action plan.
The centerpiece of the review process is the academic program’s self-study. The self-study will reflect the program’s unique culture and provide an opportunity for critical reflection and assessment of the program’s scholarly directions and academic offerings. The self-study should provide a helpful and detailed overview of the program to support a clearly articulated vision for its future.
The purpose of the external review is to assist faculty and academic leadership in improving program quality by providing an informed, outside perspective on the program and student learning. The program under review may invite up to three external reviewers—depending on the size of the department and the range of its sub-disciplines—from outside the University to participate in the review process. The external reviewer groups consist of distinguished educators in their fields with knowledge and expertise regarding the work of their departments and the practical academic requirements of their discipline. When selecting outside reviewers, programs identify colleagues who have exceptional scholarship and significant professional reputations.
The third component of PAR is the action plan. Action plans include, among other things, the program’s goals and objectives as supported by the self-study and/or external review; intended outcomes and milestones; strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges; resources required; and the cost of implementation.
Currently, the University is ending its first full year of PAR, having previously completed a pilot year with five academic programs. The outcomes and accomplishments of the pilot year of PAR are detailed in “On PAR: Early Accomplishments” in this edition of the Quarterly. Accomplishments and outcomes of PAR will be regularly updated on the PAR website.