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Chaparral 2015-2016: 24.2 A Genealogy of Program Review

A Genealogy of Program Review (November 2015)

A Genealogy of Program Review: 
Where have we been, where are we going, and where’s it all coming from, anyway?

by Sarah McLemore
English Division

In “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” seminal historian and notoriously difficult-to-interpret postmodernist  Michele Foucault writes “[g]genealogy is gray, meticulous and patiently documentary.  It operates on a field of entangled, confused parchments, on documents that have been scratched over many times.” Here Foucault is talking about how multiple ideologies rather than one singular, dominant power influence a specific period in history or historical event. 

However, without hardly trying, Foucault also pretty much nailed the initial, and subsequent, 2010-2015 journey Glendale Community College has undertook in terms of updating its program review document, the program review and resource allocation process.  The college has been meticulous, the college has been patient, and when it’s been confused or needed more, it hasn’t been afraid to “scratch over” and revise as needed.   

The good news is that after a lot of hard work the process has been streamlined and improved.  It’s been  stable, transparent, and simplified in the last two years.   

Here are some facts—a genealogy of program review if you will—as it stands now presented to you, dear readers of Chaparral, in the least Foucaldian way possible:

Prior to 2010, Program Review required that you write a 30 page document once every six years.  No annual updates were required.    

When GCC had its last ACCJC site visit in 2010 some of the most prominent recommendations we received focused on the need to better integrate institutional planning with resource allocation.  These recommendations were coupled with growing institutional awareness that completed program reviews were “shelf documents” with few connections to planning and budgeting.   

Since 2011, a yearly program review was required.   

One important reason program review has been required on a yearly basis has been based on ensuring we’ve shown external agencies that we are fully committed to the practice of regularly reviewing programs and linking planning to resource allocation. Program review has also become a place to write about learning outcomes assessment results and other data that have since become a part of our planning and assessment processes.   

However, starting in Fall 2015, the college moved to a three year “full program review” cycle with yearly opportunities for all programs to do an annual update. 

All programs completed a full program review last year.  The college has set a cycle for the next three years in which 1/3 of programs will do a full review each year.  If your program is only doing a program update this year, your program will receive its program review document prepopulated with updated data on fill rates and other fields.  It will also have all of the fields filled out from your program’s last full “program review cycle.”  Your program will need to review this and can make any needed changes.  You can also add additional resource requests and remove any resource requests that were funded in the previous year.  That is all that is required for the annual update. 

Very few changes were made to the program review document between the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 versions of the document. 

Specifically, the changes made are as follows: 

  1. The areas have been better organized so that all questions regarding courses are in one section followed by all questions regarding programs. 

  1. As applicable, all data are disaggregated by method of delivery (online/face-to-face) 

  1. For CTE programs, some questions have been added related to course prerequisites, coding by the state Chancellor’s Office, and the college’s institutionally set standards 

What do the changes mean for CTE programs? 

For all courses in your program which have a vocational TOP code designate by an asterisk (*), info about the existing course prerequisite will be prepopulated.  If your program believes any changes are needed, please mark those.  Your program will also be able to validate that the appropriate SAM and TOP codes have been assigned to your courses.  If everything looks good, just say “yes!”  Any changes you anticipate making will be forwarded to the Vice President, Instructional Services, the Curriculum and Scheduling Systems Manager, and the faculty Curriculum Coordinator so they can work with you to make necessary changes. 

CTE programs will also need to validate what they’ve set as minimum rates for job placement within their area.  The state’s core indicator program generally sets these for programs.  In some cases, where there’s no state identified minimum standard, reasonable rates for employment and licensure pass rates must be set.  This summer, ACCJC sent the college a letter saying that the college’s institutionally set standards for some CTE programs were unrealistic or too low.  In these cases, standards need to be revised.  The revised program review document also gives programs a chance to explain how they’ve set a standard.  If, for example a CTE program may be a strong feeder program for a baccalaureate institution, there may be few program completers which go on to get a job immediately making the job placement rate look artificially low.  But UC transfer rates, or transfers to Otis or other art or design programs may be high.  The revised program review form gives faculty a chance to talk about these sorts of mitigating factors. 

Program review provides the college with a mechanism to plan for a variety of needed resources.  Some may be financial resources, others may not.   

Over the past several years, I’ve helped write program reviews for the English Division.  I’ve also validated many programs as part of service to the Program Review Committee. Reading program review reports gives me a more global picture in terms of what plans are being made in terms of curriculum, what may be needs in terms of staff development, and other matters.  Tracing the link between when a program reflects on the potential benefit of developing a new degree or course is and the actual approval, advertisement, and scheduling of that course or program emphasizes the incredible talent and thoughtfulness of our college.  It also highlights ways different committees, bodies, and people on campus can know in advance how best to support each other.   

Having presented the information above on the current state of program review, I hope to bring you more information in future months regarding trends in resource requests and other needs identified in program review.  By illuminating this information I hope that we, as faculty, staff and administrators, can better trace how our own self evaluations connect to campus planning.  Our murky, exacting, genealogy will continue to be written, revised, and planned for.  It’s up to us as college constituents how we will serve as agents of this as-yet unwritten history. 


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