Selecting the outside reviewers
Three external reviewers are selected in consultation with the Associate Dean. The chair/coordinator should send a list with the names, titles, institutions, and email addresses of six to eight potential outside reviewers, ranked in order of preference and grouped according to their specific niches. These names need to be discussed and approved by all continuing members of the department before being submitted. The Dean may decide to select an individual not on the list, but will discuss this with the department or program before doing so. The three external reviewers will normally include at least one person from a comparable liberal arts college and at least one person from a graduate institution that offers PhDs in the pertinent discipline. The latter will be better placed to provide feedback on how well we are preparing our students for further study; the former to appreciate the unique character of liberal arts colleges. The three reviewers should also include at least one person who is or has been a department chair.
The department/program will indicate the dates it would like the outside reviewers to visit campus. The Associate Dean will ascertain the availability of the Dean and the President on the proposed dates, excluding those for which there is a conflict. The Associate Dean then contacts the reviewers to determine their willingness to serve on these dates and in this capacity. Being flexible with your dates makes it easier to get your top-choice reviewers.
Once the reviewers have accepted, the department/program arranges the travel, housing, and on-campus scheduling of the reviewers.
Preparing the self-study document
The department/program creates an internal report that it will give to the external reviewers, the President, and the Dean and Associate Dean of the College before the outside reviewers arrive. The department/program should assign two faculty members to be responsible for organizing and writing up the self-study. A senior major should also be identified to help gather student opinion.
At a minimum, the internal self-study document should include and reflect on the following information:
- A history of the department/program, including changes in faculty, facilities, etc.;
- A statement of the department/program's learning objectives;
- A full description and critical analysis of the current department/program curriculum in light of these objectives;
- Data on enrollments and majors, disaggregated by gender and ethnicity (the College will supply initial raw data for the department/program to build on and analyze);
- Feedback from and profiles of current students and alumni (this information is crucial and should be obtained early in the process, so that it can inform the department/program's discussions);
- Comparative data from departments or programs at similar colleges;
- Faculty profiles, such as curricula vitae or biographies, lists of courses taught, etc.;
- Catalogue copy and course syllabi;
- Recent financial support within the college for faculty and students, including grants received for research, travel, and senior projects
In preparing its self-study document, the department should take all or most of the following steps:
- Review national studies of general curricular issues. American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) publications are a good starting point.
- Consult studies by national organizations in your field.
- Review self-studies conducted at Pomona and other liberal arts colleges, including other Claremont Colleges. Pomona self-studies may be found in the Dean of the College's Office.
- Consult with Director of Institutional Research Jennifer Rachford. Jennifer can offer advice on strategies for data collection, provide technical support for web-based surveys, and supply existing data from institutional surveys to inform the review where appropriate. The Senior Survey and the Enrolled Student Survey that her office administers cover many topics relevant to your self-study. Please contact her early in the process to allow enough time for your data collection efforts.
- Survey current and graduated majors in the department/program. This step is crucial and should be taken early in the process, so that the responses can inform the department/program's discussions.
- Review the evidence of student learning collected and evaluated in the department/program's annual reports. The self-study is a good opportunity for comprehensive, longitudinal reflection on this evidence and any steps taken in response to it.
- Set aside time for intensive discussion of the self-study issues in the department/program. This can be done at a one- or two-day retreat or over a series of meetings. To facilitate discussion, you might want to begin with a written proposal that can serve as a focal point.
Hosting the outside reviewers' visit
The department/program arranges the reviewers' travel, housing, and on-campus schedule. Reviewers will spend a minimum of two days here, normally either a Monday-Tuesday, or a Thursday-Friday. Electronic versions of the self-study document should be sent to each member of the team and the Associate Dean at least two weeks before the visit. Two hard copies, complete with the c.v.s of the three reviewers, should be delivered, one to the President and one to the Associate Dean (to be shared with the Dean). The review team has a meeting with the Dean in the morning on the first day of their visit and meets with the President and the Dean for an exit interview in the middle of the afternoon on the second day. In between, the reviewers should meet with all department/program faculty, support staff, and students, as well as individuals in joint or related departments or programs--including those at the other Colleges-so that they can get the fullest possible picture of the department/program being reviewed. Division II departments may wish to have the reviewers meet with the Associate Dean who oversees research support.
Within two months of their visit, the reviewers are expected to submit a report or reports (it is up to them whether they want to submit a joint report or separate reports) to the Dean and Associate Dean, who will then forward it to the department or program, the President, and other senior administrators. The Dean's Office will issue the $1000 honorarium to each reviewer after receipt of their report.
After digesting the reviewers' report, the department/program meets with the Dean and Associate Dean to discuss it. The chair or administrative assistant should contact the Dean's Office to arrange this meeting, normally within a month of receiving the report.
A year after completing its self-study, the department/program submits a brief follow-up report to the Dean, with a copy to the Associate Dean. The report outlines which recommendations have been implemented and why, which have not been implemented and why, what impact the changes have had, and where the department/program intends to move in future. The report can also provide an opportunity to nudge the administration on any steps it should be taking. Finally, the chair/coordinator meets with the Dean to discuss the follow-up report, helping ensure a productive outcome to the self-study.
The budget for each self-study is $7000. Most of this amount will be used to cover the travel expenses and honoraria for the outside reviewers, whose standard fee is $1000 apiece. The rest can cover other costs, such as photocopying, mailing, and meals (but not alcohol) or space rental for a retreat. The Dean's Office will not transfer funds for expense to the department, rather expenses are to be attached to a completed RFC or on a purchasing card and sent to Rhonda Beron for a signature. Although the Dean's Office will issue the three $1000 honoraria directly, individual departments/programs manage the other expenses as they see fit. Please be sure to send the outside reviewers the Vendor Data Record (VDR) form below. This must be filled out by the reviewers, returned to the department's administrative assistant and sent to Rhonda Beron with a completed Request For Check (RFC) form attached for processing. Please note that the honoraria will not be issued until after the Dean's Office recevies the outside reviewers' report.