A blog post managed by PSU’s Academic Program Prioritization Committee (APPC) states that, “APP uses a scoring process, driven by academic priorities, to review the portfolio of all academic programs at PSU and assign them to one of a small number of categories, with supporting rationale and recommendations.”
You can also refer to a visual representation of APP for more details.
A brief history of APP accomplishments to-date:
- Fall 2013: I proposed Faculty Senate consider an academic program prioritization (APP) process.
- Fall 2013 and Winter 2014: Fruitful six-month faculty conversations assessing pros and cons of examining academic programs.
- Spring 2014: The Senate and I issue a joint charge to create an ad-hoc Academic Program Prioritization Committee (APPC).
- Fall 2014: The initial ad-hoc APPC makes a proposal to the Senate, endorsed with some modification, to move forward with implementation.
- Winter 2014: APPC identifies programs to review and develops scoring criteria.
- Spring 2015: APP forum calls for volunteers to serve on APP scoring teams.
- Spring 2015: Senate votes to continue APPC with a summer pilot on proposed criteria.
- Summer 2015: APPC determines it is unable to conduct pilot because most faculty are not available.
- Fall 2015: APPC proposes to Faculty Senate an Atlas approach instead of prioritizing programs. The Atlas will contain a “digestible summary” of department-level data on student and faculty demographics; sponsored projects expenditures; trends in degrees awarded; etc.
- Fall 2015: The Senate discusses the merits of an Atlas versus a prioritization process.
More Assessment, Not More Data
A few days ago the APPC reached consensus that they will not proceed with a pilot, but will continue with the “Atlas of Academic Programs” and in generating the final report.
I am a cartographer so I would normally rejoice in an atlas. While the Atlas proposed has utility, I am concerned it provides nothing new, given it will include data we already have access to.
While administration at many universities mandate program prioritization and how it will be conducted, we have intentionally not done this at PSU. I believe that the curriculum and the programs we offer should be shaped by our faculty and I hope that the Faculty Senate will see value in a process that goes beyond data collection to one that provides meaningful assessment and informed recommendations.
Reprioritizing APP – New Outlook?
I understand prioritizing and assessing our array of programs will take significant faculty time. I get it–faculty have limited time for service. The question, though, is how is that time best spent?
I wonder how much time faculty could devote to program prioritization if we were willing to let go of other tasks:
- What if the approval of courses did not need to go to university-wide committees and instead resided with faculty decisions at the college level?
- What if decisions on awarding professional development funds took place at the college level and no longer needed an additional committee?
I am not suggesting in the above examples that there is no value added by university committees. Rather, I am asking, given a choice of how we spend our limited time, what are the more important university-wide decisions—the approval of single courses OR assessments of our programs?
I encourage faculty to streamline and let go of some processes to make time for others that may add more value.
I wish to thank the APPC members, Faculty Senate, Senate Leadership and other faculty that have worked on this project over the past two years. A special thank you to Mark Jones, Chair of the APPC, for his leadership, energy, and creativity trying to move APP forward.
Please share your thoughts about the APP process on this blog space.