Student Affairs Program Review

Student Affairs Program Review

This page includes a visual illustration of the program review cycle, resources, and an overview of the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) framework used for reviews.

Student Affairs Program Review Cycle
The diagram above illustrates the 4 year cycle of the integrated Student Affairs Program Review and biennial planning cycle at Lane Community College. Year 1 starts the cycle with a self-study report. Year 2 includes implementation. Year 3 requires an update while year 4 a final report. Once the cycle is completed it is begun anew.

CAS Framework for Program Review

The Student Affairs units have agreed to use the framework from the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. CAS is a consortium of 43 member organizations in higher education founded in 1979. Currently there are 12 general standards that were derived from a consensus-oriented, collaborative approach across the various professional organizations including:

  • Mission
  • Program
  • Organization and Leadership
  • Human Resources
  • Ethics
  • Law, Policy and Governance
  • Diversity, Equity, and Access
  • Institutional and External Relations
  • Financial Resources
  • Technology
  • Facilities and Equipment
  • Assessment and Evaluation

The most thorough and, perhaps, productive use of the standards involves a self-study process for program evaluation. This process involves others at the institution (and sometimes those external to it) in examining evidence to determine collectively whether the program is in compliance with the standards. Involvement of others serves several purposes; it ensures a broader and more objective perspective, increases knowledge and awareness of the program across the institution, and develops support for implementation of identified improvements. CAS recommends the several basic steps for implementing a program review based on a self-study model (see below).

Principles Underlying All CAS Standards:

The fundamental principles that undergird the work of CAS and guide its initiatives were derived from the theories and conceptual models implicit within human development, group dynamics, student learning, organizational management, and administration that inform the work of higher education professionals who support students. The guiding principles for CAS can be organized into five broad categories. These principles underlie the work of CAS and the standards the group sets.

Students & Their Environments

  • The whole student is shaped by environments that provide learning opportunities reflective of society and diversity, with students having ultimate responsibility for learning.

Diversity & Multiculturalism

  • Institutions embracing diversity and eliminating barriers with justice and respect for differences, binding individuals to community

Organization, Leadership, & Human Resources

  • Quality of leaders possessing sound preparation is essential, with success directly correlated to clarity of mission

Health Engendering Environments

  • Education prospers in benevolent environments that provide students with appropriate challenge and necessary support

Ethical Considerations

  • Educators exhibit impeccable ethical behavior in professional and personal life

For each of the 45 functional area set of standards and guidelines, CAS provides a Self-Assessment Guide (SAG) that includes a recommended comprehensive self-study process for program evaluation. Seven basic steps to using a SAG are suggested for implementing a functional area self-study. The self-study process depicted here is recommended.

1. Plan the Process

Map out steps for process, develop timeline, build buy-in with all stakeholders, and explicitly identify desired outcomes of the self-study

2. Assemble and Educate Team

3-5 (program) to 8-10 (division) comprised of stakeholders including students; train team on self-assessment concepts & principles

3. Identify, Collect, and Review Evidence

Define what constitutes evidence; then gather, collect, manage, and review evidence

4. Conduct and Interpret Ratings using Evaluative Evidence

Clarify team’s rating criteria; employ a process for rating [small group, individual, staff]; negotiate rating differences; and manage group ratings

5. Develop an Action Plan

Identify discrepancies, corrective action, and recommended steps (e.g., identify strengths, weaknesses, benchmarks, resources, timeframe)

6. Prepare a Report

Identify audience for report(s); describe self-study, evidence gathering, rating process, evaluations, strengths, weaknesses, and action plan; draft executive summary

7. Close the Loop

Put action plans into practice; navigate politics and secure resources; identify barriers; and build buy-in to the program review results

For more information on CAS, please visit the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS).