Each academic department undergoes a comprehensive department review roughly every 10 years. These reviews are designed to help the department and the College evaluate current curriculum and plan for the future. The review is overseen by the Dean of the College and the Education and Curriculum Committee, and is carried out by two review committees – internal and external.
The internal review committee devotes attention to questions having to do with departmental contributions to our undergraduate curriculum generally, and the sustaining of the larger purposes of the College.
The external review committee offers a comparative perspective and assesses the overall shape and quality of the department and program and proposes suggestions for shaping its future.
Assessment is made through:
- the departmental review document,
- meetings of each of the two committees with the entire regular faculty of the department,
- meetings of each committee with department students (majors and non-majors) in the absence of the faculty, and
- other procedures, if appropriate, as agreed upon in advance (such as surveying graduates, etc.).
An agreement is made between the Dean and Department Chair for scheduling a departmental review one year prior to the review. The Dean’s office can tell you when your department should be reviewed.
Administrative oversight and coordination of the review is handled by Becky Krogh, academic project specialist, in the dean of the college office (x4311).
Please see the following for detailed instructions about the department review process.
Spring Prior to Review Year
Begin preparing for your review by putting together the review document.
- Assemble documents showing your course offerings and enrollments during the years since your last review. This material will be valuable as you and your department members discuss what you've been doing and what you'd like to do. Contact Andrea Nixon, director of curricular and research support (x4043), for help in gathering this information.
- Assemble your colleagues to begin pulling together the department's review document. This document might include responses to all or some of the questions in "Criteria for Reviews of Departments" (see below). You should also discuss: How and how well are we helping students meet the goals for student academic learning set by your department? What evidence have you collected to inform your answers to this question? How has the department responded to (or planned to respond to) problems that you have identified? (Annual assessment reports should provide ample information and evidence for these questions.) In what ways does the curriculum in your department support wider College student learning goals? Again, please cite evidence gathered since your last review.
- Reviewers want to look at descriptions of courses, opportunities for non-majors, paths through the major and career paths afterward, service to other departments, advising, student and faculty activities, descriptions of facilities and equipment, etc.
- The department review is not the sole responsibility of the Chair. Give colleagues reasonable deadlines, and allow time for the sections to be woven together and for departmental criticism of several drafts before the final document is given to the Dean's office.
- If your department would like to have a retreat to facilitate this discussion, you should submit a fund request form to the Dean for approval (see Department Retreats).
- Copies of faculty c.v.'s and relevant syllabi should be included in your review documents.
May Prior to Review Year
Meet with your department to discuss the internal review committee list.
- The Dean of the College will submit a list of tenured faculty members eligible to serve on the internal review committee. You may choose to delete names or add names. There are names that may not be on the list because of other time-consuming commitments or a leave of absence, so be aware that if you add names, that person may not be willing or able to serve. The committee will be made up of:
- one Carleton faculty member from the same general area or division as the department being reviewed,
- two other Carleton faculty from fields different from the field in question,
- two Carleton students (one ECC member who is not a major, one major). The Department Chair will submit at least two names of students majoring in the field who might serve on the committee; the Dean chooses and invites one. The Dean and ECC will select an ECC student as the other committee member.
- One Carleton faculty member will serve as committee chair.
- The Dean and the ECC co-chair will choose the internal committee and will invite the internal review faculty committee members to serve (usually in May).
Meet with your department to formulate your list of potential outside reviewers.
- The Dean will send you a request for names of potential outside reviewers. The qualifications for outside reviewers are:
- someone in your field, but not at Carleton,
- at least one professor who teaches in your field at a College comparable to Carleton,
- a professor who teaches in your field at a major university and who has some close connection with a liberal arts College.
- Candidates should be a senior member at their institution and one of the three should be a Carleton graduate.
- Your department should agree on a list of at least six potential reviewers. Describe their qualifications completely in your reply memo to the Dean. It would also be helpful to rank your choice of reviewers within each category. Please include addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses on your list.
Arrange transportation and prepare schedule for external review committee visit.
- The Dean's office will work with you to determine the dates for the committee to visit for two days in January or February to conduct the review. The Dean's office will invite the reviewers and provide a list of the review committee members to you and your department assistant. You or your department assistant will need to:
- arrange reviewers' travel pick-ups, overnight accommodations, meals, and meetings, and
- begin preparing a schedule for the reviewers. The following meetings should be included:
- kick-off meeting with the President and Dean (times established by academic projects specialist in Dean's office),
- closing meeting with the Dean (times established by academic projects specialist in Dean's office),
- each regular department member separately,
- entire regular department meeting,
- at least one open student meeting (both non-major and major) without department staff,
- breakfasts, lunches and dinners with students and faculty,
- other interested faculty/staff, faculty in related fields or area studies, adjunct faculty or department technical staff, if any,
- committee caucus time.
The Dean's office will invite a student major to serve on the internal review committee and will inform the department of the internal committee members' names.
Click here for sample External Reviewer Schedules
October – November
Review document due to the Dean's office by October 14. Make copies* of the department review document for:
- President of the College,
- Dean of the College,
- Faculty co-chair of the ECC,
- Internal Review Committee members (one for each of the five members),
- Library - Circulation (take to Jennifer Edwins),
- Department (assistant to circulate), and
- External Review Committee members (one for each member).
- All copies except the department's and library's should be delivered to the Dean of the College office for distribution. The Dean's office will send the department review document, link to the College catalog, itinerary, and cover letter from the Dean to the external reviewers in preparation for their visit to campus.
- Also send an electronic copy of the review document to Becky Krogh (bkrogh)
- *If you choose to submit an electronic only version of the review document you may do so. Please send it to Becky Krogh (bkrogh) and also place a zip file of the document in the Archives (ARCV) drop box in Collab.
After the review document has been turned in to the Dean of the College office a kick-off meeting will be scheduled for the Internal Review Committee with the Dean of the College, Department Chair, and ECC Co-chair to discuss review procedures and agree on which issues and areas of concern to focus on. Then the internal committee will:
- read the department review document,
- meet at least once with the entire regular staff of the department and meet individually with all faculty or at least very small groups of faculty,
- meet at least once with students of the department (both majors and non-majors) in the absence of faculty,
- meet with other faculty and staff, if appropriate, and
- submit a written report to the Dean of the College.
November – December
Send a copy of the external reviewers’ itinerary to the Dean for approval in early December.
January – February
The External Review Committee will attend a kick-off meeting with the Dean of the College and President to discuss review procedures.
- Following the Committee's review, the reviewers will discuss their findings together on campus.
- The External Review Committee will write a report and submit it to the Dean of the College. The report shall include an assessment of the department's program with respect to the major, the overall academic program of the College, and the state of that discipline.
The Dean's Office will receive copies of the Internal and External Committee reports in early March. The Dean's office will circulate copies of the internal and external review committees' reports among the President, ECC Co-Chair, and members of the Department being reviewed. Faculty members of the internal review committee will receive copies of the external reports. Recommendations by the internal and external committees are viewed as starting points for discussion with the reviewed department rather than mandates for action.
In consultation with the full department, write a brief response to the reports. Include all significant minority views on issues on which members of the department disagree. This will be important to the discussion in the final meeting.
The Dean’s office will schedule the wrap-up meeting involving the President, Dean, ECC Co-chair, Internal Review Committee chair and Department Chair to discuss recommendations from the various reviewers, the departmental responses, and what actions to pursue. Faculty members on the internal review committee other than the chair may attend the summary meeting if views with the committee are divergent. Additional members of the department may also attend the meeting if opinions or areas of expertise within the department differ significantly. The Dean may assist in choosing additional attendees.
The Dean of the College will write a summary of conclusions reached at the final meeting, taking into account any differences expressed. This statement will be circulated to everyone attending that meeting and will provide an agenda of items to be addressed by the department in the future.
The department review charge number is 6987. This number should be used for meal expense, airfare for reviewers, ground transportation, lodging, etc. Be sure to provide the Dean's office with a copy of the charges.
The Following Year
The department should pursue appropriate follow-up activities and should report on them in subsequent department annual reports.