Academic Program Transformation Task Force criteria finalized

Over the past weeks, we have received a significant number of responses to our invitation to the campus community to contribute their comments concerning the criteria and weightings which will guide the process of academic program prioritization.  These comments and suggestions have been important to us as we have prepared the final version of the criteria.

One observation we frequently heard was that the criteria in the form originally presented were somewhat vague, and that it was not clear what information would be relevant to some of them. In the final version of the criteria, we have provided brief explanatory sentences that we hope will help to explain the essence of each of the criteria.

Another question which we heard a number of times was whether it would be more useful to reduce the number of criteria and to use a range of criteria more like those adopted by the Support Services Transformation Task Force. We have considered this possibility, but we have concluded that the number of criteria we have settled on is necessary to capture the information we will need to review the range of programs we have to consider.

The definition of the term “program” for our purposes is very broad, and refers to “any activity or collection of activities of the institution that consumes resources.”  Thus, in addition to instructional programs leading to degrees or other credentials, we will be considering research programs associated with each discipline as well as the work of research centres. In our view, cutting down the number of criteria would create the risk that we would not be able to capture the full range of information necessary to understand these different types of programs.

We appreciate that the criteria are articulated in quite broad terms, and that it may not yet be entirely clear exactly what we will be asking for from units responsible for programs. We are now working to prepare the template which will be used to gather information, and this template will indicate in considerably more detail what factors will be considered in relation to each criterion. The input from the campus community has been enormously valuable to us in our discussions about the template as well as the criteria, and many of the suggestions we received will be reflected in the final template.

Academic Program Transformation Task Force criteria Weighting (totaling 100%)
1. History, development and expectations of the program: This criterion will focus on both historical factors and expectations regarding future prospects for the program.This criterion will allow the task force to consider information about the origins and evolution of the program, including whether there has been significant recent reconfiguration or restatement of the objectives of the program. 5%
2. External demand for the program: This criterion will focus on factors related to the level of external interest and opportunities available to the program.Under this criterion, the task force will focus on such factors as the links between the program and professional and accrediting bodies; the present and future level of interest in the program as indicated by student applications or inquiries or societal demand; or the connections with potential funders or employers of graduates. 11%
3. Internal demand for the program: This criterion will focus on the interest within the university in the program’s offerings.The task force will consider, for example, the degree to which the program includes service teaching for other programs, or the importance of the program to other units within the university. 10%
4. Size, scope and productivity of the program: This criterion will address the size of the program in terms of its service to students, production of research, scholarly and artistic work, and breadth of curriculum.In connection with this criterion, the task force will ask for information concerning such indicators as the credit units taught, students served by the program, number of faculty and staff, output of creative scholarship and artistic work, and the scope of the program’s objectives. 12%
5. Quality of program inputs and processes: This criterion will focus on the various inputs and processes employed by the program in meeting its objectives.The task force will look for evidence concerning the quality of such inputs as students, faculty, equipment and facilities, and indicators of quality of processes such as pedagogy. 6%
6. Quality of program outcomes: This criterion will focus on the success of the program’s accomplishments.The task force will ask those offering the program to comment on the appropriate measures of success and to demonstrate how the achievements of the program can be assessed according to these measures. 18%
7. Revenue and other resources generated by the program: This criterion will focus on the revenues that are attributable to the program’s efforts.The revenues considered under this criterion will include tuition and grant revenue tied to student enrollment, Tri-Council and other research funding, fees and cost recovery charges, sponsorships, endowment income and private donations.  Consideration will also be given to the generation of other resources for the program, such as in-kind contributions. 10%
8. Costs and other expenses associated with the program:  This criterion will focus on the expenses incurred by the program in conducting its activities.Units will be asked to give a comprehensive view of the costs of programs, including assigned overhead, travel and administrative costs, and salaries. Consideration will also be given to demonstrable efficiencies in the way programs are delivered. 8%
9. Impact, justification and overall essentiality of the program: This criterion will allow the program to describe its importance to the institution and the value it creates through its efforts.Under this criterion, the task force will be asking academic units to indicate how their programs are aligned with University of Saskatchewan priorities and to indicate what risks would be created for the institution were the program to be eliminated. 14%
10. Opportunity analysis of the program: This criterion will allow the program to describe the additional contributions it could make with specified additional resourcing or reconfiguration.Units will be asked to outline significant additional contributions that a program could make with enhanced resourcing of a particular kind, or if it was reconfigured in a particular way. 6%

4 thoughts on “Academic Program Transformation Task Force criteria finalized

  1. re: “Quality of program outcomes: This criterion will focus on the success of the program’s accomplishments.The task force will ask those offering the program to comment on the appropriate measures of success and to demonstrate how the achievements of the program can be assessed according to these measures.”

    1) how are “accomplishments” not “success[es]”? Who wrote this?
    2) how reliable is your information going to be if those offering the program determine the measures of success?

    This is a farce.

  2. It is not at all clear to me how interdisciplinary programs, which by their very nature draw on human, fiscal and physical resources from several departments and sometimes several colleges to facilitate program delivery, will fare under TransformUS. Will persons in the founding and supporting departments be compelled to collaborate to complete the templates for these programs or will the task fall to faculty in a single academic unit? My home department is a founding department in 3 interdisciplinary programs, and a supporting department in 2 other interdisciplinary programs. Some guidance from university administration on how to address the assessment of interdisciplinary programs would be gratefully received.

  3. I seriously question the criterion and weighting of the financial items – specifically items 7 and 8. Because revenues are weighted higher than cost effectiveness, it makes it possible for inefficient, but well endowed units to continue their ways. I seriously object to private donations being allowed in the formula. A programs’ academic value should NOT be influenced by how many rich friends they have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.