VIU Campus

Program Review Support

The Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning team works closely with the Office of University Planning and Analysis (OUPA) to help programs prepare the self-study that is the first step of the Program Review process.  At the request of a program, CIEL may also assist program faculty in implementation of any curricular improvements that the program has identified for its action plan through the self-study process.

Each program undergoing Program Review is assigned a CIEL contact.  At the beginning of the process, CIEL and OUPA invite new program review chairs to a meeting to discuss the overall Program Review process and to field questions.  Once you have met your CIEL team member, you can contact them directly with questions around this process.

As part of the Program Review OUPA provides you support in accessing and interpreting program statistical data and surveys. The CIEL team member works with you to collect anonymous qualitative data that feeds into the self-study report, and can assist with any curricular changes envisioned by the program in their action plan.

Self-Study Support 

CIEL’s initial role is to help programs understand how the self-study can benefit the program, by collecting qualitative data that feeds into the self-study report.

CIEL can work with Program Review Chairs on the preparation of the self-study in the following ways:

  • Explain the components of the self-study and clarify timelines for its efficient completion

  • Attend program/department meetings to discuss the Teaching and Learning section of the report and answer questions

  • Collaborate with the Program Review Chair on focus group questions that will bring to the surface the program’s successes and opportunities for improvement

  • Facilitate faculty member focus group discussions to surface faculty ideas about the successes and areas of improvement of the program

  • Facilitate student focus group discussions around their experience of the teaching and learning in the program to document successes in this area and gather suggestions for improvement

  • Facilitate community member focus group discussions around how well the program prepares students for post-graduation work

Action Plan Support

CIEL will also work with programs at their request after the self-study is completed to achieve program-initiated action items such as: program mapping and analysis, framing of program learning outcomes, course alignment with program learning outcomes, planning and implementing curricular changes, and other items the program sees as important.

Programs are under no obligation to use the services of the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning when completing their Program Review; the Centre supports and guides faculty members if their services are requested.  The assistance described here is not exhaustive, and if faculty members have other ideas of how the Centre could assist them, they are encouraged to contact CIEL with those ideas. Each program has its own realities, and there is not a single way to complete the Teaching and Learning section of the self-study or a specific set of action items programs must set out for themselves.

Data Collection Support 

Department Meetings

A CIEL team member can attend a regularly scheduled department meeting (or a specially arranged meeting) to discuss the components of the self-study with all faculty members. It is best that the Program Review Chair meet first with the assigned contact from CIEL to decide on what components should be discussed with the faculty members in the short timeframe available. For example:

  • Overview of Sections A through C of the  Teaching and Learning Section

  • Program Learning Outcomes (formulating a description of program learning outcomes)

  • Student Assessment Methods (details and discussion about methods and examples)

  • · Teaching and Learning Strategies (details and discuss about strategies and examples)

Faculty Focus Groups

During a faculty focus group, faculty members come together to have a conversation about Sections A through C of the Teaching and Learning section.  This option can be facilitated by the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning, but could also be facilitated by a faculty member or the Program Review Chair.

CIEL can collaborate with faculty members and Program Review Chairs determine which questions will be asked of the faculty members. If a Centre team member is involved as facilitator in the focus group, that person will frame the session, ask the questions, provide more information about particular topics, suggest follow-up questions, and collate the responses for the Program Review Chair for further analysis. Using an existing faculty meeting (or a few shorter meetings) is often a good plan while anticipating approximately 2-3 hours to complete.

Advantages for this method:

  • Time-efficient; data can be collected all at once

  • A focus group is dialogic and interactive and has the potential to provide rich responses that might not be gained through one-on-one interviews or surveys alone

  • Faculty members can hear from one another about methods they are using and have an even more holistic understanding of the teaching and learning practices of their colleagues

  • If facilitated by the Centre, data is collated for the Program Review Chair

Challenges for this method:

  • If not all faculty members are present at the focus group, then those absent may want to provide their responses in alternative ways

  • Not all faculty members may be comfortable sharing information about their teaching practice in a group setting; alternative methods could be provided for them

Student Focus Groups

The Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning can facilitate a student focus group to collect more information about the student experience in a program.

Your CIEL contact will collaborate with faculty members and the Program Review Chair to determine which questions will be asked of the students.  Faculty members in the program recruit students to participate in the focus groups, while CIEL, as a neutral third party, can facilitate this session and collate the anonymized data for Program Review Chairs. 

These focus group sessions can be used to delve more deeply into areas connected to the course experience surveys, or to target specific questions that are not included on that particular survey. It is an opportunity to highlight program successes and to find opportunities for improvement of the program.  The questions are highly varied from program to program and are designed to focus on what is important to the specific program undergoing Program Review.  For example, some programs may want to ask questions of students regarding a field study or co-op experience in order to determine how to improve the experience.  Alternatively a program may want to find out how students are experiencing a new interdisciplinary course.  A student focus group provides even more insight into the student experience of the program, and offers more in-depth perspectives for consideration in the Action Plan. 

A student focus group should take no more than two hours. 

Additional Resources

If you have additional questions, we’re here for you. Please contact us at with your request, or if you already have a CIEL contact for program review, just send them an email.