Universities use program reviews to foster academic excellence, assess student outcomes, identify opportunities to improve instructional quality and provide insight for administrative decisions. When the Kansas Board of Regents mandated a new set of program review guidelines in 2012, Amanda Kulp, Program Manager, Professional Record Online (PRO) Office of Institutional Research and Planning at the University of Kansas (KU), used the opportunity to improve the existing program review process using data from Activity Insight.
KU has been using Activity Insight for five years, and has a university-wide implementation that encompasses nine schools and its college of Liberal Arts and Sciences. As a research university, and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities since 1909, KU has 1,200 faculty and 400 research faculty equivalents in Activity Insight, as well as about 100 staff using the system.
Upon implementation, Kulp and her team decided to enter all historical faculty information. With that project now complete, a huge historical and current data set populates KU’s system. In addition, the team trained all faculty to use the system, as KU’s first use of Activity Insight was for annual reviews and promotion and tenure.
New Program Review Guidelines
Like most universities, KU has been doing program reviews for decades. However, when the Kansas Board of Regents released its new guidelines, Kulp and her team felt it was a good time to examine their processes and see how they could better leverage their available data.
They discovered that past processes were unstructured and inconsistent between different programs. For instance, KU needed to provide the Board of Regents with a one-page summary for each program, but some programs were compiling hundreds of pages of information.
Overhauling the KU Program Review Process
In order to create a comprehensive, consistent (but simpler) program review process, KU started with a task force led by the Provost. That group defined 23 questions that each program would need to answer. These questions were discipline-neutral, measurable and data-informed. Departments could pull data from Activity Insight as well as other campus systems, and Kulp’s team made it easy for faculty and administrators to do so.
KU uses an internal portal called Campus Labs, which connects to all of KU’s databases, including Activity Insight. When it is time for a program review, the dean or faculty member logs in to Campus Labs, sees each of the 23 questions, and can easily pull data from the relevant databases.
Activity Insight Data—A Key Component
Activity Insight held data on important review topics including:
- Overall impact of scholarly work
- Community-engaged scholarship
- Faculty service to the discipline
- Faculty-student mentoring
After defining the specific data points they wanted to pull from Activity Insight, Kulp created custom reports to easily produce that information.
In addition to those areas, they found that Activity Insight was able to complement data from other systems. For example, when Kulp’s team pulled Academic Analytics data from KU’s internal system, that data tended to be very discipline specific and often favored the hard sciences or social sciences. They found that the Academic Analytics data was a snapshot of faculty productivity, but was more accurate and comprehensive when paired with faculty productivity data from Activity Insight.
In the end, Kulp and her team found Activity Insight reporting to be extremely beneficial for supporting their program review process, as well as helping to structure the new process. “Activity Insight was a great match in providing much of the data needed for our program review,” Kulp said.
Could your program review benefit from centralized data and a streamlined process? Contact us today to learn more about how a faculty activity reporting solution can support your university’s reporting and program review requirements.