Program Review and Renewal

Program review and renewal follows a continuous improvement cycle with 4 key steps:

  1. Programs are assessed (evaluated) using program review and other quality tools.
  2. The self study action plan identifies continuous improvement actions as a result of the program review.
  3. The program report monitors activity, trends and implementation of continuous improvement actions.
  4. Curriculum is formally mapped to ensure ongoing compliance with the MAESD Framework for Programs of Instruction and accomplishment of program outcomes.


Diagram above shows the continuous six year cycle for program reviews consisting of arrows forming a circle.
Figure Above: Four arrows move between the following headings: Self Study Action Plan, Program Report, Curriculum Mapping, and Evaluation.

Quality Assurance Program Review is a comprehensive process occurring on a six year cycle at which time a program conducts an in depth review of data for the previous five years.

Program review and renewal is a mandatory activity, which must be undertaken to satisfy requirements of the Colleges and Institutes Act.

At Niagara College, programs undertake regular reviews in order to recognize the valuable work already being done to promote and support student success. Regular reviews also assess services and practices in the context of how well they support and contribute to student learning and make recommendations for changes that promise to improve student success.

Each year of the cycle provides an opportunity for program continuous improvement.
  • Year 1: Allows for a systematic review of the program or program clustered being reviewed. This involves development of the self-study as well as a site visit led by a team of two external assessors who validate the self-study and make recommendations for continuous improvement. After the site visit is complete programs will draft a formal action plan that will demonstrate the programs goals over the next 3-5 years.
  • Years 2 and 3:  Programs are implementing their action plan following the program review allow for immediate improvement actions to be implemented.
  • Year 4: A quantitative analysis “Program Report” is documented to ensure the program is on track and trends are as expected.
  • Year 4 or 5: The program undergoes formal curriculum mapping to ensure it remains compliant with degree level outcomes and relevant to changes in industry requirements. Mapping also ensures both congruency between course learning outcomes, learning activities and evaluations methods, and addresses any gaps or redundancies that may have developed.
  • Year 6: Allows programs to prepare for the upcoming self-study that will start in the spring.
Program review is a collaborative, team activity.

The Dean, Associate Dean, program coordinator, faculty and support staff plan and participate in the program review and renewal process in consultation with service areas, students and the Program Advisory Committee.

A program review helps answer the questions:

  • Are students learning what they need to learn for today’s world and within the context of their program or discipline?
  • Are we using the most effective teaching/learning/assessment strategies to promote student learning in relation to the identified program outcomes?
  • Are we making learning opportunities adequately accessible to students?
  • Are the learning opportunities sustainable?
  • Is the program helping to achieve the College’s Strategic Plan?
Program review is meant to…
  • Enhance the quality of education offered by the program.
  • Demonstrate the extent that the program conforms to the provincial standards and/or program outcomes
  • Gain an understanding and appreciation of the program’s strengths and a clearer sense of its direction.
  • Encourage discussion and dialogue among faculty and service areas, creating a shared purpose
  • Assure that all program/course changes are based on adequate information and discussion
  • Plan for the systematic evaluation of the curricula, equipment, and the use of materials, financial resources, and space/facilities.
  • Plan for the systematic evaluation of program policies, procedures, services, and records.
  • Develop a sense of cohesiveness among the program’s administrators, faculty, staff, and students that results from the participation of all stakeholders in the self-study process.
How does a program review work?
  1. A thorough Self Study is developed which includes recommendations for continuous quality improvement.
  2. Two external assessors conduct an audit by reviewing the documentation and through an on-site visit including interviews with representatives of all stakeholders. They issue an External Assessor Report, commenting on and providing additional recommendations.
  3. A Continuous Improvement Action Plan is developed for the program based on the recommendations in the Self Study and the External Assessor report. This plan addresses short and long term program improvements to be implemented through the six year cycle.
  4. Actions from Continuous Improvement Plans are followed up annually through The Centre for Academic Excellence, in conjunction with Deans and Associate Deans, until all actions have been addressed.

The results of program reviews and reports are presented in an Annual Quality Assurance System Report to the Board of Governors, as a strategic board issue.

The Centre for Academic Excellence is responsible for planning, organizing and monitoring the six-year program review cycle. It also acts as a resource and liaison to the Academic schools and divisions, by providing relevant data for reports and Self Studies, facilitating communication and organizing logistics, assisting with the development of Continuous Improvement Action Plans, and monitoring action plan implementation.