PurposeThis paper aims to investigate the potential benefits and limitations associated with aligning accreditation and academic program reviews in post-secondary institutions, using a descriptive case study approach.Design/methodology/approachThe paper describes two Canadian graduate programs that are subject to both external professional accreditation and institutional cyclical reviews, as they underwent an aligned review. The process was developed as a collaborative effort between the academic units, the professional associations and the university’s graduate-level quality assurance office. For each program, a single self-study was developed, a single review panel was constituted, and a single site visit was conducted. The merits and challenges posed by the alignment process are discussed.FindingsInitial feedback from the academic units suggests that the alignment of accreditation and program reviews is perceived as reducing the burden on programs with regard to the time and effort invested by faculty, staff and other stakeholders, as well as in terms of financial expenses. Based on this feedback, along with input from reviewers and program evaluation committee members, 14 recommendations emerged for ways in which an aligned review process can be set up for success.Practical implicationsThe results suggest that aligned reviews are not only resource-efficient but also allow reviewers to provide more holistic feedback that faculty may be more willing to engage with for program enhancement.Originality/valueThe present study contributes to the existing body of knowledge about conducting aligned reviews in response to external accreditation requirements or institutional needs. It summarizes the potential benefits and limitations and offers recommendations for potential best practices for carrying out aligned reviews for policymakers and practitioners.
Quality Assurance in Education – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 3, 2017
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