Academic Course Review Procedure

Policy Procedures Academic Course Review Procedure

Academic Course Review Procedure

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Intent

JCU has a three-fold obligation to undertake routine course quality review for all academic programs:

  1. Ensures the academic quality of its programs are of the highest calibre possible;
  2. Assures the university’s sustainability as a tertiary education provider; and
  3. Meets its commitments under the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015.

These Procedures provide the structure and process for the review of all academic programs delivered at JCU.

Scope

These procedures apply to all staff engaged in coursework courses leading to an award at all JCU campuses.  Course approval activities are excluded from this procedure.

Definitions

Nil

Procedure

Principles

  1. All JCU academic courses of study leading to an award are required to comply with TEQSA and AQF requirements.
  2. All JCU courses of study are required to participate in the university’s quality management activities, including but not limited to:
    1. Annual course review (Course Performance Reporting); and
    2. Internal review every 5-7 years (including those courses subject to Professional Accreditation)
  1. Divisions are responsible to ensure all course review requirements (internal and external) are met.  Division governance responsibility rests with the Division Board of Study.
  2. Course reviews will be discipline focused across all AQF levels.

Overview

Every course is required to participate in two levels of course review:

Level 1 Annual Course Review. The regular review of course performance which is used to inform quality improvement activities. Known as Course Performance Reporting.

Level 2 Academic Course Review. Cyclical comprehensive course review to review each course’s ‘fit’ and contribution to the university.  Occurs at least every 7 years.

The Academic Course Review Flow Chart (PDF, 271 KB) outlines the level 1 and level 2 review processes.

Level 1 – Annual Course Review

  1. The annual course performance reporting process provides the opportunity for academic staff to reflect on each course’s design, assessment, delivery, student retention and progression in order to identify and implement course-specific quality improvement.
  2. All courses of study are required to participate in the annual Course Performance Reporting (CPR) process. The exceptions to this requirement are those courses formally identified for exclusion by the relevant Director of Academic Quality and Strategy (DAQS), and generally include those courses identified as being in ‘teach out’.
  3. Academic staff are encouraged to undertake other course review activities in addition to CPRs that may include but not be limited to:
    1. Unit/subject calibration
    2. Moderation
    3. Internal and external benchmarking
    4. Course review required as part of an external accreditation recommendation or condition of accreditation.
    5. Student feedback
    6. Use of industry advisory boards
    7. Course data analysis (e.g. Student Experience data) and subsequent improvement plans

Operational detail of Course Performance Reporting is provided in the Course Performance Report Procedures (PDF, 116 KB).

Level 2 – Academic Course Review

  1. All courses of study or groups of associated courses are required to participate in a comprehensive course review at least every 7 years for the purposes of renewal (i.e. internal re-accreditation).
  2. Academic Course Reviews are undertaken with reference to a set of Academic Course Review Quality Indicators (PDF, 117 KB). See Attachment 1.
  3. All courses will participate in an initial or ‘first pass’ review. The ‘First Pass’ Course Profile is calculated using a sub-set of the Academic Course Review Quality Indicators (PDF, 117 KB). This assessment is drafted by Quality, Planning and Analytics, with review and approval by the relevant Division.
  4. The courses and Approved Associated Courses (AAC) as determined in the most recent CPR cycle will be used to determine which courses will be profiled and whether they will be grouped. This structure can be adjusted by Directors of Academic Quality as required.
  5. The resulting First Pass profile will inform the priority and type of course review to be undertaken by each course. The final selection of type of review activity and the timing will be determined by the Academic Course Review Committee.
  6. Where a course is to be discontinued a review is recommended to inform future program development. This is not mandatory.
  7. Where a course has undertaken an external accreditation review the course will still be required to participate in a Level 2 review.  The course is likely to be assessed at Minimal or Low Risk with the results of the external accreditation informing the review of the course.
  8. Whilst all courses are required to participate in the Academic Course Review process, those courses externally accredited shall be reviewed on the basis of any gaps between external accreditation requirements and the Quality Indicators.
  9. Each Level 2 course review will include the review of all Academic Course Review Quality Indicators (PDF, 117 KB).
  10. There are four types of academic course review (See Table 1):
    • Simple Review
    • Desktop Review
    • Panel Interview
    • Panel Visit
  1. Courses undertaking a Level 2 review are not required to also undertake the annual Course Performance Reporting process that falls within a 12 month window prior to or following the annual Academic Course Review process.
  2. New courses (first year offered ≤ 3 years) are not required to participate in the Comprehensive Academic Course Review process.

‘First Pass’ Course Profile

  1. The initial ‘first pass’ is an annual activity undertaken by QPA in consultation with Divisions responsible for oversight of individual courses.
  2. First Pass profiling is finalised mid-year   when access to all pertinent data is available ie Cognos data, completed Course Performance Reports and financial data. See First Pass template (PDF, 267 KB).
  3. The ‘first pass’ methodology reviews Quality Indicators which have readily available data, being QI 1, 4,5,6,7,8,9. The First Pass template provides a profile of the academic course.
  4. First Pass profiling results in an initial allocation of review type for each academic course, being:

    Review Type

    First Pass Profile result

    Simple Review

    7-14

    Desktop Review

    15-19

    Panel Interview

    20-22

    Panel Visit

    23-28

  5. The initial Academic Course Profile prepared by QPA is reviewed and signed off by the respective Director of Academic Quality and Strategy. The results of this assessment will inform the priority and type of course review to be undertaken by each course.  The final selection of type of review activity and the timing will be determined by the Academic Course Review Committee.
  6. The Director of Academic Quality and Strategy reserves the right to amend the result of the First Pass profile.

Review Activity Types

Table 1. Academic Course Review Activity Types

Review activity

No Review

Simple

Desktop

Interview

Visit

Methodology notes

Course to be disestablished or new course (≤ 3 years)

Standard documentation only.

Does not require additional evidence, visits or meetings

Standard documentation + Simple Portfolio of Evidence is provided

Does not require visits or meetings

Standard documentation + Comprehensive Portfolio of Evidence is provided + 1-2 interviews

Standard documentation + Comprehensive Portfolio of Evidence + Panel visit (1-2 days)

Panel may include external members.

Academic Course Review Application

 

Y

Y

Y

Y

Completed First Pass Course Review report (Signed by DAQS)

 

Y

Y

Y

Y

External accreditation report (most recent)

 

Y

If available

If available

If available

Portfolio of evidence (Simple or Comprehensive)

  

S

C

C

Focussed meetings (1-2 meetings with academic staff)

   

Y

Y

On-site visit by Panel to cover a comprehensive range of course matters

    

Y

A. Simple Review

  1. The simple review is intended for those courses that undertake comprehensive accreditation with external agencies.
  2. A Simple Review only requires the submission of the application and the final report (including any actions, requirements or conditions) from the external accrediting agency.
  3. The application for renewal is provided directly to the Academic Course review Committee.
  4. An academic course can only qualify for a Simple Review if it is still being delivered within the period of accreditation.  If an academic course external accreditation lapses it will be required to be re-profiled to determine its type of review.

B. Desktop Review

  1. The Desktop Review is primarily intended for those courses that require further internal review of their academic quality. It may apply to some courses that undertake professional accreditation with external agencies.
  2. In addition to the documentation required for a Simple Review a Desktop Review will require supporting evidence to address targeted/specific areas of review within the range of Quality Indicators that have been identified in the First Pass Profile. The additional evidence required will be identified by the Academic Course Review Committee.  The additional evidence forms the Simple Portfolio of Evidence.

C. Panel Interview

  1. Panel interviews will consist of 1-2 interviews with key academic staff.  It does not require access to a greater range of stakeholders or resources and is intended to be administratively simpler than a full panel visit.
  2. Panel interviews will be facilitated by the respective College or Division.  These will be held with members of the senior academic management team for the course.
  3. QPA will work with the respective College to ensure all requirements are met.  Any costs associated with the review will be the responsibility of the College.
  4. Panel interviews will be informed with sufficient evidence (portfolio) to enable informed recommendations. Some questions from the Panel will be provided to members of the senior academic management team prior to the interview.
  5. Every review will result in a report to the Course Review Panel who will then report to the Academic Board. The report will focus on the Academic Course Review Quality Indicators (Attachment 1).

D. Panel Visit

  1. Panel visits will include a range of interviews ‘on site’ with academic, external and student stakeholders.
  2. Visits by a Panel will be organised and facilitated by the respective College or Division.
  3. QPA will work with the respective College to ensure all requirements are met.  Any costs associated with the review will be the responsibility of the College.
  4. Review visits will be informed with sufficient evidence (portfolio) to enable informed recommendations.  This is a Comprehensive Portfolio of Evidence.
  5. Every review will result in a report to the Course Review Panel who will then report to the Academic Board. The report will focus on the Academic Course Review Quality Indicators (Attachment 1).

Academic Course Review Committee

Academic Board will convene a Committee consisting of:

  • Chair Academic Board
  • Provost
  • Directors of Academic Quality and Strategy – DTHM, DTES
  • Director, Quality, Planning & Analytics
  • The Secretariat will be provided by the Quality, Standards & Policy Officer in QPA

The Committee will meet annually. Its role is to:

  • Develop and maintain a schedule of Level 2 review activities
  • Oversight of the implementation of Level 2 course reviews
  • Determine the type of Level 2 review required for each course
  • Appoint Academic Course Review Panel members including the Panel Chair

Identify the scope including specific areas of investigation for each course review. These are determined on analysis of the ‘First Pass’ profile and the course’s application for renewal.

Academic Course Review Panel composition

Each year the DVC for each Academic Division will appoint six academic staff with a high level of understanding of curriculum matters to be part of an Audit and Review Panel of expert reviewers.

According to the schedule of comprehensive course reviews, the Chair of the Academic Board will determine appropriate academic staff (from the Audit and Review Panel of expert reviewers) to undertake either desktop audits or review panel interviews.

  • Simple Review applications will be reviewed by the Academic Course Review Committee.  A panel is not required.
  • Desktop Reviews will be undertaken by a team consisting of one academic staff member from another Academic Division, one ADLT from the Academic Division but not the College and a member of the Academic Board
  • Panel Interviews will be undertaken by a team consisting of one academic from the other Academic Division and one ADLT from the Academic Division but not the College, and a member from the Academic Board.
  • Panel Visits will be comprised of one ADLT from the Academic Division but not the College, the Director of Quality and Strategy from the Division, a member from the Academic Board and an external expert either from Alumni, industry or another institution (determined by College Dean and approved by Academic Course Quality Review Panel).

The Quality, Standards and Policy unit in the QPA Directorate provides secretariat services to the Committee.

Course Review Reporting

  1. The outcome of every review will be a report to Academic Board with one clear recommendation to:
    • Renew the course of study without conditions; or
    • Renew the course of study with recommended (formative) improvements; or
    • Renew the course of study with required (summative) improvements (including a plan); or
    • Suspend the course for a period of time (timeframe identified); or
    • Disestablish the course.
  2. Any reports containing required (summative) conditions must include:
    • Definition of the matter generating the issue;
    • Specific actions to address the issue;
    • Timeframe for completion; and
    • Required outcome.
  3. All reports resulting from Level 2 course reviews will be provided to the Academic Board for consideration. Academic Board will determine:
    • The continuation or discontinuation of the course
    • Any conditions required for continuation
  4. The decision to continue (renew) courses will be made by the appropriate delegate on recommendation of the Academic Course Review Committee.

Follow up reporting

All courses renewed under the Academic Course Review process will be required to:

  • Meet any summative conditions of renewal as required by Academic Board; and
  • Formally consider any formative improvements noted by Academic Board.

Seven Year Academic Course Review Cycle

  1. The construction of the First Pass Academic Course Profiles informs the development of a seven year academic Course review schedule.
  2. The Schedule of Academic Course Review is reviewed annually by the Academic Course Review Committee.

Roles and Responsibilities

Level 1 – Annual Course Reviews

Role

Responsible area/officer

Coordinate annual Course Performance Report cycle

Quality, Planning & Analytics Directorate

Coordinate completion of Course Performance Reports

DAQS

Complete Course Performance Reports

Course Coordinators

Sign off/approve final CPRs

Dean

Level 2 – Comprehensive Academic Course Review

Role

Responsible area/officer

Grouping of courses undertaken/review schedule

DAQS

Co-ordinate schedule of reviews

Quality, Planning & Analytics Directorate

Develop and maintain a draft schedule of Level 2 review activities

Quality, Planning & Analytics Directorate

Approve schedule of reviews

Academic Board on recommendation of Academic Course Review Committee

Oversight of the implementation of Level 2 course reviews

Academic Course Review Committee

Determine the type of Level 2 review required

Academic Course Review Committee

Appoint Course Review Panel members including Panel Chair

Academic Course Review Committee

Identify specific areas of investigation for each course review.

Academic Course Review Committee

Custodianship of Comprehensive Course Review documentation

Quality, Planning & Analytics Directorate

Complete Course Review application

College

Undertake course review

Academic Course Review Panel

Coordinate Review activities (i.e. audit, interviews, visits)

College in consultation with QPA

Determine recommendation to Academic Board

Course Review Panel

Assure quality of academic courses

Division Board of Study

Governance of institutional quality assurance

Academic Board

Secretariat for Academic Board academic quality assurance

Quality, Planning & Analytics Directorate

List of Attachments

Academic Course Review Flow Chart

Attachment 1 – Academic Course Review Quality Indicators

Attachment 2 – Academic Course Review First Pass

Related policies and documents

Course Performance Report Procedure - existing

Course Performance Report template - existing

Curriculum Approval, Monitoring, Review and Improvement Policy

Curriculum Approval, Monitoring, Review and Improvement Procedure

References

Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015

Deakin University: The Guide: Higher Education Courses Approval and Review Procedure

University of Tasmania Course Review Procedure

Monash University Coursework Course and Unit Accreditation Policy

University of Queensland Academic Program Review

Australian Catholic University Guidelines for Course Approval, Amendment and Review (Award Courses)

Griffith University Framework for Quality Assurance

Administration

Approval Details

Policy Sponsor and Procedure Approver

Chair Academic Board

Approval Authority for Policy

Academic Board

Date for next review

April 2019

Revision History

Version

Approval date

Implementation date

Details

Author

18-1

30/04/2018

31/05/2018

Scheduled review of procedure – minor amendments to improve functionality

Quality, Standards and Policy Officer

17-1

15/05/2017

17/05/2017

Procedure established

Manager, Quality, Standards and Policy