The program self-study, and subsequent preparation of a Self-Study Report, is the heart of the cyclical review process. The self-study allows a program to assess its strengths and weaknesses; its appropriateness in the context of current trends in the field, relevant academic plans, and shifting degree level expectations and learning outcomes; areas of potential enhancement, how improvements can be made, and the obstacles it faces in achieving its goals; issues raised by students, and; topics on which it would like external advice. Through the self-study, a program will critically examine its courses and curricular requirements, with an eye to degree level expectations and learning objectives that operationally drive admission requirements, curriculum content, modes of delivery, bases of evaluation of student performance and commitment of resources. The evaluation criteria and quality indicators that programs are required to address in their self-study provide a framework whereby data analysis, including consideration of the integrity of the data, contributes to the assessment of strengths and weaknesses of the program.
Degree level expectations, combined with the expert judgment of external disciplinary scholars, provide the benchmarks for assessing a program’s standards and quality. With that in mind, the self-study retreat should included consideration of whether or not, and how, the program’s admission requirements, curriculum and learning outcomes are clear, appropriate and align with the institution’s statement of the relevant degree level expectations. An important question for programs to keep in mind during their self-study is the extent to which their curriculum and requirements support the achievement of their expectations and learning outcomes.