Before reading the Self-Study, seek special instructions from your panel chair and develop a method to analyze it. Here is a sample method:
- Come to an agreement with your panel chair which standard(s) you will address in your portion of the External Review Panel Report.
- Review the documents from the Office for Accreditation, especially Section III of Accreditation Process, Policies, and Procedures (AP3).
- Get a sense of the shape of the Self-Study. How is it organized? What aids are provided (e.g., special indexes)?
- Set down the questions you need to answer regarding your assigned Standards. See the section below: "Parsing the Standards."
- Read the entire Self-Study. You need to know details of the entire report. While reading
- Mark up the Self-Study; it is your copy.
- Put sticky notes anywhere they will help.
- Reference things so you can easily find them again.
- Make a list of questions that occur to you.
- Identify inconsistencies.
- Note with whom panelists on-site will need to meet in order to answer your questions.
- Note what documents need to be reviewed in order to answer your questions.
- Make your questions known to the entire panel.
Parsing the Standards
Before reading the Self-Study, know what questions you want answered in order to draft your portion of the External Review Panel report. It may be helpful to outline questions which your standard(s) suggests, sentence by sentence. For example, the first sentence of Standard III: Students reads:
The school formulates recruitment, admission, financial aid, and placement, and other academic policies for students that are consistent with the school's mission and program goals and objectives; the policies reflect the needs and values of the constituencies served by a program.
Questions that can be drawn from this sentence are:
- What are the school's recruitment, admission, financial aid, and placement policies?
- What other academic and administrative policies does it have for students?
- What are the school's mission, program goals, and objectives?
- Are the policies consistent with the mission, program goals, and objectives?
- What are the students' needs and values?
- Do the policies reflect the needs and values of the students? If there are different populations of students (e.g., students at a distance as well as students on site), do the policies reflect the needs and values of all populations?
Adapted from notes provided by Marion T. Reid, California State University, San Marcos