G.5. – Guide to Writing an Off-Site Subject Specialist Report
DEAC - 2015
Guide to Writing an Off-Site Subject Specialist Report
The Role of an Off-Site Subject Specialist
The duty of a subject specialist is to determine if a course or program offered by a distance study institution is
complete, accurate, comparable to similar resident/traditional programs, and up-to-date in light of the stated
objectives. In other words, is the course and/or program of good quality, and does it meet the published
minimum standards of the DEAC? The consequences to institutions being reviewed are very significant. In
addition, as a reviewer, you will validate the materials of other professional educators who probably have
spent several months or more developing the course or program.
When an institution has applied for initial or reaccreditation, or when an institution revises a course or
develops a new program, copies of the courses/programs are sent to the DEAC for review.
Subject specialists may review courses off-site, on-site or both. Institutions revising or developing new
courses/programs will submit the materials for review by off-site subject specialists. Institutions going through
initial review or reaccreditation will have courses reviewed off-site before its on-site visit. For visits to degreegranting institutions, it is required that one or more subject specialists participate in the on-site visit. A subject
specialist who participates in an on-site visit may have also done an off-site review for that institution, but not
always. Different rating forms are used for each occasion.
Different Courses/Programs
There are several different types of programs – vocational, certificate, or degree. There are also the individual
courses that make up a degree program or certificate program. For our purposes we refer to a “course” as an
individual course within a degree program or certificate program, such as Math 101. Typically, courses have
academic credits assigned to them, such as 3 credits or 4 quarter hours or units. A “program” is an entire
degree program, such as Bachelor of Business Administration or a vocational program, such as Medial Billing,
which consist of several lessons.
Some institutions refer to its vocational program as a “certificate” or “diploma” program. This means that a
student is awarded a certificate or diploma when the program is completed. However, we refer to a certificate
program as a vocational program that culminates in an award of a professional certificate, for example a
Certificate in Herbal Medicine. Typically these certificate programs are made up of several academic courses
taken from a degree program. Usually the number of courses in a certificate program is less than what is
required to earn an entire degree. There are also vocational programs resulting in a certificate being awarded
when the student finishes, such as Home Inspection or Dental Assistant.
Review of Degree Programs and/or Courses: Typically a degree-granting institution submits either an entire
degree program for approval or individual courses that are part of a degree program or certificate program.
When a degree-granting institution sends its courses or programs in for review, it is required to include a
“Course/Program Report for Degree Program (or Vocational Program)” with the materials. If an entire degree
program is being reviewed, the “Course/Program Report for Degree Programs” includes the overall
description of the degree program, which includes the Program Objectives, Needs Assessment, Target Market,
Distance Education Accrediting Commission, 1101 17th Street, NW, Suite 808, Washington, DC 20036
6/15
1
G.5. – Guide to Writing an Off-Site Subject Specialist’s Report
DEAC - 2015
Length of Program, Credit Hours, Costs, Online Platform, a listing of all of the Courses with their Objectives
and if there are any prerequisites required, table of faculty who support the program with their qualifications,
information on proctored examinations, grading criteria, capstone projects, outcomes assessments, and library
resources.
Review of Vocational Programs: As an off-site subject specialist you need to remember that if you are
reviewing a vocational program, such as medical billing where a student receives a diploma or certificate upon
completion, you must review all the lessons that make up the vocational program. Your report should provide
a summary of all the lessons you reviewed. Along with the individual lessons, the institution will submit a
“Program Report for Vocational Programs” which includes a description of the program goals, needs
assessment, target market, length of program, cost, and information on program development. For more
information on the required Course/Program Reports, please read C.5. Policy on Course/Program Approval.
Please do not submit a report on each lesson; you need only submit one report on the entire program.
Steps in the Evaluation Process
The following steps summarize the process of evaluating a course/program:
1. You are contacted by the Accrediting Coordinator or other staff member and asked to evaluate one or
more distance study courses or programs. You are given a date that your report is due.
2. You receive a copy of the courses or program(s) and additional materials to review (see below).
3. You evaluate the course or program in light of published DEAC standards. Use the appropriate rating form
as a worksheet for each program reviewed (F.2. Rating Form for Off-Site Vocational Subject Specialists
or F.3. Rating Form for Off-Site Degree Subject Specialists). Use the template to write your final report.
Only one report is due. When reviewing a program, comments about individual courses should be
included at the end of the report.
4. You send your report to the Accrediting Coordinator ([email protected]). Include “Subject
Specialist Report” in the subject line of your e-mail. You may retain the course material; however you
must destroy all notes and copies of your final report once you receive a confirmation that your report was
received by DEAC.
5. An honorarium will be mailed to you.
6. A follow-up review may be requested if necessary.
Conducting an Off-Site Review
When you agree to review a course/program, you will be sent an e-mail from the Accrediting Coordinator
confirming the agreement. Typically the e-mail will contain the name of the course/program you have agreed
to review, what you are required to submit and when. After you receive the program you conduct your
evaluation using the Accrediting Commission’s rating forms, “F.2. Rating Form for Off-Site Vocational
Subject Specialists” or “F.3. Rating Form for Off-Site Degree Subject Specialists.” These rating forms are to
be used as your personal worksheets to help you determine if a standard is being met. You do not send the
rating form to DEAC. Guidelines on how ratings are determined are covered below.
Distance Education Accrediting Commission, 1101 17th Street, NW, Suite 808, Washington, DC 20036
2
6/15
G.5. – Guide to Writing an Off-Site Subject Specialist Report
DEAC - 2015
Keep in mind that in certain cases, i.e., the introduction of a new course by an accredited institution, the
Accrediting Commission permits an institution to forward copies of course lessons in less than final form. (At
least 75% percent of the course must be completed and submitted. The material submitted should consist of
the outline for the full course and the course objectives and individual lesson outcomes). You may need to
record an “NA” meaning “Not Applicable” or “Did Not Review” rating to one or more of the rating areas.
Obviously, these special reviews will not include every item that will be in a “final” version of the course.
If you are reviewing a degree program, typically the institution sends at least three complete courses. Also
included is information on the additional courses offered as part of the degree program. You need to review
these carefully in order to determine if the overall degree program is of good quality and meets DEAC
standards. When you write your report, you must address each individual standard for the entire degree
program, as well as for the courses. Please address standards that are “not met” in individual courses at the end
of the report.
You must complete your review within the time frame specified and send your report to DEAC on time,
typically within 4 to 6 weeks. Failure to do so may result in you not being asked to do future reviews. The
identity of all subject specialists is held in confidence; therefore, DO NOT write your name or other
identifying information on your report.
Your report will be sent to the institution by DEAC staff. You should e-mail your report to the Manager of
Institutional Development and Assessment ([email protected]). Please include “Subject Specialist
Report” in the subject line of your e-mail. Once you receive a confirmation from DEAC that your report has
been received, you must destroy any notes and copies of your report. You are permitted to keep the course
materials and textbooks.
Checklist for the Off-Site Subject Specialist
As an off-site subject specialist, you will want to be certain that you have access to the items below before
proceeding with your course/program evaluation. For each course or program to be evaluated, you should
access to:
___ A copy of the Course/Program Report;
___ For degree programs, a certain number of representative course(s), including texts, study guides,
examinations, any kits, and other components that may be listed as a part of the program. If the course is
online, you should have access information;
___ A summary of course outcomes/objectives and features of the text;
___ An outline of lesson/course titles for all courses in the program;
___ Copies of the resume(s) of the instructors who will be instructing/servicing the course/program;
___ Copies of the resume(s) of the subject matter expert(s)/author(s) who prepared the materials;
Distance Education Accrediting Commission, 1101 17th Street, NW, Suite 808, Washington, DC 20036
6/15
3
G.5. – Guide to Writing an Off-Site Subject Specialist’s Report
DEAC - 2015
___ The Enrollment agreement;
___ Copies of the examinations and examination solutions;
___ Copies of all advertising, promotional literature and school catalog;
___ The URL for institution’s Website containing promotional information;
___ A copy of the Rating Form for Off-Site Vocational Subject Specialists, or if you are reviewing a degree
course/program, the Rating Form for Off-Site Degree Subject Specialists. These rating forms contain the
accreditation standards. You should also have a copy of the appropriate templates needed to write your
report. Copies of these documents are e-mailed to you when you accept the assignment, and they may also
be downloaded from DEAC’s website at www.DEAC.org (under Volunteers tab and Evaluator’s
Document, scroll to the bottom and select under the Templates section.
If you are missing any of these items, please e-mail [email protected]
Ratings and Comments
As you review the course materials, answer the questions on the “F.2. Rating Form for Off-Site Vocational
Subject Specialists” or the “F.3. Rating Form for Degree Subject Specialists,” and make notes in the “Notes”
section. This form is for your personal use; do not send it to DEAC. Only your final Subject Specialist Report
goes to DEAC. Your comments should address the issues of whether or not the course/program meets the
minimum standards. You should tell the institution what you perceive are the strengths of the course/program,
what aspects concern you, and what potential changes you believe might improve the course/program within
the context of a viable distance study program.
When determining your “findings,” you must reflect on each standard. Please remember that the institution
must respond to any “partially meets” or “does not meet” findings. Here are some guidelines:
Meets Standard = Yes, the course/program meets the intent of the standard overall. (Please make certain
that you evaluate each item according to DEAC Standards, not your personal feelings.)
Partially Meets Standard = Yes, the course/program meets some of the elements of the standard, but
not all. The institution should take specific actions to correct the matter and implement the required
action(s) to enhance the course/program. Approval cannot be extended at this time.
Does Not Meet Standard = No, course/program does not meet the standard and overall course approval
cannot be extended at this time. (Please note the specific element of a standard that is not being
met.) Approval cannot be extended at this time.
NA = Not applicable or not known from materials received.
Distance Education Accrediting Commission, 1101 17th Street, NW, Suite 808, Washington, DC 20036
4
6/15
G.5. – Guide to Writing an Off-Site Subject Specialist Report
DEAC - 2015
Writing Your Report
A template for writing an Off-Site Subject Specialist’s Report (in Microsoft Word) may be downloaded from
the DEAC website at http://www.DEAC.org. Select the Volunteers tab and Evaluator’s Document, and scroll
to the bottom for the Templates section.
You should provide comments explaining and expounding on all findings, even if the course/program meets
the standard. Your comments should be specific and standard-related. If you were assigned to review a degree
programs, please include additional comments regarding all representative courses at the end of your report,
for example you might include a statement, “According to the listing of courses required for the Bachelor of
Business Administration, it appears certain topics are not covered.” Please keep in mind as you conduct your
review, the level of the course as designated by the institution (i.e., vocational, lower or upper division
undergraduate, graduate, first professional or doctorate level). Use the appropriate rating form as a worksheet
to help you determine if a standard is met and to construct your comments.
Please follow the format on the template, including using a Times Roman font, single-spaced, 1-inch margins,
and numbered pages. Your report should be in the following format:
II.A. Standard
Findings: (This must be one of the following: Meets Standard, Partially Meets Standard, or
Does Not Meet Standard)
Comments: (If a course/program meets the standard, please explain how this was verified. Do not be
afraid to compliment the institution. If the course/program did not meet the standard or partially met
the standard, explain why. Use the questions on the rating form to make certain you are covering all
aspects of the standard. Be certain to give a full commentary on areas that partially meets or does not
meet the standard.)
Required Actions: (If a course/program meets the standard, you should put “None.” If it does not
meet the standard or partially meets the standard, include specific actions that the institution needs to
do to so that the course/program meets the standard. Point out exactly what part(s) of the standard have
not been met and why. Do not impose requirements that are not specified in the DEAC standards.)
Suggestions: (Here is where you may go beyond the call of duty and give the institution helpful
suggestions, even if the institution meets the minimum standards. These suggestions may assist them
in their quest for excellence.)
(Repeat above for each standard you evaluate.)
Once you complete your report, e-mail it to the Accreditation Associate ([email protected]).
Distance Education Accrediting Commission, 1101 17th Street, NW, Suite 808, Washington, DC 20036
6/15
5
G.5. – Guide to Writing an Off-Site Subject Specialist’s Report
DEAC - 2015
Questions?
If you have any questions about the materials you receive, the rating forms, or writing your report, please
contact the Manager of Institutional Development and Assessment, Lissette Hubbard at
[email protected] Please include “subject specialist request” in your subject line of your e-mail.
# # #
Distance Education Accrediting Commission, 1101 17th Street, NW, Suite 808, Washington, DC 20036
6
6/15
Download

G.5. Guide to Writing an Off-Site Subject Specialist Report