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CIEE Study Centers ACB Program Review

The Academic Consortium, represented by the Academic Consortium Board, oversees all of the CIEE Study Centers by conducting periodic evaluations of the site and programs then reporting its findings to the Consortium.

The purpose of site and program evaluation is to provide members of the Academic Consortium with the assurance that the programs which the Consortium member institutions are sponsoring are of high quality, and in particular of high academic quality. We ask what needs are served by the program in this location, what is the program's role in CIEE's overall plan, is the program academically sound, is it viable, do activities support the goals of the program, are local resources well used, does it have adequate staff support locally and from the CIEE home office, what are the program's plans for the future, what are the program's internal processes for evaluation of the quality of its academic and support services, etc. But the baseline remains: is the program serving the needs of two primary stakeholders, the Consortium sponsoring institutions and these institutions' students?

View program evaluations here.

General Principles

Each program must have a clearly defined purpose—a mission statement. Our review process measures against that stated purpose.

Review must be regular and systematic. Based on an internal review conducted by the staff, the ACB monitors program quality every year. This process is described in section V. The focus of this section is the comprehensive evaluations of each program that are undertaken at least every ten years.

Self-evaluation is the best guarantee of program quality and improvement. For this reason, the ACB reviews are conducted with the full participation of the staff and students of the program under review. The members of the review panels, however, will be external to the program.

The review process must not impose an undue burden on staff nor impede the normal pattern of teaching and assessment.

Evaluation provides an opportunity to prepare for the future. Therefore, the final evaluation report should be a useful planning document.

Terms of Reference (Nature and scope of the review)

All reviews shall be conducted in the context of the strategic objectives of the CIEE Academic Consortium Board and the stated purpose of the program. Each review normally shall report on:

  • the quality of the academic activities including teaching, assessment, and the appropriateness of the academic offerings;
  • the quality and appropriateness of services (pre-departure and on-site orientation, academic and personal/intercultural counseling, housing, field trips, internships, accommodations for students with special needs, medical, etc.);
  • the quality and appropriateness of the students who participate;
  • the quality of the site’s facilities (office and class space, library resources, equipment);
  • the center’s plans for improving its teaching and services;
  • the center’s relationship with the host university;
  • the perceived satisfaction of the Consortium member institutions;
  • the perceived satisfaction of the student participants;
  • safety and security issues;
  • the center and program's compliance with CIEE's policies;
  • the quality of administration and management of the center;
  • future prospects and plans; and the relationship of this evaluation to previous evaluations.

Prior to the beginning of a review, the Chair of the ACB or the Evaluations Coordinator, the CIEE’s SeniorProgram Directors, the CIEE Chief Academic Officer, and the CIEE Chief Operating Officer, Study Abroad will confer to decide whether any special terms of reference should be set for the evaluation, and whether there are any strategic issues or particular problem areas which should be drawn to the attention of the evaluation panel. The Chair of the ACB may add or amend terms of reference for any review.

Review Panels

For ACB Evaluations, the evaluation team will have the appropriate number of members based on the size of the center in regard to programs. These members are appointed by the Chair of the ACB and the ACB Evaluations Coordinator. The Team Leader of each evaluation team will be a member of the ACB; the other members will be appointed from among the faculty/staff of Consortium member institutions. Balance between teaching faculty and study abroad administrators will be sought in each evaluation committee, and members will be chosen in order to maximize the team's linguistic, area, and disciplinary expertise which match the program's curriculum. Balance should also be sought regarding gender of team members and types of institution—large versus small, public versus private, etc.

The Senior Program Directors and other home office staff, the Regional Directors of Operations, the Resident Director of the CIEE Study Center under review, the current student participants, and the faculty / administration of the host institution will be integral contributors to the review process, but will not be members of the review team.

The Review Process

The ACB Evaluation review takes place over a period which can be as long as six months. Several steps lead up to the visit, which, except for the final report, is the culmination of the process.

Review of Existing Information

The first step is a thorough review of existing program information and previous evaluations. Each review team member will be provided by CIEE with the following information about the program in either a pre-departure binder of information or by e-mail attachment not less than two months prior to the site visit. The table of contents of the binder will refer members to other information not included in the binder

The binder includes the most recent catalog that includes the program’s statement of purpose, admission standards, nature of courses, credit formulae, general calendar, and details regarding housing and the and co-curricular program.

Questionnaire to Sponsoring Institutions

After reviewing these materials, the team conducts an electronic canvas of the top sending institutions, the School of Record, and a sample of other sending institutions. The team leader should, if possible, also conduct telephone interviews with faculty and staff at some institutions, particularly if there was not a good response to the email communication. Team members should review the questions which were mailed with the letter to institutions, ask if they are satisfied with the program, ask the institutions to identify areas of concern to which the review team can be alerted, and to assess the degree to which institutional needs are being met. We hope that the responses are based on respondent debriefings of students who have returned, on their conversations with faculty who have these returnees in their classrooms, and on their own knowledge of what constitutes a good international program. Responses will be collected and collated by the leader of the review team.

Invitation to Students and Staff of the Program

In preparation for the visit, the team will invite students and staff for each of the programs on site to make written submissions to the review panel, and to meet with the Team during the site visit. This invitation is usually issued about three weeks prior to the site visit.

Site Visit

The site visit is the most important step in the process. The visit allows team members to gain direct experience with the participants, staff, and professors. Typically, a site visit by the Team is four days (arriving on Sunday for welcome meeting and dinner – three full days of meetings, a writing day, and departure on Friday), and consists of intensive interviews, discussions, and deliberation formulating conclusions for the report, and writing of the report. Review Team members will be required to review all information before arrival, be available exclusively for the review during the site visit, and be available after the site visit for further consultation in the final drafting of the report.

The Team Report to the ACB

At the end of its visit, the Team prepares a report for the ACB. Since Team members are busy professionals with very full workdays at their home institutions, it is essential that the Report be drafted on site before the members go their separate ways. The last day of the visit is usually devoted to writing the Report. The leader of the Review Team will be responsible for coordinating the conduct of the review and writing the Report to the ACB. The Report will address each of the terms of reference and make such recommendations for change or commendations for good practice as appropriate. It will include an executive summary. Reports will be submitted to the Chair of the ACB, the ACB Evaluations Coordinator, and the CIEE Senior Program Director (who will circulate to other CIEE staff) within two weeks of the completion of the review. The Report is intended to be complete, detailed, and frank in every respect. It is not a public document, although parts of it will later be made public, and will be read in its entirety only by staff and by ACB Members. In addition to filing an official Team Report, if the team has information or findings they would prefer to address to CIEE staff in private, rather than as part of the formal Report, they can always accomplish this via a letter or phone call to the Senior Program Director, Chief Academic Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and/or the President.

The ACB Evaluation Report

The Team Report is discussed at the next meeting of the ACB. Based on the Team Report and on discussions with staff, and on any other information that may be available, the ACB will produce an Evaluation Report intended for public distribution after approval by the full ACB. The production of these two closely related but not necessarily identical reports is an important part of the review process. In most cases, the Evaluation Report will contain most, if not all, of the same text produced by the team. However, the ACB may make some changes if it feels that some material may not be appropriate for a public report (e.g., references to specific individuals, critical comments about a host institution, etc.) or may be misunderstood. The Evaluation Report will be posted on the CIEE website as soon as possible after the meeting when it was approved.

After the Evaluation (Follow Up)

The Evaluation Reports are important documents and serve a variety of useful purposes including the provision of objective information to prospective students and to sending schools. In addition, these Evaluations constitute the basis for improvement of the program. To assure that the Evaluation recommendations will be used to maximum advantage, the Critical Component Reviews written by the Regional Directors of Operations will comment on the progress of the improvements. It is likely that the Senior Program Director, Regional Director of Operations and the ACB Team Leader will continue discussion of the recommendations and the ACB Team Leader will monitor the program in the year following the review.

Finally, the ACB Evaluation will form the baseline of the next scheduled evaluation of the program as well as for the yearly monitoring process that occurs between evaluations. Over several years, a dossier of the program will thus be built which will document how the program measures up to CIEE's commitment to quality, service, responsibility, and efficiency.