Graduate Review & Improvement Process
The Graduate Review and Improvement Process (GRIP) is an initiative to develop a student-centered and action-oriented program assessment at the University of Minnesota.
The process was initiated in response to a strong interest of faculty, staff and students in a new model of graduate program evaluation. It results from a collaboration between the Graduate School and the College of Education and Human Development.
Graduate programs that join GRIP commit to three objectives:
- Examining and formulating the goals of the graduate program and for the graduates, and deciding what kinds of evidence the program will need to answer the question: “Is what we’re doing aligned with our goals?”
- Engaging with qualitative and quantitative evidence to answer how the program is doing in key areas, using existing institutional data (e.g. the doctoral exit survey), and other targeted evaluation methods selected together with a team of external consultants (e.g., focus groups, interviews, student survey, etc.).
- Creating an internal “state of the program” report available to faculty, staff, and students, and a focused plan for improvement in two or three selected aspects of the programs.
In 2011-2012, GRIP was successfully piloted in the department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD) in the College of Education and Human Development. In fall 2012, the pilot project was expanded to include eight additional programs, representing a number of collegiate units across the university.
Benefits to Participants
Participating units will have the opportunity to build internal capacity for program evaluation that is appropriate for their discipline and program contexts. Faculty will develop effective strategies for articulating their goals and standards to a broader audience, which is essential for programs to advocate for themselves both within and outside the University. Students will also gain evaluation expertise through direct involvement in the evaluation of their graduate programs.
All programs interested in participating will be invited to select a faculty member and student to serve as project leaders. Benefits to project leaders include:
- Interactive workshops for faculty and students on graduate program evaluation
- Direct access to existing institutional data on graduate student experiences (e.g., the doctoral exit survey)
- Specialized graduate evaluation colloquia in the College of Education and Human Development
- Publication opportunities on graduate program evaluation in different disciplines
The Pilot Programs
In fall 2012, eight programs representing eight different colleges joined OLPD in the pilot phase of this project. Over the course of the year, participating programs will receive assistance from a University team specializing in developmental evaluation, an outcome-oriented approach to supporting ongoing program improvement, to adapt the process for their college and program and implement the process. Programs in the pilot have identified faculty and student leaders, who will coordinate the review of data and development of an improvement plan. Participants will engage with both quantitative and qualitative program data during the assessment, incorporating the opinions of both faculty and students.
The pilot will yield two outcomes at the end of the year:
- an internal report shared with program faculty, staff, and interested students
- an action plan submitted to the college dean and the Graduate School that identifies improvements in 2-3 key areas identified as most important by program faculty, staff, and students (Programs have full discretion in determining the type and amount of detail to include).
The Graduate School will follow up with program on progress towards the goals identified in the action plan, and offer assistance in adapting the process to program needs as requested. We also hope to learn from participants how the new process of program self-evaluation could be improved, and determine how it can best serve the needs of different programs. If successful, this process will inform future efforts to re-design traditional program reviews. If it is broadly adopted across the University, program reports submitted to the colleges and the Graduate School will form the foundation for future redesign and development of graduate programs at the central level.
GRIP attempts to build evaluation capacity within University programs to provide the colleges and the Graduate School with empirically rooted foundations for restructuring program review. If the pilot stage in 2012-2013 proves successful, the new model will be scaled up across the University and disseminated at national venues and in scholarly publications on graduate program evaluation.
A participative review has the potential to not only improve graduate education in individual program at the University of Minnesota, but also to enhance the national visibility of the University in the area of graduate education. Best practices developed at the University will be disseminated at national venues, and publications co-authored by doctoral students participating in the project will aim to advance the reputation of the University of Minnesota as a leader in graduate education. Ultimately, the case studies of promising practices developed in different programs will serve as empirical foundations for future innovations in graduate education at the University of Minnesota.
In The News
GRIP was recently featured in Inside Higher Ed, an online source for news regarding higher education, in a story on graduate program review. Read the full article >