2 Articulating the Successes of your Academic Program

Articulating Successes

Part 2 of the self-study template (v. 2023/2024) is titled Context for Current Cyclical Program Review, and as the title suggests, it can be an effective starting point for orienting your readers, the reviewers, to the current context of the program. The section includes four sub-sections:

 2.1 For the first cyclical program review of a program, what steps have been taken to address any issues or items flagged in the monitoring report for follow-up (see QAF section 2.9.2), and/or items identified for follow-up by the Quality Council (for example, in the form of a note and/or report for the first Cyclical Program Review in the Quality Council’s approval letter – see QAF section 2.6.3 a) or b) (QUQAP  Please attach the most recent monitoring report as an appendix and refer to this report in your answer, being sure to indicate if and why any of the concerns and recommendations have not been addressed.

2.2 For subsequent cyclical program reviews, how have the concerns and recommendations raised in previous reviews been addressed, especially those detailed in the Final Assessment Report, Implementation Plan, and subsequent monitoring reports from the previous cyclical program review of the program (QUQAP Please attach the most recent monitoring report as an appendix and refer to this report in your answer, being sure to indicate if and why any of the concerns and recommendations have not been addressed.

2.3 What areas have the program’s faculty, staff and/or students identified as requiring improvement or as holding promise for enhancement and/or opportunities for curricular change? (QUQAP These areas for improvement may be presented as a series of initiatives to implement over the next 7 years and may form part of the Implementation Plan.

2.4 Describe the ways in which the curriculum addresses the current state of the discipline or area of study (QUQAP

Addressing these prompts means reflecting on the past, capturing the program’s current state, and articulating a vision for the future of the program. The four sub-sections are interrelated. Here’s a guide and some suggested strategies to each section, including facilitative questions you might reflect on or use to guide community conversations (many questions are adapted from Stavros & Hinrichs, 2009):

Section 2.1 and 2.2 Recent Recommendations

Turn to the previous CPR self-study, review team report, internal responses and the Final Assessment Report (FAR). These documents, particularly the FAR, include recommendations and action items arising from the previous review. Since the last review, there’s an expectation that programs have worked to address past recommendations and have engaged in continuous program improvements that address identified concerns. Some programs have remained focused on this continuous improvement process year-to-year, while others have faced reasonable challenges keeping continuous improvement at the fore of their work. In the self-study report, you should aim to provide reviewers with some context, addressing questions such as: since the last self-study, what has happened and changed? What’s the current landscape?

Facilitative Questions:

  • What recommendations were made as a result of the previous CPR?
  • What actions have been taken to address past recommendations?
  • What concerns were raised during last CPR? How have these concerns been addressed and/or are the concerns still relevant to the program?
  • What recent achievements are we most proud of?
  • What has changed about the program since the last CPR?

2.3  Areas for Improvement and Future Enhancements

Focusing on the current self-study, what areas of improvement have been identified through the process? As members of the program have engaged in the self-study, they have likely identified ideas for how the program could be improved into the future. While this section starts by identifying challenges, shortcomings, constraints, or difficulties, it sets the reviewer up for appreciating what the program needs into the future and why. This section can also be used to highlight current strengths of the program and comment on how these strengths will be or can be maintained and/or enhanced into the future.

Facilitative Questions:

  • Which recommendations from the previous CPR, if any, continue to be areas of ongoing action and improvement?
  • Where or in what ways are we currently noting challenges, constraints, or difficulties? 
  • How can we acknowledge challenges and also frame these challenges as opportunities for future enhancement?
  • What are we known for? What makes us unique?
  • What future opportunities exist for the program? (such as new specializations or pathways, partnerships, course offerings, modes of delivery?)
  • What are the key areas of untapped potential and/ or collaboration?
  • What are students, employers, and/ or other community members asking for?
  • What does our preferred future look like?
  • What would we like to be known for?

1.4 Current State of Discipline

Various influences continually affect an academic program: the landscape of higher education shifts, global challenges and institutional priorities inspire future directions for academic work, students face new and different challenges each year, and resources fluctuate. What have your challenges been? What might they look like in the future?

In this section, you can help reviewers understand the current state of the discipline, so that in their review and in making their recommendations, they can be your partners and advocates of realistic, contextualized solutions.

Facilitative Questions:

  • What changes do we expect to see over the next years?
  • What external forces or trends may affect the program?
  • What challenges do we foresee or anticipate?
  • What imperatives do we see arising from these noted challenges?


Stavros, J. M. & Hinrichs, G. (2009). SOAR: Building strengths-based strategy. Thin Book Publishing Co.: Bend, OR.



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