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Course and Subject Management Procedure - Monitoring and Review

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Section 1 - Background and Purpose

(1) La Trobe University conducts rigorous and regular course monitoring and review activities to ensure that all its courses:

  1. meet and continue to meet the applicable standards in the Higher Education Standards Framework(2021)(the Standards)
  2. are informed by current and emerging knowledge and concepts in relevant academic disciplines, and where applicable, advances in practice
  3. serve the University’s educational and strategic objectives
  4. are only re-approved where all these standards and objectives are met.
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Section 2 - Scope

(2) Refer to the Course and Subject Management Policy.

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Section 3 - Policy Statement

(3) Refer to the Course and Subject Management Policy.

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Section 4 - Procedures

Part A - Overview

(4) This Procedure outlines the monitoring and review activities undertaken by the University to assure and maintain the academic quality of its subjects and courses.

(5) The Office of the Provost undertakes viability assessment of courses through the annual load planning process, and of subjects through an annual targeted review. Steps will be taken to close subjects or courses with enrolment below viability thresholds, with consideration given to strategic need, maintenance of key discipline/skills areas and relationship to the course and subject lifecycle.

(6) The University ensures the quality of its courses through evidence-based interim monitoring and course review at regular intervals. Interim monitoring between reviews contributes to the cumulative development of a Course Review Portfolio which forms the core data set for course reviews.

(7) Interim monitoring consists of:

  1. Subject Monitoring (SM)
  2. Annual Course Monitoring (ACM)
  3. activities undertaken by Course Advisory Committees (CACs)

(8) Course Reviews (CR) are conducted at least every five to seven years but may occur earlier in circumstances outlined in this Procedure.

(9) Courses are monitored and reviewed individually or in Course Groups.

(10) Any recommended changes to courses or subjects arising from monitoring and review are managed under the provisions of the Course and Subject Management Procedure - Approvals.

(11) Schools are responsible for leading and undertaking monitoring and review activities with process support from Quality and Standards.

Part B - Monitoring

Subject Monitoring

(12) The Subject Monitoring cycle is a continuous evaluation of key quality indicators that is conducted for a subject after each teaching period. 

(13) The key responsibility for monitoring and improvement of subjects lies with the owning school or equivalent academic unit.

(14) The Subject Coordinator reviews the following subject data and materials at the conclusion of the relevant teaching period: 

  1. responses from students gathered from Student Feedback on Subjects (SFS)
  2. student success data including grades
  3. academic misconduct data as available
  4. subject design, assessment and learning materials

Development and Monitoring of Actions

(15) Where quality indicators show areas requiring improvement the Subject Coordinator must develop and undertake a subject action plan with support from the Associate Dean, Learning & Teaching as appropriate.

(16) Subject improvement actions may include full or partial subject redesign, professional development activities for teaching staff, and other support activities. Where practicable actions are implemented in the next teaching period for the subject (or within six months for intensive subjects that are delivered on high rotation), with progress reported on in the next monitoring cycle.

(17) The Associate Dean, Learning & Teaching will review action plans for subjects that fall below expected levels of performance for two consecutive teaching periods and make appropriate recommendations to the Dean. Deans submit reports and recommendations annually to Quality and Standards who will compile a summary report for consideration by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) or Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate and Global Research) as appropriate.

(18) Quality and Standards submits relevant annual summary reports on subject monitoring to Education Committee and the Board of Graduate Research.

Annual Course Monitoring

Approach and Timing

(19) The ACM cycle is a course quality assurance process that is undertaken each year across the course lifecycle between points of course review and reapproval. The process is facilitated by an online system that opens for a set number of weeks annually at a predetermined time approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education). 

(20) All courses must be monitored annually through the ACM unless an exception applies. These exceptions include:

  1. new courses. New courses will run for one full year prior to the first ACM to allow for the accrual of performance data and contextual analysis.
  2. courses that are suspended or in teach-out with less than 10 student enrolments
  3. courses that have or will be undergoing a CR in the relevant year
  4. specific courses by agreement with the Associate Dean, Learning & Teaching

(21) Double degrees are monitored separately from their related single degrees.

(22) Courses delivered in partnership with third parties are subject to additional quality assurance measures as outlined in the Educational Partnerships Procedure – Third Party Arrangements

Monitoring Requirements

(23) The ACM system captures course performance data including:

  1. load, retention, success, progression and completion rates, equity indicators, with trend analysis at the sub-cohort level
  2. contextual factors that may impact the course
  3. historical and current subject and course action plans
  4. outcomes from external referencing, including
    1. reports from Course Advisory Committees
    2. outcomes from any professional accreditation submissions during the period
    3. innovations resulting from learning and teaching scholarship, and related research.

(24) Quality and Standards coordinates the ACM system, data, and reporting, before and during the ACM period.

Development and Monitoring of Action Plans

(25) Nominated Lead Course Coordinators are responsible for undertaking the ACM for their course and for the development, submission, and implementation of action plans. This activity includes:

  1. assessment of targets from the past cycle against current data
  2. evaluation of the impact of completed actions
  3. development of new action plans with a focus on a specified number of actions that are achievable within the next year. These may include developments that are already underway, including significant actions arising from monitoring of relevant subjects.

(26) Course Coordinators will indicate through the action plans where support is required from the Divisions of the University.

(27) Deans or their nominees are responsible for approval of action plans and providing advice and support to meet actions.

(28) Quality and Standards submits reports on the outcomes of each ACM cycle at school level and flags any issues as required. Deans return reports with their comments and recommendations to Quality and Standards.

(29) Quality and Standards distributes support requirements for each School to the relevant Divisions of the University.

(30) Quality and Standards provides a summary of ACM outcomes at institutional level through the ACM Annual Report to Education Committee.

Course Advisory Committees

(31) CACs provide expertise on the currency and future readiness of courses to ensure their alignment with directions of the profession, industry, research, and discipline. Members are external to the University and are drawn from relevant industry and/or professional associations, the discipline and course alumni.

(32) The relevant Dean or nominee is responsible for ensuring that a CAC is established for each course or Course Group within the School, and for the general oversight of all CACs within the School.

(33) CACs meet at least once a year (see Terms of Reference on the External referencing - intranet) and provide input into any major change or new course proposals.

(34) Recommendations arising from CAC meetings are recorded in template reports by Course Coordinators and uploaded into the ACM System.

Part C - Review

Course Reviews

Approach and Timing

(35) In accordance with the requirements of the Standards the University ensures that every course undergoes a CR at least every five years and no later than seven years.

(36) Out-of-cycle CRs may also be triggered by events that incorporate significant review. Such events include an application for or renewal of professional accreditation, or a significant course revision. The data collected and analysis undertaken for such events is combined with additional Standards-based analysis to meet the requirements for a CR.

(37) An out-of-cycle CR will reset the cycle for a course or Course Group so that the next CR will occur within five to seven years of the last CR.

(38) Exceptions to the requirement to undergo a CR include courses that have been: 

  1. placed into teach-out mode following a decision by Academic Board to close the course
  2. suspended or will be closed or replaced by a substantially new course within the next 12 months

(39) Reviews of double degrees will be undertaken with the related single course of the owning school.

(40) Quality and Standards will maintain and schedule dates for all CRs and will advise the Dean of impending review commencement. Updates to scheduling will be made when any of the factors outlined above trigger out-of-cycle or earlier reviews.

Review Requirements

(41) Course Review Portfolios for CRs will include at a minimum:

  1. a summary of ACM outcomes documenting cycles of continuous improvement across course quality areas of focus
  2. a five-year data snapshot of course performance trends
  3. annual CAC feedback including emerging trends in the field of education and delivery methods
  4. evidence of courses meeting the Standards in staffing, assessment, moderation, academic integrity, quality assured pathways, and learning facilities and resources
  5. evidence of external referencing, that includes comparison data with like courses at other institutions and review of course standards.

(42) Requirements for the Course Review Portfolio may be met in whole or part by a professional accreditation portfolio and outcome.

(43) Quality and Standards will facilitate the compilation of the Course Review Portfolio in collaboration with the Course Coordinator.

(44) The Course Coordinator acts as the Course Review Leader and is responsible for analysis of data in the self-review and finalising documentation in the Course Review Portfolio. This will include the development of an action plan where required, in consultation with the Associate Dean, Learning & Teaching or equivalent and Quality and Standards.

Committee Review and Course Re-approval

(45) The Dean will submit the final CR report with any proposed actions and timelines to University Coursework Committee (UCC) with a copy to the Provost.

(46) The UCC will consider the report and submit its recommendations in relation to the course to Academic Board.

(47) Academic Board may make the following determinations:

  1. the course is reapproved 
  2. the course is reapproved subject to the fulfilment of conditions 
  3. the course is not approved

Review of Conditions and Actions

(48) The Associate Dean, Learning & Teaching is responsible for the submission of a report to UCC within the six-month period (or a shorter period as determined by the Committee) confirming the fulfilment of any conditions of reapproval that may have been imposed by Academic Board.

(49) Where any conditions of reapproval are not met within the required timeframe, or alternate plans approved by UCC, the course will be suspended to new intakes pending resolution of conditions.

(50) Quality and Standards maintains a register of all approved reports and conditions for the purpose of scheduling, action plan monitoring, and reporting.

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Section 5 - Definitions

(51) For the purposes of this Procedure:

  1. Course Group: a Course Group is formed by combining an active parent award with courses that have sufficient commonalities for the purposes of quality assurance and review, based on criteria for the outlined in the Course and Subject Review Guidelines
  2. External referencing: incorporates any process through which the University compares an aspect of its operations with an external comparator. This may include benchmarking, peer review or moderation.
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Section 6 - Associated Documents

(52) Refer to guidelines and templates on:

  1. the Course and Subject Review and Monitoring intranet
  2. the External referencing - intranet