Looking Forward by Looking Back: Determining the Value of External Program Reviews

  • Diane E. Dutton
  • Susan Burgess
  • Tom Nesbit


In 2006, Continuing Studies at Simon Fraser University (SFU) began modifying their unit-wide and external review processes for individual programs to bring them more in-line with academic faculties and departments, which are subject to external reviews on a regular basis. This article explores SFU’s approach to external reviews through a case study of one particular program review, noting the key findings and decisions made as a result of the reviewer’s recommendations.

Author Biographies

Diane E. Dutton
Diane Dutton has been extensively involved in continuing education at the Universities of Calgary and Alberta for over twenty years, and in continuing management education throughout North America. Her recently completed EdD dissertation examines sessional faculty in Canada and their motivation to teach in a post-secondary setting. Currently Diane is working with Volunteer Alberta to identify and develop a competency framework and related tools for senior leaders and managers in the non-profit/voluntary sector in rural Alberta.
Susan Burgess
Susan Burgess is the director of Management and Professional Programs within Continuing Studies at Simon Fraser University. Prior to joining SFU, she consulted in the tourism, hotel, and real estate development industries, completing numerous feasibility studies, business plans, and valuations for clients throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle East.
Tom Nesbit
Tom Nesbit is associate dean of Continuing Studies at Simon Fraser University. A former trade- union official, he has worked as an adult and continuing educator in Great Britain, Sweden, the United States, and Canada. His research interests include social class, workers’ and workplace education, adult numeracy, and the institutional provision of lifelong learning. He is editor-in- chief of the Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education.