Frequently Asked Questions about the STP DCS
What exactly is the DCS?
The Departmental Consulting Service (DCS) is a service offered to psychology departments through the joint efforts of the APA Education Directorate and the Society for the Teaching of Psychology. Developed in response to an increasing need for evaluations, consultants provide departments of psychology with feedback that will enable them to improve their programs.
The Departmental Consulting Service maintains a database of faculty consultants with expertise in a broad range of areas. Specific areas include (but are not limited to): curriculum (evaluation, development, designing/improving special programs or courses, fieldwork or honors); faculty (writing grant proposals, developing funding sources, writing for publication, promoting professional development, enhancing/evaluating teacher effectiveness); advising (student advising for career planning, graduate school preparation, changing enrollments, minority recruitment and retention); research facilities (designing psychology labs, designing teaching facilities, computer applications for courses, labs, or administration); departmental program evaluation (self-assessments, program evaluation, department evaluation).
Faculty consultants complete a comprehensive packet of materials which are used to identify specific areas of expertise. In addition to completion of these materials, each faculty consultant submits a vita and basic demographic information to be used in the matching process. When a request for a consultant is submitted by an institution, identified areas of expertise and specific requests of the institution will be matched.
Departments are asked to pay for all travel expenses that may be incurred during a site visit. Additionally, departments will be encouraged to pay an honorarium (jointly determined by the department and the invited consultant). Departments with limited finances may request a reduced honorarium which consultants are free to agree to, but are under no obligation to accept.
How does the DCS work?
There are currently about four dozen consultants. When we receive a request from a department that would like one or more consultants, the current DCS Director selects several consultants from the list based on the areas in which the department is most interested. Those names are then forwarded to the department. From then on, it is up to the department to contact prospective consultants and arrange the details of the visit as well as any compensation. The DCS does not have any involvement with those details, although we do ask the department to complete an evaluation once the consultation is completed.
How long does it take to complete a program review?
An entire program review, consisting of a self-study, visit by external reviewer, and completion of the external review document, will likely take at least six months. The actual site visit by an external reviewer is often 2-3 days. Refer to the following articles for more information:
Dunn, D. S., McCarthy, M. A., Baker, S., Halonen, J. S., & Hill, G. W. (2007). Quality benchmarks in undergraduate programs. American Psychologist, 62, 650-670.
McCarthy, M.A., Dunn, D.S., Halonen, J.S., & Baker, S.C. (2015). Academic program reviews in psychology: Challenges and opportunities. In D.S. Dunn (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Undergraduate Psychology Education, (pp. 833-842). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Where else can we find additional information about program reviews in general, or preparing for a program review?
STP DCS Task Force Document: Resources – Preparing for and Conducting Program Reviews
STP DCS Task Force Document: Common Areas of Concern for Departmental Reviews
How far out should we submit our request for a consultant?
Many consultants are busy throughout the year and their availability may be limited. You are encouraged to submit your request at least four months ahead of your anticipated site visit.
Once submitted, how long does it take for a consultant request to be completed?
Depending on the number of current applications and nature of the request, many departments can expect to have a roster of prospective consultants within 7-10 days of the request being received and confirmed.
What might the consultant expect as an appropriate honorarium?
The range varies by consultant but you should likely expect $1500 - $2000 plus all travel expenses.
What kind of experiences are necessary to possibly become a DCS consultant?
The qualifications for consultants include administration experience (department chair, program director, etc.), experience as a program evaluator, and expertise in several consultation areas, to include some of the following: curriculum (evaluation, development, designing/improving special programs or courses, fieldwork or honors); faculty (writing grant proposals, developing funding sources, writing for publication, promoting professional development, enhancing/evaluating teacher effectiveness); advising (student advising for career planning, graduate school preparation, changing enrollments, minority recruitment and retention); research facilities (designing psychology labs, designing teaching facilities, computer applications for courses, labs, or administration); departmental program evaluation (self-assessments, program evaluation, department evaluation).
How do I apply to be a DCS consultant?
Contact the current DCS Director (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the application materials. Once materials are received, several current consultants will be asked to review the application materials. If the initial review is positive, recommended consultant applications are then reviewed for final approval by APA's Board of Educational Affairs (BEA) at their semi-annual meeting.