Student Affairs for Many Years, the College Essay

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Student Affairs

For many years, the college has collected and analyzed data for program evaluation and service provision. As the institution has grown, the established assessment systems have become focused on department functions and, in many instances, taking on the attributes of a work silo. It is easier today than it has ever been to integrate data and link analyses, a fact that highlights just how archaic the college's present approach to assessment has become. While the college can be proud of the rigor and continuity of many of our current assessment systems, the level of integration with institutional strategic planning and articulation across the various assessment systems is lacking. Improved cohesion among the assessment systems can only lead to a more penetrating look at the college's strengths and weaknesses. This is the nexus of my role in the position of Director of Assessment, Student Affairs: the creation of a culture of assessment within the student affairs at the college.

Strategic Direction for Student Affairs Assessment Program

The first and most pivotal step in creating a culture of assessment in the student affairs department and -- to my point -- beyond is to establish linkages across the assessment programs of the various departments in the college. The priorities that I believe must be salient in all assessment programs are as follows: 1) The promotion of organizational effectiveness; 2) the improvement of administrative practice; and 3) the development of a comprehensive professional development program for faculty. The Office of Student Affairs is charged with ensuring that the expertise, professional leadership, and technical assistance provided to other departments, faculty, and staff with regard to assessment procedures and systems is of the highest quality -- and reflects the current best-of-breed thinking and practices in student affairs assessment.

The Office of Student Affairs engages in programs and activities that are categorically considered to be assessment, evaluation, and research projects; in all of these endeavors, my oversight must engage staff to develop, conduct, and maintain the highest quality work they are capable of accomplishing, in concert with the resources made available by the college at the time. Indeed, the work of the Office of Student Affairs endeavors to provide an avenue to a deep and informed understanding of our students to the college and to the college community. An important aspect of our assessment, evaluation, and research projects will be our collaboration with others at the college with expertise in research. To conduct and maintain credible assessment, it is crucial that the work of the Office of Student Affairs be recognized for its accurate, significant, and timely contributions.

Framing a Culture of Assessment

The undergirding purpose of the Office of Student Affairs is to enhance the learning environment for the students at our college. We work hand-in-hand with other departments and bodies in the college to facilitate the cultural, intellectual, emotional, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual development of our students. A comprehensive and effective assessment system helps to ensure that this collaborative effort does, in fact, serve to enhance and stimulate the learning process. For instance, conducting assessments about how well we integrate the in-class and out-of-class experiences the college provides students generates effectiveness and satisfaction data that can be used to refine offerings and promote an overall environment that supports student discovery, growth, and learning. This idea underscores a key point: assessment data collected should be clearly linked to subsequent action. Although it has become cliche, the phrase still conveys solid guidance for administration: "What's measured improves" (Drucker, 2006). A culture of assessment at…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Drucker, P. (2006). The effective executive: The definitive guide to getting the right things done. Harperbusiness Essentials.

____. (2010). ACPA / NASPA Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners.

____. (2006). Frameworks for assessing learning and development outcomes (FALDO). Washington, DC: Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS). Retrieved http://www.cas.edu/index.php/index.php/index.php

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