Essential Assessment Resources (Updated September 2017)

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When I talk with colleagues new to assessment or work with institutions, I am often asked about what resources are available.  I have aggregated the list below to answer some of those questions. Each resource serves a different purpose so I encourage you to review each item on the list to see how it may be helpful to you.

Web Resources

ACPA – Commission for Assessment and Evaluation

Association for Higher Education Effectiveness

Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education

Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education

Internet Resources for Higher Education Outcomes Assessment

NASPA – Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Knowledge Community

National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Student Affairs Assessment Leaders

 

Journals

Journal of Research and Practice in Assessment

Journal of Student Affairs Inquiry

Texts

Allen, K. R., Elkins, B., Henning, G. W., Bayless, L. A., &Gordon, T. W. (2013). Accreditation and the role of the student affairs professional. Washington, DC: ACPA-College Student Educators International. Available from http://www.myacpa.org/accreditation-and-role-student-affairs-educator

American College Personnel Association (ACPA). (2007). ASK standards: Assessment skills and knowledge content standards for student affairs practitioners and scholars. Washington, D. C.: Author.

Angelo, T. & Cross, K. (1993). Class assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Banta, T. W., Lund, J. P., Black, K. E., Oblander, F. W. (Eds.) (1996). Assessment in practice: Putting principles to work on college campuses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bingham, R. P., Bureau, D., & Garrison Duncan, A. (Eds.). (2015). Leading assessment for student success. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Blimling, G. S. (2013). Challenges of assessment in student affairs. New Directions for Student Services, 2013(142), 5-14.

Bloom, B. S. (1968). Learning for mastery. UCLA: Center for the study of evaluation of instructional programs, (1)2. Los Angeles, CA.

Bourke, B. (2017). Advancing toward social justice via student affairs inquiry. Journal of Student Affairs Inquiry, 2(1).

Bresciani, M. J., Zelna, C. L., and Anderson, J. A. (2004). Assessing student learning and development: A handbook for practitioners. Washington, D.C.: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

Bresciani, M. J., Moore Gardner, M., Hickmott, J. (2010). Demonstrating Student success: A practical guide to outcomes-based assessment of learning and development in student affairs. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Bresciani, M. J. (2011, August). Making assessment meaningful: What new student affairs professionals and those new to assessment need to know (NILOA Assessment Brief: Student Affairs). Urbana, IL: University for Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. Professional standards in higher education (August, 2015). 9th Ed. Washington, D.C.: Author.

Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (2006). Frameworks for assessing learning and development outcomes. Washington, D.C.: Author.

Culp, M. M. & Dungy, G. J. (Eds.). (2012). Building a culture of evidence in student affairs: A guide for leaders and practitioners. Washington, D.C.: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

Ewell, P. T. (2009, November). Assessment, accountability, and improvement: Revisiting the tension (NILOA Occasional Paper No.1). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

Heiser, C., Prince, K., & Levy, J. (2017). Examining critical theory as a framework to advance equity through student affairs assessment. Journal of Student Affairs Inquiry, 2(1).

Henning, G. & Roberts, D. (2016). Student affairs assessment: Theory to practice. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Keeling, R. (Ed.). (2004). Learning reconsidered. A campus-wide focus on the student experience. Washington, D.C.: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators & American College Personnel Association.

Keeling, R. P (Ed). (2006). Learning reconsidered 2: A practical guide to implementing a campus-wide focus on the student experience. Washington, D.C.: American College Personnel Association, Association of College and Housing Officers—International, Association of College Unions—International, National Academic Advising Association, National Association of Campus Activities, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, & National Intramural—Recreational Sports Association.

Keeling, R. P., Wall, A. F., Underhile, R., and Dungy, G. J. (2008). Assessment reconsidered. Washington, D. C.: International Center for Student Success and Institutional Accountability.

Kuh, G. D., Ikenberry, S. O., Jankowski, N. A., Cain, T. R., Ewell, Hutchings, P., & Kinzie, J. (2015). Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Maki, P. L. (2010). Assessing for learning: Building a sustainable commitment across the institution (2nd edition). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Maki, P. L. (2017). Real-time student assessment: Meeting the imperative for improved time to degree, closing the opportunity gap, and assuring student competencies for the 21st century needs. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Miller, M. A. (2012, January). From denial to acceptance: The stages of assessment (NILOA Occasional Paper No.13). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

Montenegro, E., & Jankowski, N. (2017, January). Equity and assessment: Moving towards culturally responsive assessment (Occasional Paper No. 29). Urban, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute of Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

Palomba, Catherine A., & Banta, Trudy W. (1999). Assessment essentials: Planning, implementing, improving. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Pascarella, E. T., & Terenzini, P. T. (2005). How college affects students: A third decade of research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Roberts, D., & Bailey, K. (Eds.). (2016). New Directions for Student Leadership: No. 151.  Assessing student leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Schuh, J. (Ed.) (2013, Summer). Selected contemporary issues in assessment. (J. Schuh, Ed.) New Directions in Student Services 2013(142).

Schuh, J. M., Upcraft, M. L. and Associates. (2001). Assessment practice in student affairs: An applications manual. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Schuh, J. M., & Associates (2008). Assessment methods for student affairs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Schuh, J. H., & Gansemer-Topf, A. M. (2010, December). The role of student affairs in student learning assessment (NILOA Occasional Paper No.7). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

Schuh, J., Biddix, J. P., Dean, L. A., & Kinzie, J. (2016). Assessment in student affairs (2nd ed.). San Franciso: Jossey-Bass.

Suskie, L. A. (2009). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide (2nd Ed). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Suskie, L. A. (2014). Five dimensions of quality: A common sense guide to accreditation and accountability.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Timm. D. M., Davis Barham. J., McKinney, J., & Knerr, A. R. (2013). Assessment in practice: A companion guide to the ASK standards. Washington, DC: ACPA-College Student Educators International. Available from http://www2.myacpa.org/publications

Upcraft, M.L and Schuh, J.H. (1996). Assessment in student affairs: a guide for practitioners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Urdan, T. (2001). Statistics in plain English. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Association.

Walvoord, B.E. (2004). Assessment clear and simple: A practical guide for institutions,      departments, and general education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Yousey-Elsenser, K., Bentrim, E., & Henning, G., (Eds). (2015). Coordinating student affairs divisional assessment: A practical guide. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Zerquera, D., Pender, J., & Beruhen, J. (2017). Participatory action research as social justice framework for assessment in student affairs. The Journal of College and University Student Housing, 43(3), 14-27.

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Assessment as a Tool for Organizational Change

NOTE: This blog post is inspired by Margaret Leary. During the ACPA16 Convention she and I discussed ideas she had regarding how assessment can foster organizational change. That conversation me to learn more about organizational change and how assessment might be related to it. This blog post is a result of that research and contemplation.

Higher education is in a constant state of flux. This change is natural and to be expected. In the past, learning to adapt was sufficient to weather change. But, given the current state of endless unpredictability, that is no longer true. To survive today’s and tomorrow’s ever-evolving higher education landscape colleges and universities cannot simply adapt reactively to manage change or even proactively to facilitate it – they need to be designed for change (Kezar, 2014).

The structure of colleges and universities makes designing for change challenging. Institutions of higher education are intricate, multi-layered systems. The larger they are, the more complex. A concerted effort is required to reshape a college or university.

Organizational learning is one model for change management. This concept posits that for organizations to be designed for change, they must continually learn what is working and what is not. Thus, by providing staff and faculty with data, information, and inquiry methods they can solve problems to achieve organizational effectiveness. (Kuk, Banning, and Amey, 2014).

This is where assessment comes in. The two main purposes of assessment are accountability and improvement, with an overall goal of enacting change to increase effectiveness and efficiency. The last step in the assessment cycle, closing the loop, is critical. If data is not utilized for improvement, then assessment is not really being done (Henning & Roberts, 2016).

Building a culture of assessment fosters the shared beliefs, values, and behaviors that data should be used for decision making. When such a culture of exists, infrastructure, systems, and practices are in place enabling assessment to be easily embedded into daily practice. Staff then have tools to use data to understand how effective and efficient their programs and services are producing an organization that is constantly learning what is working and what is not. And, this is an organization designed for change.

Assessment can be a catalyst for organizational change.

References
Henning, G. & Roberts, D. (2016). Student affairs assessment: Theory and practice. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Kezar, A. (2014). How colleges change: Understanding, leading, and enacting change. New York, NY: Routledge.

Kuk, L., Banning, J., & Amey, M. (2010). Positioning student affairs for sustainable change: Achieving organizational effectiveness through multiple perspectives. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

 

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Four Stages of Assessment Competence

Originally published November 3, 2015 on The Student Affairs Collective

Assessment isn’t an activity. It’s a state of mind.

The statement above has been my mantra for the past five years. Too often, assessment is seen as an afterthought rather than an integral part of the program or service planning and implementation process.

Interestingly, this statement didn’t occur to me when I was in the midst of an assessment project, teaching class, facilitating a workshop, or consulting with a division of student affairs. It occurred to me in a grocery store. Yes, in the deli aisle waiting on maple and brown sugar ham, to be exact. I won’t bore you with the details here, but you can read more regarding this “evaluative epiphany” here: http://bit.ly/1MSqT2x.

In this post, I don’t want to talk about the statement itself, but what it represents. Recently, I echoed this refrain during a webinar sponsored by ACPA’s Commission for Assessment and Evaluation. The topic was “Assessing Cultures of Assessment.” (You can access the webinar here by entering your name and email) At the outset, I suggested that this statement, Assessment isn’t an activity. It’s a state of mind was a definitive sign that a culture of assessment existed in an organization. When assessment is a state of mind, it is infused into every aspect of individual or organizational practice including planning, implementation, and – of course – evaluation. At this stage, assessment becomes an unconscious, embedded element of everyday work.

So, how does one arrive at this destination where assessment is a state of mind?

I think the four stages of competence, originally described as the four stages of learning, and outlined by Linda Adams (2011), can be a helpful guide. These stages are

  • Unconscious incompetence
  • Conscious incompetence
  • Conscious competence
  • Unconscious competence

In the unconscious incompetence stage, people are not engaged in assessment and don’t know why it’s important. They are unable articulate its value or purpose. This stage described most of our field 10-15 years ago. The prevailing attitude was that assessment was simply a fad and we just needed to “wait it out.”

Once awakened to the both the necessity and benefit of engaging in assessment, people realize they need to it, but are not sure how to do it. This is conscious incompetence. The first step is to identify the actual skills and knowledge needed to perform assessment. The 2nd Edition of the ACPA/NASPA Professional Competencies (released in August 2015) provides a framework for skill and knowledge development regarding assessment, evaluation, and research. A great way to develop these skills is to seek out books, workshops, and other resources to improve skill and knowledge. Fortunately, more and more resources are available. There are four new student affairs assessment books coming out this academic year. How exciting! One centers on leading assessment for student success and the other focuses on coordinating divisional assessment. Two more covering more general assessment practice will come out in early March. Workshops and conferences are another way to build assessment competence. Each summer, ACPA holds its Student Affairs Assessment Institute and NASPA sponsors its Assessment and Persistence Conference. Both associations have special interest groups regarding assessment for networking and professional development. (ACPA’s Commission for Assessment and Evaluation and NASPA’s Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Knowledge Community). In addition, many master’s level preparation programs have assessment courses to help students move from this stage of competence to the next.

As people gain skill and knowledge, they become conscious competent. They value the assessment process and are continually attentive when performing it. Assessment takes effort and concentration at this stage but continues to become more comfortable and more frequent.

At the apex of this competence hierarchy is unconsciously competence. At this stage, assessment has been performed so often that it becomes habit or second nature and is integrated into daily practice and processes. It is important to note that learning should still take place. Even in assessment, lifelong learning is important as new scholarship is constantly being created.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the statement Assessment isn’t an activity. It’s a state of mind came to me in a grocery store. In the deli aisle, I recognized that I was shopping in a way that mirrored the assessment process. My goal was to be both effective and efficient and those goals shaped by actions from planning to execution. Assessment had become so unconscious that it was integrated into other parts of my life. While, you may not be as much of a geek as me and want assessment to infiltrate your personal life, I do hope you develop your assessment skill and knowledge to the point that you are unconsciously competent.

At what stage are you? What can you do to get to the next level?

References
Adams, L. (2011). Learning a new skill is easier said than done. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://www.gordontraining.com/free-workplace-articles/learning-a-new-skill-is-easier-said-than-done/

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Moving From Serendipity to Intentionality in Student Learning

NOTE: This was originally posted to ACPA Developments Volume 13, Summer 2015 Issue (June 2015)

Please visit ACPA Video On Demand where I discuss this concept in a video interview.

On a Friday night in late April in 1987, during the spring of my sophomore year, I was attending a movie with friends in Brody Hall at Michigan State University. Back then, the Residence Hall Association screened movies in select lecture halls across campus. We didn’t have Netflix back then. We didn’t even have cable.

After the movie an event happened that changed my life forever.

On my way out of the lecture hall I ran into a friend of mine, Stacy Huffman, from my hometown of Saginaw, MI, who had also attending the movie. As friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while (it was a 21 acre campus of 30,000+ students), we caught each other up on our lives. As the semester was nearing an end, we discussed our summer plans in Saginaw. Stacy said that she was going to be staying on campus working for the Academic Orientation Program. She continued that they were looking for one more male orientation leader and encouraged me to apply. The interviews were the next day and there was an opening at 8am.

Wiping sleep from my eyes I got early, ate my Wheaties, and headed to the interview. A few days later I was notified that I had been selected as an orientation leader. Serendipity opened the door to my first student affairs job and my career – although I didn’t comprehend it at the time.

Fast forward to June of 1993. Frustration and anxiety was setting in because I had recently graduated with my master’s degree from MSU and, unlike my classmates, was still job searching. And searching. And searching. There had been a few phone interviews and even a couple of campus interviews, but nothing panned out. Self-doubt became all-consuming as I wondered why no one wanted to hire me despite what I thought were excellent grades and extensive experience.

When hope was waning, serendipity struck again.

I received a call from the Department of Residence Life at the University of New Hampshire for an on-campus interview. A hall director job at UNH was my “perfect” job from the start of my search. Unfortunately for me, a few weeks before, shortly after the phone interview, I was told that they had hired other individuals for their open spaces. However, a residence hall director had decided to leave UNH in June, opening up a position. I jumped at the chance for a campus interview. Two months later I was packing up a U-Haul to make the trip Durham, New Hampshire for my “perfect” job. This position created the foundation of who I am as an educator today. Plus, UNH was where I met my current partner. Call it destiny. Call it kismet. Or maybe it was just chance. But, it this result was certainly not intentional.

The orientation leader position began my career in student affairs but working for the Department of Residence Life at the University of New Hampshire changed how I approached my job. While I learned many things during my six years in residence life, one word has stuck with me and was the concept that compelled me into assessment work. That word is “intentionality.” During numerous staff and supervision meetings hall directors discussed how we were being intentional in our outreach to students and in our programming. Intentionality became a mantra for my work then and the driving force for the assessment work I have been undertaking the past 15 years.

Synonyms for serendipity include chance and accident while synonyms for intentional include designed, deliberate, and planned. While not antonyms of one another the concepts of serendipity and intentional are opposed to each other. I think serendipity vs. intentionality is a tension we continue to struggle with today in regard to learning in higher education. All too often we assume or think that learning is happening outside of the classroom and we aren’t doing as much as we can to intentionally foster it. We can no longer rely on serendipity to ensure student learning and success.

External demands for accountability are increasing the need for intentionality. The completion agenda dominates the national discourse of higher education. Students, parents, and legislatures are questioning the return on investment of a college education and want to known what students are learning after paying exorbitant amounts of money. College administrators are questioning the value of student affairs in an era of service provision where students are customers and clients. During a program session with college presidents at ACPA15, when asked what the priority should be for student affairs, all panelists stated that college student educators need to be able to demonstrate how they and their work positively contributes to student learning and retention. The completion agenda at the federal and state level is a major thrust behind the current accountability movement in higher education. This emphasis on retention is not simply because of the individual benefits for students who graduate but because of the financial impact of tuition revenue and state appropriations for colleges and universities.

More important than external calls for accountability are the internal calls for accountability that originate from inside each one of us as college student educators. We chose this profession for our careers because of the want and need to positively impact lives of college students. Thus, we strive to do the best job we can to assist students. As a field, we need to make intentionality an interwoven thread in the fabric of everyday practice to ensure student success, both academically and personally.

Intentionally isn’t rocket science. It can be explained in a four-step process outlined by Linda Suskie (2009). The first step is to begin with what you want students to achieve (aka outcomes which an be learning, operational, or program). Once outcomes are identified, existing literature and other evidence are used to identify strategies to foster those outcomes in step 2. Step 3 is to collect and analyze data to determine if the outcomes are achieved and how outcome achievement can be improved. The final step is the most important – closing the loop by making improvements. Intentionally is a process, not a destination.

Suskie Cycle

Figure 1. Assessment cycle by Suskie, L. (2009). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide (2nd Ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

How Can ACPA Help You Be More Intentional
ACPA’s focus is student learning. As stated in our mission “ACPA supports and fosters college student learning through the generation and dissemination of knowledge, which informs policies, practices and programs for student affairs professionals and the higher education community” (ACPA, 2015). There are many ways ACPA can help you foster student learning, development, and success.

Individuals can leverage ACPA to help foster and support student learning by accessing the scholarship that is generated through various outlets. ACPA’s signature publication is the Journal of College Student Development. There are articles in each issue pertinent to faculty and practitioners alike. Previous issues include scholarship regarding experiences of Asian American and Latino/a students at an HBCU, the academic performance of Black emerging adults, a method to increase the grade point averages of fraternity members, and others.

About Campus is a scholarly publication directed towards practitioners. This bi-monthly magazine provides insights to improve practice in higher education. Past issues include articles addressing positive psychology, long-term success in work and life, as well as high impact practices.

In addition to these publications, and Developments which you are reading now, ACPA also sponsors books and monographs. This past year ACPA published Job One 2.0: Understanding the Next Generation of Student Affairs Professionals which focuses on the first jobs of college student educators as well as Working With Students in Community Colleges: Contemporary Strategies for Bridging Theory, Research, and Practice which provides approaches to help community college students be successful. Additional publications can be found here. ACPA books and monographs coupled with our other publications provide faculty and practitioners a library of research and scholarship to inform further research and practice.

Another major way that ACPA supports student learning, development, and success is helping college student educators across the spectrum of higher education bridge theory to practice. Some of this work is done through our acclaimed professional development events. Most of our activities are driven by curricula rooted in research. Upcoming events include

You can find additional professional development events here.

Theory to practice is also addressed in other venues including ACPA On Demand and Student Affairs Live, sponsored by ACPA. ACPA On Demand is collection of pre-recorded videos covering a variety of topics relevant to college student educators. Student Affairs Live is a weekly talk show viewed via GoogleHangouts covering critical emergent issues in higher education. Recorded versions of the shows are available the Student Affairs Live website and podcasts are available in iTunes.

As college student educators, we need to be much more intentional in how we cultivate student learning and development. While learning may happen by serendipity, we can’t rely on that. Our students – our future – are too important to rely on chance. ACPA is your go-to source for research, scholarship, and proven practices for fostering student success. Tap into the resources now!

References
ACPA (2015). Mission, vision, and values. Retrieved on April 8, 2015 from http://www.myacpa.org/values

Suskie, L. (2009). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide (2nd Ed). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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The Completion Agenda: Opportunities for College Student Educators

NOTE: This was posted as part of the ACPA President’s Blog for May 2015

Please visit ACPA On Demand for an interview of me discussing this topic.

Regardless of the news source one turns to, the completion agenda is in the headlines of the higher education section. It’s also the hot topic on the radar screens of policymakers’ and college presidents. While many higher education officials are concerned with the impact this federal policy has on higher education at the national, state, and local level, we as college student educators can actualize the opportunity the completion agenda presents. This policy provides a chance to demonstrate the impact we have on the success of college students.

In February of 2009, President Obama outlined his completion agenda with the goal of attaining the world’s highest proportion of college graduates by 2020 (Kanter, Ochoa, Nassif, & Chong, 2011). According to 2012 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States ranks 19th out of 28 countries studied (Weston, 2014). There is some work to be done on this front.

President Obama presented three reasons supporting this policy. The first was that a college degree is required for 60% of jobs. In addition to being a requirement for the majority of jobs, an individual with a college degree earns 40% more over a lifetime than those without. This is a significant financial benefit. Finally, President Obama believed that an educated citizenry was needed for an engaged democracy (Kanter, Ochoa, Nassif, & Chong, 2011).

Future of Higher Education Funding
This policy position has influenced conversations regarding state funding for higher education with a new focus on program-based budgeting. With this budgeting model state allocations are based on results, in this case completion rates, rather than the number of students enrolled, which has been the traditional model. As of January 2015, 34 states had some form of program-based budgeting for higher education funding although the percentage of overall funding based on graduation percentages does vary (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2015).

We can debate the pros and cons of this form of program-based budgeting, but it appears to be the future higher education funding model. With continued financial issues impacting colleges and universities including Louisiana State University (O’Donoghue, 2015), student affairs budgets are in jeopardy requiring vice presidents to not only advocate for more resources but also defend current resources.

At ACPA16 in Tampa, ACPA sponsored a panel of five college presidents who came up through the ranks of student affairs. These presidents included Joe Bertolino from Lyndon State College, Marybeth Cooper from Springfield College, Tom Jackson from Blackhills State University, Steve Tyrell from North Country Community College, and Karen Whitney from Clarion University. During this panel each president emphatically stated the need for college student educators to demonstrate their impact on retention and graduation. The continued that support of retention and graduation is the key to demonstrating value within a college or university.

Turning Crisis Into Opportunity
Some may view the issue of declining resources and centralized focus on retention as a crisis facing college student educators – a crisis that shifts to a financial bottom line, not students. However, a focus on retention actually centers on students and how educators can help each individual graduate. When one takes a moment to reviews the literature regarding retention and graduation, college student educators play a key role many of those success factors.

John Braxton, William Doyle, Harold Hartley, Amy Hirschy, Willis Jones, and Michael McLendon published Rethinking College Student Retention in November of 2013. (For a review of the book in the Journal of College Student Development 55(6), visit https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_college_student_development/v055/55.6.henning.html) In this text, the authors discuss their theories of retention for residential colleges and commuter institutions explaining how they tested each. The factors influencing retention in residential colleges include:

  1. Commitment to getting a degree.
  2. Commitment to attending an institution.
  3. Social integration (degree of social affiliation and congruency of beliefs, norms, and values of the community – in other words “connection” and “fit”)(antecedents include). Social integration can be deconstructed into:
    • Commitment of the institution to student welfare: Concern by the institution to the growth and development of students.
    • Community potential: Feeling connected to a group of individuals.
    • Institutional integrity: Words and actions of faculty and staff are congruence with mission and values.
    • Proactive social adjustment: Ability to adjust in a proactive manner to overcome challenges.
    • Psychosocial engagement: Amount of psychological energy students invest in social interactions with peers and their participation in extracurricular activities.
    • Ability to pay: Satisfaction with cost of attending/seeing college as a financial value.

The components in the theory of retention at commuter colleges include the following:

  1. Student entry characteristics (SES, parents education, ability, race, gender, etc.).
  2. External environment (finances, support, work, family, community).
  3. Campus environment, which includes:
    • Student characteristics interaction with campus environment (being motivated to adapt to this type of environment, motivation to graduate, and self-efficacy)
    • Organizational characteristics that foster academic and intellectual development including,
      1. Commitment of the institution to student welfare: Concern by the institution to the growth and development of students
      2. Institutional integrity: Words and actions of faculty and staff are congruence with mission and values

Upon reviewing these two theories, it’s clear that college student educators play a major role in retention. Here are just some of the roles we play:

  • We demonstrate that the institution cares.
  • We connect students with campus communities.
  • We support them as they continually adjust.
  • We create opportunities to engage.
  • We are also conduits to support the mission and values of the institution.

What Can We Do and How Can ACPA Help
First, college student educators must become familiar with retention theory. As professionals it is our responsibility to bring theory into practice. When we use theory, we build and hone our practice on research rather relying on anecdotes and ideas of what “might work.” Being familiar with theory also permits college student educators to better tell the story of our impact on student success. And, in language that faculty are familiar – research and scholarship. And perhaps more importantly, we will be able to describe the outcomes of our work in the words of university leaders and educational policy makers – retention and graduation.

The focus on completion presents college student educators with an opportunity to be more intentional in our work but to also demonstrate our impact beyond housing students, feeding students, and helping them have fun.

ACPA is here to help you leverage this opportunity. Review the research and scholarship that ACPA generates and disseminates in the Journal of College Student Development, About Campus, Developments, as well as ACPA sponsored books and monographs. Bridge theory to practice by attending a professional development institute such as the Student Affairs Assessment Institute or the Residential Curriculum Institute. Connect with colleagues doing similar work. ACPA’s state chapters, coalitions (formerly standing committees), commissions, and newly created communities of practice provide these connection opportunities.

We have an opportunity in front of us. Rather than seeing it as a crisis or obstacle, we should leverage it to demonstrate our impact, but more importantly to help students succeed. ACPA can assist you in your journey. Tap into the resources now!

 

References
Donoghue, J. (2015). LSU drafting ‘academic bankruptcy’ plan in response to budget crisis. The Times-Picayne (2015, April 22). Retrieved from http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/04/lsu_academic_bankruptcy.html

Kanter, M., Ochoa, E., Nassif, R., & Chong, F. (2011). Meeting President Obama’s 2020 college completion goal. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/meeting-president-obamas-2020-college-completion-goal.

National Conference of State Legislatures (2015, January 13). Performance-Based Funding for Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/performance-funding.aspx

Weston, L. (2014). OECD: The US has fallen behind other countries in college completion. BusinessInsider (2014, September 9). Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/r-us-falls-behind-in-college-competition-oecd-2014-9 .

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Considering Assessment as Investment

I recently wrote a post for Student Affairs Feature entitled “Considering Assessment as Investment.” What would you get on your investment in assessment?

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The Tinkertoy Postulate

This gallery contains 4 photos.

I entered the Indianapolis Marriott Ballroom on Tuesday evening, April 1st to watch the Pecha Kucha sessions at the 2014 ACPA Annual Convention. The room was packed and everyone was enjoying the fast-paced 6 minute and 40 second presentations using … Continue reading

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