What is Assessment?
The objective of all our assessment initiatives is to document
an action plan for what the student affairs advisor expects the students
to learn as a result of a particular experience and how they will
demonstrate that they have learned it. The concept is simple and
the methodologies vary, but we all use a matrix model that depicts
the process and outcomes within a timeline.
We understand that prospective students and families want to know
as much as they can about the value of their Assumption College education.
The question of whether or not student affairs is appreciated or
even recognized as a true profession rears its ugly head from time
to time. Throughout my twenty-five years in student affairs, I have
come to understand that regardless of our success in developing high
quality co-curricular programs, we will always encounter those who
assume our sole purpose is to regulate student behavior. Clarifying
our role as educators and connecting our programming to the academic
mission has to become part of our work, whether the venue is large,
small, public, private, two-year, or four. The upside to this burden
is that our purpose in the academy gets regularly reinforced as colleges
and universities scramble for even scarcer resources.
Our work generates unique awards, particularly
when students develop cognitive and practical life skills as a result
of our interaction with them. It is even more rewarding when students
are able to articulate what they have learned. Accreditation agencies
loom large as they mandate colleges and universities to establish
measurable learning outcomes, much to the chagrin of the more independently
minded members of the academy. On the other hand, this mandate presents
an ideal opportunity to create a seamless transition between traditional
classroom learning and a plethora of opportunities for educational
opportunities outside the classroom. It also allows people in student
affairs to showcase their work through the voices of students. If
students are indeed experiencing a high-quality student affairs program,
we should give them a way to demonstrate what they are learning and
how it connects to the overall mission of the institution.