October is Careers in Student Affairs month. In honor of that, here are a few reflections about assessment in student affairs.
All student affairs professionals use assessment, even if they don’t think so. Sometimes it is informal—observing how a program is going, thinking about consistent questions or complaints students have, appreciating alumni who let them know how much the support meant to their college career. Other times it is more formal in terms of a survey, focus group, document review, etc. All of that feeds into the how professionals move through their day and take action.
All student affairs professionals should have some working knowledge of assessment, even if assessment is not their day-to-day work. It is a valuable skill and will help them in decision making about programs, services, outcomes, and resources. The profession expects a certain level of skill as described in the ACPA/NASPA Competencies, for example. In addition, having assessment skills serves them well if they want to move up or around in their careers. Not everyone has assessment experience, so it is really valued.
Finally, I appreciate all of the student affairs professionals who influenced my life, my career, and my success. Although most of them did not talk to me about assessment specifically, we had conversations about making decisions using information. I hope that you have professionals in student affairs that have influenced your life and decision to join the profession. Pass that excitement along to others!