‘An investment in KNOWLEDGE always pays the best interest”~Ben Franklin
Dear SA Leaders,
I know you are aware of the issues we are facing. Public institutions are facing a reduction in state funds. You have pressing crisis interventions to manage daily.
I thank you for your continued dedication to SA. However, I’m writing a letter to all SA Leaders and express why investing in SA Assessment is a good idea.
SA professionals are a dedicated bunch. We serve our students in ways to better support them inside and outside the classroom. However, our academic partners and the external world often misunderstand us. Try to explain to your 87 year old grandma what you really do at the University…
SA Assessment has been around for many years, however it still does not seem to have adequate support. The structure of SA Assessment varies and there is a lack of consistency across the national stage. A 2014, Student Affairs Assessment Leaders (SAAL) survey noted that over half of respondents indicated their annual assessment budget was under $50,000.
When I first started in SA Assessment as a trained researcher, I was excited to begin investigating the impact of SA programming on learning, development and student success outcomes (e.g., retention, etc.). I was excited to translate this information in the form of reports and presentations to our colleagues, academic partners, funding agencies, donors, etc. I was also excited to help SA programs validate their awesome programs and develop action plans to improve their impact through the integration of assessment results.
I’m still excited, but as a naive first-generation scholar, I am disappointed. I am disappointed that more is required of SA Assessment. There is a strong need to provide reliable and valid evidence. The threshold, however, is lowered due to the lack of capacity we have. I am even more disappointed that there is minimal investment in what we do.
Most of us are a 1-person shop managing the various assessment and research projects. We’re going full throttle only to burn ourselves out quicker than most other SA professionals. (Well, that has not been studied per se, but may someday.) We have to become experts not just in assessment and research, but in the many topics of our diverse Divisions. We have to understand the unique aspects of prevention efforts, nuisances of advisement, critical importance of civic engagement and leadership. Further, we must understand mental health and how to engage students at all levels. This is also compounded by the fact that we have to be statistic rock stars. We must be able to lead qualitative research projects. Not to mention the many hours spent on Institutional Review Board protocols, literature reviews, technical reports, presentations and the succinct communication of these results and having to smile at all levels.
SA Leaders, I am not here to tell you how to do your job. You are the experts, but I am here to make a statement for all of my fellow SA Assessment peeps.
We need more support not just for what we do, but the financial investment in growing our offices and the consistency in those offices. Some SA Assessment offices are well resourced, while others are not, while some do not even have a formal structure. This isn’t equitable.
You are the SA Leaders and we hope that you better invest in SA Assessment.
The return on that investment is the future growth, prosperity and continuation of many of our current practices.
SA Assessment Professional
> BONUS <
Podcast With Kedrick Nicholas on Assessment of Student Programming