Posted March 25, 2013 by Benjamin Williams 

Student Development: A Student Guide

As a current undergraduate student who was recently accepted into the master's in student affairs in higher education program at Miami University, I must say student development has been on my mind these past weeks as I have weighed options about my future. I remember the moment that I chose this path for my career, yet while the moment was huge the experience has altered me greatly.

ACUI is a part of my journey wherever my career in student affairs takes me. Starting next year, I will be a graduate assistant in the Office of Residence Life, yet I will continue my membership and involvement with ACUI because of the commitment to student development I have seen time and time again. I was a participant in I-LEAD last year, and that experience will continue to shape me as a professional and as a individual. My development has involved overcoming personal challenges, financial independence, and a commitment to a variety of positions on my campus. One of my greatest joys has been being able to serve as a conduit to facilitate other students development as members of the community.

I believe there are two important lenses from which to view student development in the union. The first is through individual experiences. I am a director for our programs board, and I work with a committee of 10 individuals. Three of my committee members were recently selected to serve on the executive board and I could not be more proud. I accept no credit other than ensuring they were prepared to take on the challenges ahead and had a strong experience base because of the opportunities my co-director and I provided them with. The representation of committee members on the board is a sign that the development processes implemented are producing high-quality, qualified individuals.

The second context to view student development is through the lens of assessment. More and more Divisions of Student Affairs find themselves with less resources and more students to serve. This is a challenge, yet with compiling data to showcase the impact on students and the value on any campus. I am fortunate to be doing a assessment internship with the University Center where I am looking at the impact student programs and leadership development have on individuals. Establishing parameters for measuring development is nearly impossible, yet I feel with a connection between academics and cocurricular experiences it becomes easier. Below I have listed what I have constructed as a context for my research on student development and that has produced relatively positive and measureable results. These categories provide a different way of looking at measuring development, considering that much of what we do comes from the experiences and it is difficult to truly measure the changes over time. I also advocate for mixed methods approaches to assessment, which is why my categories are broken down into qualitative and quantitative.

  1. Quantitative
    • Positive impact (GPA increases)
    • What process exists when GPA dips and the impact of those programs
    • Data on minority engagement and retention in leadership positions compared to general populous
    • Graduation rates for those engaged compared to general populous
     
  1. Qualitative
    • In-depth interviews at beginning and end of experience
    • Compilation of questionnaire information
     

So the question I have to ask is, how do you assess the experience of your students on campus?

Benjamin Williams

Benjamin Williams is the Associate Program Director, Student Center at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Ben manages a facility inside the Student Center; advises the Homecoming, Ramblin Nights, and Music committees for the Student Center Programs Council; and supervises six student staff in Under the Couch, a music listening space where students can perform, record music, or just study. He holds a bachelor’s in sociology from Georgia State University and a master’s from Miami University. His ACUI involvement includes serving on Regional Leadership Teams, the Education and Research Fund Program Team, and currently as one of the program leads for I-LEAD®.

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