Posted April 18, 2013 by Benjamin Williams 

Assessment is My Generation's Job Security

This semester, I have been fortunate enough to have an internship with union where I have been able to work with data to assess the reach of programs. I am grateful to Richard Heller, executive director for the Student/University Center, for allowing me to work with the facility and do this project.

Most of the data collection was already done by the building swiping student ID cards. The second half of the data came from surveys I did with various student leaders in the facility who had worked in campus programming. The experience has been rich and provided me great insight into the inner workings of a facility such as ours and some of the misconceptions that can come from looking at any data out of context. If you looked at our late-night programs attendance, you will see that the data shows that consistently African-American females are the largest attendees of this specific event. When you cross reference that data against those students who are living on campus, what you find is that the program is meeting its goal entirely, as providing students on campus an opportunity to have a late-night program on a Friday night that does not involve going out in Atlanta.

So why do I say then that assessment is what will constitute job security for my generation? Well because we are living in a world where education funds are tight and divisions of student affairs everywhere are experiencing the shrinking budgets that come with economic troubles. Assessment provides context for understanding what we do, and while I do not believe you can ever show in data the true impact of developing and supporting students, I believe it will be important for us to continue coming up with innovative ways to promote for our areas and provide for the students for whom we advocate and work.

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®.

Comments

Ben, Good job stating the current situation. Assessment is also sitting down with students and creating a space for conversation and reflection on the programs. And for you to be open and HEAR them. I find surveys usually incomplete for me with no way to please project my "other" or COMMENTS. I feel very flat with computer surveys - take a slice of me and disregard the rest. Assessments often takes a very narrow scope and yet provides the power for change. When assessing, my suggestion - use a variety of modalities including interviews - chatting face to face. I believe Student Affairs and institutions of higher ed need to have their compass to guide and assess what is happening and where we want to go. Technology is great and everybody can make and conduct a survey. However, is that our "North"? Do you and other new professionals want Assessment to be your Job Security? If not, change the paradigm.
Elizabeth Jane Stachowiak
jstachowiak@berklee.edu
Comment posted 04/21/2013 1:51 PM
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