- Coordinating Student Affairs Divisional Assessment: A Practical Guide ed. by Kimberly Yousey-Elsener, Erin M. Bentrim, and Gavin W. Henning
Within the past decade, internal and external stake holders in higher education have increased their demands for data surrounding student learn ing. Consequently, student affairs divisions and departments have been asked to demonstrate what students are learning in the [End Page 902] co-curriculum in addition to providing metrics regarding the efficiency and effectiveness of various services. While assessment in higher education is not new, Erin M. Bentrim, Gavin W. Henning, and Kimberly Yousey-Elsener highlight the growing trend for student affairs divisions to hire and/or appoint an assessment coordinator to facilitate and support assessment efforts for the entire division (p. xv). In Coordinating Student Affairs Divisional Assessment: A Practical Guide, the editors have developed a comprehensive guide for new student affairs assessment coordinators to facilitate and sustain a culture of assessment at their institutions.
In the preface, the editors recount a brief history of the student affairs profession, assessment in higher education, and student affairs assessment and then outline of each of the 10 chapters that highlight different aspects of the assessment coordinator role. The editors state two assumptions: that those reading and using the book will already have knowledge of student development theory and data literacy, defined as the ability to write learning outcomes, design survey instruments, and analyze and interpret data. The primary focus of each chapter is on strategies for coordinating assessment and moving between the larger vision and goals of a student affairs division to department level initiatives supporting that vision.
In chapter 1, Bentrim and Henning outline the various functions of the assessment coordinator. One of the main goals of the assessment coordinator is to build capacity in the division of student affairs by increasing the assessment knowledge, skills, and attitudes of everyone in the division. The authors also describe the main roles of the assessment coordinator that serves as the framework for the rest of the book. The main roles of the assessment coordinator are creating an evidence-based culture, developing talent and knowledge, generating and disseminating knowledge, strategic planning, engaging and collaborating with stakeholders, and using technology in assessment practice.
In chapter 2, Henning focuses on the key elements in building a culture of assessment in student affairs. Overall, the key take aways from this chapter were grounding assess ment in the mission and culture of the institution, embedding assessment into activities and programs, and having a vocal and persistent leader to champion assessment across the division.
In chapter 3, Michael Christakis and Dan Bureau note the importance of developing systems and resources to support assessment work in divisions of student affairs. They argue that a strong infrastructure for assessment is built with a framework for assessment, resources (fiscal, human, financial, intellectual, and technological), and schedules and opportunities for reporting assessment. Student affairs assessment coordinators must also recognize good assessment practices in the division in addition to implementing systems that address poor assessment practice.
In chapter 4, Justin Keen reviews the logistical and administrative aspects of assessment tasks in student affairs. Organizational considerations, such as the placement of the assessment coordinator within student affairs, fiscal and human resources needed for capacity building efforts, and project planning techniques play a vital role in building a strong infrastructure for assessment.
In chapter 5, Bentrim and Ted Elling discuss the role technology plays in advancing assessment efforts. Throughout this chapter, different technological tools for assessment are described highlighting their features and potential use in student affairs assessment.
Chapter 6 authors Vicki L. Wise and Robert W. Aaron explore the role assessment coordinators have in building talent and [End Page 903] knowledge throughout the division. Beyond clarifying the divisional expectations for assessment, the authors provide strategies and resources for building familiarity with assessment terms and developing key practices for sustaining assessment activities. Formal and informal training methods are also discussed. Resource allocation and decision-making are integral processes in student affairs divisions...