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  • Using the CAS Professional Standards: Diverse Examples of Practice ed. by Needham Y. Gulley, Shannon R. Dean, Laura A. Dean
  • Heidi Levine
Using the CAS Professional Standards: Diverse Examples of Practice
Needham Y. Gulley, Shannon R. Dean, and Laura A. Dean (Editors)
Washington, DC & Fort Collins, CO: NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, ACPA – college Student Educators International, and Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, 2017, 184pages, $39.95 (hardcover)

More than thirty years following the publication of the first Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) standards in 1986, the editors of this volume provide a case study-based overview of how professionals can apply the standards in current practice. The editors intentionally invited authors able to reflect on practice at different institutional types and sizes and in different functional areas. In the thirty-plus years since the publication of the first CAS Standards, limited work has been published suggesting opportunities for related research (Creamer, 2003) and questioning to what extent and by whom the standards are used (Arminio, 2003). Arminio and Gochenauer (2009) provided a brief overview of the standards, their development, related research, and use in practice; but the most comprehensive review of the standards’ application was published only five years following the release of the first set of standards (Bryan, Winston, & Miller, 1991). This volume fills a niche in providing a thorough look at how the current CAS standards can be used to guide and improve professional practice.

Chapter 1, by current CAS executive director, Marybeth Drechsler Sharp, offers an overview of CAS’s evolution and of the standards themselves. Drechsler Sharp presents the CAS general standards as a foundation for the area-specific standards, infusing a holistic approach to thinking about student affairs work and its affects on students, and promoting cross-functional perspectives and work. In her introduction to uses of the standards, she focuses on formal self-assessment and lays out facets of assessment that will be revisited in subsequent chapters.

In chapter 2, Shannon Dean discusses using the overarching CAS general standards and learning domains to develop intended student learning outcomes. She anchors this work not only in relation to ever-increasing demands for accountability but in enhancing leaders’ ability to intentionally design programs to achieve specific student development goals. Dean also addresses the challenges and importance of engaging staff in this work, a recurring theme throughout the volume.

Chapter 3, coauthored by Tim Pierson and Onie McKenzie, looks at multiple benefits of sustained use of the CAS standards from the perspective of a senior student affairs officer (SSAO). In addition to describing how the CAS model provides the basis for regular program assessment, Pierson and McKenzie discuss the value to and importance of the SSAO in fully embracing this work, as well as speaking to some of the particular challenges and benefits (e.g., prioritization) of doing program review at smaller institutions.

Chapters 4 and 5 provide examples of division-wide uses of the CAS standards. Mary-Jeanne Raleigh and John Jones III review one regional institution’s use of the standards to help a student affairs division [End Page 137] shift from an accreditation-focused approach toward one that uses assessment of identified learning objectives to help drive strategic decision-making. Jennifer Wells addresses the process of instilling within a student affairs division a culture that embraces assessment. In both chapters, authors describe strategies to engage staff throughout the division and the connection to prioritizing student affairs work. Wells also provides concrete examples of the processes and mechanisms, including the development of working groups and utilization of the CAS self-assessment guides, used to undergird the creation of a comprehensive review process.

In chapter 6, Adrian Rodriguez and Louann Schulze focus on assessment of academic advising in a multi-campus community college context. They discuss the usefulness of the CAS model for creating a framework to identify and assess student learning outcomes, particularly considering ways to align these processes in a functional area that is housed across multiple campuses. Their recommendations include considerations of team composition, examination of how the timing allotted to the full assessment cycle needs to reflect the...


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