From the Editor: Moving Forward and Preparing to Inspire

From the Editor: Moving Forward and Preparing to Inspire

Paul Eaton
Louisiana State University

Welcome to the Winter issue of Developments (Volume 10: Issue 4). The end of a calendar year is a time of reflection and thanks, surrounded by friends, family, and colleagues in celebrations of faith, culture, community, peace, and love. A new year signals new beginnings, and as the new Editor of Developments I am looking forward to the years ahead and the many opportunities available within our profession.

This month, our editorial board is requesting your insights on Developments. We ask that you complete our readership survey. We will utilize your feedback to strengthen content, shape our strategic direction, and ensure that Developments continues to provide timely, relevant, and important scholarship for your work in the field. In the next few issues we will provide our readers with findings from our survey and how we intend to enhance the publication based on your insights.

Developments is truly a collaborative endeavor. I want to thank Amanda Suniti Niskode-Dossett, our outgoing Editor, for her strong leadership and passion for this publication. Amanda has spent many hours helping me transition into the role of Editor, and I am happy that she will be continuing with our publication as a Contributing Editor for Series and Special Projects. Amanda has been critical in expanding the role of Developments as a publication for scholarly work, in-depth analysis of trends and issues, and news from our Association leadership.

As our publication continues to grow, our editorial board has also expanded. We are happy to welcome Lynette Cook Francis from the University of Arizona to our editorial team as a Contributing Editor. Lynette will be critical in assisting our board move forward on projects that will contribute to scholarly integrity, outreach, promotion, and mapping our articles to Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs. These projects will ensure that Developments remains user-friendly across multiple learning environments, from graduate student classrooms to professional development workshops, all while contributing insights for production of new knowledge in the field.

Ensuring the best quality content is incredibly important to Developments, and we are fortunate to welcome three new copy editors to our team: Elizabeth Jach (Cornell College), Scott Wojciechowski (Gettysburg College) and Sarah Laux (University of Southern Illinois – Edwardsville). Leslie Robinson (Ohio State University) is our new Lead Copy Editor. These outstanding individuals join our continuing editorial board members: Z. Nicolazzo (Miami University of Ohio), Jaci Lindburg (University of Nebraska at Omaha), Krista Soria (University of Minnesota), Jim Love (St. Olaf College) and Teniell Trolian (University of Iowa). Our editorial team is dedicated and works collaboratively to bring you the most cutting-edge, timely, and important scholarship. I thank each of them for their dedication and service to our Association.

We can begin Inspiring Communities of Wellbeing through an intentional process of reflecting on our work and who we are as practitioners, not just individually, but collectively on our campuses, nationally, and globally. I’ll leave you with some thought-provoking questions and insights for the new year:

  • Who has inspired you, personally or professionally? How did they inspire you and are they aware they have inspired you? There is no greater time than the present to write a note or make a call telling that person your story of how they inspired you.
  • What new emergent possibilities exist for you to enhance personal and professional wellbeing in the new year?
  • How do we create a campus climate focused on true community, where our students, faculty, and staff are all committed to genuine passion for learning?
  • How are you contributing to the wellbeing and learning of our profession? Now is the time to share your experience, knowledge, and insights with our larger professional community by writing for Developments.

The winter break is a wonderful opportunity to personally reflect, and engage in conversations with family, friends, and colleagues on these and many other topics.

I look forward to our opportunity to reunite in March at our annual convention in Las Vegas. Please don’t forget to complete our readership survey. Warm wishes for a safe, restful, peaceful holiday season and New Year.

Helping International Students Connect with Peers

Helping International Students Connect with Peers

Jason E. Lane
State University of New York, Albany

The purpose of the Global Affairs column is to discuss issues pertinent to the student affairs profession that arise out of the growing interconnectedness in the world. This column will provide readers with information and insights about the changing nature of the profession and some of the factors contributing to those changes. The use of the term “globalization” is meant to describe the growing interconnection of nations, people, economies, politics, and education. The term is not meant to reflect a particular ideology or belief structure. The column will explore both the potentially good and bad aspects of a real phenomenon

When traveling abroad, there are many things that I value: experiencing the historical treasures of the world, seeing its natural beauty, learning about other cultures, and tasting new foods. But, the one thing that I value more than any of these things is the opportunity to meet folks from other countries. Whether it is simply a one-off encounter or the beginning of a valued friendship, I have learned that everyone has a story to share and offers something I could learn from them. And, if lucky, we create together a new story to share with others.

So, it was with great dismay that I read a recent study stating that many international students have a difficult time making meaningful friendships while studying in the United States. (The study can be accessed here. A summary of the article was also published in The Chronicle of Higher Education). I might have an idealistic view of what a study abroad experience should include. It is one of the great regrets of my undergraduate experience that I didn’t study abroad. It’s not that I didn’t want to; it just didn’t fit into my busy schedule of being a student leader. But I did have many friends who took such journeys, and I know that many sustain relationships from that critical period in their life. And, there was always a little part of me that was a bit jealous of those stories and the friendships they developed.

Thus, when reading this study, it was hard for me to believe that it would be possible for a large number of students to study abroad for weeks or months at a time and not be able to develop any meaningful friendships. But, that is what the data revealed.

Researchers surveyed 450 students at 10 public universities in the south and northeast, with most of the students having been in the United States for one to three years. The study, published in the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, found that 38 percent of participants had no meaningful friendships with American students (though 27 percent reported that they had three or more close relationships with American students). There were also clear differences based on the homeland of the foreign students. Students coming from English speaking western nations were the most likely to have developed robust friendship groups; students from East Asia were the most likely to report having no friends from the United States.

It is difficult to discern the exact reasons why such friendships fail to materialize. In the study, 46 percent of the students believed it was due to factors such as their own shyness or their poor English-speaking ability, and 54 percent felt the failed friendships were the fault of the American students. Campus location also seemed to have an effect, with those attending institutions in the South more likely to have developed friendships with American students than those in the northeast. The study did not reveal specific reasons for the difference, though the authors speculated, based on other research, that it could be attributed to different levels of individualism, pace of life, community orientation, and adherence to norms of politeness.

What is more important is that the findings of this study should cause student affairs practitioners to pause and ask what they can do help foster such friendships. A set of solutions could center on additional programming targeted at getting students to meet one another; but most institutions already provide a number of opportunities for American and international students to meet and learn about each other and their cultures. Instead, I think one of the things that is most important, but which many of us often avoid because we say we are too busy, is to talk with students about their experiences adjusting to life at our institutions.

For example, last fall I was teaching a class with several international students. After class one night, one of those students wanted to talk about her performance in class. She had already proven herself to be a dedicated and exceptional student, so I asked her what her concerns were. She said that she wanted to make sure she was keeping up (she was!) and if I had any suggestions for additional work for her to do over the upcoming winter break. I asked her what her plans were for the break-if she were going to go home to China or explore parts of the United States. She said neither; she was going to stay in Albany and study. I then gave her my suggested homework: close the books, explore the area, and try to meet people. My suggestion caught her by surprise, so I explained my reasoning. Academics are important, and they should remain a priority; but if all she was going to do was study while in the United States, then why come to the United States and not just stay in China? Granted the academic experiences here might have some advantage over her options in China, but the real value of studying abroad is learning about the culture and the people in a foreign country. She said she would think about it.

I had actually forgotten about this exchange until at graduation last spring. After the ceremony was over, she tracked me down and reminded me of what we discussed and told me of some of the adventures she had once she “closed the books.” She said it had transformed her experience as an international student, so much so that she is now pursuing a career in international education to help others see the benefits in the same way.

As teachers and student affairs practitioners, we often have the opportunity for such exchanges-ones that we may soon forget but that can hold great meaning for our students. I was thrilled to hear that this exchange had caused the student to think differently about her experiences studying abroad. But, the deeper meaning became more evident only after I read the study mentioned above and realized how many international students in the United States are living on our campuses but are not becoming part of our communities. In fact, when such relationships do not form, both international students and students from the United States lose out on tremendous opportunities to grow.

So, in considering my experience this past year, it reminded me of how powerful a conversation, even a brief one, can be on the lives of our students. In writing this column, my hope is to encourage others to remember this simple truth and to encourage you to remind your students, regardless of their home land, that everyone has a story to tell and that meaningful relationships and memories are often about the stories we write together.

Discussion Questions

  • How often do you take the time to talk with students about their study abroad experiences?
  • How can we better encourage domestic students to seek out friendships with international students and to see the value in such relationships?


Hegel, G. W. F. (1977). Phenomenology of spirit. (A.V. Miller, Trans.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

About the Author

Jason E. Lane is Director of Education Studies at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, associate professor of educational administration and policy studies, and a senior researcher with the Institute for Global Education Policy Studies at the State University of New York, Albany. He is member of the governing boards of the Comparative and International Education Society and the Council for International Higher Education and is an Associate of the International Association of Universities. His most recent books include Academic Leadership and Governance of Higher Education (Stylus Press), Colleges and Universities as Economic Drivers (SUNY Press), and Multi-National Colleges and Universities: Leading, Governing, and Managing International Branch (Jossey-Bass). More about the author and his research on cross-border education can be found here.

Please e-mail inquiries to Jason E. Lane.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

ACPA Annual Convention 2013

ACPA Annual Convention 2013

March 4-7, 2013; Las Vegas, Nevada

Convention Theme: ACPA 2013: Inspiring Communities of Wellbeing

ACPA is partnering with NIRSA: Leaders in Campus Recreation to collocate our associations’ annual conventions in Las Vegas. The convention theme Inspiring Communities of Wellbeing invites us to embrace grander possibilities individually and within community. In this spirit of partnership, community, and wellbeing, the 2013 ACPA Convention poses two important questions: How do we connect to the communities we touch in our work? How do we contribute to the wellbeing of these communities?

Four critical issues along with the ACPA/NASPA Professional Competencies undergird these questions and serve as the foundation for our educational curriculum. The four critical issues are advancing student learning and wellness, cultivating critical discourse, integrating intersectional approaches to identity, and transforming higher education.

The ACPA 2013 convention represents an unprecedented partnership with NIRSA. Collocation is distinct from a joint convention. While there will be several combined events during the convention (including the opening session/reception) as well as sharing of space (the exposition/exhibits area, and career services including the New C3), ACPA and NIRSA will each be holding their own conventions but with a strong collaborative spirit. Convention registrants for each association will have access to the educational sessions of both associations.

Join us in Las Vegas as scholars, practitioners, corporate partners, and students come together to inspire communities of wellbeing that advance our collective work. Educational program decisions will be made and communicated to presenters by the third week in October. Online submissions for ancillary programs are due November 5, 2012. Early registration ends January 31, 2013. Learn more online.

Paradigms for Assessing Success in Career Services

Paradigms for Assessing Success in Career Services

Jessica M. Turos
Bowling Green State University
Patrick L. Roberts
East Carolina University

Assessment is vital to the success of student services in higher education and has tremendous potential to improve and inform our practice. Furthermore, as institutions face increasing calls for transparency and accountability, career services staff members can play a critical role in demonstrating student success through a variety of internal assessments. The focus on assessment is timely because career services staff are feeling the pressure of accountability from both internal influences, such as student affairs, academic affairs, faculty, students, and external stakeholders, such as parents, alumni, employers, government agencies (Ratcliffe, 2008a). Successful assessment is multifaceted and begins with an agreement by practitioners on goals and objectives for learning. Utilizing both direct and indirect methods of measurement, assessment can provide immediate feedback and generate information for long-term decision making1. Additionally, a continuous examination of the process can lead to key insights along the way (Palomba & Banta, 1999; Suskie, 2004). Through this article, the authors will discuss assessment challenges for career services practitioners; opportunities for career services staff members to perform assessment initiatives; promising career services assessment practices, including career courses, workshops, advisory boards, and benchmarks; career services staff members as practitioners and scholars; and conclusions and discussion questions.

Assessment Challenges in Career Services

Practicing outcomes-based assessment in career services can be particularly challenging when data requests from various campus constituents have focused historically on the following: (a) demographics, (b) satisfaction, and (c) needs (Greenberg & Harris, 2006). While demographic data allow career services practitioners to identify participation levels for various programs and services by groups, these data provide limited information about why students participated in the programs and services or what they learned from the experience. Gathering satisfaction data is another common assessment method for career services. However, it still provides an incomplete view. Why was the career program helpful? What did students learn from their interactions with career services staff members? These questions often are left unanswered.

Career services practitioners also use needs assessment to gain an understanding of student interest. While needs assessment can provide helpful information from a student perspective, Greenberg and Harris (2006) note this type of assessment “is not necessarily an indication that they would use the resource or attend the program if offered” (p. 20).

Another challenge career services professionals face is documenting student success. One of the greatest misnomers in higher education is that job placement is the responsibility of career services offices. As an integral component of the educational experience, we believe that teaching job searching skills is far more valuable to students than merely placing them in jobs. As compared to placement rates, job searching skills can be measured in terms of knowledge acquisition. Moreover, “determining the employment status of students upon graduation is an area that is both difficult and controversial” (Greenberg & Harris, 2006, p. 21). Part of this debate is the question of how career service offices are measured in terms of effectiveness. Are decisions based on the number of students who get jobs or the numbers of students who are served through individual and group appointments? Is it fair to expect career services staff members to deliver the educational component to students, but be evaluated by a different standard? Further, the question of placement rates cannot account for situations beyond employment. For example, what happens if a student obtains a job, but is underemployed? What transpires if someone gets a job, but then is laid off shortly after starting and does not know how to search for a new job? What ensues when a student works with staff from the career center, but has barriers to obtaining employment, such as a felony, lack of work experience, or speech challenges? Perhaps a more informative measure is to evaluate students’ job seeking skills rather than placement rates.

Assessment Opportunities in Career Services

According to Ratcliffe (2008a), “A major challenge for career services practitioners is how to document excellence in our contributions to student learning; how to show the value of our programs and services; and how to be accountable to our diverse stakeholders” (p. 43). By simply shifting the way in which we gather information about student learning, we can move away from indirect measures of assessment (questionnaires, evaluations, surveys, etc.) to more robust methods of assessment, such as portfolios and document analysis.

At Bowling Green State University, Career Center staff members help students evaluate their resumes by providing a resume rubric. With this rubric students are able to examine various components of their resumes and identify strategies to enhance their job search document. In a way, students are conducting their own document analysis, by using the resume rubric to assess what they learned from their conversations with career advisors and readings of job search preparation materials. Conducting a more formal document analysis by staff members would be best. For example, career services practitioners should examine to what extent students learned how to communicate accomplishments from a work experience in a concise format using action words in their resumes. Practitioners could do this by comparing the students’ original resumes to the new resumes created after their consulting appointments. However, due to time and resource constraints variations on direct assessment, such as the resume rubric example, can still provide powerful data. The key is for career services practitioners to be intentional about the data they are seeking.

Promising Practices

A growing trend for career services offices is to focus on outcome measures for assessment aligning with their offices’ goals (Ratcliffe, 2008b). This trend for assessing student learning aligns with the press for accountability, and it relates to the focus of assessment on continuous improvement. Assessing student learning in career services can be done in a variety of ways (Greenberg & Harris, 2006) including focusing on measuring outcomes and services in career courses, workshops, and advisory boards.

Career Courses. Career courses are powerful learning tools. Jessie Lombardo, Senior Career Counselor at Buffalo State College, teaches a career planning course designed to educate students about the career development process. Lombardo (personal communication, September 13, 2011) noted:

Students reported a significant increase in self-knowledge—namely, their interests, values, skills, and personality traits and how they relate to choosing a career. Also, they reported being better prepared to set goals and make decisions as a result of taking this course.

For career courses, students can be tested on the material covered using a direct assessment approach. Additionally, there can be evaluative assignments including job search materials and performance assessments, such as mock interviews, all of which are direct assessment methods.

Workshops. Career services professionals also can assess student learning from workshops. For example, after an interview workshop, students can be asked to identify key concepts, such as what the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) model stands for and how it can be used during the interview process. Additionally, career services staff members can assess learning that occurs from a career consultation about interviewing by conducting a mock interview and observing any improvements in communicating information about experience and accomplishments. While these are time intensive approaches, using a sampling technique such as availability sampling in high traffic areas of an institution (quad, union, dining halls) is sometimes more feasible. In fact, some assessment software provides the ability to utilize hand held devices and applications for cell phones or tablets. This new approach can get students curious, excited, and engaged in providing valuable feedback.

A primary function of student conduct programs is to foster learning and development among students. Many conduct offices have affirmed this educational purpose but still have not determined the extent to which it is being fulfilled. A comprehensive assessment plan based on clear and measureable learning and development outcomes is one step toward addressing this issue. An outcomes-based approach to assessment can provide conduct offices with much needed evidence regarding student learning and development. Additionally, this approach can enhance the educational experiences for students who interact with the office by promoting a greater degree of intentionality in program design and administration. Finally, professionals must consider the unique mission, culture, and programming structure of the conduct office for the assessment to be successful.

Advisory Boards. The potential impact of career services on an institution’s stakeholders has created a demand for the use of advisory boards to assess and evaluate employer needs and services currently offered. These boards often consist of a mixture of constituents, such as employers, students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff, or targeted groups. The most important aspect of any type of advisory boards is that members are users and invested in the services being offered by a career center. Schuh, Upcraft, and Associates (2001) suggest these qualities allow advisory board members to “interact with and relate to their peer consumers frequently and [they] are thus in a position to represent views beyond their own about the quality of, appropriateness of, and satisfaction with career center services” (p. 374). Advisory boards can be useful in a variety of ways, especially as an option to represent the needs of the many different types of stakeholders invested in the success of career services. Another benefit is that they can serve as an immediate, in-house pilot group to test programming, marketing materials, and other ideas before fully releasing the concept to the campus community.


Another promising practice for career services is the use of benchmarks. Benchmarking provides a point of reference for how an institution is doing in comparison to its peers. According to Greenberg and Harris (2006), “acquiring assessment data on client needs and satisfaction, employment outcomes, student learning, program review, and so forth is important and helpful; however, information in a vacuum has limited use” (p. 23). Fortunately for career services, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) created professional standards that career services offices can use (see NACE, 2009). Additionally, there are standards identified by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) related to career services (see CAS, 2012). NACE also gathers data from a variety of surveys of employers and career services professionals that can be used for benchmarking purposes.

Career Services Practitioners as Scholars and Researchers

Assessment informs our practice and can contribute to the knowledge base of our field. Research in career services is achievable, and it does not have to significantly add to our workload. Career services practitioners simply need to identify research questions to guide them in examining issues they see in their everyday work. For example, to examine students’ perceptions of their learning through on-campus jobs, Turos (2009) created and disseminated an online survey in which student employees self-reported their learning on a variety of outcomes. While it can be overwhelming at first, conducting assessment research by identifying the right questions when assessing and evaluating career services will not only inform our departments, institutions, and field, but it also can produce valuable information for the future.

Too often career services practitioners conduct great assessments, but they do not take the time to share the results on a broader scale. Since career services practitioners already gather demographic data, this may be one area to begin asking questions. According to Schuh, Upcraft, and Associates (2001), the “careful examination and analysis of these summary data can lead to helpful and even startling conclusions with significant implications for service delivery” (p. 367). For example, an annual assessment report of a mid-sized, state university based on demographic questions (Lombardo, 2011) revealed several key implications for future service delivery and areas of improvement:

  • Although the ratio of women to men enrolled at the university was approximately 60% to 40%, women were more likely to seek career counseling services in a ratio of 73% to 27%.
  • Approximately 40% of counseling sessions were conducted with business or education majors even though these academic programs only accounted for less than 25% of total enrollment.

These examples show that even though demographic data are sometimes overlooked, such data can be used as valuable resources for longitudinal studies on specific subgroups and could be used to target populations that might not traditionally take advantage of career services.


In today’s challenging economic times, career services must show effectiveness and accountability. Placement rates are only one small piece of a much larger assessment picture in career services. Although placement rates, like retention, will always be targeted in higher education, the contributions of career services are more complex than placement numbers. In order to remain relevant, career services must be seen as both a service as well as an educational component of a student’s collegiate experience. Assessment of career services must incorporate goals to identify effective programming that encourages student development complemented by services that improves employability. Ultimately, career professionals are not accompanying students when they submit their applications, interview, or accept a position. It follows that, the paradigm of assessment for career services of asking, “What are our placement rates?” should be more appropriately stated as “How do we encourage a student’s continued career success?”

Discussion Questions

  • What assessment projects are you working on that could be turned into an educational piece reaching a larger audience (e.g., conference presentation, journal article)?
  • How has assessment impacted your institution, your office, and your position?
  • What assessment trends have you seen at your institution?
  • How can assessment data be used to support career services programs, services, and learning outcomes?
  • What challenges does your institution, department, or office face when collecting assessment data?


1. “Direct measures of learning require students to display their knowledge and skills as they respond to the instrument itself….Indirect methods such as surveys and interviews ask students to reflect on their learning rather than to demonstrate it” (Palomba & Banta, 1999, pp. 11-12).


Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. (2012). The role of career services and CAS standards and guidelines (pp. 139-155). CAS professional standards for higher education (8th ed.).Washington, D.C.: Author.

Greenberg, R., & Harris, M. B. (2006). Measuring up: Assessment in career services. National Association of Colleges and Employers Journal, 18-24.

National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). (2009). Professional standards for colleges and university career services. In NACE principles for professional conduct. Bethlehem, PA; Author.

Lombardo, J. (2011). Annual assessment report. Buffalo: State University of New York College at Buffalo.

Palomba, C. A., & Banta, T. W. (1999). Assessment essentials: Planning, implementing, and improving assessment in higher education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ratcliffe, S. (2008a). Demonstrating career services success: Rethinking how we tell the story. National Association of Colleges and Employers Journal, 40-44.

Ratcliffe, S. (2008b). Developing the career services story: An overview of assessment strategy. National Association of Colleges and Employers Journal, 41-47.

Schuh, J. H., Upcraft, M. L., & Associates (2001). Assessment practice in student affairs: An applications manual. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Suskie, L. (2004). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide. Bolton, MA: Anker.

Turos, J. M. (2009). Learning while earning: Assessing student employee learning. National Student Employment Association Journal, X(1), 11-20.

About the Authors

Jessica M. Turos is the Interim Director of the Career Center at Bowling Green State University. She is a directorate member of the Commission for Assessment and Evaluation.

Please e-mail inquiries to Jessica M. Turos.

Patrick L. Roberts is a career counselor at East Carolina University. He received his master’s degree in student personnel administration from Buffalo State College.

Please e-mail inquiries to Patrick L. Roberts.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Celebrating 40 Years of Title IX

Celebrating 40 Years of Title IX

Racheal L. Stimpson
Alamance Community College/National Assessment of Student Conduct Adjudication Processes Project
University of Nebraska-Omaha

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, which bars sexual discrimination at institutions of education. In April 2011, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued a Title IX policy clarification, also known as the Dear Colleague letter. With the anniversary and the OCR “Dear Colleague” letter, Title IX is once again thrust into the forefront of higher education. To commemorate the anniversary of this important educational legislation, I discuss the history of Title IX followed by current and future challenges.

History of Title IX

Title IX mandates:

No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid (Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972).

President Nixon signed Title IX into law effective July 1, 1972, forever changing the landscape of higher education. Title IX is most widely known as legislation providing equality for women athletics; however, Title IX extends beyond sports encompassing 10 aspects of education: Access, Athletics, Career Education, Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students, Employment, Learning Environments, Math and Science, Sexual Harassment, Standardized Testing, and Technology ( 2012). Additionally, Title IX does not protect equality only for women in education; rather, Title IX protects equality for men and women in education, including students, faculty, and staff.

Bernice Sandler, dubbed the “Godmother of Title IX” by the New York Times, initiated the effort for the existence of Title IX in 1969. Sandler experienced sex discrimination while searching for a full-time faculty position, and she was unsure of where to turn or who would listen. Two years prior to Sandler’s experience, Executive Order 11246, which prohibits employment discrimination by federal contractors based on race, color, religion, or national origin, was amended to include the prohibition of sex discrimination. Sandler, with the assistance of the Women Equity Action League (WEAL), filed the first complaint based on sex discrimination under Executive Order 11246. This complaint was filed as a class action and as a result, Sandler set forth securing women’s stories of sex discrimination in higher education (Sandler, 1997).

Between Sandler, WEAL, various other organizations, such as the National Organization for Women (NOW), and individuals, more than 250 violations of Executive Order 11246 were filed. However, these charges were not enough to mandate enforcement of the Executive Order. Representative Martha Griffiths spoke to Congress to urge change to take place. Shortly after, Representative Edith Green was encouraged to hold Congressional Hearings on the matter, and, after much deliberation, she proceeded to hold those hearings. After days of testifying before Congress, Sandler was asked to join a congressional sub-committee charged with examining sex discrimination in education. Title IX was initially proposed as a result of the sub-committee work, as part of larger higher education legislation, and it was resolved to create a new title to address gender issues in education (Sandler, 1997). This new legislation was co-authored by Rep. Green and Rep. Patsy Takemoto Mink (the first minority woman in Congress) and was renamed The Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002 (Ruth, 2008). Overseen by the OCR, Title IX has endured several policy interpretations, seen numerous lawsuits challenging its interpretations and enforcement, and many challenges as to the need for its existence.

Current and Future Challenges

For many college administrators, one of the most current issues related to Title IX is the OCR Dear Colleague letter released in April 2011. The Dear Colleague letter was a policy clarification issued by the Department of Education for education administrators at the K-12 and higher education levels. This clarification focused on the sexual harassment portion of Title IX and intended to aid administrators in enforcing Title IX, as well as inform faculty, staff, and students of their rights under Title IX. The Dear Colleague letter provides information, also, as to how OCR enforces and reviews compliancy. At the center of this letter are several key points:

  • Institutions must investigate immediately once aware (or should reasonably be aware) of sexual violence
  • Institutions must stop sexual violence and/or harassment and protect individuals, prevent the sexual violence/harassment from occurring again, and address any effects on the individuals as a result of the sexual violence/harassment
  • Institutions must use a preponderance of evidence in the grievance process (i.e., student conduct hearings)
  • An institution’s grievance procedure must be publicized and include opportunity for all parties to present evidence and witnesses as well as an opportunity to appeal
  • Both parties must be notified of the grievance outcome (U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, 2011)

There are many within higher education who applaud the OCR’s directives for procedural reforms (see Women in Sports Foundations and Association for Title IX Administrators ) while other groups, such as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), question freedom of speech rights and ponder if there is a loss of due process. Additionally, there continue to be lawsuits filed under Title IX focusing on the sexual harassment component. There are current investigations ongoing at Duke, Yale, Princeton, Harvard Law School, and the University of Virginia, to name a few. The outcomes of these cases could have huge implications for higher education professionals as it relates to Title IX compliance.

Closely linked to issues of sexual harassment are cyberbullying and/or cyberstalking (1) on college campuses. Due to several high profile incidents that resulted in student deaths, new state laws (see New Jersey Education Association) addressing cyberbullying and cyberstalking are beginning to emerge. With increased technology, there are new ways to discriminate and harass. Consequently, Title IX amendments and policy clarifications will have to continue to evolve to protect and educate faculty, staff, and students in higher education.

Despite the near ubiquitous discussion and focus on the April 2011 Dear Colleague letter and sexual harassment, there are other pertinent contemporary issues connected with Title IX. Many detractors of Title IX argue that men are losing opportunities in education and athletics in order to make the playing field level for women. Others suggest Title IX does little to promote equity but instead discriminates against men, particularly when it concerns athletics. Specifically, there are those who suggest that, by bringing in more women’s sports, it creates a lack of opportunity for men who do not play football and/or basketball; in essence, the argument is that Title IX operates as a quota system (National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, 2008). Given the contentious nature of many of these issues, the future more than likely holds additional lawsuits like those filed by the National Wrestling Association in 2003 challenging Title IX (AAUW, n.d.).

Complicating many of the issues facing Title IX is the continued polarization of American politics. Under the Obama administration, the Department of Education reversed a 2005 policy clarification allowing institutions to use a survey to determine women’s interest in sports, which fulfilled one of the three prong requirements to ensure gender equality in athletics (Sander, 2010). With this reversal in athletic enforcement, there could be future changes for institutions to implement, and institutions will have to bear the financial burden of implementing these changes. Parties with interests in gender equality will need to monitor OCR’s change in enforcement of Title IX related to intercollegiate sports to be sure that those changes are not detrimental to women’s or men’s college sports or that the gains in equality that have been achieved are lost.

No one knows for certain what the future of Title IX will be. There are many challenges that will face Title IX in the future. Some individuals argue that we have achieved equity in education and there is no longer a need for Title IX and have, in fact, suggested abolishing Title IX. It is important to understand that 40 years ago, Title IX was created to provide equality for men and women in education, and though it may go through iterations, it has proven itself beneficial for the greater good of education in the United States.

Discussion Questions

  • How does your institution educate faculty, staff, and students on Title IX?
  • What are your institution’s policies on cyberstalking?
  • What are some ways to increase faculty, staff, and student knowledge of Title IX (and institutional) policies?


1. Although there is not a universal definition of cyberstalking (Lockyer, 1999), commonly, cyberbullying is in reference to individuals under the age of 18 who experience online bullying. Cyberstalking refers to online harassment and threats experienced by individuals 18 and older (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2011).


AAUW. (n.d.). Legal Advocacy Fund Cases National Wrestling Coaches Association, et al. v. United States Department of Education. Retrieved from

Lockyer, B. (1999). 1999 Report on Cyberstalking: A New Challenge for Law Enforcement and Industry. Retrieved from:

National Conference of State Legislatures. (2011). State Cyberstalking, Cyberharassment and Cyberbullying Laws. Retrieved from:…

National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education. (2008) Title IX at 35 Executive Summary: Beyond the Headlines A Report of the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education. Retrieved from

New Jersey Education Association (2010). Anti-bullying. Retrieved from

Ruth, J. E. (2008). Patsy T. Mink Papers at the Library of Congress. Retrieved from

Sander, L. (April 20, 2010) Education Department Nixes Bush-Era Policy on Title IX Compliance. Retrieved from:

Sandler, B.R. (1997). Sexual harassment. About women on campus, 6(2), 35-36.

Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972. 20 U.S.C. § 1681 Retrieved from (2012). History of Title IX. Retrieved from:

United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (April 4, 2011). Dear Colleague Letter. Retrieved from…

Women in Sports Foundations and ATIXA. (2012). Retrieved from

About the Author

Racheal Stimpson is currently a consultant for NASCAP and teaches Women’s Studies for Alamance Community College. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies from Virginia Tech, a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from UNC Greensboro, and a B.A. in English from Elon University. She has more than 10 years of experience in various areas of higher education including student activities, orientation, judicial affairs, academic affairs, research, and grants. She has authored several journal articles and a book chapter. She received the Research and Scholarship Award from ACPA’s Standing Committee for Women in 2009.

Please e-mail inquiries to Racheal Stimpson.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Five Innovative Technologies for Student Affairs Assessment

Five Innovative Technologies for Student Affairs Assessment

Nathan K. Lindsay
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Jesse A. Riggs
Calvary Baptist College

Conducting assessment in student affairs can be a challenging and inefficient process, making it imperative for student affairs professionals to use appropriate methods and technologies. When student affairs professionals use an overabundance of paper and pencil surveys, survey fatigue among respondents and data entry errors can cause significant problems. To combat these challenges, a number of innovative technological options are available for collecting data from students, parents, faculty, and staff. These include clicker technology, personal digital assistants (PDAs), digital recorders, optimal mark read (OMR) scanners, and online surveys. Each technology has its own specific purposes and strengths, and those in student affairs can be more effective by combining these tools in more strategic and intentional ways. As demonstrated by several examples that have been used at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), traditional paper-based survey instruments can be supplemented and enriched by each of these other data collection methods.

As outlined in Higher Education and the Digital Divide by Duderstadt, Atkins, and Van Houweling (2002), it is hard to overestimate the impact that technology has had on colleges and universities. In response to demands to create more diverse learning experiences, including online and distance learning opportunities, more faculty and staff are using technologies to connect to students and to one another in innovative ways. Likewise, as higher education experiences a shift toward technology-based learning, “the use of technology will be increasingly common in the development of assessment projects in the future” (Schuh, 2009, p. 244). Methods for assessment need to be planned and communicated clearly as technology integration shapes the road ahead. As Bresciani, Zelna, and Anderson (2004) point out, “Carefully considering your options by reflecting on what it is that you want to measure and how you can gather the best evidence is vital to the success of your work” (p. 25).

With the integration of technology that allows for multiple forms of data gathering across departments and divisions, the overall picture that is painted can be expanded; what may begin as wallet-size snapshots can become a full-scale, 360-degree view of the overall campus climate.

The need to increase the clarity of higher education’s vision as it pertains to assessment is, according to Keeling, Underhile, and Dungy (2008), “driven by two forces: external demands for accountability and internal commitments to improvement” (p. 1). These driving forces demand a more holistic and efficient approach to assessment that can be facilitated by the creative use of technology. By using several types of technology to gather data, assessment initiatives can reach audiences and events that were otherwise inaccessible. Such technologies also help student affairs professionals get out of the rut of always doing the same types of assessments.

The first innovative technology we will mention are clickers, which are becoming popular on many campuses across the country. The immediate feedback possible with clickers enhances the learning experience in workshops and classrooms by fostering more interaction, humor, and student inquiries, and the data and responses generated can be saved at the end of the session for later analysis. Several companies provide clicker technology and services, although the company, TurningPoint Technologies, seems to be gaining market share due to its seamless interaction with PowerPoint. Clickers have been effective in several student-based programs at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), including new student orientation and student staff training. They have been used, also, for various division-wide meetings to familiarize staff with the ease of use of this technology.

There is a fairly large initial cost for acquiring the clickers (approximately $30-40/clicker) and the receivers (approximately $100/receiver), with clickers obviously being the larger expense because one is needed for each attendant. Other drawbacks for clickers are that clicker use can require more time than paper and pencil surveys, and individual clickers can disappear over time as a result of theft or carelessness. Some colleges and universities have begun to require that students purchase their own clickers, which can be used in all of their classes and workshops at the institution.

As a second option, Personal Digital Assessments (PDAs), such as iPods, iPhones, or other smartphones, are convenient tools for gathering student and attendee feedback immediately following events. PDAs essentially take an electronic survey and make it mobile, allowing for their use at any location, whether from the lobby outside an event to a busy sidewalk or intersection on campus. At UNCW, we have used iPods to conduct “60-second surveys” for the Career Center and to solicit feedback regarding numerous campus workshops and events. Students like iPods and sometimes even think that we are handing them out, but when they find out that we are just conducting surveys they are still willing to participate.

Depending on the software platform, data can be accessed immediately after the PDA is synced with a computer. PDAs are relatively inexpensive (approximately $70-$300), easily portable, and widely compatible with computer survey software. Some computer expertise may be needed to ensure optimum performance, and the qualitative data that can be acquired are limited, though this limitation can be augmented through the use of digital recorders. Other challenges that can arise are short battery life and the small screen size, making it important to purchase PDAs that are accessible for students with disabilities.

As a third versatile and mobile option for collecting data, digital voice recorders allow one to capture open-ended responses in focus groups around campus. Digital voice recorders provide an ability to concentrate on interviews or focus groups without having to worry about recording all comments and allow for direct quotations for reports, presentations, and articles. These recorders have been very useful at UNCW as we have listened to student veterans on campus explain their needs, challenges, and ideas for improvement. The recorders cost $50-$200, typically, and the recordings can be directly uploaded to a computer. Other options on the devices include adjustable listening speeds and index marks that can be placed in the recordings. The challenge with recordings is that transcribing the full text can require extensive time, and the voice quality and clarity sometimes result in missed data.

In situations where extensive quantitative data are desired, the OMR scanner is a good approach to collecting data from bubble sheets. Particularly useful when asking multiple choice/answer questions of participants, the scanners are fast and accurate, eliminating errors and time spent on data entry. Disadvantages include the high costs for OMR hardware, software, and forms, as well as limited customization options. It is also difficult to collect qualitative data on such surveys. Scanner prices vary according to specific features, such as whether they read forms that are one or two sided or whether they can recognize both pencil and pen. At UNCW, the OMR scanner has been very useful in collecting bubble sheet data that examined issues regarding our students’ substance abuse.

The fifth technological option, online surveys, is perhaps the most common technological method for assessment, whether they are sent via home-grown systems, Survey Monkey, or other purchased systems. At UNCW, web surveys conducted through Campus Labs (formerly StudentVoice) software have enabled the widespread collection of student participation trends, satisfaction, benchmarking, and learning outcomes data across campus. By using CampusLabs, links to web surveys are easy to send out to large numbers of recipients all at once via email, and the data are typically available in real-time once a survey is submitted. The software also keeps track of who has responded to the survey, reduces number crunching, and allows for easy cross-tab analyses and cut-and-paste tables and graphs. The cost for online platforms, such as Campus Labs, varies by institutional size. Though easy to use, web surveys can suffer from low response rates and self-selection biases. These can be offset by offering incentives for completing surveys, such as gift cards or drawings for prizes. Efforts to show how data are being used to make improvements on campus (e.g., “We’ve Heard Your Voice” initiative) can enhance student motivation as well.

The benefits of using these five technologies in tandem with one another are extensive. By using a combination of these tools, both quantitative and qualitative data can be solicited from students in a variety of locations and methods. By capturing rich student data that are reliable and valid, staff and administrators can be more attuned to the opinions and needs of the student population. Also, time spent on manual data entry can be reduced, removing both entry errors and staff fatigue.

Using these technologies has been crucial in the development of a “culture of learning” and a “culture of assessment” at UNCW. To facilitate greater technology use, staff training has been conducted both individually and collectively. Through widespread staff participation, technologies have been used to gather significant data at UNCW on such areas as community standards, family events, summer programming, and student veterans, in particular. By using a combination of online quantitative assessment and digitally recorded qualitative assessment, services and programs offered to military students at UNCW have been significantly enhanced. Such assessments are being used to provide a seamless transition for active duty and student veterans, allowing their time at UNCW to be one of academic achievement and immersion into the campus culture.

In summary, assessment is an ongoing process vital to the growth and improvement of any university. Through various technologies, the satisfaction, needs and learning outcomes of students can be assessed easily and accurately, allowing administrators to make the most of tight budgets by delivering targeted responses to university concerns and goals. Although these tools can often be expensive, funding for technology can be solicited from across the division/university and through available grants. Given their many potential positive outcomes, we have found that they are well worth the investment.


Bresciani, M. J., Zelna, C. L., & Anderson, J. A. (2004). Assessing student learning and development: A handbook for practitioners. Washington, D.C.: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

Duderstadt, J., Atkins, D., & Van Houweling, D. (2002). Higher education in the digital age. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Keeling, R., Wall, A., Underhile, R., & Dungy, G. (2008). Assessment reconsidered. USA: ICSSIA.

Schuh, J. (2009). Assessment methods for student affairs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Discussion Questions

  • How does the use of technology enhance assessment initiatives in student affairs?
  • In what situations would each of the five technologies be most appropriate?
  • What are some of the pros and cons associated with the use of each of these technologies?

About the Authors

Nathan K. Lindsay, PhD, is the Assistant Vice Provost for Assessment at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is also the former Director of Student Life Assessment at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Please e-mail inquiries to Nathan K. Lindsay.

Jesse A. Riggs is the Director of Institutional Research at Calvary Bible College.

Please e-mail inquiries to Jesse A. Riggs.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Voting Legislation Impacting College Students: A System of Increased Integrity or Barriers?

Voting Legislation Impacting College Students: A System of Increased Integrity or Barriers?

Jeffrey C. Sun
University of North Dakota

By the time this column appears online, the 2012 elections will likely dominate our television advertisement space, nightly news coverage, and campus debates. Given the timing, I thought an election focus would be an appropriate topic for this issue.

College students are not apathetic when it comes to election participation: a recent report from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (“CIRCLE”) at Tufts University indicated that college students have been voting in general elections at steadily increasing rates since 2000 (CIRCLE, 2011). For instance, in 1996, approximately 70% of enrolled college students were registered voters, and, of those registered voters, slightly more than 70% voted in the general election. Let’s fast forward to 2008: in that year, similar to 1996, approximately 70% of enrolled college students had registered to vote by the 2008 election with 87% of the registered students voting in the 2008 election (CIRCLE, 2011).

Several events might have contributed to the increased participation of college students in elections. For example, in 1996 the Washington Higher Education Secretariat, an organizational body representing Chief Executive Officers of national higher education associations (including ACPA), launched the National Voter Registration Project. Since 1996, that project has led national campaigns to encourage student participation in elections (Washington Higher Education Secretariat, 2012). Not long after the launch of the National Voter Registration Project, the Higher Education Amendment of 1998, which reauthorized the Higher Education Act, required Title IV recipient institutions to make a good faith effort to distribute voter registration forms1 to each degree and certificate seeking student in attendance2. In addition, social media appeared to capture many college students’ attention about contemporary political issues and the opportunity for change through voting (Kushin & Yamamoto, 2010; Page, 2011). Further, nonprofit organizations such as Rock the Vote continued their work as developers of marketing campaigns that captured the youth’s attention and generated their interest in election activities (Rock the Vote, 2012).

Certainly, multiple groups’ actions likely paved the way for the increases in college student participation in elections for nearly the past 20 years. Indeed, many advocates of civic engagement and leadership would like to see even greater increases in college student participation rates3. Nonetheless, various pundits and politicians suggest that recent legislation in many states may create significant access barriers for college students to vote.

Potential Voting Barriers for College Students

After questions of reported voting irregularities in the 2000 election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (“HAVA”). HAVA brought election administration reform by requiring more consistency among states, improving voting technology, and mandating more accurate voter registration data. Further, it mandated an identification requirement; yet, like many laws, the unintended and initially unstated consequences became more apparent to many observers with the passing of time. Following HAVA, states began considering, and in some cases actually passing, bills with strict requirements on what citizens must do in order to vote within the state. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University (Weiser, & Norden, 2011, 2012 ), state legislators among 41 states have collectively introduced more than 180 bills placing further restrictions on voting since 2011. Below, I will discuss some of the legislation’s key components and explain how they present potentially significant burdens on college students.

Voter Registration

Eligibility. States generally indicate that voting eligibility and registration depends on the individual’s domicile. College students may designate their college residence as a place of domicile so long as the student does not maintain an active voter registration elsewhere.

In 1979, the U. S. Supreme Court affirmed that a residence hall address may qualify as an official place of domicile for voting purposes. In affirming a trial court’s decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a state cannot require an otherwise eligible voter to express intention to remain in the community after college graduation as a condition to using one’s college residence hall as a place of domicile (see Symm v. U.S., 1979). A state may, however, require that an individual declare that the college residence hall represent the student’s official domicile and forgo past addresses such as a parent’s home or other last reported address. As a very practical matter, this declaration change may impact a student’s scholarship if it is conditioned on the place of domicile or a county home as a qualifier for the scholarship award. In addition, some auto insurance plans may require stated domicile for coverage under a parent’s plan and may indicate that both parties must use the same address or fall within a certain location for insurance calculation purposes. College students may wish to consider these and related factors before deciding to declare place of domicile.

Registration documentation. Many states now require Proof of Citizenship, such as a birth certificate4, as well as photo identification to process voter registration. At present, the laws appear constitutional, but college students may not have the proper documentation readily accessible. According to a Brennan Center report (Gaskins, & Iyer, 2012), approximately 7% of survey respondents drawn from a random sample of 987 voting-age U.S. citizens reported that they did not have a readily accessible document demonstrating citizenship. That percentage increases when one examines data of individuals with lower income levels. In addition, 11% of respondents indicated that they did not have government-issued photo identification, which is a prerequisite to voter registration in some states. The Institute estimated that the figure equated to approximately more than 21 million people in the U.S. who fall into the category of not having a proper government-issued photo identification (Gaskins, & Iyer, 2012). Accordingly, these increased requirements may reduce the likelihood that individuals complete the process and file the registration paperwork—especially since several states require multiple weeks of registration processing and clearance before one is eligible to vote.

Registration Periods. Several states have closed the window for voter registration, including prohibiting registration on the day of an election. These limits require voters to plan significantly in-advance and ostensibly changes access to voting. Oddly enough, as technology has expedited the processing of voter registration, selected states have placed processing time as the principal justification for closing the voter registration period to an earlier date. For college students, the most significant registration barrier is preregistration limits. Some states such as North Carolina have considered ending preregistration of 17-year olds. At present, many of these states allow preregistration of 17-year olds, but that eligibility may change. The current preregistration policies permit 17-year olds to file for voter registration in their home state prior to leaving for college. If these policies are changed, a resident of North Carolina who attends school in Connecticut, may only register to vote within a prescribed number of days prior to turning 18-years old and the inter-state registration may present another obstacle for that college student in terms of obtaining and processing the voter registration card.

Third party registration campaigns. In several states, including Florida, Illinois, and Texas, state legislators passed laws placing obstacles on third party registration groups that organize voter registration drives within the state. In these states, if a student organization wanted to conduct a voter registration drive, the organization and at least one representative are typically required to register with the state. In some instances, the law mandates a listing of all individuals working in the voter registration drive and requires participants to attend a training session. Further, the laws indicate a prescribed number of days that the organization must submit collected registration cards. In at least two states, violators are subject to fines and civil actions.

These barriers are not necessarily constitutional. A case from the Eleventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals addressed such a challenge. In that case, a group affiliated with a Black fraternity participated in a voter registration drive and mailed in the registration cards in one large packet. The state rejected the cards because an official voting registrar did not collect the cards; yet, the state would have processed the cards had the group simply mailed each card separately. The federal appellate court ruled that Georgia’s rejection of the voter registration cards conflicted with provisions of the National Voting Rights Act, a federal law intended to assist citizens with the voting process (see Charles H. Wesley Education Foundation, Inc. v. Cox, 2005), thus striking the state law.

In light of these laws and the case presented above, student organizations should check their respective state laws before conducting a voter registration drive. Several states such as Michigan and Minnesota have pending bills or state constitutional referenda with similar requirements. Some states may have newly enacted laws, in which case organizations should check when the law becomes effective and follow the required steps. Students can often find the requirements outlined in each jurisdiction’s Secretary of State’s website.


Restrictions on early voting. Twelve states have entertained or passed laws restricting the timing or process required in order to participate in early voting and voting by absentee ballot. For instance, a Georgia law reduced the number of days for early voting from 45 days to less than 30 days. While college students are certainly not the only individuals impacted by the more confined time frame, this law may limit students who are voting via absentee ballot while attending college in another state or needing the extra time to accommodate academic needs. In Ohio, a federal court struck down a state law restricting a portion of the early voting period to qualified military personnel (Obama for America v. Husted, 2012). The court noted that statistical evidence demonstrated the closure of the early voting period would unduly harm everyone equal access to vote.

Voter identification. As noted earlier, voter identification presents a potential obstacle for college students. In this section, I explain some of the limits arising from voter identification requirements in greater detail.

Voter identification requirements are not by themselves unconstitutional. Among the challenges to these provisions, courts have considered the requirements’ application in relation to the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the adherence to the Help America Vote Act. In Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a state’s interest in deterring and detecting voter fraud, participating in a nationwide effort to improve and modernize election procedures, and safeguarding voter confidence sufficiently outweighed the citizens’ challenges of the law’s reportedly unfair treatment. In Gonzalez v. Arizona (2012), the Ninth Circuit for the U.S. Court of Appeals handed down a decision indicating that voter identification requirements did not constitute a poll tax because citizens had to pay a fee to obtain proper identification. Similarly, when a group raised the issue of whether the voter identification requirement violated the Georgia constitution, the state’s highest court ruled that the policy does not violate that state’s constitution (Democratic Party of Georgia, Inc. v. Perdue, 2011). South Carolina even has a system to issue free identification cards so eligible individuals may vote, regardless if they can afford to purchase a standard identification card. Nonetheless, South Carolina and other states such as Wisconsin are also undergoing legal challenges to voter identification requirements and the arguments extend beyond questioning about poll taxes. These cases and others raise concern about the voter identification laws’ impact on certain marginalized groups. Recently, a federal court held that the Texas bill on voter registration violated the Voting Rights Act by having a retrogressive effect on the poor and racial minorities within Texas (Texas v. Holder, 2012). According to the court, the process to obtain an acceptable photo identification “imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor, and racial minorities in Texas are disproportionately likely to live in poverty” (p. 33).

While not unconstitutional on its face, voter identification requirements present significant hurdles for many college students. For instance, does the college student have an active form of identification from an approved issuing agency? Does the identification contain a recognizable photo (e.g.., did the student modify hair color or other characteristics that could confuse a polling agent)? More important, does the identification state an address within the precinct area (i.e., the student’s residence hall address)?

A driver’s license is the typical form of identification, but not all college students maintain a driver’s license. A state legislator argued recently that the photo identification requirement does not present a barrier to college students because even the ACT and SAT administrations mandate photo identification cards be shown at test time (Wallsten, 2011). This state legislator’s argument is somewhat flawed for several reasons. First, he failed to recognize that many college students have never taken either the ACT or SAT. More importantly, the ACT and SAT accept school identification cards, whereas many state laws requiring photo identification to vote do not permit college identification cards as a permissible form of identifying oneself (see, e.g., South Carolina; also, Kansas, which permits college identification cards from recognized schools within the state).


For many reasons, we should engage college students in the election process. To begin, they have a stake in the elections as elected officials and ballot measures often impact such critical concerns such as campus safety, tuition and fees, diversity on campuses, and financial aid. In addition, by bringing awareness about the requirements and processes, our students learn first-hand the complexity of political systems couched on one end as efforts to create integrity in the election process and on the other end as barriers of access to many otherwise eligible voters. This column conveyed to readers the heightened registration and voting requirements to construct opportunities in which we actually have a voice by qualifying as voters in this general election. To do so, here are some quick steps that college staff and students should consider: 1) consult relevant state law voting requirements (especially since so many states have new ones)5, 2) proceed with steps to obtain proper documentation such as proof of citizenship and an acceptable voter identification card for registration and voting, 3) build-in enough lead time to register or cast absentee ballots, and 4) encourage family, friends, and other colleagues to vote. Finally, don’t forget Election Day is Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

Discussion Questions

  • What does your state law require with respect to voter registration and voter identification requirements? What does your state law (and states from which many of your students originate) require for absentee ballot voting?
  • How have you educated your students about the voting process to ensure they are aware of the timing required for registration? What steps might your institution take to assist students in obtaining or having the proper identification required to vote readily available?
  • What policies and processes does your institution have that present barriers to participation much like the effect of some of the state election laws? What mechanisms do you have to consider the intended and unintended consequences of these policies and processes?


Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) (2011). Understanding a diverse generation: Youth civic engagement in the United States. Medford, MA: Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University.

Charles H. Wesley Education Foundation, Inc. v. Cox, 408 F.3d 1349 (11th Cir. 2005).

Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008).

Democratic Party of Georgia, Inc. v. Perdue, 707 S.E.2d 67 (Ga. 2011).

Gaskins, K., & Iyer, S. (2012). The challenge of obtaining voter identification. New York, NY: Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Retrieved from

Gonzalez v. Arizona, 677 F.3d 383 (9th Cir. 2012).

Help America Vote Act of 2002, 42 U.S.C. 15301 et seq. (2012).

Hesseldahl, A., MacMillan, D., & Kharif, O. (2008, Nov. 5). The vote: A victory for social media, too. Business Week. Retrieved from

Kushin, M. J., & Yamamoto, M. (2010). Did social media really matter?: College students’ use of online media and political decision making in the 2008 election. Mass Communication & Society, 13(5), 608-630.

Lucier, K. (2008). Voices of Influence: College students and the 2008 U.S. presidential election. The Bulletin of the Association of College Unions International, 76(5). Retrieved from

National Voter Registration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg (2012).

Obama for America v. Husted, Civ. No. 2:12 CV 0636 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 31, 2012).

Page, S. (2011, Oct. 24). Obama moves to revive ties with younger voters; Outreach aims at campuses, social media. USA Today, A2.

Rock the Vote (2012). Electionland USA. Retrieved from

Texas v. Holder, Civ. Action No. 12-cv-128 (D.D.C. Aug. 30, 2012).

U.S. v. State of Texas, 445 F Supp. 1245 (D. Tex. 1978), aff’d Symm v. U.S., 439 U.S. 1105 (1979).

Wallsten, P. (2011, Mar. 7). State Republicans seek more limits on voters. Washington Post, A1.

Washington Higher Education Secretariat (2012). Your vote, your voice: Voter registration. Retrieved from

Weiser, W. R., & Norden, L. (2011). Voting law changes in 2012. New York, NY: Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Retrieved from

Weiser, W. R., & Norden, L. (2012). 2012 voting law changes: Passed and pending legislation that has the potential to suppress the vote. New York, NY: Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Retrieved from


1. This requirement did not apply to states that do not have a voter registration requirement. At present, only North Dakota does not have such a requirement.

2. In 2008, California legislators amended the Donahoe Higher Education Act to include a similar requirement

3. Not everyone supports college students voting. Not long ago, the New Hampshire Speaker of the House William O’Brien conveyed his objections to college students’ participation in elections. He thinks the idea of college students voting is “foolish” (Wallsten, 2011). At a public event, he argued that college students lack “life experience” so they are not sophisticated enough to understand the issues or candidates.

4. While the barrier to proof of citizenship is potentially great, Kansas adopted an arguably fair requirement. Its law does not go into effect until January 2013. That latter enactment date offers advance notice, so voters can preplan and gather proper documentation before the 2013 general election.

5. Be careful, some Web sites such as the Brennan Center have state-by-state descriptions tailored to the college student population, but many of these descriptions are outdated (see Consequently, I strongly recommend that you check the Secretary of State’s election website or contact the office for more recent updates.

About the Author

Jeffrey C. Sun is an associate professor of educational leadership/higher education and affiliate associate professor of law at the University of North Dakota. He teaches and writes about legal issues pertaining to higher education.

Please e-mail inquiries to Jeffrey C. Sun.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Introduction and Discussion Questions to Part II

Introduction and Discussion Questions to Part II

Matthew Fifolt
Commission for Assessment and Evaluation
Kimberly Kline
Commission for Assessment and Evaluation

In the second half of our two-part series on assessment in student affairs, authors once again provide best practice and evidence-based strategies for assessing student learning outcomes in functional units. In summer 2012, Kim Yousey-Elsner and Stella Antic offered promising practices for assessing student learning in student activities (view article here) and Amanda Knerr and Jennifer Wright discussed ways in which residence life can support and enhance the formal academic curriculum through intentional co-curricular learning activities (view article here). For this issue, we explore assessment in the areas of career services and student conduct.

In the first article of Part II of this series, Jessica Turos and Patrick Roberts juxtapose the concept of outcomes-based assessment in career services with reports that are historically requested by this unit, namely demographic, satisfaction, and needs data. The authors highlight practical strategies that demonstrate both direct and indirect student learning and promote students’ continued career success (view article here).

In the second article, Kyle Tschepikow and Jeremy Inabinet explore opportunities related to assessing learning outcomes in student conduct programs. The authors describe competencies that promote student learning and development throughout the conduct process and identify strategies, resources, and tools that support professionals assessing conduct offices and their programs (view article here).

As assessment professionals and scholars, we hope these essays will provide readers with new ideas and starting points for conversations about assessment needs. We believe these promising practices are components of comprehensive, participatory assessment plans. Backed by professional literature, we are confident that building a culture of assessment in student affairs requires individuals to envision a system that transcends unit-specific boundaries.

Discussion Questions

As you read these two articles, we encourage you to consider the following questions specific to these two functional areas of student affairs:

  • What types of evidence would support the finding that learning occurred through a student’s involvement with career services or student conduct?
  • In what ways might community expectations be expressed in learning outcomes for student conduct?
  • How can a shift towards outcome measures alleviate some of the pressure that career services experiences for placement data?


A learning-centered approach to the assessment of student learning outcomes requires leadership and a vision for bridging the gap between curricular and co-curricular activities. It calls student affairs and assessment professionals to deliberately plan and assess programs and services so that our outcomes both resonate with academia and support the educational mission of the institution. Finally, a learning-centered approach to student affairs challenges us to redefine our roles from administrators to educators in order to remain relevant on our campuses and competitive in a world of expanding educational options.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Creating a Culture of Inclusion: Respectful, Intentional, Reflective Teaching

Creating a Culture of Inclusion: Respectful, Intentional, Reflective Teaching

Jeanne L. Higbee
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

The use of Universal Design (UD) within higher education has primarily been directed towards students with disabilities. In recent years, research has proposed that UD is beneficial to a wide range of students, including but not limited to students with disabilities. Students not speaking English as their first language, students who are nontraditional in age, and students with varied learning styles may all benefit from the infusion of UD within higher education. In light of the far reaching potential for access and inclusion that is associated with UD, the ACPA Standing Committee on Disability (SCD) has proposed that UD become a standard framework for designing learning environments within ACPA and for individual member use. In this Series, the SCD spotlights the use of UD from various perspectives within higher education including: (a) a disability resource provider, (b) a faculty member, (c) an individual with a disability, and (d) a student affairs professional. This article highlights the perspective of a faculty member.

In their contributions to this series, Melanie Thompson, Jaci Jenkins Lindburg, and Karen Myers have traced the origins of Universal Instructional Design (UID) and provided guiding principles, so I would like to address my approach to UID and why it matters. To me it is important to consider the unique expressions of different aspects of social identity that play such an important role in how individual students construct and demonstrate knowledge. UID involves first considering the diversity of the students who might enroll in my courses and then how pedagogical choices can advantage or disadvantage students. I am not exaggerating when I assert that implementing UID benefits all students

When I first began writing about UID, reviewers would respond by asking, “How is this any different from good teaching?” (Hodge & Preston-Sabin, 1997). They were right to ask; with its foundation in Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education,” that is exactly what UID is, but too often our implementation of these guidelines is superficial. We still tend to teach the way that we were taught without thinking critically about how each decision we make as we develop our curricula, syllabi, lesson plans, assignments, and assessments of learning may impact individual students.

My Own Story

I have been exceptionally fortunate to have been engaged, for almost 40 years, in a career I love that has spanned academic affairs and student affairs, and that has provided the privilege of interacting on a daily basis with students throughout the United States and the world. When I think back to my educational beginnings, I realize that it is only because, at various points along my path, teachers took a special interest in me and advocated for me that I have had the opportunity for such a full and fulfilling professional life. Over the years I have written and edited publications that have featured students’ and colleagues’ stories. This is the first time that I am sharing my own story in print.

I have never been diagnosed with a disability. I had already completed my doctorate before I became knowledgeable about learning disabilities (LDs). In elementary school in the 1950s, I annually scored at the 99th percentile in math on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skill, but below the 20th percentile on the verbal measures. My younger siblings were both in “accelerated” classes. In my family I was the “dummy”—my siblings’ term, not mine (and one I would like to see eliminated from contemporary use, especially considering the historical roots of the term dumb). If not for my fifth grade teacher’s support and unconditional belief in my abilities, and my tenth grade geometry teacher who saw my potential, I would not have been placed in the appropriate mathematics courses that paved the way for completing calculus as a senior in high school.

I continued to score at the 99th percentile in quantitative areas, including on the SAT and GRE, but my verbal scores had a devastating impact on my cumulative test scores. I began college as a Home Economics major because I liked to sew and wanted to help people in a practical way. During my first two years at Iowa State University, I changed majors within the College of Home Economics six times and finally realized that I was unsuccessfully trying to make a hobby into a career. No one ever thought to discuss mathematics-based career options, which despite gender stereotyping still prevalent in the late 1960s and early 1970s, might have been open to me.

As I began to explore alternative college majors, it was the professor in my elective sociology course on institutionalized racism who encouraged me to consider graduate school. After 2 years in Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), I pursued a Master of Science in Counseling and Guidance with an emphasis on college counseling. At the end of that program, my advisor told me that I was “not Ph.D. material.” However, another professor in educational administration/higher education, advocated for my admission to the doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, thereby changing my career path.

As I begin to plan for retirement and look back on my educational and professional journey, I do realize just how fortunate I have been. In my decades of working in higher education in the United States, I have encountered many students who were brighter, more capable, and more motivated than I was at their age—students who have unnecessarily faced one seemingly insurmountable barrier after another when trying to pursue a college education. Despite the supposed paradigm shift from teaching to learning (Barr & Tagg, 1995), many university classes still depend on the dissemination of knowledge through textbooks and lectures and assessment via high-stakes objective examinations. These methods do not consider individual students’ strengths and challenges.

We can claim that we have moved beyond the medical model that views disability as a condition that needs to be cured, fixed, or mediated, to understanding disability as a social construction. At the same time, we endeavor to move forward to viewing disability from a social justice perspective (Evans, 2008); yet services for college students with disabilities are still dependent on a “diagnosis.” This assumes that there is something wrong with the student rather than with our educational systems. For faculty, UID promotes looking within ourselves—being more intentional and reflective—rather than putting the burden or “blame” on the individual student based on one aspect of the student’s complex social identity.

Accommodations as De Facto Segregation

When I transitioned from student affairs to a teaching role in 1985, my first position was as an assistant professor, counselor, and advisor in the Division of Developmental Studies at the University of Georgia, which at that time had a separate admissions process and served students who would not otherwise have been admitted. From my experience, a disproportionate number of students with disabilities—diagnosed or previously undiagnosed—are likely to be placed in developmental education courses because of the role that standardized testing plays in the admissions process, particularly at large, “selective” research institutions. As assistant professor, I followed up with both the student and the assigned advocate when receiving letters from Disability Services to request accommodations for individual students and I sincerely, but misguidedly, thought that I was doing everything I could to ensure their success.

Over time I realized that many of the proposed accommodations, such as extended time for exams, resulted in students being segregated from their peers. I was aware of the impact that being segregated in K-12 special education classes could have on how children were perceived by their peers, and ultimately how they would come to view themselves. Even without a diagnosis, I had experienced what it was like to be the slow reader, the “dummy,” and I understood why first-year college students did not readily disclose their disabilities (Uncertain Welcome, 2002). I also became aware of the high cost to students and their families of documenting “hidden” disabilities such as LDs, an expense that discriminated against less affluent students and put accommodations outside their reach.

Recent documentation of the disability diagnosis—even for students who had been receiving special education services throughout their elementary and secondary school experiences—was the necessary first legal step in the provision of accommodations, and many institutions were not equipped to provide their own diagnostic services. I began to explore other options for inclusion such as how to provide less distracting testing environments for students with Attention Deficit Disorder, but I was still approaching the task from the perspective of providing individualized accommodations to students who disclosed a documented disability, despite all the potential barriers to student success inherent in that process.

Reducing the Need for Accommodations through UID

In fall 1999 I transitioned to a new faculty position at the University of Minnesota, where I became immersed in Curriculum Transformation and Disability (CTAD; Higbee, 2003), a model demonstration project funded by the U.S. Department of Education to provide professional development in the implementation of UID. I had always considered myself student-centered, but my eyes were opened as I began to realize just how far I still had to go to achieve a fully accessible classroom. Such a classroom involved more than how furniture was placed in the classroom, or what technology was used in the teaching process. A primary goal of UID is to enable students to participate fully without the provision of accommodations that can mistakenly be perceived as “making exceptions” for student with disabilities. UID is not equivalent to the elimination of sign language interpreters, note takers, or textbooks in Braille, which I refer to as “structural accommodations.”

One of the common misunderstandings about UID is that the term universal as applied to education is not intended to imply that one size—or educational practice—fits all, but instead that universal access should be our goal. In fact, I like to characterize UID as giving all students the option to choose to learn in the manner that best accommodates their own ways of knowing, and also provides the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned through mechanisms that showcase their strengths, not their perceived deficiencies. No exceptions are being made because the same choices are being provided for everyone and everyone benefits. Furthermore, students engage in activities that may be more pertinent to their careers and future lives than multiple choice tests, for example.

Karen Myers asks, “Have you excluded anyone today?” In addition to first-year courses, I now teach graduate courses in multicultural pedagogy. I ask of future faculty, “Have you thoroughly examined your activities, assignments, and assessments to consider how an individual student might be excluded because of an aspect of that student’s social identity?” And after teaching, “Have you engaged in deep reflection of how your methods might marginalize some students while privileging others?”

Thoughts on the Future of UID

I acknowledge the many advantages I have had, including having a network of allies who opened doors for me when I might not have been able to open them for myself. I know many students who have not been so fortunate. I cannot claim to have known all students equally well—especially in large classes—to be aware of the challenges they may have faced. I do know that many students appreciate being able to learn in different and creative ways that accentuate their strengths and enhance their communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

At a point in my career when I might have started slowing down, I have been energized and have found new fulfillment as a faculty member through implementation of UID. Currently I am involved in the development of an expanded model, integrated multicultural instructional design (IMID) (Barajas & Higbee, 2003; Higbee & Barajas, 2007; Higbee, Goff, & Schultz, in press; Higbee, Schultz, & Goff, 2010). IMID picks up where UID leaves off, adding explorations of what we teach to the UID model that already addresses how we teach, how we support learning, and how we assess learning. There is always more work to be done in creating a culture of inclusion.

Discussion Questions

  • Have attitudes toward people with disabilities really changed over the last century, or do people—including professionals working in college student development—still look upon people with disabilities with pity?
  • Why might students hesitate to disclose a disability, whether to a faculty member or to a counselor, academic advisor, or residence hall staff member?
  • Recognizing that students do not necessarily disclose hidden disabilities—or other aspects of their social identities, for that matter—how can faculty and student development professionals ensure that all students are included and have equal opportunity to participate in programs and services? What are first steps you might take in your own position to enhance access and engagement?


Barajas, H. L., & Higbee, J. L. (2003). Where do we go from here? Universal design as a model for multicultural education. In J. L. Higbee (Ed.), Curriculum transformation and disability: Implementing Universal design in higher education (pp. 285-290). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy.

Barr, R. B., & Tagg, J. (1995). From teaching to learning—A new paradigm for undergraduate education. Change, Retrieved from

Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 39(7), 3-7.

Evans, N. J. (2008). Theoretical foundations of universal instructional design. In J. L. Higbee & E. Goff (Eds.), Pedagogy and student services for institutional transformation: Implementing Universal Design in higher education (pp. 11-23). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy.

Higbee, J. L. (Ed.). (2003). Curriculum transformation and disability: Implementing Universal Design in higher education. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy.

Higbee, J. L., & Barajas, H. L. (2007). Building effective places for multicultural learning. About Campus, 12(3), 16-22.

Higbee, J. L., Goff, E., & Schultz, J. L. (in press). Promoting retention through the implementation of integrated multicultural instructional design. Journal of College Student Retention.

Higbee, J. L., Schultz, J. L., & Goff, E. (2010). The pedagogy of inclusion: Integrated multicultural instructional design. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 41(1), 49-66.

Hodge, B. M., & Preston-Sabin, J. (1997). Accommodations—Or just good teaching? Strategies for teaching college students with disabilities. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Uncertain welcome

. (2002). Minneapolis, MN: Curriculum Transformation and Disability, General College, University of Minnesota. Retrieved from

About the Author

Jeanne Higbee, Ph.D., currently serves as Director of Graduate Studies for a new Master of Arts program in Multicultural College Teaching and Learning at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where she is a recipient of the Horace T. Morse – University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. ACPA has recognized her with the Voice of Inclusion Medallion (2005), Diamond Honoree (2007), and Disability Ally Award (2008).

Please e-mail inquiries to Jeanne Higbee.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Creating a Culture of Inclusive Leadership: The Intersection of Student Affairs and Universal Design

Creating a Culture of Inclusive Leadership: The Intersection of Student Affairs and Universal Design

Jaci Jenkins Lindburg
University of Nebraska-Omaha

The use of Universal Design (UD) within higher education has primarily been directed towards students with disabilities. In recent years, research has proposed that UD is beneficial to a wide range of students, including but not limited to students with disabilities. Students not speaking English as their first language, students who are non-traditional in age, and students with varied learning styles may all benefit from the infusion of UD within higher education. In light of the far reaching potential for access and inclusion that is associated with UD, the ACPA Standing Committee on Disability (SCD) has proposed that UD become a standard framework for designing learning environments within ACPA and for individual member use. In this Series, the SCD spotlights the use of UD from various perspectives within higher education including: (a) a disability resource provider, (b) a faculty member, (c) an individual with a disability, and (d) a student affairs professional. This article highlights the perspective of a student affairs professional.

As a student affairs professional, I have the opportunity to mentor and advise student leaders who are frequently impressionable young people full of vast potential and seemingly limitless capabilities. During their undergraduate experiences, student leaders are exposed to many things, including different religious and cultural ideologies, lifestyles, ways of thinking different from their own, and political viewpoints and values that may vary greatly from those of their parents or guardians. As student development theorists describe, it is not uncommon for college-age students to challenge many of the beliefs they previously held to be true as they open up to uncertain and ambiguous possibilities for their futures (Josselson, 1987; King & Kitchener, 1994).

As many students seek to find clarity in their own identity, the academic discussions and co-curricular programs an institution offers play a critical role in exposing students to new knowledge that can either affirm or change previously held beliefs. Thus, during this impressionable time for students, creating a dialogue relating to concepts of social justice, inclusion, and access is paramount; for example, through the co-curricular leadership programs I coordinate, I recognize the importance of appropriately shaping the next generation of leaders. I want these leaders to truly understand how important it is to be inclusive of all types of people. I strive to help students find their passion in life and to not be afraid to advocate for fairness in the world. But above all, I want students to be aware of the social injustices that exist and learn how they can play a role in creating positive change. In order to achieve these goals, I integrate the concepts of Universal Design into my leadership development work.

In this article, I will explain the central concepts of Universal Design and relate its principles to student leadership and student affairs. In addition, I will provide support for creating an institutional-wide culture of inclusion that starts with senior administrators and is embraced by faculty, staff, and students. Finally, I will encourage readers to take steps that will help their own institutions implement and incorporate Universal Design in programs and initiatives across campus.

Universal Design (UD) and Universal Instructional Design (UID)

A great first step toward enhancing social justice, advocating for change, and striving for inclusion is to improve accessibility of resources and services for all students on campus. The concept of open access closely relates to the idea of Universal Design. Universal Design was originally an architectural concept focusing on ways to plan and design spaces to meet the needs of all potential users; however, Universal Design has more recently been extended to the educational sector, where it supports the notion that “when providing an architectural feature— or educational service, for that matter—to enhance accessibility and inclusion for one population, we are often benefiting all occupants or participants” (Goff & Higbee, 2008a, p. 1). In its extension to the educational sector, Universal Instructional Design (UID) focuses on universal access to course content, seeks to ensure that no students are excluded or marginalized, and reduces the need for individualized academic accommodations (Goff & Higbee).

In a formal classroom setting, UID can be ensured by posting all course readings and web links online, using a sans-serif 14-point font on all handouts, utilizing multi-modal teaching techniques, and offering students multiple avenues to demonstrate learned knowledge. But in the more informal settings in which student affairs professionals typically interact with students, UID is not always as straightforward: we must re-think commonplace practices, such as campus tours, student meeting spaces, student teambuilding activities, and the communication practices we use to promote all campus programs, meetings, and events.

To make a diligent commitment to UID as a student affairs practitioner, Myers (2009) suggested asking yourself, “Who have I excluded today?” Similarly, Higbee (2008) suggested asking the following questions whenever engaging in the planning of campus events and services:

  • “How can we ensure that everyone who wants to participate will have the opportunity to do so?
  • What steps can we take to ensure that everyone will feel included?
  • What do we need to do to ensure that everyone will benefit to the greatest extent possible?” (p. 200)

Students with disabilities are frequently excluded, even if done so unintentionally. Each year, an increasing number of students with disabilities enter postsecondary institutions in the United States (Lehmann, Davies, & Laurin, 2000). In the academic year 2008-2009, approximately 707,000 students with disabilities were enrolled in post-secondary institutions in the United States (Raue & Lewis, 2011). Students with disabilities experience exclusion when they encounter physical, intellectual, or attitudinal barriers in higher education. Higbee (2008) stated that “These barriers to learning must be assessed, examined, and removed wherever possible” (p. 197). Furthermore, Denny and Carson (as cited in Wisbey & Kalivoda, 2008) posited that even if members of the campus community “do not see themselves as having social barriers or discriminatory attitudes towards students with disabilities, social distance, avoidance, and lack of foresight in planning can lead students with disabilities to perceive barriers from them” (as cited in Wisbey & Kalivoda, 2008, p. 261). Minimal efforts such as having posters in large font, making newsletters available in alternative formats, or moving meeting locations to accessible buildings and rooms demonstrates regard and recognition for each individual.

Student Leaders and UID

Not only is it important to model best practices of UID in our work as professionals on campus, but it is also important to advise student leaders to incorporate UID within their leadership roles in campus groups, organizations, and teams. One way student leaders can immediately have an impact on campus is to promote open access to all other students. Many student groups unknowingly exclude other students simply by the way in which promote their organization and where they hold group meetings.

Higbee (2008) offered several Universal Design guiding principles to help student leaders focus on enhancing accessibility. First, “develop, implement, and evaluate pathways for communication among students. Communication should be encouraged through methods that are appropriate, comfortable, and accessible to all, with appropriate accommodations readily available” (p. 196). Second, “promote interaction among students. Once channels for communication have been established, the next step is to encourage their use. Why? These interactions lead to students feeling a sense of connection to the institution and foster the belief that someone cares about them” (p. 197). Third, “Ensure that each student has an equal opportunity to learn and grow” (p. 197).

Consider the following example of how student affairs professionals are putting those principles into practice. Staff working on the Pedagogy and Student Services for Institutional Transformation (PASS IT) project at the University of Minnesota issued a guidebook that featured a student checklist for community awareness of UID. By adhering to the points on this checklist, “students can make a difference in the university community with regard to accessibility for all individuals regardless of learning style, background, culture, age, language, and ability” (Goff & Higbee, 2008b, p. 47). Key points of the checklist are:

  1. Promote an inclusive community grounded in the concepts of Universal Instructional Design and Social Justice.
    1. Share cultural experiences and seek out opportunities to learn about diversity through the perceptions of other students.
    2. Question events and programs that do not promote inclusion in a professional and appropriate manner.
  2. Plan and develop accessible programs and events that welcome all students.
    1. Ensure that event, program, and meeting locations allow all students to engage and socialize equally.
    2. Support written announcements and posters with audio versions.
  3. Promote Web site, online registration and surveys and other web-based student information sites that are accessible for all students.
    1. Multi-media: Provide captioning and transcripts of audio and descriptions of video.
    2. Tables: Make line-by-line reading sensible. Summarize. (Goff & Higbee, 2008b, p. 47)

Student leaders can easily learn key points for Universal Design and Universal Instruction Design if student affairs practitioners model Higbee’s (2008) principles through our work and if we take the time to stress the importance of inclusion within the roles student leaders take within student organizations. Throughout the collegiate student experience, student leaders should learn these valuable tools that promote to inclusion and welcoming environments. As Cullen (2008) noted, “To build inclusive organizations, there must be a shift from ‘me’ to ‘we’” (p. 117). I believe UID is an outstanding avenue to push our students toward social justice on their home campuses.

Creating a Culture of Inclusive Leadership

Gibson (2005) developed a Disability Identity Development Model in an effort to help practitioners and educators understand better the development of people with disabilities. Gibson (2005) posited that understanding a person’s development is necessary for practitioners and educators to support the person fully. Gibson (2005) outlined three stages of disability identity development. Stage one, called “passive awareness” typically happens during the first part of someone’s life, but can continue into adulthood. This phase is marked by a denial of the social aspects of disability, shying away from attention, and lacking a role model of disability. Phase two, called “realization” typically occurs in adolescence or early adulthood and is demonstrated through a high degree of concern with appearance and how others perceive self. Stage1 three, called “acceptance,” typically emerges in adulthood and shifts the focus from being different toward embracing oneself. The “acceptance” phase also is marked by involvement in disability advocacy and activism and the beginning of incorporating others with disabilities into one’s life (Gibson, 2005).

In creating inclusive campus environments, I argue that an entire institution moves through a similar process of learning and become aware and accepting of students with disabilities as the three-stage model presented by Gibson (2005). Students easily adopt the ideals and values that faculty, staff, and administrators demonstrate on a conscious or subconscious level. If upper-level employees of an institution are merely passively aware of disability—meaning that they do not utilize UID, they do not creative inclusive environments, and they do not advocate for the needs of all students—then it becomes easy for students of that institution to take the same approach and fail to be inclusive.

If administrators are in the second “realization” phase and have a heightened sense of awareness about students with disabilities, the culture of the entire institution begins to shift. But it is not until the institution’s faculty, staff, and administrators truly embody the stage three “acceptance” that the members of the campus community will begin to embrace concepts of acceptance, universal design, and inclusive leadership. As Myers (2008) questioned, “When do thoughts of inclusion become second nature?” (p. 291). At an institutional level, I believe that moment occurs when we move to stage three, “acceptance,” and incorporate Universal Design and Universal Instructional Design into our courses, co-curricular programs, office designs, campus layouts, and residential hall facilities. I believe wholeheartedly that student leaders are ready for the challenge, but we have to push them to learn and develop a skill set that includes UID, access, and inclusion.

Call to Action

There should be nothing stopping student affairs professionals from creating inclusive campus climates. I believe our student leaders are ready to embrace the culture of a universally-designed institution if our faculty, staff, and administrators place accessibility as a priority. As noted leadership researchers Bennis and Thomas (2007) described, a key to effective leadership is the ability to create shared meaning amongst a group of people: “A leader’s first and, in many ways, most important task is articulating their vision and making it their followers’ own…effective leaders don’t just impose their vision on others, they recruit others to a shared vision” (Bennis & Thomas, 2007, p. 137).

Regardless of your role and level of responsibility at the institution, I encourage you to utilize concepts of Universal Instructional Design in your day-to-day programs, events, classes, and physical spaces. Talk to your student leaders about what it means to be inclusive in their roles on campus, role-model best practices for these student leaders to follow, and do your part in creating this shared meaning regarding UD/UID. Incorporating Universal Instructional Design strategies can and will enhance accessibility and inclusion on campus, but only if we take the time and make the effort to use it in our daily practices.

Discussion Questions

  • How is your campus currently using Universal Design strategies within student leadership programs and student affairs?
  • What obstacles and/or difficulties do you foresee in implementing Universal Design principles and practices into your student affairs programs and initiatives?
  • What resources or tools would you need to help create an institution-wide commitment to Universal Design?
  • In what ways do you role model inclusion and accessibility to the students you work with each day and how can you help these students begin to use principles of Universal Design in their own outreach as student leaders?


1. The theory uses “phases” and “stages” interchangeably.


Bennis, W.G., & Thomas, R.J. (2007). Leading for a lifetime. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Cullen, M. (2008). 35 dumb things well-intended people say. Garden City, NY: Morgan James Publishing.

Gibson, J. (2006). Disability and clinical competency: An introduction. The California Psychologist, 39, 6-10.

Goff, E., & Higbee, J.S. (2008a). Introduction. In J.L. Higbee and E. Goff (Eds.), Pedagogy and student services for institutional transformation: Implementing universal design in higher education (pp. 1-8). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.

Goff, E., & Higbee, J.S. (Eds.). (2008b). Pedagogy and student services for institutional transformation: Implementation guidebook for student development programs and services.Minneapolis: Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota.

Higbee, J.S. (2008). Universal design principles for student development programs and services. In J.L. Higbee and E. Goff (Eds.), Pedagogy and student services for institutional transformation: Implementing universal design in higher education (pp. 195-203). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.

Josselson, R. (1987). Finding herself; Pathways to identity development in women. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

King, P.M., & Kitchener, K.S. (1994). Developing reflective judgment: Understanding and promoting intellectual growth and critical thinking in adolescents and adults. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lehmann, J.P., Davies, T.G., & Laurin, K.M. (2000). Listening to student voices about postsecondary education. Teaching Exceptional Children, 32(5), 60-65.

Myers, K.A. (2008). Using learning reconsidered to reinvent disability education. About Campus, 13, 2-9.

Myers, K.A. (2009). A new vision for disability education: Moving on from the add-on. About Campus, 14(5), 15-21.

Raue, K., & Lewis, L. (2011). Students with Disabilities at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions (NCES 2011–018). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Wisbey, M.E., & Kalivoda, K.S. (2008). Residential living for all: Fully accessible and ‘liveable’ on-campus housing. In J.L. Higbee and E. Goff (Eds.), Pedagogy and student services for institutional transformation: Implementing universal design in higher education (pp. 255- 266). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.

About the Author

Jaci Jenkins Lindburg, PhD, is the Manager of Academic Affairs for the Division of Continuing Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She earned her PhD in Higher Education Administration from Saint Louis University in 2010 and has previously served as the Director for Student Development and Leadership at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, and as the Associate Director of the Leadership Institute at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. She has been recognized by ACPA as a 2012 Annuit Coeptis Emerging Professional, the 2011 Standing Committee for Graduate Students and New Professionals Outstanding New Professional, and the 2010 Disability Ally Award Recipient.

Please e-mail inquiries to Jaci Jenkins Lindburg.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

From the President: A Critical Question

From the President: A Critical Question

Keith B. Humphrey
ACPA President
University of Arizona

It is late October and, if your campus is like mine, the actions you have already taken with your first-year class may very well determine who graduates in four years and who does not.

In a recent post to the ACPA President’s Blog, I challenged ACPA members to apply their leadership to ensure that our collective efforts are moving beyond promoting access to the higher education system: I believe we must follow the hope of access with the promise of attainment.

In all the roles I have held throughout my career—from Hall Director to Admissions Representative to Dean of Students—I have always believed what I did, and what student affairs professionals do, is ensure that students graduate. We do that in many ways—each one a valuable contribution to the developmental experiences of our students and to their ultimate goal of graduation.

The beginning of the year is full of hope on our campuses, especially for our first-year students. For many students, this time of the year presents a critical decision: “Do I stay or do I go?” Retention research suggests that it is anywhere within the first 3-8 weeks that a first-year student decides whether to remain on your campus, transfer, or stop out (some permanently).

For far too long, higher education institutions have relied upon the limited standards of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to track student retention. If a student leaves my institution after the first year and transfers to another institution for any number of legitimate reasons to transfer, the student’s withdrawal is counted as a failure by my campus. That is simply not right: attrition should count as a failure if a student stops out and does not ever return to their studies at any institution.

It is for that reason that I support the voluntary system of accountability that is quickly gaining steam across the country. A student who leaves and transfers to another college or university is still moving towards graduation: that is not a failure by any standard.

October is also full of hope at ACPA. Our Convention 2013 program team has been busy reviewing hundreds of program proposals for our groundbreaking convention in Las Vegas next March with our colleagues from the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA). You can be certain that there will be many programs that focus on strategies for enhancing degree attainment as part of the educational curriculum. Make your plans to join us now and be sure to be a part of the discussion.

Our higher education system is transforming, and the qualities that student affairs professionals bring to the table—creativity, flexibility, entrepreneurialism—are needed on your campuses to ensure that all of us are doing everything possible to produce the graduates our society desperately needs.

Please e-mail inquiries to Keith Humphrey.

Follow Keith on twitter @keithbhumphrey and @acpaprez