From the Editor: Blending the Philosophical, Practical, and Personal with Developments

From the Editor: Blending the Philosophical, Practical, and Personal with Developments

Amanda Suniti Niskodé-Dossett

We are proud to present the Summer 2012 issue of Developments. The purpose of this publication is to stimulate your thinking and enhance your work.

This issue is a special blend of the philosophical, practical, and personal. Among these articles, you will find references to Hegel, hooks, and Warner as well as step-by-step guides for assessment in residence life and student activities. You will read personal stories about the ways in which personal identities shapes professional identities and current ethical and legal issues pertaining to issues of power, race, and gender.

While one could think that these are a disparate set of articles, we invite you to instead embrace this collection as representative of the diverse set questions many of strive to answer each day: What theories and research inform our work? How should our work inform theories and research? How can I be more intentional as a practitioner/faculty member? How do I know if I’ve been effective? What trends and current events happening beyond my institution impact student success? How do the answers to these questions personally impact the students I know—and the students that I don’t?

We encourage readers to utilize the discussion questions that are included in many of the articles. For example, consider these thought-provoking questions that are raised by the authors featured in this issue:

Legal Issues: Supreme Court to Revisit Issue of Race as Factor in Higher Education Admissions

  • Does your institution use race-conscious admissions policies of the kind authorized in the Grutter decision? If so, what would be the impact on admissions at your college or university resulting from a Supreme Court ruling that prohibits or restricts such race-conscious policies?

Global Affairs: Internationalization and the Search for “Otherness”

  • How can your institution better use international education as a means for helping students understand their similarities, not just their differences?

Assessment in Student Affairs: A Focus on Functional Units (Series Part I)

  • Residential Life: What is one small assessment project that could assess student learning in our residential environment? What do we need to do to plan this assessment? When do we want to see it completed?
  • Student Activities: What do students learn through participation in student life programs? Are there differences in learning depending on breadth of experience vs. depth of experience?
  • How might the learning outcomes of student activities and residence life reinforce one another? Are there situations in which the learning outcomes of these two areas might be in conflict with one another?

We hope you think about these and the ideas posed in the articles and use them in your staff meetings, professional development sessions, graduate preparation classroom, or in conversations with colleagues or those your supervise.

Before I provide a snapshot of this issue, I would like to take a moment to offer my special thanks to the entire Developments editorial board, and particularly John Garland, for their commitment and extra work they put into the publication during my maternity leave. They were incredibly supportive and dedicated to making the Spring 2012 issue a success and promoting the publication at the annual convention in Louisville. I am so fortunate to work with such talented individuals. Thank you Jaci, Z, Teniell, Krista, Stephanie, Susan, Jim, Heather, and John for making Developments what it is.

Below we offer a snapshot of this issue. The Developments editorial board always welcomes feedback and creative article ideas. Please contact the editor to share your thoughts. To learn more about utilizing Developments or submitting an article, please visit the publication’s Web site.

Sponsord Series

We are excited to present two Series in this issue. Assessment in Student Affairs: A Focus on Functional Units is our NEW Series sponsored by the Commission for Assessment and Evaluation. Matthew Fifolt and Kimberly Kline, Series coordinators, describe the need for putting the principles of assessment into daily practice.

To remain vital in today’s tough economic times, students affairs professionals must demonstrate intentional programming that is consistent with institutional goals for undergraduate learning and development (Green, Jones, & Aloi, 2008; Pike, Kuh, McCormick, Ethington, & Smart, 2011).

Why is student affairs so slow to respond? Many colleagues tell us they lack the practical tools for implementing a new assessment strategy. Others have expressed difficulty in translating assessment techniques across departments and units. The goal of this Series is to provide road-tested and proven strategies for the assessment of student learning outcomes in functional areas of student affairs.

In the first part of this two-part Series, Amanda R. Knerr and Jennifer Lenfant Wright discuss how to make assessment meaningful in Residential Life environments and Kim Yousey-Elsener and Stella Mulberry Antic describe promising practices in assessing learning in student activities.

We also feature the second installment of Expanding the Frame—Applying Universal Design in Higher Education, the Series sponsored by the Standing Committee for Disability. Take a look at the Series overview:

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.

This Series spotlights the use of UD from various perspectives within higher education. In this second article, Karen Myers shares her perspective as a person with a disability.

Feature Columns

We are proud to continue to offer feature columns in Developments that address current ethical, legal, and global issues facing our profession.

The Ethical Issues articles are undoubtedly conversation starters. This time we present our regular column as well as a response. First, Paul Shang offers his thoughts, “On the Ethical Implications of Being ‘The Man.’” He begins with the following ruminations:

Somehow, everyone engaged in student affairs work has become “the man” at one time or another. The term “the man” has nothing to do with gender. “The man” is an authority figure and an adversary. It refers to someone not normally considered by those in opposition to be an ally and to be trusted, someone who will likely impose seemingly irrelevant and arbitrary regulations to hinder efforts to achieve some perceived good, and possibly someone who has to decide whether to be professionally responsible or sometimes instead, to act in ways more representative of their own personal beliefs. Being “the man,” “the administration” or “the Establishment” is not an enviable position for most people in student affairs.

Do you agree or disagree? Z Nicolazzo raises some questions about Shang’s article in hir rejoinder with a particular focus on language:

What happens when one proclaims to use language in a neutral way? Is the neutral use of language even possible? What is lost or gained when one uses terms that, while neutral to some, are far from neutral to others? These are the questions I seek to address in my brief rejoinder to the ethics column titled “On the Ethical Implications of Being ‘The Man’” by Dr. Paul Shang. Far from being a mere conversation over semantics, I suggest language, often shrouded in a cloak of neutrality, has the potential to do immense (albeit oftentimes unintended) harm to others. Consequently, I implore us as educators to be prudent, intentional, and humble in our use of language.

What questions do each of these pieces raise for you? Use those questions as an opportunity to dialogue with your colleagues, classmates, and students. Both authors welcome and encourage your feedback.

We welcome a new Legal Issues columnist, Neal H. Hutchens. In his article, Supreme Court to Revisit Issue of Race as Factor in Higher Education Admissions, Hutchens discusses multiple cases including Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin and Grutter v. Bollinger. He writes:

What can be viewed as the rather limited use of race in higher education admissions permitted in Grutter now faces an uncertain future. Fisher may mark the end point of a judicial pattern in recent decades characterized by an overall resistance to allowing race as a legally permissible factor in higher education admissions to serve social justice and equality goals.

Read this enlightening article to understand the legal and practical implications of this critical issue.

Finally, Jason E. Lane explores internationalization and the search for “otherness” in the Global Affairs column. Lane argues that,

Colleges and universities can, and should, consider how they can use their existing and developing international education activities to help students confront “otherness” in ways that might not be possible otherwise in their communities or on campus. In an era when it is too common to highlight our differences, it is even more important for colleges and universities to help our students appreciate their similarities.

In your work, do you teach students and/or your colleagues to focus more on similarities or differences? Is that focus done purposefully? If yes, how? If not, why not?

Updates, News, & Announcements

In From the President, Keith B. Humphrey talks about the juxtaposition of the accomplishments of the students leaving his institution with the promise and possibilities of the incoming class. Then in From One Dupont Circle, ACPA Executive Director, Gregory Roberts, shares many recent updates about the work of the Association, next steps for ACPA and its members, and pending issues of note.

Also, we present the Commissions Corner, now a regular feature of Developments:

The Commissions of ACPA provide a home for professionals to explore issues and trends related to the functional and interest areas in higher education and student affairs and to connect with colleagues who have expertise and knowledge about these areas. The Commissions Corner will be a regular feature of the Developments publication. Here you will find bountiful resources to improve service to students, respond effectively to current challenges, and spark great new ideas. Each issue will focus on a different subset of the 20 commissions that are part of ACPA.

This issue highlights the work of two Commissions: Spirituality, Faith, Religion and Meaning and Graduate and Professional Student Affairs.

Thank you.

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