In higher education, there are many departments that aim at distributing different services and support for students. Academic growth, personal development, and recognition of needs and expectations are the main tasks to be performed. In this constantly changing world of technologies and new standards, student affairs play a significant role by focusing on information about students, their success, experiences, and concerns (Paine, 2013).
Educational leaders must provide care and support to promote academic excellence, orientation, and collaboration between students and academic staff (Ozaki & Hornak, 2014). The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) (n.d.) defines student affairs as a critical component of education experience and offers seven main practices to ensure success and support students.
In the current paper, special attention to the improvement of student affairs at the School of Business will be paid by assessing its course curriculum and creation, evaluating the strengths of the idea to engage students in active learning, and discussing the relevance of the role of an educational leader in this type of work.
Assessment of Student Affairs and the NASPA Inventory
The success of any student depends on how well educators can prepare them, as well as assess and evaluate the offered practices and programs. According to Magolda and Baxter Magolda (2011), student affairs have already observed considerable advances in terms of the assessment practice. The goal of any evaluation is to answer two main questions: “What are the learning goals of a course?” and “What are the indicators according to which a learning process should be organized?”.
The expected results include the possibility to revise the already done work, introduce a new organizational plan, and assign all necessary resources in order to address the issues in curriculum creation (Kuk, Banning, & Amey, 2010). During the work with the educators at the School of Business, it becomes clear that the staff focuses on both aspects of their work: properly established goals and achieved results. It is important to take into consideration such factors as a working environment, online support, the list of assignments and projects, the methods of assessment of students’ knowledge, participation, and creativity, and involvement of educators in all types of work.
The peculiar feature of any assessment and evaluation is the possibility to focus on different aspects at the same time, including the process of education, the level of involvement, professional development, and personal motivation. Both students and teachers are challenged by certain ethical dilemmas, inequality issues, increasing costs, and high demands. The NASPA takes a step to respond to some of these problems and shape the role of education by providing practices in student affairs.
One of the possible approaches to change course curriculum creation is to engage students in active learning (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, n.d.). This practice helps students bring their personal experiences into their professional development and learning processes. Students have to understand the worth of experimentation, collective decision-making, and internships.
Strengths and Areas of Improvement
The application of NASPA practices is a good chance to improve some areas of student affairs and an overall academic performance by changing the work of educators and the attitudes of students. The investigations of Reynolds (2013) show that academic professionals try to address a number of problems that college students may experience, including mental health changes, distress, low self-esteem, alcohol use, time management, peer issues, and many other concerns. It is hard to find one common solution for all these issues.
An idea to promote active learning for students seems to be a serious contribution to a course curriculum. Its appropriate application may create several significant benefits for students and academic staff. For example, active learning aims at developing students’ interactions, critical thinking, and motivation.
The positive aspects in the work of students on the basis of active learning are the development of debates and problem-solving exercises during which young people can demonstrate their opinions, understanding of real-life problems, and readiness to cooperate in order to find out a common solution. Teachers may investigate students’ knowledge and skills by supporting the idea of collaboration and investment through small group discussions and exercises where students set clear goals, identify their roles, and work independently, improving their communication.
The main strength of the chosen practice is that its incorporation into the course curriculum does not take much time or many efforts. It encourages a dynamic learning environment and a desire to study. Active learning is not only the evaluation and use of the material that is offered by teachers. It is a great opportunity for students to make their own contributions, relying on their needs, interests, and expectations.
As soon as they learn how to demonstrate and talk about their demands aloud, they can approach the desired professional and personal progress. Teachers, in their turn, can discover new qualities of their students and continue developing their potentials in the right way.
Educational Leadership in Student Affairs
Any educational leader has to recognize his/her role in the assessment and improvement of student affairs. It is not enough to make people accept some change or recognize the shortage of their work to promote some improvements. Leaders must understand curricular goals, as well as co-curricular outcomes (Ozaki & Hornak, 2014). This approach should help them recognize available options and make the right choice.
Good leaders cannot make all decisions independently but have to address other academic staff for help and collaboration. It is better to gather several opinions, evaluate a situation from several perspectives, and investigate the resources that can be used or have to be found to address current or other emerging challenges (Kuk et al., 2010). Although a final choice of a principle of good practices for student affairs depends on a leader, this decision also includes such important steps as collaboration, common critical thinking, and inspiration of an academic team guided by one person.
In general, student affairs turn out to be a serious topic for discussion in higher education facilities. Leaders, as well as other academic staff and students, have to realize the level of their responsibilities in regard to their future progress. The NASPA offers several strong options on how to improve student affairs and incorporate new ideas into the already developed curriculums. The decision to apply the idea of students’ engagement in active learning results in certain improvements for the School of Business in terms of student thinking abilities, collaboration, and motivation.
When students can use their own experiences and deal with real-life problems, they understand the need for their work, the worth of their participation, and the power of their potential contributions to the modern world of business.
Kuk, L., Banning, J. H., & Amey, M. J. (2010). Positioning student affairs for sustainable change: Achieving organizational effectiveness through multiple perspectives. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
Magolda, P. M., & Baxter Magolda, M. B. (Eds.). (2011). Contested issues in student affairs: Diverse perspectives and respectful dialogue. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. (n.d.). Principles of good practice for student affairs. Web.
Ozaki, C. C., & Hornak, A. M. (2014). Excellence within student affairs: Understanding the practice of integrating academic and student affairs. New Directions for Community Colleges, 2014(166), 79-84.
Paine, G. E. (2013). Caring about students – The work of student affairs. Journal of College and Character, 14(3), 223-230.
Reynolds, A. L. (2013). College student concerns: Perceptions of student affairs practitioners. Journal of College Student Development, 54(1), 98-104.