Education and assessment have always been an integral part of my professional life. I earned a BA from a teacher's college to become a secondary school teacher, followed by a master's in educational administration and a PhD in higher education and student affairs with a secondary focus on inquiry methodology. After the postsecondary level work for a decade, I started my professional career as a quantitative researcher at education policy research institutes and later as an assessment analyst at a higher education institution.
It was only after I became a director of co-curricular assessment and instructor for graduate-level assessment courses when I came to realize that not everyone is familiar with the concept of assessment. Students and professionals alike needed training and tools to develop and implement assessments meaningfully. Moreover, along with what assessment is and how to conduct it, people need to be reminded that assessment is theirs to conduct, self-reflect on, learn from, and utilize for improving their own practices. It required a cultural change and a perspective transformation.
In search of a good training program for entry-level assessment professionals, I discovered SAAL's online open course, Applying and Leading Assessment in Student Affairs. I asked my students to take the course, and I took it with my assessment committee members. We recapped each session together at committee meetings, which helped us advance our collective understanding of student affairs assessment and change the assessment culture.
Typically, student affairs professionals lack formal opportunities to acquire skills such as articulating goals and outcomes, developing a curriculum map, designing an assessment plan, implementing assessment, and using results for improvement. SAAL's professional development and learning opportunities, including the online open course and the SAAL listserv and repository, provide a comprehensive range of resources for exchanging ideas and sharing best practices. Additionally, Structured Conversations allow the SAAL community to stay current and innovative. Based on my experience, I recognize the immense value of SAAL's commitment to advancing student affairs assessment.
That said, I am honored to take on the role of VP of Professional Learning and Development for the SAAL community. I believe that student affairs professionals can improve and better demonstrate their contributions to students and institutions by having a quality assessment plan in place and implementing it regularly. Student affairs assessment is the catalyst for promoting change in this regard. I am committed to advocating the importance of student affairs assessment and supporting it as a profession.
Blog written by Eunkyoung Park, SAAL VP of Professional Learning and Development