JSAI Volume 3

Volume 3

Editor: Daniel W. Newhart  |  Year: 2017  |  Issues: 1

Advancing toward social justice via student affairs inquiry

Brian Bourke

Inquiry represents deep learning through a process of seeking answers to questions. Our ‘why’ in connecting student affairs inquiry to social justice is not likely self-evident. Social justice relies on connected actions, whereas through our approaches to assessment in student affairs, we have traditionally favored research-related activities that strive to maintain strict objectivity. But just as our overall conceptions of the roles and responsibilities of student affairs educators have evolved, so too, must our conceptions of the roles and responsibilities of those engaged in student affairs inquiry. As a student affairs educator tasked with conducting inquiry activities, one has to make choices about the process of gathering and analyzing data, and reporting findings. There is an ethical obligation to do so with veracity. This ethical obligation to engage in the inquiry process with utmost honesty does not conflict with using inquiry as a tool to advance toward social justice. Through this article, the author explores the connections between the processes of inquiry and social justice, and asks readers to consider social justice as a critical and central component of inquiry work.

Ciji A. Heiser, Kristina Prince, and Joseph D. Levy

Inquiry in student affairs plays a critical role in advancing equity efforts since it is utilized for the improvement of programs and services supporting student learning and experiences. Assessment practice, when undergirded by a critical theoretical framework, employs intentional approaches corresponding to each phase of the assessment cycle. Critical practitioners begin by acknowledging their own subjectivity and the ways their positionality influences their practice. Further, they acknowledge the agency of participants as knowers and collaborators in this work. Additionally, practitioners employ methodological diversity and center marginalized voices not only in evidence gathering, but also in interpretation and when implementing change. Employing such approaches enriches assessment practice and enables data to be used in transformative ways in the pursuit of equity. This article explores critical theory and its implications for assessment practice. Examples and considerations are provided throughout as well as questions posed for institutional and personal practice reflection.

Epistemology, pedagogy, and student affairs assessment: A voluminous framework for equity

Robin Phelps-Ward, Jeff Kenney, and Jimmy L. Howard

For the past twenty years higher education scholars have stressed the need to educate senior student affairs officers, divisional staff, and graduate students about the importance of building and maintaining a culture of assessment (Yousey-Elesner, Bentrim, & Henning, 2015). However, few have advocated for educating burgeoning student affairs practitioners about how ways of knowing influence cultures of assessment. We argue that an emphasis on epistemological frameworks in student affairs assessment teaching is seemingly missing in the graduate curriculum and the current teaching paradigm impedes perspectives that resist oppressive structures in higher education—those which disrupt and dismantle colonized thinking and advance equity. In this paper we speculate on the dominant narratives within assessment teaching in student affairs, build a case for critical epistemologies and epistemological pluralism, and share recommendations in the form of a course plan designed to spur dialogue and learning around the role of epistemology in assessment practice.

Developing college students’ civic mindedness through service-learning experiences: A mixed-methods study

Sancho N. Sequeira, Madison A. Holzman, S. Jeanne Horst, and Walter A. Ghant

In the current study, we applied a mixed-methods approach to examining civic-mindedness of undergraduate students in a service-learning course. A quantitative self-report measure of civic-mindedness was administered pre- and post-course. During the second half of the course, a subset of students participated in focus groups, responding to questions directly aligned with the quantitative measure. Quantitative and qualitative data were integrated via a mixed method convergent parallel design. Quantitatively, civic-mindedness increased pre-post. Qualitative findings both supported and contradicted quantitative results. Mixed-methods analyses provided a more complete understanding of the relationship between service-learning and civic-mindedness than quantitative or qualitative analysis alone. Future research for student affairs and assessment professionals are discussed.

With gratitude to those who make the Journal of Student Affairs Inquiry possible

Daniel W. Newhart

This article gives gratitude who those who help make the Journal function and continue to do so.

Connecting assessment and strategic planning to advancing equity on campus

Jackie Clark and Scott Brown

Institutional inquiry has an important role in understanding issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion and the connection of these issues to campus environments. Institutions have a responsibility to better understand the environments on their campuses and how they affect students, with clear attention to campus climate and the impact of equity and inclusion initiatives. One way to increase understanding and provide institutional direction is through assessment, research, and evaluation. Using the context of a student affairs division at a large research-intensive institution, the authors connect assessment and strategic planning to advancing equity on campus. A literature review explores critical constructs such as the importance of diversity, establishing a culture of inclusion, developing a culturally competent student body, and institutional climate. Following the literature review, a discussion of assessment frameworks includes multiple model examples and connects assessment to strategic planning. Finally, a proposed assessment will be offered as an example of connecting inquiry to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Institutional generativity or reproduction of privilege? How campus context and parental involvement affects legacy students

Jarrett B. Warshaw, Richard B. Henne-Ochoa, and Joseph L. Murray

This study focuses on undergraduate legacy students, who have family-alumni ties to their institution. We draw on the ecological systems framework and human development theories to interpret interview data on legacy students’ perspectives of self, family, and institution. Our analysis revealed (1) nuanced experiences of separation-individuation; (2) deeply embedded family influences that constrained yet empowered formations of identity and life-direction; and (3) campus-centered dynamics that encouraged the extension of lives of privilege. These themes suggest that interactions among students, families, and institution may be more unstructured and indirect than what prior literature shows. They indicate as well the generative qualities of campus and family that may limit student development and undergird broader patterns of social inequality. We discuss implications for policy, practice, and research.

Remembering the basics (Letter to the Editor)

Joseph D. Levy
Previous articles from Schuh (2015), Roper (2015), and Henning (2016) contained a wealth of information pertaining to the history, evolution of practice, future projections, and application of scholarship to student affairs assessment. Despite robust resources and past practices, some fundamental assessment elements are often omitted from practice. This letter to the editor explores how the field could benefit from recalibrating around outcomes-focused efforts, appropriate data collection, and making use of data.