You're Not Alone: Helping to Build an Authentic Assessment Community

You're Not Alone: Helping to Build an Authentic Assessment Community

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Like many who find themselves working in student affairs assessment, I sort of stumbled into the field not knowing exactly what I was getting myself into. I worked in the creative fields of architecture and advertising before deciding to make a change and pursue a master’s degree in higher education administration. My goal was to leverage my skills and experiences in a way that would improve the overall college experience for today’s students. I wanted to figure out where gaps were in co-curricular spaces, understand how experiences  could be improved, and support students in how they make meaning and value of their college experience. Little did I know that this type of thinking was closely aligned with an area of the field called assessment.


I was first exposed to the Student Affairs Assessment Leaders (SAAL) as a graduate student. I downloaded all the sample resources and templates other assessment professionals had generously shared. Those tools became my crash course education in what assessment looked like for practitioners. I began working with the SAAL after graduate school through the development of a couple modules in the Student Affairs Assessment massive open online course (MOOC). After several years working in the field and being mostly a consumer of information and resources put out by SAAL, I finally feel like I’ve reached a turning point where I’m able to really start giving back and helping those who are newer to the field (imposter syndrome is very real!). Assessment can be a daunting, complex, and sometimes isolating area of student affairs. My ultimate hope is to help break down those barriers, show that anyone can be an assessment person, and foster a true and welcoming community of support within SAAL. 


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The future of the organization is a bright one, as evidenced by the strategic goals it has recently identified (e.g. enhancing members’ experiences, engaging members with clarity, and fostering collaborative relationships). My hope is to put my analytical and strategic mind to work for the organization. I also want  to collaborate with the incredibly talented, passionate, and caring people of the SAAL Board to benefit you as a SAAL member and ultimately all of our students. 

Blog written by Tim Novara, Chief of Staff

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