Investing Energy Supporting Individuals Engaged in Student Affairs Assessment

Investing Energy Supporting Individuals Engaged in Student Affairs Assessment

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The Student Affairs Assessment Leaders (SAAL) is 5 months into its newly formed leadership board. As a fully volunteer run organization, the key foundations of innovation, service, passion and commitment comprise why this organization has survived for 15 years. It is the people who have demonstrated these key foundations to ultimately best serve the needs of individuals engaged in Student Affairs assessment. Our SAAL Board has been meeting monthly to discuss our strategy that we unveiled last fall to our members with the goal to determine if these strategic foci and objectives still make sense and begin to develop metrics to ensure our success. In addition to discussing strategy and defining what success means for SAAL as an organization, we have put in motion more dynamic facilitation of blogs, structured conversations, podcasts and how to support you all as you navigate spaces in higher education and equity-centered assessment. All three of our Vice-Presidential roles have been busy working to build community, share learning, and identify tools and resources to help SAAL members advance in the profession.

We are human and recognize the importance of helping you thrive in an inclusive and supportive environment. SAAL is consistently open for feedback about our new structure and how best to communicate that we are being held accountable to your needs. We are reviewing all the feedback we have received from you on our new structure and strategy and encourage you to keep sharing. Please feel free to email the SAAL Board with your thoughts, feedback, and ideas anytime. We want this organization to truly live and breathe its mission to, “Create a robust, active, and inclusive community committed to supporting and advancing critical conversations with resources and scholarly endeavors related to student affairs assessment.”

Here are some key highlights on how the SAAL Board has been investing its energy in supporting you:

Ongoing Member Needs Assessment

The Research On and Advancing Knowledge committee is working diligently to best understand the needs of the profession today and what SAAL should be providing and leading. Previous SAAL members engaged in a needs assessment utilizing a qualitative lens, modified Nominal-Group Technique (mNGT) to provide an understanding how professionals working in student affairs and co-curricular assessment view SAAL in terms of meeting their needs. You can see the recording from the recent April 27th Structured Conversation and read the report here. Previous iterations of a landscape survey were disseminated to you all in the past to understand how the field of Student Affairs assessment is evolving, growing, and changing with the goal to better provide support for you all. You can see the infographic shared last year comparing trends from 2014-2019. It appears that more Student Affairs Assessment professional roles are available and focused on division-wide efforts along with an increase of people to the field. It has been 4 years since a landscape survey has been shared and the Research On and Advancing Knowledge committee is working carefully to enhance, edit and develop this survey process. Please keep an eye out for the survey this year.


Community Development and Engagement

SAAL Monthly Wrap-Ups and New to Assessment Chats have all been launched this year with the goal to curate resources, support and promote community. We all get busy with work emails and sometimes we may miss something on the SAAL listserv, thus SAAL Monthly Wrap-Ups will be shared at the end of the month to include a summary via the listserv for the last month in one space. We are growing as an organization and this year alone we have added 134 new members to the listserv this year. The new SAAL Blog Team is up and running and will be sharing regular blogs with content designed to meet your needs. With in person conferences a reality, SAAL will be working to create some meet ups at key conferences this year. More information to be sent out via the listserv soon! The SAAL Board has begun using Google Analytics this past month to understand usage on the website. There have been 474 users on the Student Affairs Assessment Leaders (SAAL) website since March 17, 2023 with the most commonly clicked pages as our home page, Structured Conversations and the Online Open Course. As we build structures to develop and engage our community l, we will communicate any trends and metrics we are now collecting.  

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Learning & Development

Structured Conversations are one of our oldest resources SAAL has offered during its existence as an organization. Just this year, we have already hosted 5 Structured Conversations, with video recordings posted to our YouTube Channel. Our channel has had 3,001 views in the last 28 days with 8 new subscribers, with the SAAL Open Course modules continually being the most popular along with the March 27th Structured Conversation Building an Integrated Data System. Please share this channel with those that may benefit from content. We have videos that go back for a long time. We encourage you to continue sharing your stories via our crowdsourcing podcast sign up sheet. Our most recent podcast, Centering Voices: Facilitating Focus Groups or Listening Circles had 113 downloads (not including streaming on Apple or Spotify). As we continue to understand the needs of Student Affairs assessment professionals, we will provide learning and development to best support you.

Online Open Course Updates

This year was the seventh run of the open course, Applying & Leading Assessment in Student Affairs, and engagement was as strong as ever. We had 1542 people register, which is just a little below overall enrollment average (1640), but is nearly 500 more than 2022’s course. We had 222 (14.4%) participants successfully earn the course badge - slightly less proportionally than 2022’s course (14.6%), but more students overall (153 completed last year). Notable new elements incorporated into the course this year were the addition of another type of small group opportunity for connection and discussion by functional area, along with a number of scheduled (optional) live office-hour style sessions with the instructors throughout the course. Very early in our course analysis work, we’re seeing some great feedback and ideas for how to make some enhancements for next year’s course run - stay tuned for our usual post-course data analysis report and summary blog. We’d also like to give a big thanks to our generous and supportive co-sponsors for this year’s course: Enflux, Modern Campus, Weave, and the Assessment Network of New York (ANNY).

Our Continued Investment

Almost 15 years ago passionate colleagues sparked a conversation at the 2008 NASPA Assessment & Persistence Conference (Thanks Gavin Henning & Erin Bentrim!). This was the beginning of SAAL as an organization and we would not be able to grow and develop in the way we have as an organization if it were not for our passionate founders. If you want to hear the entire history, listen to SAAL Reflections: Sharing our History. A central component of Student Affairs assessment is to understand if we are doing the right things and how to continually improve. The current Board is committed to sharing communications more consistently with the focus on transparency. I want to thank you all for joining our organization and helping us nurture a thriving community of individuals engaged in Student Affairs Assessment. We will continue to invest our energy in supporting you because this organization was built with you in mind.

~SAAL Board


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