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Principles of Good Practice for Student Affairs


Published on December 2, 2014

Dr.KarariJohnson-VicePresidentofStudentAffairsJobCode:14-0528BRB  Principles of Good Practice for Student Affairs Good Practice in Student Affairs: 1. Engages students in active learning. 2. Helps students develop coherent values and ethical standards. 3. Sets and communicates high expectations for student learning. 4. Uses systematic inquiry to improve student and institutional performance. 5. Uses resources effectively to achieve institutional missions and goals. 6. Forges educational partnerships that advance student learning. 7. Builds supportive and inclusive communities. Today's context for higher education presents student affairs with many challenges. Among these are new technologies, changing student demographics, demands for greater accountability, concern about the increasing cost of higher education, and criticism of the moral and ethical climate on campuses. Institutions of higher learning are also influenced by social and political issues, including multiculturalism, personal responsibility, and equal opportunity. The approriate response to these challenges will shape our role in higher education. The choice of student affairs educators is simple: We can pursue a course that engages us in the central mission of our institutions or retreat to the margins in the hope that we will avoid the inconvenience of change. Others in higher education have recognized these challenges and have responded with calls to concentrate "on the core function of the enterprise, that is, focusing on student learning" (Wingspread Group, 1993). Focusing on learning rather than instruction is a fundamental shift in perspective. If the purpose of education is learning, then institutional effectiveness should be measured by specific educational benefits and outcomes rather than by the number of computers, books, faculty, or the size of endowments. Creating learning environments and learning experiences for students has always been at the heart of student affairs work. The Student Learning Imperative ( American College Personnel Association , 1994) asked us to embrace the current challenges as an opportunity to affirm our commitment to student learning and development. As a first step in that direction, the Student Learning Imperative articulated the need for an emphasis on student learning and the value of student affairs educators working collaboratively with students, faculty, academic administrators, and others. The next step is identifying practices that will move our profession forward in its focus on learning and guide us in meeting the challenges with which we are confronted. For this purpose, principles have been identified to guide the daily practice of student affairs work. Principles of Good Practice Good practice in student affairs engages students in active learning. Active learning invites students to bring their life experiences into the learning process, reflect on their own and others' perspectives as they expand their viewpoints, and apply new understandings to their own lives. Good student affairs practice provides students with opportunities for experimentation through programs focused on engaging students in various learning experiences. These opportunities include experiential learning such as student government; collective decision- making on educational issues; field-based learning such as internships; peer instruction; and structured group experiences such as community service, international study, and resident advising. Good practice in student affairs helps students develop coherent values and ethical standards. Good student affairs practice provides opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and student affairs