Perceptions of Senior Student Affairs Officers on the State of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/37720g837

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  • Institutions of higher education are increasingly being held accountable and experiencing pressure to demonstrate how well their students are achieving intended learning outcomes. External and internal influences fuel this pressure. After decades of rhetoric on student learning outcomes assessment there remains a question of whether the practice has been fully adopted by institutions and, if so, whether the practice has led to improved student learning and success. Student affairs units play an integral part of students' education and are not immune to the call for establishing a practice of assessment. First hand accounts by student affairs administrators on the state of learning outcomes assessment at their institutions are scarce in the scholarly literature. This qualitative study explored the perceptions of senior student affairs officers on the state of student learning outcomes assessment within their community college student affairs divisions. This study specifically sought to understand the participants' perceptions of (a) what internal and external forces influence adoption of assessment practice and use of data, (b) how assessment is prioritized within their action agenda, and (c) how equipped administrators are to lead assessment efforts. Guided by interpretive theory and the body of research on the culture of assessment in student affairs, this instrumental multiple case study was bound by a deliberate sample of participants representing comparably sized institutions in Oregon. Verbatim transcript data from semi-structured interviews served as the primary source of evidence in this study. Associated documents provided by participants, as well the researcher's own analytic memos, provided a secondary source. Data for this study were interpreted through a process of thematic qualitative analysis. This systematic, iterative, and active analysis process resulted in a thematic framework from which thirteen categories of key dimensions were generated. These in turn fed into six major themes: (a) factors that inhibit assessment practice; (b) factors that facilitate assessment practice; (c) reality versus aspiration; (d) knowledge, skill, and attitude of leaders; (e) limited culture of institutional support; and (f) resource challenges. The major findings of this study were evaluated within the guiding theoretical framework of the body of literature on the topic which led to the following key insights: (a) assessment practice is viewed as imperative by senior student affairs officers, (b) there is a lack of culture of assessment within student affairs divisions, (c) there are significant barriers to assessment practice within student affairs, (d) and there is hope for an expanded assessment practice in student affairs in the future. Study findings have implications for state and federal policy makers and accreditation associations, and key stakeholders interested in the integration of learning outcomes in student services. Expectations for assessment are not well defined and the integration of learning outcomes is not evident for services and programs that touch students outside the classroom. Existing research on outcomes primarily focuses on instruction. Ultimately, if a "culture of assessment" is to be integrated into student services there must be additional research that documents the benefits of assessment practice in student services and whether the efforts are worth it.
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  • description.provenance : Submitted by Heather Lang (langh@onid.orst.edu) on 2016-03-18T21:13:58Z No. of bitstreams: 2 LangHeatherJ2016.pdf: 3621689 bytes, checksum: b30e6ba71dfbeaf83d86a68a63ab3c70 (MD5) license_rdf: 1232 bytes, checksum: bb87e2fb4674c76d0d2e9ed07fbb9c86 (MD5)
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  • description.provenance : Rejected by Julie Kurtz(julie.kurtz@oregonstate.edu), reason: Rejecting to make one small revision to the Approval page. Third signature line should be changed from Dean of the College of the Graduate School, to read - Dean of the Graduate School. Everything else looks fine. Once revised, log back into ScholarsArchive and go to the upload page. Replace the attached file with the revised file and resubmit. Thanks, Julie on 2016-03-16T18:33:41Z (GMT)

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