One of all of our annual routines is a visit to our health care provider to get an update on how well our body is functioning. While each of us have unique health-related histories, cares, and concerns, there are common components of any regular physical exam such as readings of blood pressure, weight, temperature, and oxygen levels. We anticipate that these activities will occur whenever its time to visit the doctor’s office. An external assessment of a student affairs division is something like this regular physical check-up exam. But where do student affairs divisions go to have their vitals checked?
In late 2016, NASPA launched Advisory Services—external reviews, assessments, and resources to enhance student affairs practice at the division level. NASPA Advisory Services examines nine “vitals,” or elements, applicable to any division of student affairs or services regardless of mission, size, organization, function, and budget. Using a framework called P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.S., Advisory Services focuses on the following areas within a student affairs or services division:
High quality student affairs work is informed by continuous assessment at multiple levels. Outstanding assessment resources already exist including NASPA/ACPA Student Affairs Professional Competencies for individual student affairs professionals and CAS Standards for programs, services, and functional areas. The NASPA Advisory Services P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.S. framework complements these established and valuable assessment tools by focusing on the level of a division of student affairs or services. The following chart illustrates the focus, framework and approach for NASPA Advisory Services, CAS, and Professional Competencies.
Just like finding the right doctor for your health needs, NASPA Advisory Services provides multiple levels of service for divisions of student affairs and services interested in external assistance. These levels include (1) guided self-assessments, (2) standard reviews, and (3) comprehensive reviews.
Guided self-assessments consist of all nine P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.S. self-assessments. Participating divisions can select which elements apply most directly to them and assign selected campus members to assessments of these areas. NASPA staff support divisions in their determination of assessment assignments, administer assessments, and provide reports of aggregate responses. A division can use these reports to examine its self-perceived strengths and areas potentially requiring additional attention as well as to evaluate changes or improvement they’ve made since their last self-assessment
Both standard and comprehensive reviews involve expert, external reviewers. These reviewers consist of current and retired student affairs vice presidents/vice chancellors, associate/assistant vice presidents, and deans; they bring senior-level experience and subject matter expertise to every review project. Members of a project review team are matched by NASPA based on their current and previous professional experiences with similar divisions of student affairs and institutions. All reviews include P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.S. assessments; review of applicable student affairs reports, data, and documents; and qualitative data collection through web/telephone interviews with selected campus members. Comprehensive reviews incorporate a campus site visit whereas standard reviews involve data collection and analysis entirely through remote means. At the conclusion of a review, NASPA provides a report of the project review team’s findings, analysis, and recommendations. Standard or comprehensive reviews scheduled around campus accreditation visits may help to bolster the evidence of effectiveness and services of the student affairs division comprehensively.
NASPA Advisory Services is currently piloting the P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.S. assessments and is engaged in multiple standard and comprehensive review projects. We invite you to learn more about how NASPA Advisory Services can support the ongoing health and well-being of your division by visiting our website or contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.