May/June 2021
In the Know
STRATEGIC PLANNING

I hope this edition of Eye on Assessment finds you with an eye on carving out some time for yourselves, family and friends to explore the promise of summertime. I am hopeful that each of you will be able to slow down, step back and find ways to regroup, whatever that may look like in your respective lives. At the same time, I recognize that a summer vacation may offer little solace to those who have experienced loss, those living with prolonged feelings of stress and anxiety, and those struggling to manage fear, frustration and anger in the face of systems perpetuating oppression and violence against minoritized communities. Each of us may have struggled in different ways over the course of the year, but there is little doubt that we have experienced, and now must find our way through processing, collective trauma. There is no doubt that we desire to continue to deliver compassionate support to meet our students' immediate and developmental needs even as the rhythm of our lives, our perceptions of self, world and others, and the ways we make meaning of our individual and collective experiences have been massively disrupted. My years of studying human development leave me pondering some pretty big questions as I think about returning to campus. My thoughts coalesce around how I have changed, how our students' developmental trajectories have been altered, and how colleagues have been affected by things they have experienced or witnessed over the course of the last year.

While Zoom was instrumental, and in some ways highly effective in accomplishing our work, for many it failed to provide an environment conducive to authentic connection, the space in which we can give and receive the kind of care and compassion humans need to make their way through difficult times. While I look forward to seeing colleagues "on the bricks", I am also struggling with the ambiguity that lies ahead. There is no tidy way to bookend these experiences. By this point in the narrative, you are rightly questioning what this has to do with strategic planning. For some of you, perhaps the answer is very little or nothing. However, from an assessment perspective, I would encourage you to consider the power of a clearly delineated strategic plan. First and foremost, it can anchor or ground our work throughout uncertain times. In doing so, it can create new and revitalize existing relationships and spaces for collaboration. As we work to accomplish a common set of objectives, we position ourselves to become better advocates for advancing a values-based approach to supporting students and staff. Clear priorities can be an impetus to letting go of programming, services, or ways of operating that may no longer be efficient or effective. It is easy to default to holding onto things that have worked before. However, it is increasingly difficult and unduly stressful to attempt to do more in a climate of increasingly limited resources. And finally, our strategic objectives and strategies draw heavily on data in orienting our collective efforts. Thoughtfully framed data-informed actions help to mitigate some of the potential stress or anxiety we may experience in working through uncertainties. This is applicable in both personal and professional life, and my hope for each of you is that you use this summer transition time as an opportunity to pause where possible, evaluate your needs and resources, and set up some intentional strategies for addressing both self-care and wellbeing, as well as focused and balanced professional efforts. As such, I would like to take this opportunity to share the strategies our Student Affairs Leadership Team has prioritized in moving forward toward achieving our objectives. It's detailed, but I hope I have convinced you to take the look!


If you have trouble accessing the link, please contact Dr. Locke at blocke@email.unc.edu
Upcoming Events
Tableau Training
Thursday, June 10th @ 2:00 p.m.

This training will be held in conjunction with the monthly Student Affairs Assessment Council meeting. All Student Affairs staff are welcome to join us. The training is interactive and participants who do not have a desktop version of Tableau software will need to download Tableau Public at https://public.tableau.com/s/

Student Affairs Annual Report CoWorking Sessions (Online)
Friday, June 25 @ 12:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Friday, July 9th @ 12:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Friday, July 16th @ 12:00 to 4:00 p.m.

These sessions are open to any staff member who writes or contributes to the writing of their departmental annual report. You can pop in at any time to ask a quick question, or pop in and stay for a while as you work on your annual report. Click here to join the meeting.

REGISTER at https://txahea.org/webinar.html
Co-curricular Assessment - Not just for Student Affairs
Wednesday, June 23 @ 10:30 a.m.

REGISTER at https://www.aefisacademy.org/community-events
Democracy & Assessment Series: Your Voice Matters!
Tuesday, June 8 @ 5:00 p.m.

"Assessment: The Musical!" Episode 12 Keeping Equity in Assessment
Wednesday, June 16 @ 2:00 p.m.
Visit the Odum Institute's Events Calendar to learn more or to register.
Qualitative Research for Applied Practice
Monday, July 26th-27th @ 10:30 a.m.
REGISTER at http://studentaffairsassessment.org/professional-development
Using Reflection to Advance Assessment for Student Success
Thursday, June 3 @ 1:00 p.m.

REGISTER at https://assessmentinstitute.iupui.edu/registration/index.html
IUPUI Assessment Institute (Free of Cost Online)
October 24 - 27th
Tune In
SASS-y Advice in Student Affairs Assessment Podcast
Tidbyte
In implementing the Common Application, our partners in Admissions provided an opportunity for applicants to explain how they have been impacted by COVID. Analysis of open-ended responses identified the following prominent themes in the data:

  1. Financial difficulties/struggles due to parental job loss
  2. Health challenges due to COVID
  3. Limited opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities, socialize with friends
  4. Depression/anxiety due to social distancing
  5. Challenges of online learning
  6. Concerns about social, racial justice and equity

While some of these themes directly align with our work, all provide insight into our students experiences and their potential needs for programming, services, and resources provided across Student Affairs. At your next staff meeting consider exploring what this data might mean for your team.
Connect the Dots
Collaborate
Survey fatigue is REAL! This Spring OIRA implemented SERU as part of its regularly scheduled assessment calendar. After sending numerous reminders, only 300 students have responded. This is down from ~5750 and ~3750 in 2017 and 2015 respectively. Granted the year was definitely an extreme outlier. However, in moving forward we should take every opportunity possible to leverage interdepartmental collaboration when planning surveys. I am working with OIRA to advance a few ideas for institutional collaboration in regards to data sharing and collection.

We should not wait. As a division, Student Affairs can make headway before heading into the new year. While we love data and the insights we can gain from it, the data we have is telling us it's time to pump the brakes and work together. In setting up our 2021-22 Student Affairs Survey Calendar, the Assessment Council will identify opportunities to integrate data collection whenever feasible. If you are planning to implement any survey with a sample larger than 100 students, please check-in with Dr. Locke. Stay tuned for a few new mechanisms we will use in the coming year to support our Strategic Plan and core assessment processes!
An Open Invitation
If you have questions, need support or would like more information on assessment resources, contact Belinda Locke at blocke@email.unc.edu.