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2022 Student Affairs Assessment Conference

Ninth Annual Student Learning Assessment Conference | June 1, 2022

Program Descriptions

Plenary Session: Decision Support for Upper Administration: Departmental Data in Action

Presenters: Rob Aaron & Amy Huntington | Student Affairs Assessment & Planning

The Assessment and Planning office receives 37 data requests per month, on average, during a typical academic year. Among these are requests from divisional leadership to provide evidence of progress on larger university initiatives and interests, including those of the Board of Trustees and the Provost. Our office uses data from a wide variety of sources to fulfill these requests including departmental data on programs, operations, and learning, as well as trend data from national studies to provide information on student behavior and need. We then tie together this information into reports that are shared with members of the President’s Cabinet and the Board of Trustees. Have you ever wondered what happens with the information submitted in departmental annual reports? Attend this session to learn more!

Divisional Strategic Themes: Champion holistic well-being, Foster meaningful student engagement, Invest in organizational development, Pursue equity, justice, and belonging 

Abstracts for Concurrent Sessions

Religious Identity, Spiritual Engagement: What Current Data Can and Cannot Tell Us

Presenter: Eric Budzynski | Religious & Spiritual Life

Multi-school surveys are utilized at Northwestern in conjunction with the Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE) and the Big 10 Network. This project focused on the utility of these surveys, including the Survey of New Students, Enrolled Student Survey, Senior Survey, & the Climate Survey for Diversity, in their ability to describe the needs of the religious and spiritual student community. Through the course of the project, we found that although these instruments give a robust picture of student life at Northwestern and nation-wide, they are in no way complete. There is a shortage of meaningful and deep data on religious engagement and spirituality on campus, particularly as it relates to student satisfaction. As the demographic of religious engagement shifts in the United States to become more representative with identities of minoritized expressions (race, culture, gender, international status, etc.), it is critical to understand the support, structural considerations, and needs for these particular students. Through the analysis of current survey instruments, a strategic shaping of current and proposed new survey questions for those surveys, and a proposed four-year longitudinal assessment cycle, Northwestern will be able to realize more full informed decision making regarding the support of religious expression and spiritual well-being on campus.  This presentation aims to be a roadmap for Student Affairs practitioners interested in how to use existing institutional data to bring better and more meaningful impact to the students whom they serve.

Divisional Learning Outcomes: Personal Development, Social Responsibility

Divisional Strategic Themes: Champion Holistic Well-Being, Foster Meaningful Student Engagement, Pursue Equity, Justice, and Belonging

Holistic Listening: What the Eight Dimensions of Wellness can tell us about Queer Student Experiences

Presenter: Matt Abtahi | Multicultural Student Affairs

Northwestern University administers several surveys on an annual or semi-annual basis in attempts to assess student experiences and feedback on services. This project focuses on sexual orientation and gender-based outcomes across these surveys while applying the dimensions of wellness framework.  This investigation comes after members of the MSA’s LGBTQIA+ Student Advisory Board got requests from university administrators about how to best meet the safety needs of Northwestern’s LGBTQIA+ student population. Uninterested in assuming the needs of the population, students began the process of creating a long-term assessment for LGBTQIA+ students. As students sought feedback from campus researchers, students were informed that some University surveys already capture some data about the LGBTQIA+ experience. This presentation aims to marry disparate datasets while applying a grounding structure to a large array of data.  Ideally this project will inform students on the state of Northwestern for queer students and serve as a launchpad moving forward with the creation of a deeper assessment tool of LGBTQIA+ experiences. Findings of this analysis will have implication for GSRC programming, advocacy, and collaborations with campus partners both within and out of Student Affairs while centering the varied gender identities and sexual orientations at Northwestern.
Divisional Learning Outcomes: Personal Development

Divisional Strategic Themes: Champion Holistic Well-Being, Foster Meaningful Student Engagement, Pursue Equity, Justice, and Belonging

Student Stage Managers: What Our Student Employees Learn Through Graduation Planning

Presenter: Liza Alrutz | Graduation & Senior Year Experience, Student Engagement

The Student Stage Management program for graduation is still in its early stages. Student involvement in the planning process began the 2017 planning cycle, with our first full team of students supporting the 2019 Commencement. The primary goal was involving students in the planning and execution of Commencement each year, including finding ways to improve the graduation production process. As we have further developed the program, along with the creation of the new department in Student Engagement, Graduation & Senior Year Experiences, we began assessing what the Student Stage Managers learn from this experience. While some of our student employees are interested in pursuing event management professionally, others have different career goals; this brought us to create an assessment to determine how the Graduation Stage Management Program supports and prepares students’ career development. Students completed a survey reflecting on their personal preparation for this year’s planning process, areas they seek to improve, areas they excel in, and a personal evaluation of general career competencies, as identified by partners from Northwestern Career Advancement. Students will re-take this assessment after this year’s Graduation Weekend and continue to complete this process for each year’s planning cycle. Not only will this study allow us to assess each student’s growth and development, but this process primes our students for personal reflection on their independent experiences.

Divisional Strategic Themes: Foster Meaningful Student Engagement

International Student Orientation: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going

Presenter: Taya Carothers | Office of International Student & Scholar Services (OISS) 

International Student Orientation (ISO) and Graduate International Student Orientation (GISO) are required programs in which international students participate before Wildcat Welcome and their department level orientations. These programs help international students transition both to the U.S. and to Northwestern by ensuring students can complete logistical tasks such as opening a bank account and purchasing supplies; developing a social network; identifying key areas of interest and resources within the Evanston and Northwestern communities; and learning how to maintain their F1 or J1 immigration status. To understand how well ISO and GISO were accomplishing these goals, the International Orientation Assessment (IOA) was created.  The IOA contains instruments aimed at helping OISS better understand what students value the most about orientation; how orientation mentors can better support students during international orientation, and to understand whether students are achieving the learning outcomes associated with international orientation. In April 2022, international students completed this assessment which used both direct and indirect measures to assess the learning outcomes, opinions about orientation, and knowledge of basic immigration regulations. Results of this survey will be discussed.

Divisional Learning Outcome(s): Interpersonal Competence, Cognitive & Practical Skills, Personal Development 

Purple Pantry in Focus: Meeting Students Where They Are

Presenter: Clare Cole | Student Enrichment Services 

The Purple Pantry is an on-campus food pantry that provides supplemental food for students who face food insecurity. Support staff from Student Enrichment Services and Sheil Catholic Center manage and operate the pantry. The Purple Pantry will transition over to Northwestern Dining before Fall 2022. A comprehensive data profile of users was compiled to better understand the historical users of the pantry.  This data profile provided crucial context in the drafting of questions as well as segmentations of populations for focus groups.  Focus groups were conducted in the spring for an undergraduate population and a graduate student population to learn about student pantry use, food accessibility concerns and suggestions for the new pantry. Results of the focus groups will be shared. Implications for rollout are discussed. 

Divisional Strategic Themes: Pursue Equity, Justice, and Belonging, Champion Holistic Well-Being

In Person Versus Virtual: How Does Modality Matter for Career Fairs?

Presenter: Mary Madormo | Northwestern Career Advancement

Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA) hosts career fairs throughout the academic year. These events have historically taken place in person until 2020, when the need to pivot due to the pandemic presented itself. NCA has now hosted six virtual career fairs over the last two years, providing a new way for employers and students to connect. This shift in modality brought up the question: Does career fair format matter to its participants (students and employers)? For this assessment project, data from NCA’s career platform, Handshake, will be analyzed from 2018 through today, looking at a total of 11 career fairs to understand trends and if there is a preference by students to attend in person or virtual fairs. In addition, students and employers who participated in virtual career fairs this academic year were sent surveys focused on satisfaction and preferences for their fair experience and future participation. This data will help inform NCA’s future career fairs, offering an engaging recruiting opportunity for students and employers.

Divisional Strategic Themes: Champion Holistic Well-being, Foster Meaningful Student Engagement

Reporting on Reports: Examining the Experiences, Motivations, and Outcomes of Third-Party Reporters

Presenter: Jason McKean | Office of Equity 

The Office of Equity (OE) carries responsibility for responding to reports of harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct in the Northwestern community. OE depends on Northwestern community members, and especially employees, all of whom have an obligation to report, to promptly share information with OE. This enables OE and the University to meet both its legal obligation to outreach to impacted persons, and just as importantly its responsibility to provide support, resources, and options to impacted persons that preserves their participation and success in academics and employment. Because the participation and success of an impacted person can depend on the actions of the person they first tell, OE wanted to know how third-party reporters experience the act of reporting in terms of their use of reporting tools, their understanding of the reporting process, and the challenges or concerns they faced when working with the impacted person. Through analysis of a survey created for third-party reporters who entered a report of harassment, discrimination, or sexual misconduct, results will be discussed regarding what reporters' experience. Results cover who makes reports, how reporters engage the reporting process, how they engage the impacted person, what motivates their reporting, and what issues they navigate for themselves as well as the impacted person they report regarding.  Future implications for the training for third-party reporters, and how they can be best supported as critical partners in the reporting process will be discussed.

Mission: The Office of Equity works to uphold the University’s commitment by responding to reports of discrimination and harassment, including by helping students, faculty, and staff understand the University’s processes for making such reports.

Alternative Spring Break: Civic Engagement and Service-Learning

Presenter: Val Buchanan | Leadership Development and Community Engagement 

Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is a service-learning program based out of Leadership Development and Community Engagement in the Division of Student Affairs. The objective is to give Northwestern students opportunities to learn and build relationships through direct experience in local schools and nonprofits. ASB participants (28 students in March 2022) lived together in a downtown Chicago hostel while doing hands-on work with schools and nonprofits in the city that challenged them to think critically and compassionately, with the goal of becoming active citizens dedicated to pursuing a more just and equitable world. This assessment attempts to gauge the outcome of ASB as a high impact practice for student learning. ASB participants completed a summative survey with Likert scale questions and open-ended questions to gather their feedback, as well as formative short-write/draws several times during the week.  This presentation is an analysis of the key findings from the students’ feedback and reflections regarding program changes for the next iteration of the ASB program in March 2023. We will discuss what students learned about themselves during the experience, how their perceptions of Chicago were challenged, how they reflected on the dynamics of power and privilege in various spaces around the city, and how the experience has impacted their desire to be social change agents.

Divisional Learning Outcome(s): Personal Development, Interpersonal Competence, Social Responsibility, Cognitive and Practical Skills

Are You Sure It’s Plugged In: Training SAIT Student Employees How to Troubleshoot

Presenter: Steve DiDomenico | Student Affairs Inoformation Technology

Student Affairs Information Technology (SAIT) recently revamped its work-study program where student employees solve real-world computer problems and help other SAIT staff with a variety of technical tasks. In the program, student employees are expected to develop their skillsets at work, particularly in the areas of troubleshooting, technology, and customer service. This assessment project discerns if students increase their overall IT-related knowledge in this new developing training program. The early topics of the program include training in desktop and laptop hardware, understanding various cable connections, following specific steps when fixing technical issues, and providing customer care, in addition to several other areas where student learning will be assessed. Most importantly, the main goal of this study is to understand how students troubleshoot computer issues and resolve technical problems, and how these skills have changed over time.  In the presentation, in addition to sharing the training materials, assessment results will be shown which will include the students’ skills improvements, personal confidence in solving computer problems, and contributions to resolving help desk tickets. The future of the SAIT work-study program will also be discussed, including what changes (if any) need to be made based on this assessment.

Divisional Learning Outcomes: Personal Development, Cognitive and Practical Skills 

Previous Conferences