Learning Outcomes

Reflections, Fall 2009

Student Development and Outcomes 


As an educator with close to thirty years experience, I have a solid theoretical and experiential base of psychosocial, cognitive and learning theory.  As a special educator and instructional support professional, I have used measurable objectives and outcomes based instruction throughout my career.  I have extensive practice in applying learning theory to design educational interventions for individual students, but not for program development for adult learners. My challenge in this area is to learn about the developmental level of college students and how they are impacted by learning theory.  I am currently adding to my broad base of counseling skills by my participation in CnEd 404, Group Counseling; and CnEd 500, Introduction to Counseling.


Through my work in CSA 501 I was introduced the beginnings of student development theory and how they impact students at the college level.  We discussed Sanford's important theory of maintaining the balance between challenging and supporting students at this level.  I have learned many theories of group counseling and the importance of process in a group approach to counseling.  I have gained experience in both theory and practice of group counseling at all stages:  initial, transitional, working and ending.  I also developed skill in writing a proposal for initiating and supporting first year seminar groups at the college level. In my Intro to Counseling and Development course, I was able to relate areas where students may need help such as eating disorders, loss, substance abuse to the developmental level at which they are experiencing.  Through my site visit to Juniata college, I gained a sound awareness of the intentional interventions in place through student affairs to support the educational programs of students.  Both the Dean and the Assistant Dean deal heavily in providing academic counseling to promote effective educational interventions.  I do not feel that I have enough background in theory at this point to say that I am able to put theory into practice for either specialized or generalist areas in the field yet. 

I have grown slightly in my understanding of Student Development and Outcomes.  I feel that I had a brief introduction to some of the theories through our text.  I gained much knowledge in the area of counseling through the two counseling courses that I took.  I believe that after I take the student development course in the spring that I will have greatly strengthened by knowledge in this competency area. 

Foundations of Student Affairs

September 2009

This is an area that is uncharted water for me.  Through my participation in the Introductory Student Affairs course I will learn the history, philosophy and contextual foundation of this field, as well as contemporary issues.  I hope to eventually progress far enough in the program to build an understanding of the multiple functional areas with student affairs through experience based learning.

December 2009

I have experienced significant growth in this area.  I am now familiar with the historical underpinnings of the field and the philosophies in which student affairs is grounded.  Writing a synthesis of the readings helped to reinforce this learning.  The issues discussed in class such as:  sustainability, medical amnesty, social networking, communication with students etc., reinforced how student affairs issues are affected social context and progress.  It drove home the point that it is imperative to be aware of what is going on in the lives of students and their culture.  Class discussions clarified the role Student Affairs plays in higher education and that it is influenced by the organizational structure of an institution and the willingness of faculty and Student Affairs to collaborate.

I believe that this competency area is one in which my learning grew immensely as I started at ground zero.  I found the history to be interesting and relevant to understanding the evolution of the field.  Learning about all of the different functional areas also helped to bring about a clearer understanding of what Student Affairs' work encompasses.

January 2013

My introduction to College Student Affairs began with the foundational course, Introduction to Student Affairs, CSA 501.  The course content was designed to broadly share the history and philosophy of the field.  I was introduced to the functional areas of Student Affairs and pillars of the profession.  Readings for the course such as The Student Personnel Point of View (1949) and Learning Reconsidered:  A Campus Wide Focus on the Student Experience (2004) solidified my hunch that I had found a home in higher education.  The emphasis on the holistic learning of students and transformative learning were philosophical matches to the way I had approached my previous work in K-12 education. I was thrilled to find an aspect of higher education that was devoted to challenging and supporting the growth and development of students both in and out of the classroom. 

Throughout my learning in the College Student Affairs program I was continually taken back to the pillars of the profession that had been introduced in CSA 501.  I was especially drawn to the work of Sylvia Hurtado et al. on the educational benefits of diversity in the classroom especially when faculty intentionally use pedagogical methods that encourage collaboration and discourse across the participants.  Another favorite was Mary Howard Hamilton and the interventions she recommended for creating genuine multicultural campus environments.  The work of these leaders in the field was inspirational in a few ways.  It drove home the importance of intentionality in creating and designing programs whether in the classroom or co curricular areas.  It also helped me to recognize how scholarly inquiry and discourse advance the profession. 

CSA 501 also introduced me to the functional areas and the importance of understanding the organizational structures of each.  This information was helpful in my graduate assistant ship and internships.  Knowledge of the chain of command is critical when seeking and reporting information.  My practical experiences reinforced the collaboration that occurs among functional areas.  Through my orientation and advising work at the First Year Testing, Consulting and Advising Program I saw how Student Activities, the University Health Center and the Division of Undergraduate Studies collaborated to present an informative student presentation to incoming students.  My internship in Student Conduct informed the necessity of working closely with Residence Life, and the University Police to deliver their mission of providing an educational conduct conference for student violations of the Code of Conduct.  I have a solid understanding that units in Student Affairs are not silos and missions often require the collaborative planning and support among units.  Current issues in Student Affairs work such as: sustainability, learning outcomes and assessment, campus safety, financial concerns, and alcohol and drug abuse require that units come together to implement supportive programs and practices.

My Growth in the Foundations of Student Affairs

My understanding of the Foundations of Student Affairs was planted in my non-degree year of study in CSA 501: The Introduction to Student Affairs.  I soaked up the history and philosophy of the field and was introduced to the various functional areas. Important scholar-practitioners in the field were introduced as well as their areas of study. And a thorough dissection of Learning Reconsidered and Learning Reconsidered 2 outlined a clear understanding of the role of Student Affairs within the broader concept of higher education. Experiential learning in the form of site visits helped to inform my understanding of how institution organization, size and mission influences the role that Student Affairs assumes at varying institutions. My reflection in this learning outcome initially centered upon deciding if this field was a good fit for my future career goals in higher education.  This reflection informed identification of functional areas to further investigate and important gaps in my learning. 

Through my work experiences in the College Student Affairs program in the form of internships, I developed a deeper understanding of the historical and philosophical foundations of the functional areas where I worked.  A key aspect of my internship at the Pennsylvania State University's First Year Testing, Consulting and Advising Program (FTCAP) was to learn the history and philosophy of Academic Advising, as well as the Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) where the advising of exploratory students occurs.  Reflection on the current philosophy of advising as teaching and DUS's commitment to teaching students how to make intentional decisions to inform their exploration resonated deeply with me.  I could not imagine anything more fulfilling than to help guide a student's discovery of where they planned to center their undergraduate learning.  My internship at FTCAP also introduced me to the collaborative work that occurs among functional units in Student Affairs to provide important student programming for orientation.  As a presenter for student orientation sessions, I found myself working side by side with colleagues in Student Activities and Health Services.  I began to recognize that education of students in important endeavors outside the classroom involved planning and implementation across functional areas. 

Professional Competencies


Through my experience as an instructional support team facilitator, I regularly employed the skills of active listening, group facilitation, leadership and teamwork.  Empathy, integrity and compassion were exercised daily in dealing with children with disabilities and their parents. I applied knowledge of professional ethical standards always.  Confidentiality was exercised as was the careful documentation of meetings and programs developed. Areas where I need to improve and build competency are:  cross cultural communication, mediation and crisis intervention.   

Through a graduate program in special education supervision I developed and honed skills in management.  I can develop a special education budget, have a good knowledge of the legal in issues in my field, and am able to program plan for the professional development of teachers. 


Through class assignments I had the opportunity to work on demonstrating leadership and team work skills.  In some instances of our group project, I also felt that I employed some skillful mediation between members.  I thoroughly enjoyed working with students from other backgrounds so do feel that my cross cultural skills were enhanced both in CSA 501, my Social Justice course, and group counseling.   I learned a considerable amount of knowledege in group counseling in the area of confidentiality and ethical standards.  This was also covered in each of our functional areas and a review of ACPA and NASPA's ethical standards. In all of my courses this semester I was given the opportunity to utilize and hone active listening skills and show empathy, integrity and compassion for others. 

I do not feel that many of my skills have changed much in this area. I feel that if I had the opportunity to be a graduate assistant in the program as many of my classmates or work at the university as others do, I would have more of an opportunity to build management skills and build experience based evidence of program planning. That said, as I stated in September, as a teacher and a support facilitator, I have a wealth of experience in program planning and implementation.  It is just with a younger population or with colleagues as in staff development programming. 

Inter and Intra personal Skills


I am committed to self-understanding and professional development.  As a special educator, I have a strong commitment to learning about differences and helping others to recognize, understand and appreciate differences.  Through the Social Justice course I am recognizing the value in learning about beliefs and ideas different from my own.  I know that I will emerge from this semester a better person from the courses I am taking and the experiences they provide.  As first a student, and then a teacher, I have become a master of self-management.


I have broadened the depth and scope of my understanding of differences.  I have a better understanding of how people can be marginalized and instances on campuses how this may occur.  I have come to know and respect many classmates and other students who are different from me in many ways.  I continue to grow as a person by the opportunity to gain an appreciation of others' perspectives.  I have strengthened my ability to be a reflective learner  which has heightened by on-going development.  Just the sheer volume of scholarly professional articles alone that I have read this semester contributes greatly to my ongoing cognitive and personal development. 

I thought I had a good skill base in this area, but soon came to realize that there was much that I did not know.  My learning only increased my awareness and desire to reach out to others different from myself and learn about their cultures, beliefs and hopes. 

 Social Justice


I come to the field of Social Justice as an open slate.  While I have been an advocate for children with differences for many years, I have not given near enough consideration to the existence of other systems of oppression and how they influence and have influenced students through their education.  I am building skills through my Social Justice course to understand how to develop and integrate my own social justice perspective to apply to my work.


Through class discussions, readings, and personal experiences I have a first hand knowledge of social justice.  I learned about power, privilege and differences.  I learned about allies and advocates and how to begin to work for a better balance of opportunity in our world.  I learned about the many benefits of a diverse campus population. Through reflection and analysis of readings I learned how social institutions created by a dominant majority allowed for  the unequal distribution of wealth and opportunity that has created oppression for many others.  I see how people are marginalized for having different view sand beliefs that are not in tune with yet again, the dominant majority.  And most importantly, because I have come to develop friendships with people from these groups, I have developed a desire and education to be an ally who will walk with them and help to make places safe and respectful for them.   

I had a very small idea of what it was to stand up for others who are different through my work with children who have disabilities. While this population is recognized in the realm of social justice, they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding difference and lack of opportunity.  This is the area where I feel that I have grown the most personally and professionally.  I know that as a student affairs professional I will be able to relate to students from all backgrounds, sexual orientations, ethnicities, genders or races.  


Research and Assessment


Through graduate course work and my own career, I have been committed to evaluating the effectiveness of programs and services.  Every few years, I developed surveys for parents and teachers to gain qualitative feedback about the programs developed for students and the process by which they were developed.  This data was compiled and the results were used to modify our instructional support process. I have an adequate foundation of good research practices.  


While I did not directly employ research methods this semester, the importance of research was driven home.  This occurred by simply reading many, many research findings.  It was also clear as we learned about the different pillars of the profession and how much research they have contributed to the field.  It was also apparent in our discussion of programming and being able to support with data the importance that what we do with students makes a difference.  Assistant Dean Cook-Huffman discussed this with us at Juniata as he shared research he was doing on their first year seminar program. 

I have always had a healthy respect for research, surveys and data collection.  It was a big part of my job as instructional support personnel to collect date to show that selected interventions were appropriate and making a difference so this is an area with which I am already familiar.  In supporting my part of our case study in social justice, I relied heavily on research to support the choices I made to build our case. 

Fall Semester, 2011

Mapping to the Learning Outcomes for my Graduate Assistant Work 

Foundations of Student Affairs

DUS's role as an advising center falls under the realm of a functional area within student affairs.

·         Adviser training session on the history and philosophy of advising was provided.  Various literary articles on advising and the academic advising field past to present were read.  The specific history and mission of DUS and how DUS fits into the University structure have been pondered and processed.  Much of this was accomplished by self-exploration and reading of The Penn State Adviser, the Undergraduate Advising Handbook, Advising @PSU and DUS 101. 

·         Continuous update on contemporary issues in advising is gleaned through membership in NACADA, conference attendance when possible, regular attendance at staff meetings, participating in the monthly scholarly reading group and reading of The Mentor, DUS's national publication for academic advisers. 

·         Understanding of how DUS's role fits within the broader context of higher education through involvement with FTCAP (First Year Testing, Consulting, and Advising Program for all incoming freshmen) and the various DUS coordinating departments across campus. 


Student Development and Outcomes

Through working with students as an adviser, I am afforded countless opportunities to interact with students who vary in their level of development.  Teaching students to navigate and understand the Penn State curriculum and to help them build decision making skills involves application of psychosocial, cognitive, college impact and learning theory on a case by case basis.  At times students need a teacher and other times the role shifts to that of a mentor, counselor, or coach.  Counseling theory is also applied when the situation warrants.  Effective educational interventions are involved when guiding students to resources to improve their performance, helping students to explore the majors of the curriculum, and encouraging students to develop identity and self-direction.  Teaching students to use intentionality in their decision making is another intervention applied in this setting.

I am interested in exploring in depth how theories intersect to impact the decision making skills of students who are required to make important choices at a time of great transition.  The decisions students make impact the outcomes of their education.  This is a topic I would like to delve into during my graduate work and eventually publish my ideas/research or present at a conference. 

Consideration of theory is used in planning and delivering the FTCAP student program for all incoming freshman.  My involvement as a presenter to students drives my interest in serving on the committee that uses student feedback and other data to improve the content and structure of the performance for next year's groups.

Professional Competencies

Having the opportunity to interact directly with individual students as an adviser opens many doors to strengthening professional competencies.  Managing a roster of 50 students involves planning ahead and being able to locate and implement various policies and procedures of the university.  Individual appointments with students provide various opportunities to demonstrate empathy, integrity, compassion, cross cultural communication and listening skills.  Working on a planning committee for FTCAP 2012 will further develop program planning and implementation skills.  Confidentiality, integrity and use of ethical standards are hallmarks in advising.  Completion of an online tutorial regarding FERPA was required before beginning to work with students.  Leadership and teamwork come into play during the summer FTCAP sessions where as one of three group leaders I am in charge of 60-100 students for three hours as they learn how to navigate the culture and community of Penn State.  Our team is responsible for keeping the students actively engaged.  I also plan to present a proposal for a project to develop artwork to convey the culture and mission of DUS.  If this is possible, I would like to work with the students in the DUS Leadership Council to create artifacts that would convey this message on the walls of our building so that students get a visual message of exploration and decision making.  Crisis intervention and mediation may play a role in dealing with students who perceive a situation to be a crisis.  Helping students to gently navigate discussions with parents, instructors, or peers could involve some mediation between differing perspectives or viewpoints.  As an adviser, the ability to de-escalate a situation or attitude that a student brings to a level where a problem can be looked at rationally with a balanced perspective.

Inter and Intrapersonal Skills

Being an adult learner who is pursuing a second career provides some evidence of my commitment to on-going development.  Specifically, in my internship, I am participating in the shared reading group to continue to not only read, but also dialogue and hear varying perspectives and viewpoints on topics of interest to my field.  My participation in the Think Global committee is evidence of my commitment and interest to learn more about individuals and cultures other than mine.  I am fascinated with learning about how to help international students gain the most from their undergraduate experience both in academic and co-curricular arenas and hope to complete an internship in Global Affairs in some capacity.

Commitment To and Understanding of Issues Related Social Justice

My foundational knowledge of systems of oppression was formed through my coursework in Social Justice Class and through my work with students with disabilities as a special education teacher.   My current position working with students provides an opportunity to apply my knowledge of social justice when helping individual students in an advising capacity.  I would like to broaden this knowledge by learning more about the programs that provide access for underrepresented populations.  I am integrating a social justice perspective by being aware of the unique needs some students bring, dealing with them in a dignified and normalizing manner and helping them to access the resources available to navigate their academic journey.  I recognize that all students may not perceive the campus climate in the same fashion as other groups. I have a responsibility as an adviser to have conversations with students who are struggling, uncover underlying issues and help the student to come to positive solutions.  I am also in a position to guide students who express interest in diversity to courses on our campus that will help them to strengthen their social justice platform. 


Research and Assessment

Through participation in FTCAP, I have the opportunity to work with the assessment of this program.  I also have an interest in continuing to explore and possibly research student decision making.  This relates to one of DUS's goals in their strategic plan:  Enhance the University's first-year experience for student's exploring majors.  This is evidenced by students articulating their academic decisions and the rationale for the decision. 

Thus, in my role as a DUS adviser there are opportunities to have involvement in creating instruments or protocols for assessing goals.  FTCAP also provides a variety of data that is analyzed and utilized to continuously improve programming.

 Spring Semester, 2012

Mapping to the Learning Outcomes for my Graduate Assistant Work

What CSA learning outcomes were addressed by your assistantship responsibilities this year and how did you meet them? 

Student Development and Outcomes is addressed in an ongoing fashion each time that I meet with an advisee.  I pay critical attention to where the student appears to be in his/her psychosocial development and use that knowledge to guide the conversations.  Each session provides key opportunities to provide both support and challenge in helping students to arrive at key decisions about their education. 

Student appointments also provide a wealth of opportunities to exercise my skills in the Professional Outcomes competencies.  As an adviser I use active listening, empathy and compassion, cross cultural communication and at times, crises intervention skills.  I adhere to the ethical standards that are advanced for advising such as confidentiality and working in the best interest of the student.  I also attended a NACADA webinar on Ethical Standards/Practices in Advising in April of 2012. 

Student appointments have also contributed to my understanding of social justice.  Helping specific students from underrepresented populations navigate the challenges of remaining at the university has put faces to my knowledge of social justice issues.  Working at FTCAP with underrepresented populations as they embark on their first semester of college has also enlightened me of the challenges so many of students must overcome in their educational journey. 

Committee work in my assistantship has contributed greatly to my Inter and Intrapersonal Development.  By joining a collaborative advising team I have been able to learn of other advisers' styles and philosophies.  It was both comforting and empowering to have the opportunity to share ideas about specific topics and students and learn from each other.  My participation on the Think Global team has broadened my perspective of global citizenship and how we can help students in their quest to belong to a more global society. 

I also used the Student Development theory from Campus Environments to evaluate and improve the setting of our student waiting area in DUS.  Changes I initiated helped to make our lobby a more educational and intentional environment for DUS students based on theory learned in class.  This project was a springboard to a conference proposal for the NACADA Region Two Conference.  The proposal was accepted and I developed an hour long presentation that incorporated theory, my project and audience participation in reflecting on their own

Through my work in DUS I have been exposed to critical contemporary issues in Student Affairs such as the acculturation of International Students and how the transition to a large research one university may impact their academic progress.  I have also become aware of the issue of retention and the commitment our unit has to aiding students in their persistence to graduation.  Through my work with FTCAP, I have come to see interrelated units of student affairs work together to provide both a curricular and co-curricular introduction to the university.  I see how different members of student affairs offices bring their unique perspective to the student presentation and what each has to offer.  It becomes crystal clear that student involvement through student affairs is a critical part of a student's learning and development over the time they spend at Penn State. 

In looking at the chart I created to map the CSA Learning Outcomes to my assistantship tasks it appears that the main area that I need to spend additional time and experience with is research.  I did code and tally the results of the FTCAP survey administered to first-year students after they arrived on campus.  I am feeling more confident with qualitative research design and interpretation.  I feel that to strengthen my understanding of quantitative studies and research my best approach would be to take course in statistics. I am not sure that anything additional needs to occur in my assistantship. 






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