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Running head: AREAS FOR GROWTH NARRATIVE 1

Areas for Growth

Learning Outcome Narrative

Elizabeth Weaver

Seattle University
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Professional Identity Development

Learning Outcome: 4, 6, 9, 10; Artifact: E, F, G

My decision to pursue the Student Development Administration (SDA) program came

after a long discernment period. Prior to SDA, I had completed several credits toward a master

degree in business administration, however I was not enjoying the course content. I knew a

degree in business would be applicable to many different industries but I felt there was a

mismatch in interest. I took a few months to evaluate my interests and see how those interests

could inform a professional track. I was working at Seattle University in the Office of the

Registrar, and I enjoyed working with university policy and helping students navigate their

issues with enrollment. I determined that my natural strengths and interests in supporting others,

strong listening skills, and problem solving ability would complement a career in student affairs.

During my time in the SDA program, I have continued to grow in three areas: assessment,

reflection, and my own self-awareness.

Assessment

Learning Outcome: 6, 9; Artifacts: E

Before entering the SDA program, I understood assessment to be a powerful tool in

which to convey information. I worked with the data and outcomes of assessment but I did not

gather the data. During the program, I gained more exposure to assessment through my

internship with the School of New and Continuing Studies. I researched Jesuit institutions and to

understand what types of community building programs were offered to students. My internship

experience in assessment helped me to also grown in learning outcome nine, understanding

issues surrounding law, policy, finance and governance. This learning outcome has many

components and finance spoke directly to my internship. While assessment is helpful in


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providing evidence for action or policy creation, understanding the financial aspect of a

department or unit is critical. I worked with my site supervisor to establish a budget for the

event, which was a valuable practice that I can take to any future position. I also consider

learning outcome nine as it relates to understanding campus or department policies. In SDAD

5750: Best Practices in Student Affairs, I visited several local institutions where the topic was

how assessment can be leveraged and utilized on campus. At one institution, a representative

shared how institutional structure, priorities, and ultimately policies, allow the department to

focus on assessment as a tool to support the institution. After this course, I had a better

understanding of how institutional policies and strategic action plans influence department

directives. Additionally, in SDAD 5760: Leadership and Governance in Post-Secondary

Education, I gained a better understanding of the governance structure of state institutions and

community colleges. My professional positions have been in four-year, private institutions, so

my understanding of governance was limited in scope before entering the program.

Learning outcome six, developing and demonstrating skills in leadership and

collaboration, was strengthened in every course throughout the program. Each course focused on

collaboration with my colleagues to enrich the learning community, which I truly appreciated. In

the context of assessment and learning outcome six, my first internship focused on community

building for NCS and it was a self-directed positon. My site supervisor provided helpful

guidance, support, and feedback to enrich my understanding of community for adult student

demographic. Our collaboration in the internship process provided a starting point for me to

begin my research. In this internship, I took the initiative to reach out directly to colleagues at

Jesuit institutions and open a dialogue about their community building efforts. The objective was

to collect information on programs that were successful, but also to understand factors for
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programs that were unsuccessful. The collaboration with colleagues outside of Seattle University

was a great opportunity to broaden my network of contacts. Additionally, I also understand

learning outcome six as it relates to my experience in SDAD 5750: Best Practices in Student

Affairs. The shortened course structure required more collaboration with colleagues to dive

deeper into the subject matter. We also were tasked with a final presentation that highlighted best

practices in assessment informed by the campus visits.

I understand assessment to be a tool for process improvement. I entered the SDA

program with little experience in assessment and now I exit with a better understanding and

hands-on experience. Artifact E, my self-ranked ACPA/NASPA competencies, ranked

assessment as an area for continued improvement. Even though I had exposure to assessment, I

will be looking to gain more experience in assessment design in future positions.

Reflection

Learning Outcome: 10; Artifact: B, G

One of the reasons the SDA program appealed to me was the Jesuit framework for

education. I attended Gonzaga University, a Jesuit institution, so I knew entering the program

what to expect in regards to educating the whole person. Even though I have experience with the

Jesuit pedagogy, I was still challenged by opportunities in the curriculum to reflect on my own

identity and better understand how that informs my practice. Learning outcome ten,

establishing and enhancing professional identity, is a constant work in progress for me. One

course in particular that challenged me to look inward was STML 5910: Leadership Systems,

Identity, and Practice. This course complemented the curriculum of the SDA program because

it focused more on my own individual journey, purpose, and strengths. Reflection in this context

allowed me to think about my purpose in the profession of student affairs. This course
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influenced the articulation of my mission statement (Artifact B) in SDAD 5900: Capstone

Seminar, which is another measure of my professional identity. Using reflection to enhance and

identify my identity was also a topic of exploration in SDAD 5200: Social Justice. In this

course, I was tasked with selecting a socially unjust topic to research and present by creating an

online blog (Artifact G). The process allowed me to explore areas of interest outside my

professional role where I might have an interest in pursuing.

The focus on reflection in the SDA program improved my own understanding of myself

and my abilities as a practitioner. I entered the program with a strong sense of my professional

identity but I was looking for the tools to understand my work in the realm of student affairs. I

will continue to seek out ways to develop my professional identity through professional

development opportunities at work and staying connected to graduates of the program.

Self-Awareness

Learning Outcome: 4; Artifact: F

Becoming self-aware is a process that continues to develop for me. When I decided to

pursue a career in student affairs, the process forced me to evaluate my strengths and the drive to

work with students. Entering the Seattle University program was a unique environment which

highlighted the importance of serving others and understanding diversity. The SDA program

focuses on the importance of embodying the institutional mission by including part of the

mission in learning outcome four, understanding and fostering diversity, justice and a

sustainable world formed by a global perspective and Jesuit Catholic tradition. I understand this

learning outcome after my second internship with the School of New and Continuing Studies that

focused on expanding a relationship with a Jesuit institution in Managua, Nicaragua, Universidad

Centroamericana (UCA). I created an internship focused on supporting the development of a


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university core curriculum (UCOR) global challenges course for adult students at NCS with the

focus specifically on Nicaragua. As a part of the internship, I was able to travel with my site

supervisor and colleague to Managua and meet with senior leadership and discuss the expansion

of the partnership between the two institutions. The process of traveling and meeting with

administrators at the UCA allowed me to see the direct impact of the work I do to support

academic programs and ultimately the student experience. My role in the development process is

helping to connect NCS students with the larger global context of global challenges. The

experience of meeting student affairs professionals internationally helped me to understand my

own potential for influence on the NCS student experience in the global context. The goal for

summer quarter 2018 is to have NCS students participate in an education abroad opportunity that

expands on the content of the global challenges course. It is challenging for me to see and name

my impact at times when the position I hold is inward facing and supports the administration of

academic programs. Traveling to Nicaragua provided me with a different perspective on my

work and the importance of forming the global perspective.

Learning outcome four can also be understood through the process of examining my

professional identity as it relates to fostering diversity. In EDUC 5130: Adult Learning, I took

the Kolb Learning Style Inventory (2007), which illuminated my preferences information

processing. I am an experiencing learner with strong reliance on concrete experiences as well as

reflective observation. My learning style helps inform my professional areas of interest in adult

students and education abroad because of the way I process information. I value experiences

where I can be actively engaged in the learning process, and I understand how adult students and

education abroad opportunities support active learning style.


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Understanding and fostering diversity will continue to be an area of growth because the

meaning of diversity expands as I develop as practitioner. When I exit the program, I know that

my learning is far from over and that I will be challenged by new opportunities and new

positions that require me to evaluate my own understanding of justice. Looking ahead to the next

three years of my professional and personal timeline (Artifact F), I am plan to continue my

education in areas where I need improvement.


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References

Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., & Guido, F. (2010). Student development in college: Theory,

research, and practice (2nd edition). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

The Kolb Learning Style Inventory. (2007). Boston, MA: Hay Group, Inc.

Yosso, T.J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race discussion of community cultural

wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8 (1), 69-82.