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Matt Skoy and Zack Ford Iowa State University March 31, 2009 ACPA National Conference
Prologue • Introductions: Once upon a time, there were two gentlemen in graduate school…
Meet the Characters
Iowa State University 2007-2009 Master’s Cohort Assistantship Multicultural Academic Advising
Z a ck Fo rd
Iowa State University 2007-2009 Master’s Cohort Assistantship Athletic Academic Services
Prologue • Introductions • Our Study • The Narrative Workshop
– Assessment – Graduate Assistantships
• The Feedback Loop
By the end of this workshop, we hope you will learn to...…
• Understand the complex dynamics of the graduate assistantship experience. • Consider factors for designing an assessment. • Navigate a political climate to effect change. • Advance through the “assessment spiral” to increase student learning opportunities.
Quick Survey of the Room • How many are hoping to learn more about the assessment process? • How many are hoping to learn more about student affairs graduate assistantships? • How many are currently GAs? • How many are currently GA supervisors? • How many are Higher Education graduate faculty?
Chapter 1: Develop Goals
• Identified inconsistencies regarding quality of our peers’ assistantship experiences. • Recognized that all Master’s students are required to have an assistantship to complete their degree. • Realized there was no accountability for learning outcomes of assistantship experience. • Realized there was no method to collect feedback about students’
Let's Do This • Began discussing ideas in Fall ‘07. • Spring ‘08: Program Evaluation and Assessment Course • Resources – CHECK. • Motivation – CHECK. • We might just be grad students, but we can do this! • We can proceed to the next step.
Chapter 1 Discussion • How do you decide to do an assessment? • What motivates you to move forward on that assessment? • What concerns are there regarding time and resources?
Chapter 2: Determine Outcomes • What information are we going to collect? • How do we construct our instrument? • Now what? What will we do with this data? • Set Objectives
GAS = Student Affairs Graduate Assistant Surv
The SAGAS Purpose
This assessment is designed to collect information about the general experience of student affairs graduate assistants at Iowa State University. The researchers hope to capture a snapshot of the quality of these assistants' work environments and whether their learning outcomes are being met within their assistantships. This information will provide insight into the learning and professional development experiences for graduate assistants.
The SAGAS Objectives
1.To understand the experience of current student affairs graduate assistants in their work environments. 2.To reveal strengths and weaknesses within the current assistantship program in terms of the expectations set forth in the Supervisor’s Manual. 3.To make recommendations to the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies of how to improve the assistantship experience in terms of its
The SAGAS Objectives
4.To make recommendations to the Division of Student Affairs regarding ways supervisors of graduate assistants can improve the learning and professional experience of graduate assistants with whom they work. 5.To make recommendations to campus professional staffs regarding how they can improve work relations with graduate assistants.
Nuts and Bolts: Small Group Case Study
• • •
Based on what we’ve shared so far: What challenges would you face conducting this survey? Could such a survey be done on your campus? What would you ask? How do you measure the “experience of current student affairs graduate assistants in their work environments?” How would you construct this study?
What? vs. Why? • Select outcomes that will drive the process • Set yourself up to be able to use the information from your assessment in an effective way • Consideration for stakeholders (department, supervisors, other professionals, students)
Chapter 3: Moving Ahead (Challenge and Support)
– – – – Time commitment IRB approval Response rate Politics
– Support of our own assistantship supervisors – Support of our course instructor – Support from cohort members – Support from graduate department – Intrinsic and cooperative motivation
Our Plan • • • • • Set flexible timeline SurveyMonkey Focus groups Utilize supervisor’s manual Informal feedback from colleagues
Our Actual Survey
Assistantship preparation/orientation Workload flexibility Feedback and learning opportunities Assistantship learning outcomes Workspace and resources Relationship with supervisor Work environment and colleague interactions • Contact with students • Overall experience • Likert-scale items and open responses in each category • • • • • • •
Discussion Questions • What differences were there between your group’s ideas and our study? • How did the roles of your group members affect what kinds of questions you came up with?
Assistantship preparation/orientation Workload flexibility Feedback and learning opportunities Assistantship learning outcomes Workspace and resources Relationship with supervisor Work environment and colleague interactions Contact with students Overall experience
Collecting the Data • Determine sample (for us: everybody) • Set up schedule for focus groups • Distribute survey, survey reminders • Waited. Boy, that was tough.
Focus Groups, or not... • Only 3 people offered to participate in focus groups • Schedules did not allow all 3 to attend same group • What do you think happened? • What do we do now?
Chapter 4: Reviewing the Data • Response rate: 33/61 (54%) • What did they say?
Results: Balance • 81% (n=26) felt that they maintained a balance between their assistantships and their other life activities. • 84% of respondents (n=27) do feel that their supervisors appreciate the time they dedicate to their assistantship work.
• 90% (n=29) reported that they did understand the expectations set forth in their job description. • 41% (n=13) disagreed or strongly disagreed that they received adequate orientation when they began their assistantships. • 47% (n=15) felt they were not prepared on the first day of work.
Results: Supervisor Relations • 94% (n=29) agreed that their supervisors respect them as “both a person and a professional in training.” • 87% (n=27) agreed that their supervisors respect them as “both a student and a colleague.”
Results: Supervisor Relations
73% (n=24): “I feel comfortable talking to my supervisor about concerns I have regarding the workplace environment, or other professional concerns.”
• My supervisor appreciates the time I dedicate to my assistantship. • My supervisor respects me both as a person and as a professional in training. • My supervisor encourages me to express my opinions. • The other professional staff members create a working environment in which I can comfortably and productively work (n=23). • My supervisor has supported my job search
• 56% (n=18) of respondents said they did not regularly receive critical feedback from their supervisors.
Results: Other Items of Interest • 84% (n=26) reported that the amount of student interaction they have meets the expectations they had when entering the assistantship. • 29% of respondents (n=9) felt they were not prepared to assist students who were dealing with crisis situations. • Concern about personal time.
Results: Overall Experience
Discussion Questions • What do you do with your results? • How do you determine which results to respond to? • How do you hold the assessment accountable? (How do you prevent shelving?)
Writing (and Rewriting) The Report • Format • Language Concerns
– “only” – “surprisingly,” “generally” – “of concern” – “critical”
Recommendations ‐ Before (We know what’'s best!)
1.Develop orientation for assistantship supervisors. 2.Call for supervisor’s written evaluations every two months instead of every semester. 3.Create module for regular feedback on assistants’ experiences. 4.Provide consistent professional development workshops for all student affairs graduate assistants. 5.Establish consistent policy for sick leave, vacation time, and comp time.
Recommendations ‐ After (Here are some ideas...)
1. Investigate efficient and consistent methods for the ELPS Department to communicate with assistantship supervisors. 2. Consider what expectations the ELPS Department has of assistantship supervisors and how the supervisors are prepared to meet them. 3. Establish a consistent process for regularly collecting supervisor’s written evaluations of their assistants. 4. *Create module for graduate assistants to regularly assess their experiences in their assistantships. 5. Consider how the ELPS Department can organize consistent professional development workshops for all student affairs graduate assistants. 6. *Establish consistent policy for sick leave, vacation time, and comp time.
Chapter 5: Taking Action • • • • Presented results to classmates Prepared report for department Shared report with all participants Personal time policy committee
– Conversations about student vs. employee – Considerations for illness, deaths in family, attending conferences, etc.
What's Happening Now • Department is using our study
– Our results discussed at departmental meetings – Assistantship self-assessment already taking place – Other changes being discussed
• We’re leaving • Future uncertain • Personal time (sick/vacation leave) policy
Open Discussion: Thoughts or Questions? • Assessment • Student Affairs Graduate Assistantships • Our Study • Political Challenges on Campuses
THANK YOU! • Please sign up if you’d like to be emailed our powerpoint and report of our study. • Please feel free to contact us with any follow-up thoughts or questions!
Matt Skoy – email@example.com Zack Ford – firstname.lastname@example.org