Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

The Faculty Role: Implications for Collaboration with Student Affairs

Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

The Faculty Role: Implications for Collaboration with Student Affairs

Article excerpt

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the faculty role on campus in terms of specific work activities and reward systems. The barriers to collaboration between faculty and student affairs staff are discussed and suggestions for working collaboratively are provided.

Over the past 15 years, there has been a growing concern in higher education about how to create environments that promote student learning. A Study Group on the Conditions of Excellence in Higher Education (1984), the American College Personnel Association (ACPA; 1996), and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA; 1987) have issued documents which stress the importance of student learning, the importance of creating learning communities on college campuses, and the necessity of academic affairs and student affairs collaborating on efforts to increase student learning.

In Involvement in Learning: Realizing the Potential of Higher Education (Study Group on the Conditions of Excellence in Higher Education, 1984), the authors argue for the creation of institutions which share a value system and emphasize the pursuit of excellence. The first major idea in this document is that institutions must determine what values to promote and what student outcomes are most critical. Astin (1996) answers this by stating that institutions which are committed to serving the needs of society must concern themselves with societal issues such as violence, poverty, racism, school dropouts, drug abuse, and the lack of public confidence in government. He argues that in order to create socially responsible citizens and build character in students, institutional values must include affective outcomes (self-understanding, tolerance, honesty, etc.) as well as cognitive outcomes (critical thinking skills, knowledge acquisition, etc.), and that student affairs, with its emphasis on the development of the whole person, plays a critical role in this learning process.

Another major idea proposed by the Study Group on the Conditions of Excellence in Higher Education (1984) was that institutions should be engaged in the pursuit of excellence. It was recommended that this be accomplished by allocating more resources to the first year of undergraduate work, creating learning communities, improving counseling and advising, and implementing learning technologies which promote faculty-student contact. Astin (1996) noted that these ideas regarding excellence in higher education were based largely on the theory of student involvement he first proposed in 1977, which demonstrated that students' learning and personal growth is directly correlated to the degree to which they invest time and energy in the learning process, both in and out of the classroom. Recent work by Astin (1993) and hundreds of studies compiled by Pascarella and Terenzini (1991) supported Astin's observations that student interaction with faculty and peers, participation in student activities, working on campus, and other activities which create involvement are directly related to student retention, success, and personal growth. The quantity and quality of faculty involvement with students is particularly important to the pursuit of excellence; it has an effect on student outcomes that is second only to the effect of the student peer group (Astir, 1993). This includes faculty involving students in their research, engaging in conversations about academic concerns outside the classroom, and taking a personal interest in student success. Studies have also shown an inverse relationship between faculty emphasis on research and involvement with students; the more time faculty spend on research, the less time they spend with students (Park, 1996).

In recent years, both NASPA and ACPA have proposed that student affairs should focus on student learning and play a more active role in creating learning communities on campus. The document A Perspective on Student Affairs (NASPA, 1987) argues that the role of student affairs is to support the academic mission of the institution. …

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