Last week at the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE) annual conference, there was a discussion about creating a subgroup within the organization that would focus on student affairs and services research. The notion being that there is a growing community and body of research in these areas and having a platform at a national conference could serve as a way to highlight/share the research, build networks and collaborate. It was also discussed that this could be a way to show our work to the very large (7000 attendees) and diverse group of faculty and graduate students that attend Congress.
Within this discussion was also a question about whether this group would focus just on student services or broader ideas of student learning or student access. On one hand, focusing on student affairs and services focuses attention on the specific work and research of those in the field. And, as our research has shown, there are a lot of faculty who have very limited awareness of the work of student affairs and services on their own campus and are likely unaware that there exists a growing research community of us! At the same time, there is a concern that separating this group from broader issues of student learning and success reinforces the notion that student affairs and services is a separate element, rather than a partner in helping students succeed. This links back to our own study in many ways where individuals provided examples of alignment and partnerships between faculty and student affairs (aka both sides of the house), but also just as many, if not more situations, where the groups work in silos, isolation or are not aware of the expertise of the other.
No decisions regarding the direction of the subgroup have been made at this point but I would encourage any of you interested in research/graduate school to a Birds of a Feather session led by Dr. Tamara Leary on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 2:15 – 3:30 pm 203 at #CACUSS2013. We hope to see lots of interested folks there!