NACA BLOG - What's Next for NACA® NEXT? - 3/31/2021

​March 31, 2021
Kayla Brennan
NACA Education & Research Manager 

As campus activities professionals, you know that your students are gaining valuable life skills through co-curricular involvement. You’ve crafted programs, trainings, and activities aimed at developing their interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. But, as your students prepare their resumes, cover letters, and interview responses, how can you help them make connections to what they’ve learned in college beyond what they were taught in the classroom? Peck et al. (2016) stated “it isn’t enough to engage students in purposefully designed programs and activities; it’s equally important to be intentional about engaging students in reflection about how their involvement helps them gain valuable employability skills.” NACA® NEXT was created to help you do just that. 

What is NACA® NEXT? 

Developed in 2015, NACA® NEXT has students evaluate themselves based on 10 skills identified by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) as skills that employers are looking for in college graduates: 

  1. Computer skills 

  1. Decision making and problem solving 

  1. Verbal communication 

  1. Analyzing quantitative data 

  1. Planning, organizing, and prioritizing work 

  1. Career knowledge 

  1. Writing and editing 

  1. Teamwork 

  1. Influencing others 

  1. Obtaining and processing information 

The tool breaks these skills down into smaller, related sub-skills that the students rate themselves on (e.g., the ability to use common spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel, under computer skills), and provides space for them to reflect on how they have used each of the ten skills in their cocurricular involvement. The students receive a score for each of the ten skills in a report that also advises students on how they might increase their competency in that area. NACA® NEXT allows advisors to evaluate their students in these areas as well. Both self-evaluations and advisor evaluations can be completed as many times as needed, and some of our members will assign evaluations at the beginning and end of each year and treat the scores as pre- and post-test results. To begin, just head to naca.org/NEXT and launch the advisor dashboard!  

New to NACA® NEXT? While the tool is fairly intuitive, there are some great tips and resources located by clicking the “Getting Started” button – including this article by some of the creators of NACA® NEXT. 

Over the years, NACA members have provided feedback on how to make this tool even more usable and we are excited to introduce some of the recent improvements. 

Here are a few of the recent improvements: 

  • Email: Emails regarding assigned evaluations now come from nacanext@naca.org, instead of studentservices@naca.org, making it easier for your students to recognize. Additionally, we’ll send an automatic reminder email to any student that was assigned a self-evaluation but has not completed it within two weeks. 

  • Adding Students: It’s still just as easy to upload students individually or in bulk, but we’ve changed some of the information you’ll need to provide. You’ll no longer be asked to provide their phone numbers, but you will be able to assign them to various functional areas (e.g., student activities, first year experience, student government, etc.) and tag them as first-generation students, if applicable. For any students who were already in the system and need to be added to functional areas or change advisors, you can now do that by clicking the “Assign Functional Area” or “Assign Advisor” buttons. NOTE: Watch this short tutorial if you need to add/update the list of advisors for your institution. 

  • Reports: We’ve added two institutional-level reports: an “Attempt Report” and a “Student Vs. Advisor Report.” The Attempt Report will show the average score for each of the ten skills by evaluation attempt number. The Student Vs. Advisor Report will display the individual scores for each of the ten skills for every student, from the most recent evaluation they took in the specific time frame, and the advisor’s most recent score of the student in that time frame for comparison. Both reports have institutional and national level comparisons included, and a date range filter that will affect functional area and institutional averages, while the national average will average all scores since the launch of the tool. 

What’s Next? 

While we hope these updates help make using NACA® NEXT easier than ever, there is still work to be done. So, what’s next? The NACA® NEXT Advisory Board, a volunteer group that helps provide guidance and direction to this tool, is currently in the application process for new members as some folks roll off. If you are interested in volunteering, learn more about the position and apply by April 12. Once new volunteers are selected, the group will launch into updating the virtual advisor recommendations provided in the evaluation reports. NACE has also been working on an updated set of competencies; once those are released, we’ll start the process of moving from evaluating on the ten skills currently listed to the new competency list. And, as always, we’ll be listening to our members on what changes they’d like to see. 

Thank you to the NACA® NEXT Advisory Board Members and contributors: 

  • Co-Chair Randy Flowers, Baker University (KS) 

  • Co-Chair Loreal Robertson, Texas A&M University-Kingsville 

  • Vincent Bowhay, Independence Community College (KS) 

  • Phil LaMotte, Nevada State College 

  • David Mizell, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

  • Joey Sammut, Gonzaga University (WA) 

  • Marie Squyres, Utah Valley University 

  • Matthew Hanna, Carolina Software as a Service 

  • Kayla Brennan, NACA 
     

Kayla Brennan serves as the Education & Research Manager for the National Association for Campus Activities. She has been with NACA for over five years, supporting the Association's educational, inclusion, and research initiatives. Kayla holds degrees in psychology and sociology from Clemson University (SC). 

References 
Peck, A., Kane, C., & Davis, T. (2016). NACA NEXT: Assessing career skills developed through campus activities. Campus Activities Programming Magazine. https://www.naca.org/Members/NEXT/Documents/NACANextArticle.pdf  

Related Professional Competencies: Training, Experiential Leadership Learning


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