NACA BLOG - Research and its Value in Campus Activities - 6/3/2020
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June 3, 2020​
Loreal Robertson
Texas A&M University-Kingsville

The primary reasons for research are to inform practice, prove theory and to contribute to the expansion of knowledge in the field. More specifically within campus activities, administrators are able to legitimize their work through the actions of research and scholarship by adding value to the national discourse in higher education. In essence, we know that colleges were not designed with the college/university administrator in mind, yet through research we've been able to examine our roles more closely, solidify our positions and attribute substantially to the profession of higher education.

Often times, many administrators avoid or shy away from getting involved in research for various reasons. However, we know, research is not only imperative to our profession but a necessity for the continued learning and growth within the field.

Wilson (2018) identified eight core reasons why research and scholarly work are of value to student affairs and campus activities professionals:

  • Makes you a better steward of resources.
  • Helps you support academic enterprise and research.
  • Creates opportunities for you to collaborate with faculty and graduate students.
  • Makes you more honest with yourself and others.
  • Helps you better understand, advocate on behalf of, and be in solidarity with staff and students from marginalized groups.
  • Makes you a better thinker, leader, and professional.

Additionally, Upcraft and Schuh (1996) illustrated seven reasons on why on-going assessment and evaluation are undoubtedly important to the student affairs profession:

  • To remain accountable for our programs, resources, and patrons.
  • To continuously improve our programs and processes.
  • To increase staff morale.
  • To make our processes more efficient.
  • To show that we are credible across the university.
  • To communicate information about ourselves more effectively.
  • To ensure that students are developing and learning in ways that are beneficial.

For instance, look at the many resource portals we have available within NACA alone. There is an abundance of information in the form of webinars, articles, presentations and more that covers a wide array of topics specific to campus activities. Members of NACA are not only assessing their programs, evaluating their student's progress and simply conducting research that no one knows about, yet but also sharing this knowledge for others to apply by providing recommendations and implications for additional policy, theory and subsequent research. We know we're making a significant and positive impact in the realm of campus activities and as valued practitioners and responsible researchers, we attempt to support the academic success, cocurricular experience, leadership and personal development of those we serve: our students.

Loreal Robertson is the assistant director of student activities at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Robertson is a member of the Research and Scholarship Group and chair of the NACA Next Advisory Board.

Additional Resources:
Clark, Z., Naifeh, Z., Schmitt, K., Sipe, L., Robertson, L., & Vetter, M.
Integrating Scholarly Work into Everyday Practice, Part 1
NACA, Fall 2019 Webinar Series

Loper, K., & Naifeh, Z. Coffee and Conversations: Theory to Practice in a Virtual World

National Association for Campus Activities. (2017). NACA research agenda overview. Retrieved from https://www.naca.org/ProDev/Documents/ResearchAgenda.pdf

Wilson, C.M. (2018, November). Inquiry is crucial.

Presentation at the National Association for Campus Activities Northeast Regional Conference Professional Development Breakfast, Hartford, CT.

Upcraft, M. L., & Schuh, J. H. (1996). Assessment in student affairs: A guide for practitioners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Relation Professional Competency: Intentionality in Student Learning


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