Student Affairs and Co-Curriculum

From case studies of institutions connecting student affairs and academic affairs in interesting and meaningful ways to handbooks on assessing student learning and development within student affairs, a variety of resources are provided to connect and harness co-curricular assessment for institutional improvement. The American College Personnel Association (ACPA) wrote a letter on the importance of student affairs involvement with the DQP and Tuning efforts for education of the entire student, to read the letter click here.

Related Articles and Books


Bresciani, M. J., Gardner, M. M., & Hickmott, J. (2009). Demonstrating student success: A practical guide to outcomes-based assessment of learning and development in student affairs. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Beginning with a profound overview of the history of assessment work in higher education, this book demonstrates the various ways in which learning-outcomes assessment work is carried out at higher education institutions. Effective outcomes-based assessment practices and evaluations are supported through real-world examples of assessment endeavors undertaken by institutions. Finally, the book addresses common barriers in the assessment process- as well as ways to overcome them-, the role of collaboration, and the various other resources involved in outcomes-assessment.


Collins, K.M., & Roberts, D. M. (Eds.) (2012). Learning is not a sprint: Assessing and documenting student leader learning in cocurricular involvement. Washington, DC: NASPA- Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Collins and Roberts argue that learning outcomes assessment is a valuable tool in today’s student affairs environment, and it may be a necessity for maintaining quality in student learning and development. Assessment can identify areas of improvement for supervisors, advisers, and organization members to better aid and engage students in endeavors outside of the classroom. All learning opportunities should be designed so that students understand them and are engaged, and feedback loops (where both students and organizers are getting/giving feedback) should be established. Additionally, Collins and Roberts (2012) give an overview of the various learning outcomes assessment tools that faculty and practitioners can utilize to measure the effectiveness of the learning opportunity, and compare identified learning outcomes to those which were intended.


Schuh, J. H. (2009). Assessment methods for student affairs. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

This book serves as a guide and/or adviser for student affairs professionals ready to begin an assessment project. Through tackling potentially confusing aspects of assessment (e.g. the data collection process and data analysis), this book can aid both experienced assessment professionals and those who are undertaking their first assessment project, alike.


Bresciani, M. J. (2003). External partners in assessment of student development and learning in Student Affairs and external relations. New Directions in Student Services, 97. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from: Source

“This chapter discusses the role of external partnerships in student development and learning outcomes assessment in the context of results from a national survey of senior student affairs officers.”


Bresciani, M.J., Zelna, C.L., & Anderson, J.A. (2004). Assessing student learning and development: A handbook for practitioners. Washington, DC: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Retrieved from: Source

This handbook argues the importance of student learning assessment and gives the reader a toolbox of techniques and examples for student learning and development assessment.


Bresciani, M. J. (2006). Outcomes-based academic and co-curricular program review: A compilation of institutional good practices. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Surveying over forty institutions, this book highlights good practices of outcomes-based assessment program review.


Bresciani, M. J. (2011, August). Making Assessment Meaningful: What New Student Affairs Professionals and Those New to Assessment Need to Know (NILOA Assessment Brief: Student Affairs). Urbana, IL: University for Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. Retrieved from: Source

With the growing demands of assessment becoming more widespread throughout higher education institutions, knowledge about assessment for new student affairs professionals is even more critical. Marilee J. Bresciani provides a quick overview as to how new student affairs professionals can contribute both effectively and meaningfully to assessment practices at their institution.


Gilchrist, D., & Oakleaf, M. (2012, April). An Essential Partner: The Librarian’s Role in Student Learning Assessment  (NILOA Occasional Paper No.14). Urbana, IL: University for Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. Retrieved from: Source

Debra Gilchrist and Megan Oakleaf, two leaders in librarianship and assessment, document the ways librarians contribute toward campus efforts of student learning assessment. The paper includes a variety of examples of institutions that have developed student learning assessment processes.


Kinzie, J. (2011, August). Colorado State University: A Comprehensive Continuous Improvement System (NILOA Examples of Good Assessment Practice). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. Retrieved from: Source

Colorado State University was determined to be an instructive case study because of its innovative learning outcomes assessment and institutional improvement activities have been highlighted in various publications (see Bender, 2009; Bender, Johnson, & Siller, 2010; Bender & Siller, 2006, 2009; McKelfresh & Bender, 2009) and have been noted by experts in assessment and accreditation. CSU’s assessment effort in student affairs is a model for bridging the work of academic affairs and student affairs through student learning outcomes assessment. Over the last dozen years, CSU has expanded its continuous improvement system for managing information sharing to serve the decision-making and reporting needs of various audiences. This system—known as the CSU Plan for Researching Improvement and Supporting Mission, or PRISM—provides information on the university’s performance in prioritized areas, uses a peer review system for feedback, and emphasizes the importance of documenting institutional improvements informed by assessment results.


Kuh, G. D., Schuh, J. H., Whitt, E. J., & Associates. (1991). Involving colleges: Successful approaches to fostering student learning and development outside the classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

“Involving Colleges details the extracurricular environments of fourteen diverse involving colleges and universities and shows how and where successful conditions and characteristics can be adapted to institutions to complement the institution’s unique educational purpose and mission.”


Manning, K., Kinzie, J., & Schuh, J. (Eds). (2006). One size does not fit all: Traditional and innovative models of student affairs practice. New York, NY: Routledge.

“In this book, leading scholars advocate a new approach by presenting thirteen possible models of student affairs practice. These models are based on a qualitative, multi-institutional case study research project involving 20 institutions of higher education varying by type, size and mission.”


Schuh, J.H. & Gansemer-Topf, A.M. (2010, December). The Role of Student Affairs in Student Learning Assessment  (NILOA Occasional Paper No.7). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. Retrieved from: Source

Student affairs professionals are expected to be knowledgeable about the student experience. Thus, it follows that they can and should play an important role in assessing student learning. In this NILOA Occasional Paper, John Schuh, Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership and Policies Studies Emeritus at Iowa State University and Ann Gansemer-Topf, Associate Director of Research for the Office of Admissions at Iowa State University, describe the contributions student affairs can make to a campus assessment program and examine the challenges student affairs professionals often must overcome to do so effectively. They suggest why and how student affairs educators can document what students learn as a result of participating in a wide range of out-of-class experiences and by linking the student affairs mission to the institution’s mission, purpose, and strategic plan; by forming partnerships with faculty and other administrators; and by sharing their expertise on student learning and development.


Schuh, J. H., Upcraft, M. L., & Associates (2001). Assessment practice in student affairs: An applications manual. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

An companion to the 1996 release, “this manual continues the work begun in their earlier book and provides a full range of tools for conducting effective assessments. The authors begin with an overview of the assessment process and then detail a range of methodologies, approaches, and issues–explaining how to use them and when to recruit expertise from other campus sources.”


AACC Curriculum Tools. Retrieved from: Source  

Provides resources on curriculum tools for civic responsibility, syllabus and course design, course templates, and assessment


Ginsberg, M. & Wlodkowski, R. (2015). Diversity & motivation: Culturally responsive teach in college (2nd edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

This revised and updated second edition of Diversity and Motivation offers a comprehensive understanding of teaching methods that promote respect, relevance, engagement, and academic success.


Lester, C., & Robinson, G. (2007). An American Mosaic: Service Learning Stories. Retrieved from American Association of Community Colleges. Retrieved from: Source  

The aims of this publication are to build on established foundations to integrate service learning into the institutional climate of community colleges and to increase the number, quality, and sustainability of service learning programs in colleges nationwide.


Cruise-Harper, C. (2015). Measuring student learning in the co-curricular: Developing an assessment plan for student affairs. National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

This NILOA Assessment in Practice explores the process of developing an assessment plan for student affairs at Maryville University.


Keeling, R. (2004). Learning reconsidered: A campus-wide focus on the student experience. Washington, DC: American College Personnel Association & National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Retrieved from: Source

Learning Reconsidered is an argument for the integrated use of all of higher education’s resources in the education and preparation of the whole student.


Keeling, R. (2006). Learning reconsidered 2: Implementing a campus-wide focus on the student experience. Washington, DC: American College Personnel Association & National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Retrieved from: Source

This book shows how to create the dialogue, tools, and materials necessary to put into practice the recommendations in Learning Reconsidered.


Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. Retrieved from: Source  

CAS Standards respond to real-time student needs, the requirements of sound pedagogy, and the effective management of 45 functional areas.


AACC. (2005). Position Statement on Student Services and Library and Learning Resource Center Program Support for Distributed Learning. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from: Source  

AACC position statement that addresses the role of assessment within student services and library programs


Escobar, H., & Gauder, H. (2015). On the “write” path to student learning: Library and writing center collaboration. National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

This NILOA Assessment in Practice explores the benefits of collaborations between the library and writing center, and the crucial elements of such collaborations.


Lippincott, J., Vedantham, A., & Duckett, K. (2014). Libraries as enablers of pedagogical and curricular change. Educause Review. Retrieved from: Source  

Describes the opportunities that academic libraries have to spur and support innovation in pedagogy and curriculum by providing new facilities, technologies, services, and staff expertise.


Parnell, A., & Green, T. (2016). Linking learning inside and outside the classroom: Cocurricular experiences add value. Leadership Exchange, 13, 4, Retrieved from: Source  

This publication explores four key decision areas that institutions face when blending classroom learning with the co-curricular.


AACRAO and NASPA (2015). A framework for extending the transcript. Retrieved from: Source  

This publication introduces an extended transcript framework that includes co-curricular experiences.


Prentice, M., & Robinson, G. (2010). Improving Student Learning Outcomes with Service Learning (Report No. AACC-RB-1—1). Retrieved from: Source  

This article argues towards the benefits that incorporating service learning has on students’ learning of course material.


Association of College & Research Libraries. Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success. Retrieved from: Source

This resource offers various information/reports on the library’s impact on student learning and success on the campus of each participating institution.


Website Resources

California State University – Stanislaus

An institutional example of incorporating Student Affairs with learning taking place in other departments


Loyola University of New Orleans

An institutional example of a Student Affairs department actively engaging in the process of co-curricular programs


Emporia State University

An institutional example of a Student Affairs division actively engaging in the process of co-curricular programs.


Student Affairs Leadership Council

Offers an in-depth perspective about the possibilities of combing student affairs with student learning-outcomes


Student Leader Learning Outcomes (SLLO) Project. (2014, December 3)

The Student Leader Learning Outcomes (SLLO) project, hosted by Texas A&M University’s division of student affairs, has a website with resources for those interested in assessing student leadership development. Particularly useful are the leadership rubrics that may help student affairs staff, among others, evaluate various leadership qualities of students. Some of the rubric topics include critical thinking, diversity, ethical leadership and teams and groups.