Astin’s Development Theory of Student Involvement (1984)
According to Astin (1984), “student involvement refers to the amount of physical and psychological energy that the student devotes to the academic experience” (p. 518). Thus, students involved in extracurricular activities, including but not limited to student employment and RSOs in the Oglesby Union, devote significant time to experiences that enhance their academics. Astin´s theory argued that a student´s involvement is impacted by their behavior or actions, not on thoughts or feelings. As a result, administators must focus more time on what the student does.
The purpose of the D.E.A.L. (Developing Effective and Aware Leaders) program is to provide student staff, executive board members, and volunteers with the professional development needed to help them excel as student leaders using NACA (National Association for Campus Activities) Student Leader Competencies. Being a student leader on a college campus is a unique opportunity that provides a wide array of learning opportunities that not only enhance the collegiate experience but also will enhance life after college. NACA hopes to enrich what students are learning in the classroom to their experiences outside the classroom as a vital aspect of student leader development. D.E.A.L. sessions are held approximately once a month and provide an opportunity for students to relax and enjoy refreshments while having meaningful conversations with each other about their competency development.
The impetus for D.E.A.L. came from a NACA grant received in 2012 to measure growth in student leader competencies. The NACA grant provided the initial vital funding and the Oglesby Union supplemented the grant amount. With over 300 student employees ranging in role, skill set, and job duties, we found it challenging to provide professional development that met everyone’s needs. In addition, we realized that we needed an incentive. The grant funds allowed for us to offer a meal each month during the sessions. In order to continue the program, the Associate Director identified funds to continue the program in the upcoming years, showing the commitment of the Oglesby Union administration in the development of our students.
Beginning in 2011, the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) Student Leader Competencies began to guide the selection of D.E.A.L. topics. The NACA Student Leader Competencies refer to a set of composite skills, knowledge and behaviors that provides the basis and forms the foundation for successful student leader practices on a college or university campus. These competencies include the following: Leadership Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Event Management, Interpersonal Relationships, Collaboration, Social Responsibility, Effective Communication, Multicultural Competency, Intellectual Growth, Clarified Values, Enhanced Self-Esteem, Realistic Self-Appraisal, Healthy Behavior and Satisfying Lifestyles, Interdependence, Spiritual Awareness, Personal and Educational Goals, and Career Choices.
In order to assess student leader competencies, a pilot project began with one group of student leaders, the SOAR Board. The Student Organization Advisory and Resource (SOAR) Board is a liaison to Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) and the Student Activities Center (SAC). The purpose of SOAR is to represent the Student Activities Center to the university community through various programs and services for the RSOs. The following year, two more groups of student leaders were added into the project: the Homecoming Executive Council and Guest Services Building Managers. The Homecoming Executive Council is a group of students charged with organizing the Homecoming festivities each fall at Florida State University. The Guest Services building managers are in charge of overseeing the set-up, reservations, and lost and found within the Oglesby Union.
The Educational Benchmarking Inc. (EBI) was founded in 1994 to provide “administrative benchmarking information to MBA programs.” Since that time EBI has expanded to provide benchmarking information to university housing, nursing education, first-year of college survey, Fraternity life, military housing, and college unions. The EBI is conducted annually across the nation by numerous colleges and universities, surveys over a million people nationwide and has over a 50% response rate. Institutions that participate in EBI receive a custom report of their data which also includes comparative data of up to six other institutions of their choice.
At Florida State University, the Oglesby Student Union has been administering the EBI since 2000. The Oglesby Union serves several thousand students on a daily basis. Participating in the EBI allows the Oglesby Union to see what areas are performing well as well as areas in need of improvement.