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From student affairs pedagogies to online practice

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Title:
From student affairs pedagogies to online practice developing a didactic collegiate portal rooted in student affairs paradigm
Creator:
Dadabhoy, Zav
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
xv, 185 leaves : illustrations ; 28 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Student affairs services ( lcsh )
Web portals ( lcsh )
Education, Higher -- Data processing ( lcsh )
Distance education ( lcsh )
Distance education ( fast )
Education, Higher -- Data processing ( fast )
Student affairs services ( fast )
Web portals ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 177-185).
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Zav Dadabhoy.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
50727298 ( OCLC )
ocm50727298
Classification:
LD1190.E3 2002d .D32 ( lcc )

Full Text
FROM STUDENT AFFAIRS PEDAGOGIES TO ONLINE PRACTICE:
DEVELOPING A DIDACTIC COLLEGIATE PORTAL
ROOTED IN STUDENT AFFAIRS PARADIGM
B.A., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1988
M. A., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1990
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
by
Zav Dadabhoy
2002


2002 by Zav Dadabhoy
All rights reserved


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Zav Dadabhoy
has been approved
by
Brent Wilson
£
Dq/e
m2-


Dadabhoy, Zav (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
From Student Affairs Pedagogies to Online Practice:
Developing a Didactic Collegiate Portal Rooted in Student Affairs Paradigm
Thesis directed by Professor Michael J. Murphy
ABSTRACT
A college education is larger than a regular class-room experience. It
is more than delving through a stack of books: It is a time to grow, to learn
and to interact with new and exciting people. It is a time to foster new
networks, plan for career development, and attain skills and resources for a
life-time of growth! The student affairs profession claims responsibility for
many of these collegiate outcomes; outcomes that touch on every aspect of
campus life. A wide array of pedagogy has been developed and advocated
to guide practice in the field.
And, during this digital era, they have yet to harness the new web
environment to incorporate student affairs pedagogy and to achieve these
student development outcomes through the internet. Conventional
educational practice seems acquiescent to the thought that on-line distance
education will focus around the faculty, the syllabus and online course
delivery systems. The challenge student affairs educators must meet is to
find ways to provide the depth and breadth of quality education, to
IV


stimulate student interests, to invoke critical thinking skills and
interactions, and to weave a total learning environment into this online
mode of delivering education.
Student Affairs units have an opportunity to take on a leadership
role on this new, online adventure by reengineering their current on-line
practices to incorporate pedagogy and to offer a content rich, seamless
learning environment on-line through "portals." The question is: how?
In this dissertation I propose a web portal designed for student
affairs, and built to address the profession's values and cherished
traditions. I suggest that traditional, campus-based, student affairs theories
can manifest in the online environment. I offer and discuss a prototype that
encompasses four mainstream student affairs theories to prove my
assertion.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's
thesis. I recommend its publication.
Signed
v


DEDICATION
To the most significant person in my life, my wife Khushnur: Your aegis
elucidates all. With you, the impossible is possible.
And to our two precious children, Natasha and Nina: For the constant joy
and thrill you bring to us.
I am so proud and thankful for all of you.


IN MEMORY OF MY DAD
Shiavax K. Dadabhoy
December 16, 1923 March 7,1985
You always said that my education was your investment for the future:
Well, it has been a long time, but Dad, your investment finally paid off!


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
This is the culmination of 3 years of exhilaration and learning.
Truly a journey that was at times exuberant, at times frustrating, but mostly
enlightening. The journey would not have been possible without many who
blew wind into my sails. They made the rudder steer right, and the keel
stay even. They deserve my grateful thanks:
Yet, nothing I could say could adequately express my thanks to Khushnur.
She made it all possible; like she has for 22 years. Through storms,
hurricanes, calm and good wind, she has been the lighthouse and the
beacon I relied on. Thank you for being my inspiration, friend, and
everything: for believing; for loving and for providing the meaningful
content in my existence. And my precious daughters Natasha and Nina,
who suddenly seemed to grow up while I wasn't noticing and who tiptoed
around me when I was in a frenzy, banging away at the computer. Your
Dad is back; and ready to chase, race, tickle, and share time again! You
always make me smile, and you make me so proud. I love you three so
much.
And Mom. Thank you for your guidance, and love; and for raising a kid to
think anything was possible.
Mike has to be the best advisor I could ask for. I learned more from my
out-of-class conversations about higher education than one can imagine.
What a font of knowledge and wisdom. Mike, thank you for the
encouragement and for your leadership. Thank you for the friendship and
tutelage. I could have been in Plato's Academy, and I am richer because of
you.
Without a doubt, this doctoral process was made possible because of the
faculty I was lucky to have. Brent, Alan, Mark, Rod, Bob you trusted us,
believed in us, inspired us and taught us well. Brent, from that first day we
met in Fall 1999 when you were willing to have lunch with two doctoral
students to talk about their goals onwards, you have no idea how much
your encouragement and support meant. Thank you, especially, for taking
a concept from its infancy and helping shape a dissertation. Alan, I have to
tell you that doing both research classes in the same semester taught me


more about inquiry and methodology than if I had done them separately.
You encouraged an unconventional dissertation procedure; made it seem
easy, and more significantly, possible. Alan, you cared. And that made a
huge difference. Mark, August 1999 was the most important month of my
doctoral program. Fifteen anxious doctoral students met as a cohort for the
first time that day. You set the tone for me. Told me that it was possible,
believed in me, and turned me on as a doctoral student. Thank you for the
inspiration and encouraging a vision. Rod, the attention to detail, the
information about the processes, the advice and guidance were important,
but not as significant as the support and the belief. I could always rely on
you to provide the clarity I needed. Thank you for that. And, Bob, you
helped me, believed in me and made it your policy to encourage, support,
and learn.
I now fully understand the concept behind learning communities and
cohort support. I had the best! Andy, Judy, and Peter you have no idea
how your camaraderie and friendship helped. Thank you for the fun, the
fellowship, the laughter, the support and for more. Folks, I'll never be
"worried about you."
Three years ago I was talking about the possibility of doing a doctoral
program with two of my colleagues from UCD and CCD. That
conversation was a catalyst for this process. Obe, Felicia, how could I
express my appreciation? You set off a chain of events that has lead to this
dissertation. Obe, thank you for the push, the encouragement and for your
friendship.
I learned everything I know about being a true student affairs professional
from Phyllis. I may not have realized it at the time, but Longwood College
was the best professional development opportunity I could have had.
What rich experiences, what rich professional colleagues and what a great
learning community. This dissertation had its roots in my experiences with
Phyllis. The knowledge and conceptual framework in this dissertation came
directly from the stacks of "readings" and scribbled, handwritten
comments.
And, finally, my students. I can name dozens that stimulated and
challenged me to be the best professional I could be. Over the years: Erin
McKay, Greg Rasnake, Andy Staton, Amy Haimerel, Gayle Johnson, Adam
Schecter, Chad Sorensen, Julie Rodriguez, David Johnson, Jen Darnell.
Thank you for touching my life as a professional. David, thank you for the
support and helping set-up the prototype; and Jen, thank you for the
colorful last inspiration to get this dissertation done!


CONTENTS
Figures..................................................xiv
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION ..........................................1
Preamble............................................1
Background..........................................3
The Challenge.......................................9
Assessing the Current Landscape of Practice .......11
The Question and Its Implication...................17
Dissertation Procedure.............................18
Importance.........................................26
Limitation of This Dissertation....................28
Structure of This Dissertation.....................28
2. THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK..................30
Introduction.......................................30
Providing a Well Rounded Education.................31
Need for and History of Student Affairs Work.......32
x


The Basis of Student Affairs Work......................33
Student Involvement Theory.............................35
Building Communities on Campus.........................39
Student Learning.......................................45
Seamless Learning Environments.........................49
Pulling Down the Silos.................................54
Other Theoretical Basis of Student Affairs Practice....57
Putting Pedagogy into Practice.........................58
Effect of the Digital Revolution.......................60
Distance Learning: Role of Student Affairs.............65
Student Learning, Online...............................73
Web Content, Task-Orientation and Usability............75
Higher Education Portals...............................81
Tension Between Two Forces Proclaiming Collaboration...87
Conclusion.............................................90
3. THE DESIGN REPORT.........................................92
Introduction...........................................92
Design Criteria........................................94
Task Functionality and Goal Clusters...................96
Illustrations of Task Functionality...................100
Task Functionality in Prototype.......................107
xi


Building Seamless Learning Environments .............110
Ensuring Student Learning Modules Online.............113
Building Communities Online..........................117
Facilitating Student Involvement Online..............125
Common Portal Features...............................128
Conclusion ..........................................129
4. EVALUATING THE CONCEPT AND PROTOTYPE....................131
Foundation...........................................131
Brief Review of Formal Procedures....................132
Results and Report of Findings: Expert Reviewers.....134
General Remarks and Observations..............135
Seamless Experiences and Task Functionality...138
Student Learning..............................140
Community Building and Student Involvement....143
Results and Report of Findings: Student Users........145
Functional Clusters and Navigation............146
Student Centered Usability....................147
Student Learning..............................149
Design Elements...............................150
General Remarks and Observations..............152
Synopsis of Findings and Discussion..................153
xii


5. EPILOGUE: "my.campus" AS A DIDACTIC COLLEGIATE
PORTAL ROOTED IN STUDENT AFFAIRS PEDAGOGY..............159
Background.......................................159
The Dissertation Question........................160
Quod Erat Demonstrandum..........................161
Implications ....................................164
Professional Acceptance and Implementation.......166
Commercial Portals...............................171
Conclusion.......................................173
REFERENCES...................................................177
xiii


FIGURES
Figure
1.1 The four theoretical pillars of the student affairs profession...8
1.2 Evaluation form for study of student affairs sites..............13
1.3 Methodological procedures for a development project.............22
2.1 Student involvement theory: Theoreticians and concepts..........36
2.2 Building communities on campus: Theoreticians and concepts......43
2.3 Student learning in campus life: Theoreticians and concepts.....47
2.4 Seamless learning environments: Theoreticians and concepts......51
2.5 Web based learning: Theoreticians and concepts .................78
2.6 Web portal characteristics: Theoreticians and concepts..........84
3.1 Task functional navigation system in prototype..................99
3.2 Task functional navigation: Possibilities at Longwood College..101
3.3 Current navigation for Longwood's student affairs web..........103
3.4 University of Colorado's student affairs goals.................104
3.5 Current navigation for Colorado's student affairs web..........106
3.6 Skill centered sets (sub-groupings) within Student Success.....115
3.7 Quick Links tool takes students directly to features...........118
3.8 The name of the prototype: "my.campus".........................119
xiv


3.9 Landscape depiction of campus buildings ...................119
3.10 The Campus News page ......................................121
3.11 Help features provide extensive personalized support systems.... 123
3.12 Help features provide for an array of needs and interests..123
3.13 A robust system of forums provide community building tools.124
3.14 Window depiction of forums and features....................127
3.15 Specialized alumni networking forums.......................127
xv


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Preamble
Sizing up the landscape of student affairs practice in the 21st century,
one might question how a profession, often characterized by student
contact, face-to-face interactions, and a general nurturing philosophy
encouraging individual student development can design new systems and
methods of operation in the new web environment. How could this
profession that evokes theories of student involvement, or community
building or collaboration, or other such models maintain its pedagogical
identity while operating in the online medium?
A relatively young profession, the field of student affairs has begun
to establish its focus and role within higher education through recent
research, theoretical development and the pronouncement of principles of
practice by its professional organizations. While these concepts are
grounded in the framework of traditional, campus based environments, the
profession must, at the same time, also grapple with the challenges posed
by the digital revolution and determine how it could apply its core values
and practice online.
1


There are many proclamations that the advent of the digital era will
transform higher education somehow (American Council of Education,
2000; Barr & Upcraft, 1990; Bates, 2000; Duderstadt, 1997; Katz, 1999;
Upcraft & Terenzini, 1999; Van Dusen, 1997). There is no doubt about it: I
am impressed by the certitude that the last decade has seen major advances
in technology, and this rate of progress seems to be accelerating. I believe
that it will change the way our society does business, interacts and
organizes its day-to-day life. And, it is just as certain to affect every aspect
of academe.
While I generally agree with this prediction, I believe student affairs
practitioners must continue to uphold the promises of their traditional
pedagogy in the new internet era. If the values and theories that have
shaped the profession in recent years have universal applicability (and I
believe they do) then we must not allow the concept of the internet to
change who we are, and what principles we believe in. Rather, in my
opinion, we must find ways to harness the potential of our web sites as a
tool in our work. I believe it is possible to maintain the richness and variety
of a collegiate education traditionally provided by student affairs educators
while using the new medium offered by the digital era.
In this dissertation, I will examine how these traditional educational
paradigms could be incorporated into practice during the internet era. I
will offer an innovative concept: a student affairs portal, that illustrates
2


how student affairs pedagogies could manifest themselves in the
profession's online endeavors. The theoretical framework I outline as a
frame of reference for good student affairs practice can also be the basis of
student affairs web presence. The design and developmental project of this
prototype portal will demonstrate this reality, and an evaluative study of
the prototype will validate my argument. The dissertation, therefore, will
be a demonstration study in which I will share a prototype of a solution to
this problem of practice.
Background
The conceptual and theoretical framework begins by answering the
question: what are student affairs professionals supposed to be engaged in,
what is at the heart of good student affairs' work; and how do we, as
practitioners know that we are fulfilling our roles in this alternative
medium, the internet? While all factions of a college (faculty, staff, students,
physical plant, etc) contribute, together, to shape the college experience for
a student, the primary focus for organized campus experiences rests with
student affairs professionals who, working collaboratively with others, are
charged with shaping student life experiences outside the classroom. The
quality of these experiences, then, must be the primary focus of student
affairs' work on campus.
3


Educators organized through divisions of student affairs provide
much of the out-of-class learning at colleges and universities. Mable (1997)
suggests that student affairs professionals are responsible for providing
meaningful campus experiences and "environments that challenge students
and support them in intellectual, personal, and social development" (p. v).
This is, of course, a rather general explanation of the profession. There are
several prominent theories that form the basis of professional practice in the
field. Reflective of a nascent field, most of these have been formulated
within the last quarter century. A review of the rich literature on higher
education provides professionals with clearer roles, values and
responsibilities. Many of these continue to evolve as the profession grows
and matures.
In recent years, achievement of co-curricular educational outcomes
has been the focus of much scrutiny and discussion and has further
contributed to the establishment of student affairs theories. Ernest Boyer,
for example, chided educators to pay attention to the intellectual and social
quality of the undergraduate experience (1987, p. 2). In 1990, Boyer
entreated educators to develop coherence between the in-class and out-of-
class activities. Numerous professional organizations have stressed the
importance of student learning across campus and urged campus leaders to
develop seamless collegiate experiences through integrated efforts by
academic and student affairs that lead to a coherent learning experience on
4


campus (American Association for Higher Education, American College
Personnel Association & National Association of Student Personnel
Administrators, 1998, p. 15). Student affairs professionals' role in this
effort is clear: student affairs "must foster collaboration and cross-
functional dialogue with faculty colleagues to create a shared vision of a
seamless learning environment" (Terenzini & Pascarella, 1994, p. 134). In
fact, the very creation of seamless environments that facilitate this learning
must be a priority and an obligation for student affairs (Schroeder, 1999, p.
134).
Boyer (1990) also leads the charge for colleges to be actively involved
in building community on campuses, suggesting that the dynamics of
support and collaboration that a community provides should be an
outcome that we actively seek. Tinto (1993) further emphasized the
importance of interaction between individual students and the campus
communities, suggesting that these will enhance student success and
persistence.
Alexander Astin (1984,1996), similarly, proposed that students'
involvement in their academic environment has a direct impact on their
success in college. This theory, the Involvement Theory, is another
mainstay of student affairs pedagogy and resulted in colleges and
universities developing strategies to encourage student involvement in
their educational environments. According to the theory, students who are
5


involved are more likely to have success, and obtain their educational
goals.
There are numerous other concepts that define the student affairs
profession. Each forms its own unique framework for professional practice
in student affairs, and together, they form the total body of student
development theories. As a whole, these theories represent the breadth and
depth of theoretical perspectives that guide student affairs practice.
Some of these include concepts of civility and diversity (King, 1999).
Yet other outcomes are encapsulated by concepts of citizenship, leadership,
experiential learning and student advising (Komives, Woodard &
Associates, 1996). Other prominent theories are developmentally based.
For example, Chickering incorporates emotional, social and intellectual
aspects of development and proposes that the formation of identity is a
crucial developmental issue during the collegiate experience (Chickering &
Reisser, 1993). He proposes seven vectors of development that contribute
to identity; this is one of the better known developmental theories in
student affairs.
There are many other pedagogical pronouncements that form the
overall theoretical conventions of the student affairs profession. For the
purpose of this dissertation I have chosen to select four general theoretical
frames of reference that I believe are at the heart of good student affairs
work (figure 1.1). They form a cornerstone of the profession: Student
6


involvement, building communities of students, student learning, and
collaborative partnerships that result in seamless educational
environments. These theories are discussed, in detail, in chapter 2.
While other theories may be just as valid for campus-based or online
practice, I believe the four I have chosen provide an appropriate lens for the
purpose and scope of this dissertation. I believe that these constitute a core
set of theories for our profession, and provide a strong frame of reference
for answering how student affairs online presence could reflect its
pedagogy.
The profession's pedagogy is relevant because theories and research
help us recognize that student behavior is not just a matter of chance and
random effect. Rather, many aspects of student behavior are observable,
measurable, explainable, generalizable, and therefore, to some extent,
predictable (Strange & King, 1990, p. 12). Therefore, practitioners need to
be aware of the theory, and the implication for practice these four
theoretical concepts present. In fact, there are many calls to base practice on
theoretical constructs suggesting that student affairs practice without such
theoretical grounding is ineffective or inefficient. "A fly by the seat of your
pants approach may sometimes result in beneficial outcomes, but it is just
as likely to result in disaster" (Evans, Forney & Guido-DiBrito, 1998, p. 19).
Creamer and his associates (1990) also assert that the professional practice
of student development requires continuous dedication to theory.
7


Theory
Major Theorists
Concept
Student
Involvement
Community
Building
&
Student
Engagement
Student Learning
Seamless
Environments
&
Powerful
Partnerships
Figure 1.1. The four
Astin (1984,1996)
Kuh, Schuh, Whitt (1991)
Tinto (1998)
Boyer (1987,1990)
Coye (1997)
Gardner (1989)
Tinto (1987,1993,1998)
Students' involvement in
their academic environment
has a direct impact on their
success in college
A sense of belonging, the
dynamics of support and the
development of connections/
ties with the college
enhance student
persistence and student
success.
Wingspread Group (1993)
ACPA (1994)
Terenzini & Pascarella (1994)
Kuh (1996)
Smallen (1993)
Terenzini & Pascarella (1994)
Kuh (1994,1996)
Marchese (1995)
Roberts (1998)
Schroeder (1998,1999)
AAHE (1997)
Fostering educationally
purposeful environments and
interventions that encourage
and develop student learning
is the primary purpose.
Involvement in learning leads
to student persistence and
success
Developing coherence
between students in-class
and out-of-class experiences
results in better learning
The total learning experience
must be greater than the
sum of its parts
theoretical pillars of the student affairs profession.
8


The Challenge
The demand that student affairs adapt to integrate these theoretical
findings into professional practice is somewhat exacerbated by the effect of
the digital era, and the expectation that the internet must also be
incorporated into the learning and research environment (Palloff & Pratt,
1999; Van Dusen, 1997). The internet is rapidly extending into our daily
lives, and knowledge networks and internet technologies have quickly
moved from the research stage of development towards consumer
utilitarianism. The dramatic transformation of our culture as a result of
digital technologies have, in turn, created demands that higher education
include these new technologies in their daily business (Palloff & Pratt,
1999). Colleges and universities are beginning to determine how they use
internet technologies to fulfill their mission and are struggling to adapt to
these new technologies (Van Dusen, 1997).
Already, educators are engaging in a growing trend in education
termed "distance education." Citing cost benefits, and other trendy concepts
such as "student centered" education, new courses, and even universities
are being rapidly created. Assuming that education, online, is merely a
teacher-to-student web based interaction is too simplistic a view, and akin
to a sell-out of all the noble values educators have cherished, nurtured and
practiced for so long. It challenges our very assumptions about what a
9


college education should be, with little provision for the rich out-of-class
interaction that is so essential to our current concept of a well-rounded,
holistic education.
The internet is merely an alternate medium for student affairs to
conduct its work. As such, I believe that the internet is a new tool that the
profession must harness to provide its traditional holistic educational
ideals. A shift in the medium of instruction itself should not change our
concept of education as a rich, purposeful endeavor with countless learning
stimuli across campuses. As such our challenge is to stay true to our
theoretical and conceptual heritage, and find ways to realize these
constructs in our online endeavors. Student affairs web presence must
therefore reflect student affairs pedagogy, and be a purposeful, intentional
and deliberate reflection of the profession's efforts to encourage student
involvement, build community on campus, promote student learning and
create seamless learning environments.
Reflecting the conceptual primacy of student learning in all higher
education, Smallen (1993) suggests that all higher education web sites must
also provide student learning. The issue, then, is how student affairs
profession's current web efforts could reflect the richness and wealth of
Smallen's criteria and the other pedagogies selected as a frame of reference
in this dissertation.
10


Assessing the Current Landscape of Practice
To date, much of student affairs' on-line interests and presence has
revolved around essential support services. In this section, I shall report on
an empirical study conducted in the summer 2000 in which I have found
little, if any, emphasis placed on developing internet-based mechanisms to
build campus community, or provide out-of-class experiences. For
example, registration, admission and financial aid processes have been
provided on the web at many colleges and universities. Student life,
student activities and other such services have yet to make the transition to
providing actual experiences on the internet, and still use their websites
much as one would use a bulletin board outside one's office.
An analysis of student affairs web sites across the country
confirmed, to my dismay, that student affairs had basically failed to show
any leadership in this endeavor. I conducted a review of a number of
student affairs web sites, to determine if they met criteria such as Smallen's,
and to understand how student affairs designed their user interface.
I chose to study those institutions that were members of the National
Association of Campus Activities (NACA), and who met three specific
criteria: public institutions; predominantly commuter in nature; and with
an FTE student body of over 5,000 students. I chose NACA member
institutions because of the hope that this membership represented an
interest in co-curricular activities; an assumption that may very well be
11


invalid. The public institution criteria was chosen to select those
institutions that have an overall public educational mission, and who
shared a responsibility to the citizens of the state they served. The
commuter nature of the student body indicated that their students were
dispersed, and not living on campus, thereby enhancing the possibility that
they may use the web to access services from a remote location rather than
walking on-campus to a department. Finally, the size of the institution was
chosen so that schools with a large student base could be in the same
cohortan assumption that larger schools would have a larger budgetary
dynamic, as well as a diverse student affairs resource base.
With thousands of colleges and universities, it was appropriate to
select a limited number as a sample. A stratified random sampling method
might have been the most thorough if I desired to study a representative
sample of all colleges and universities. Instead, I selected the
aforementioned variables that I believed were relevant for my purposes,
and restricted my sample on this basis. This, perhaps, could be considered a
constraint on the scope of this study.
Using these criteria, I selected all 123 colleges and universities as my
sample. While this sample size was significantly larger than I had desired, I
felt comfortable with the selection.
To identify the variables that I would seek in these sites, I used
Smallen's effectiveness criteria, as well as several web usability and
12


functionality criteria that were developed with the help and advice of
faculty and students in a doctoral lab I participated in during summer,
2000. The form I designed for the study (see figure 1.2) shows the different
variables I used, as well as a basic evaluative scale of 1 to 3 points
for different criteria.
[University:
TJniversityl
Date accessed:
Main web site address:
Main web site address-
Can SA be accessed directly from the main page? if not, how many links is it from the main page?
Can SA be accessed directly from the main page?
Is the SA mission statement on the web site?
Is the SA mission statement on the web site?
How is the SA web site arranged?
is the site arranged so as to address/achieve the mission? (1
Is the site arranged an as tn aririress/achieve the mission?-
not at all, 2 = somewhat, 3 = yes)
Is the SA site Information Primary or Service Primary? (information primary tutorials, explanations, etc.
service primary how to access services provided by the school)
Is the SA site Information Primary or Service Primary?
Does the SA site include a search engine?
Is there a search engine?
Functional service assessment (1 = minimal to none, 2
Cross-departmental?
Seamless (transparent) of department?
Focus on transmittal of knowledge (learning)?
Customizable by student?
Assessment of learning?
Redundant links?
Comments
somewhat, 3 excellent)
ISeamlesslEi
ICuslomizaEB
[Assessment]]
Comments
- --


Figure 1.2. Evaluation form for study of student affairs sites.
Some of the variables I chose were more complex than I had
envisioned, and certainly needed more time than I had planned for this
13


study. On average, I browsed each site for about ten minutes, completing
about six or seven an hour. This might be considered another limitation of
my research: Clearly, more than ten minutes needs to be devoted to
understanding the myriad of web pages that combine to represent a
college's web site. On the other hand, most users of the internet are, in my
opinion, unlikely to spend much more time at any one site. If this is true,
the amount of time I was able to spend at each site was probably
appropriate. If I did not notice the features I was looking for during this
span of time, the site was probably not organized well enough to reflect
that particular characteristic.
The conceptual basis of this project clearly led me to believe that, in
terms of on-line education, and with the student as the primary focus,
student affairs web sites must be utilitarian in nature. I assumed that
students visit college sites to accomplish something; they are probably not
aimlessly surfing, or looking for a novelty. In fact, the average internet user
seems to be a goal-oriented person interested in finding relevant
information, acquiring knowledge or communicating with others (Carton,
2000).
I found it remarkable that only 40 of these sites provided
information about student affairs missions, or strategic plan. Yet, in only 12
cases I was able to say that the web-site was arranged to "somewhat"
achieve the mission statement, and in absolutely no cases was I able to
14


respond with a definite answer that the web site accomplished the stated
mission of student affairs. As for the question of whether the organization
of the student affairs site helps achieve the stated mission, sites that simply
listed their departments and services they offered were given a 1, as were
those sites lacking a mission statement. I was looking for a site that allowed
students to achieve the goals outlined in the mission statement without
going in to the actual office. This was quite disappointing, and reflected the
content of these sites. In only three cases, the content of the web site
provided a robust series of learning experiences with information
transmittal as a primary focus. The rest provided directory information
about accessing services they provided, or their policies and procedures, or
hours of operation, or a listing of their staff.
In 105 cases, student affairs sites offered information to their internet
audience through campus departmental listings; hardly responsive to
student affairs' call to provide seamless learning experiences. I did not find
a single instance in which information was provided without having to
navigate through a departmental site, thereby forcing students to organize
their search for information by navigating through campus based structures
and boundaries In these cases, student services offices were listed, and any
information offered by the department was only available through that
link. In only two of these cases were services presented directly to
students, transparent of the departmental interface. Perhaps because the
15


transmittal of student learning was not a focus, I found no example of
engaging students in an assessment of the knowledge offered through the
site. I found absolutely no sites that were developed to offer collaborative
information, or provide collaborative services to students.
Finally, I sought evidence that the web pages were organized as the
internet is conceived; that is, an organization with redundant linkages and
cross linkages, making information accessible from numerous points of
entry into the system. What I found, instead, was a linear navigational
system that seemed to be based in bureaucratic organization; a factor that
might make it easy for faculty or staff accessing the site, but almost
meaningless for students who may be unaware of the organization of the
service itself.
In my opinion, these web sites did not meet Smallen's criteria for
creating effective learning environments on-line. It validated my belief
that colleges and universities were thinking of their web sites in much the
same way that one would a departmental board; to provide a means of
advertising, and some superficial information. Certainly, student affairs
professionals did not seem to conceive their web sites as they did their
campus-based work; analogous to achieving their theoretically construed
outcomes on-line.
This inquiry was conducted a year ago, and it is possible that more
student affairs units have developed web sites that are more purposefully
16


organized and conceived. The inquiry itself, as previously indicated, could
also have been a more thorough examination of web sites. Yet, in my
opinion, it was sufficient to demonstrate my premise: the profession has
not, as yet, harnessed the use of web technology to further its goals and
purpose.
The Question and Its Implication
Much research and work has been conducted about online
education, distance learning theories and web implementation. As a
student affairs scholar who has perused much of this exhaustive literature, I
was unfortunately unable to obtain any substantive discussion of student
affairs, and its role in the online education world. Few student affairs
scholars have contributed to mainstream literature on this topic, and those
student affairs scholars who discuss online education seem to think that
their web sites could be developed in a vacuum, without consideration of
pedagogical imperatives such as communities, student learning,
involvement, or other nuances of a successful, campus-based educational
program, as discussed earlier. On the other hand, Instructional
Technology (IT) scholars and researchers are off and running in their
endeavors to provide knowledge in their field, and the student affairs
scholars have not begun to participate, at any substantive level, in this
conversation.
17


Upcraft and Terenzini (1999) discuss the implications of technology
in shaping the practice of student affairs in the future. They conclude that
student affairs professionals must take on the leadership challenge of
determining how to shape their services in the information age, and that
this must be done with a sense of urgency:
To date there has been little discussion, and even less research
on the impact of technology on student learning and
development, and on the implications for student affairs. We
need both, and soon, if we are to remain relevant to student
education. We must ensure that we are partners with other
administrators and faculty in developing policies which define
the role of technology in higher education. If we fail to do so,
others will define our role, or leave us out altogether. Neither of
those alternatives will benefit students, (p. 4)
The question, therefore, is how can student affairs professionals use
their traditional pedagogies in the profession's online endeavors? The
development of the portal in this dissertation responds to Upcraft and
Terenzini's challenge, by demonstrating how four time-honored student
affairs theories can be incorporated into the profession's work online. The
design report for the prototype, as well as two succinct evaluative studies,
will validate my argument by showing how the theoretical concepts of
seamless learning environments, student learning, student involvement
and community building (outlined in the literature review) manifest
themselves in the portal.
18


Dissertation Procedure
The dissertation has been developed as a research and development
project, with elements of needs assessment (pre-design inquiry), design
rationale and evaluation. I offer a unique and inventive way of designing a
student affairs web site through a purposefully created portal.
In most cases, the design of a product could be studied through a
variety of research approaches: case studies, experimentation, classification
schemes and theory building, historical research, longitudinal studies,
model building, survey research, etc. (Krathwohl, 1998, pp. 32-33). In this
case, the product being developed is a portal offering student affairs
services for a college or university. As will be noted in a separate chapter,
the design process for such a portal would entail many different
constituencies working together, significant campus resources, and much
time in product development, decision making and testing. While I had
proposed this concept to the college I work at, and obtained conceptual
buy-in from the president of the college and her cabinet, the college has yet
to make a final decision on whether to develop such a portal, or to purchase
a commercially developed portal. Even if a college were to adopt this
concept now, the process would take much time to complete, and as such,
an implementation or evaluative study is not possible under the timeframe
of this dissertation project. Instead, the portal I offer is a prototype and, as
the review of current web sites demonstrated, this product development is
19


somewhat innovative, and must be studied as a product design and
development research.
The classic study of innovation is provided by Everett Rogers (1995).
Rogers says that "an innovation is an idea, practice, or object that is
perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption" (p. 11). While
much of his work examines the process through which an innovation is
communicated and adopted by others (diffusion), he provides an insight
into the pre-diffusion aspects of the technology-development process.
However, he warns that "there are relatively few such investigations of the
early phases in the technology development process" (p. 132). His thoughts
on the paucity of established research methods that investigate innovative
product development reflects some of my own struggles in designing this
dissertation process. Clearly, an implementation study would have
provided a more straight-forward dissertation project. The use of
established case study methodology or even experimental research would
be appropriate. In this case, however, neither provide an ideal research
agenda.
According to Rogers, an innovation-development project usually
begins with identifying a need or problem which then requires some
research and development activities resulting in the creation of an
innovation that solves the problem or need (p. 132). In this case, I have
20


already identified a conceptual problem area, and verified that this indeed
is a need through the brief assessment project described earlier.
Rogers proposes that investigations that are designed to solve such
practical problems by putting knowledge to work in designing innovative
solutions or products, are appropriate research topics. He calls this process
"applied research" (p. 135), but insists that the results of this applied
research must transition into some product design, or development. In
Rogers' opinion, it is essential to put the innovative idea into a form, or
potential product, that is expected to meet the needs of an audience of
potential adopters (pp. 131-160). For me, this meant that I needed to design
and develop a prototype, and perhaps even test this with a group of
potential users of this innovative concept.
Krathwohl (1998, p. 642) suggests a four-step research design in the
study of innovation:
a. Identify a significant problem -one that fills an important need.
b. Determine a solution that is close to current practice.
c. Use definitions that reduce complexity and facilitate trialability.
d. Demonstrate the effectiveness of what has been invented or
developed. Use observations and demonstrate the advantage.
While Krathwohl's framework is designed for innovation dissemination, 1
concluded that I could also draw on his suggestions while developing this
dissertation procedure.
21


DISSERTATION PROCEDURE THEORIST DESIGN EVIDENCE
Identify a need Rogers (1995) Assessment of web-sites (Summer 2000) (Chapter 1)
Identify a significant Review of literature and
problem or one that fills a need Krathwohl (1998) conceptual framework (Chapter 1 and 2)
Establish a contextual framework to show the importance of new product Richey and Nelson (199X) Conceptual framework and literature review (Chapter 1 and 2)
Design report
Determine a solution Krathwohl (1998) and design criteria (Chapter 3)
Put innovative idea into a Prototype and design report
form or a potential product Rogers (1995) (Chapter 3)
Demonstrate the effectiveness of the product Krathwohl (1998) E val uation/Assessment (Chapter 4)
Evaluation/Assessment
Evaluate and further analyze the product Richey and Nelson (199X) (Chapter 4) and Analysis/Conclusion (Chapter 5)
Figure 1.3. Methodological procedures for a development project.
Similarly, I found other methodological procedures from which I
could draw: developmental research in the field of instructional technology.
This too provided research insights from which a dissertation could be
constructed. In the field of instructional technology, developmental
research methodologies facilitate the study of the process by which new
22


models, tools, and procedures are created so that educators can reliably
predict their effectiveness and efficiency (Richey & Nelson, 1998, p. 1240).
In its strictest interpretation, the portal design I am proposing is not
developmental research as explained by the authors (pp. 1216-1218). It is
neither instructional design, nor does it facilitate the study of such design,
Even so, Richey and Nelson's work provides some interesting research
insights. Developmental researchers use a wide variety of research
methodologies, and apply any tool that meets their requirements (p. 1217),
often using a combination of methods (p. 1225). The research may be
product focused, or process focused, but two elements seem critical. A
needs assessment explaining the importance of the new product, and most
importantly, an evaluation of the new product:
A developmental research project may include several distinct
stages, each of which involves reporting and analyzing a data set.
Merely conducting a comprehensive design and development
project does not constitute conducting a developmental research
project, even using its most narrow ... definition. One must also
include the analysis and reporting stage to warrant being classified
as developmental research, (p. 1218)
The product being considered in this dissertation is a portal that is
designed and construed to facilitate online student affairs practice based on
established and theoretically derived student affairs constructs. As such
the portal facilitates the same learning and other pedagogical outcomes
online as one expects on a college campus.
23


There is a clear need for such a product. A need is a state of
disenchantment and discontent that occurs when desired outcomes
outweigh actual outcomes (Rogers, p. 164). As has already been
established, student affairs web-sites are not pedagogically driven, and
perhaps do not even endeavor to achieve the same richness of outcomes
that campus based services strive to provide. A review of some of the
literature in this area also suggests the lack of such enterprise (Upcraft &
Terenzini, 1999).
As such, the theoretical framework to establish what good student
affairs practice is about is critical to this dissertation. I will expand on the
pedagogic imperatives of the theories shown in figure 1 and explain why
online practice must also reflect these outcomes. This provides much of the
content for a full chapter on the theoretical framework for this dissertation.
It also reinforces the concept of "need" by establishing ideal or desired
outcomes. The chapter also includes some theoretically driven design
elements for web content and functionality.
This literature review provides the theoretical basis of a design
report for the portal, and meets Rogers' emphasis on developing a
prototype of the innovative product. In fact, a prototype portal will be
developed using the indicators and other design elements discussed in this
chapter.
24


A separate chapter provides a design report outlining a variety of
characteristics that may be available and that indicate use of theoretical
constructs in the prototype portal. These design elements reflect the four
theoretical frames of reference included in this dissertation, and establish
some of the criteria for the purposeful development of a student affairs
portal, but concentrate on the most important one: the creation of seamless
learning environments. Each theoretical pronouncement manifests itself in
the examples and features provided. The chapter also includes figures that
schematically represent the elements needed in this portal.
Richey and Nelson (1996) remind us that the most important aspect
of this dissertation is the evaluation of the prototype. I demonstrated this
prototype to several student affairs experts: professionals and scholars of
the field, for their feedback and assessment. I selected six such experts, and
requested their feedback. In particular, I sought to determine whether the
features of the portal worked as designed, and whether the four different
theoretical constructs manifested themselves in the operation of this
prototype. The evaluation forms the basis of an independent chapter in this
dissertation. As discussed before, the prototype itself will not be a fully
operational portal resident on a college web site. Rather it will be a
functional example of what is possible. Since the intended audience for
such a site is the college student, a limited amount of user testing for design
preferences and functionality will also be a part of this chapter.
25


Hence, the second half of the chapter will provide data from user
testing of the portal. I asked a focus group of six students to use the site,
and provide feedback. I sought information on usability, design
characteristics, and a comparative evaluation of the portal, and the college's
own, current, web-based services.
The dissertation will conclude with a discussion of how the
prototype could be changed (based on the evaluation of the product) and
how it could be implemented. The suggestions for an implementation
process at a college has more practical importance than the design itself.
While the product, if it has value, could sell itself, the implementation of
technologically driven products is wrought with a long history of
implementation failure. As such, some suggestions for implementation are
crucial for possible diffusion of this portal.
Importance
Colleges and universities pride themselves in providing
enlightenment through high quality learning opportunities: the holistic
education. The concept of developing the well-rounded student who will
become the model community leader with articulate and well versed
critical reasoning skills is central to such edification. Intrinsically, most
scholars will insist that these concepts capture the fundamental essence of
holistic education that colleges strive towards. Student affairs educators
26


vociferously insist that the collegiate experience is more than merely
passing courses and earning degrees and certainly the theories they operate
under bear these out. But if they truly believe this, they must find ways to
effectuate the theory in their online ventures.
The internet is merely an alternate medium for student affairs to
conduct its work. Technology is not the antidote for organizational and
leadership woes. Esther Dyson (1999) points out that it will not solve
existing organizational problems, nor will it change operations sufficiently
to make the dysfunctualism in institutions become less significant. "It is a
fallacy to believe that the technology is automatically going to change
culture.... Information age technology won't fly if it is hobbled by industrial
age organizational cultures" (p. 144).
Colleges and universities must begin to develop ways to provide the
intentional learning opportunities they are charged with creating, in the
internet medium. They must concentrate on information and knowledge
transmittal, and use the internet as a tool to deliver the co-curricular
learning experiences called for by our profession.
This dissertation provides a useful tool that illustrates how student
affairs can harness the internet and use it as a strategic asset in
accomplishing its pedagogically driven outcomes.
27


Limitation of This Dissertation
The dissertation is clearly limited by not being an implementation
study. Instead it relies on a robust theoretical framework to support the
development and design of a prototype portal. Implementation itself will
carry other nuances that could augment this study further.
The portal itself reflects four theoretical constructs, but concentrates
on demonstrating how seamless collegiate experiences can be developed
online. Inclusion of other student affairs theories such as Chickering's
vectors, etc., is possible, but has not been illustrated in this prototype. I
believe this is possible, but would make the scope of this dissertation
unlimited and unwieldy. They therefore could form the basis of research in
the future.
Structure of This Dissertation
This dissertation is comprised of five chapters. Chapter One
includes an introduction and background to the concept, the theoretical
framework, the need for this portal project, an overview of the dissertation
procedure, and the importance of this work. Chapter Two provides the
framework for student affairs pedagogy, and a discussion of theoretical
web design and use. Chapter Three illustrates the design protocol and
rationale for aspects of the prototype. Chapter Four provides an evaluation
28


of the prototype. Finally, Chapter Five summarizes the findings,
implications for incorporating this model in practice, implementation
possibilities, and a conclusion.
29


CHAPTER 2
THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
Introduction
In 2002, student affairs professionals find their nascent profession in
the throes of two significant, contemporaneous, forces urging a
transformation of our practice. These are calls to base student affairs work
on a theoretical, and research based framework such as student learning,
(American College Personnel Association [ACPA], 1994; Wingspread
Group on Higher Education, 1993; Kuh, 1993; Kuh, 1996; Schroeder, 1996;
Kuh, 1997) and calls to integrate technology and adapt to the internet
based, distance learning phenomenon (Katz, 1999; Bates, 2000). How we
respond will, in large measure, determine the future role of student affairs
in higher education.
The intellectual framework for student affairs work has always been
based on notions of student development, student growth and well-being.
That scholars, professional organizations and practitioners have called for a
re-examination of student affairs practice to squarely focus on the quality of
student experiences and student learning is not a significant departure from
previous professional goals. What is remarkable, however, is that this
30


evolution towards student learning as an imperative for student affairs is
happening at the same time that the profession has to deal with its role in
the digital era. These two momentous forces have little coherence with one
another: if they did, there would be more discussion about the quality of
student co-curricular experiences in the virtual education environment.
This, in fact is the thrust of my argument; the two concepts are not
mutually exclusive, even though the current trend in student affairs is to
consider it as such.
In this chapter I will review much of the literature that defines our
profession, and some of the theory pertaining to online education. In
connecting the conceptual framework of my argument, I am reminded of
an ancient Chinese proverb: "May you live in interesting times." As a
student of this young profession, we do, indeed live in interesting times,
filled with uncertainties, renewed calls to examine our educational
effectiveness, and attempts to remake academe.
Providing a Well Rounded Education
Colleges and universities have always prided themselves in
providing enlightenment through high quality learning opportunities: the
holistic education. The concept of developing the well rounded student,
the citizen leader, articulate and well versed in didactic reasoning is central
to such edification. Intrinsically, most scholars will insist that these
31


concepts capture the fundamental essence of holistic education that colleges
strive towards. Educators will vociferously insist that the collegiate
experience is more than merely passing courses and earning degrees; it is a
journey to acquire specific knowledge as well as a well-rounded education.
Plato's Academy, the world's first real university was sustained on the
precept that the pursuit of knowledge is the highest and most valuable
human endeavor (Mitchell, 1999). This view from classical antiquity
represents the basic principles of education that:
while education should develop human worth and talents as broadly
as possible, it must give primacy to the cultivation of the unbounded
reaches of the mind and its power to think, to communicate, to
imagine, to create, to innovate, to increase knowledge and
understanding to advance the social, political, and moral order, and
to enrich the human experience and the quality of human
experience, (p. 17)
Even today, the role of education in our society retains the lofty
notion of academia developing enlightened, responsible citizens; and
broadens the responsibility of providing education to matters pertaining to
student development, growth and intellectual, or non-academic learning
(Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, p.l).
Need for and History of Student Affairs Work
Today's academic institutions have structured themselves into
specialized areas divisions that provide in-class instruction; working
side-by-side with a host of student support areas to provide structured out-
32


of-class learning opportunities and services working harmoniously
towards a common educational goal.
Educators organized through divisions of student affairs provide
much of the out-of-class learning at colleges and universities. This then is a
role of the profession of student affairs:
Student affairs, itself is a relatively recent phenomenon. While
formal education through colleges and universities can be traced as
far back as Plato's Academy in the 5th century B.C., (Mitchell), the
concept of student affairs as a field of practice is merely 100 years old
(Nuss, 1996, p. 24). The first iteration of student affairs practice
could be seen in the late 1800s, when . universities appointed
faculty to be specifically responsible for student matters (National
Association of Student Personnel Administrators, 1989, p.7).
Inevitably, as the profession has evolved, so too has its scope and
mission. In the past quarter of a century, higher education, and student
affairs has been the subject of much formal research, resulting in the
development of a number of theories and models of practice. "Indeed, the
growth of theory development is one of the most striking and significant
trends in the study of collegiate impact over the last two decades"
(Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, p. 15).
The Basis of Student Affairs Work
As a function of higher education, student affairs faces the same
challenges of budget shortfalls, demands for accountability, shifts in
population demographics, economic conditions, public opinion and the
33


changing nature of higher education in the digital era. This scrutiny, and
the corresponding critiques have pushed professionals in our field to keep
inquiring into the theoretical and practical effectiveness of our work. With
the evolution of new research methods, and studies that build on other
established research, we have seen a progression of newer theories, and the
basis of professional practice in the field. These calls for change, and the
ongoing research and formulation of new standards continue to shape the
theories of our profession.
Student affairs practice without such theoretical grounding is
ineffective or inefficient. "A fly by the seat of your pants approach may
sometimes result in beneficial outcomes, but it is just as likely to result in
disaster" (Evans, Forney & Guido-DiBrito, 1998, p. 19).
For me, the logical questions that ensue from this include: what,
specifically, are student affairs professionals supposed to be engaged in;
what is the heart of good student affairs' work; and how do we, as
practitioners know that we are fulfilling our roles? If it is truly a profession,
then what is the theoretical base of work in the field? In fact, what is the
specialized body of knowledge that provides the framework for our
professional practice? I shall outline some of the conceptual framework of
our student affairs practice, and then discuss the implications of the digital
era as we try to implement student affairs theory in our professional work.
34


A review of the rich literature on higher education provides us with
clear roles, values and responsibilities for student affairs. Many of these
continue to evolve as our profession grows and matures. We need to be
aware of the theory, and its implication for practice.
Student Involvement Theory
One such well known, and established theory for student affairs was
Alexander Astin's (1984) Student Involvement Theory. It is the classic
student affairs theory that proposes that students' involvement in their
academic environment has a direct impact on their success in college (p.
297). This theory is a mainstay of student development theories. Astin
defines involvement as "the amount of physical and psychological energy
that the student devotes to the academic experience" (p. 297). According to
Astin, students who are involved in their education gain the most from
their college experiences, and have the most chance of success: "The
amount of student learning and personal development associated with any
educational program is directly proportional to the quality and quantity of
student involvement in that program." He urges the college to pay
attention to this phenomenon and to encourage student affairs' staff to
work in collaborative efforts with their academic affairs' counterparts, to
create opportunities for this involvement to occur, both inside and outside
the classroom.
35


STUDENT INVOLVEMENT THEORY
ROOT:
Astin (1984, 1996)
PRONOUNCEMENTS:
Amount of student learning is directly proportional to quality and
quantity of student involvement.
Different types of involvement:
Among peers
With faculty and staff
In academic environment
In co-curricular experiences
In student employment
Motivation of student is the key
Shape the campus environment such that it encourages and
supports student involvement
Increase the opportunities for involvement
Kuh, Schuh, Whitt and
Associates (1991)
Create a sense of belonging
6 conclusions from Involving Colleges work:
Clear, coherent and applied mission
Value and expect student initiative
Encourage the total student experience
Human scale environments and sub-communities
Student learning is taken seriously
Feelings of loyalty and sense of specialness
Tinto (1998)
Smallen (1993)
Academic integration is most important and so is social
involvement
Interaction with peers and especially faculty.
Subject engagement (opportunities for student to actively
engage and apply what they study)
Student interaction opportunities
Figure 2.1. Student involvement theory: Theoreticians and concepts.
36


Such involvement takes many forms, such as absorption in academic
work, participation in extracurricular activities, and interaction with faculty
and other institutional personnel. According to the theory, the greater the
student's involvement in college, the greater will be the amount of student
learning and personal development. From the standpoint of the educator,
the most important hypothesis in the theory is that the effectiveness of any
educational policy or practice is directly related to the capacity of that
policy or practice to increase student involvement.
The principal advantage of the student involvement theory over
traditional pedagogical approaches is that it directs attention away from
subject matter and technique and directs it toward the motivation and
behavior of the student. It views student time and energy as institutional
resources, albeit finite resources. Thus, all institutional policies and
practicesthose relating to nonacademic as well as academic matterscan
be evaluated in terms of the degree to which they increase or reduce
student involvement. Similarly, all college personnelcounselors and
student personnel workers as well as faculty and administratorscan
assess their own activities in terms of their success in encouraging students
to become more involved in the college experience. Astin maintains that
this phenomenon is the key to success: "the effectiveness of any educational
policy or practice is directly related to the capacity of that policy or practice
to increase student involvement"(1996, p. 123).
37


This last proposition is, of course, a key educational postulate,
because it provides clues for designing more effective educational
programs for students. Astin's theory has been the subject of much
empirical research, and been validated in a variety of educational settings.
One such landmark study was conducted by Kuh, Schuh, Whitt and
associates and reported in a 1991 book, Involving Colleges. This book is the
culmination of a yearlong study of 14 four-year colleges and universities,
and discusses the role and contribution of student affairs in involving
college. The focus of the study was to identify the factors and conditions
that characterize institutions that provide undergraduates with unusually
rich opportunities for out-of-class learning and personal development.
The book identifies and describes the several characteristics shared
by involving colleges. It provides important policy insights for educators.
For example:
More important to encouraging involvement is creating a sense of
belonging, a feeling on the part of students that the institution
acknowledges the human needs of social and psychological comfort,
and that they are full and valued members of the campus
community. Large universities can be divided into small living-
learning or special-interest units to ameliorate feelings of anonymity
that often characterize large institutions and to increase the number
of opportunities for student involvement.....The challenge to
institutions is clear: discover ways to shape the campus environment
to encourage and support student involvement, (p. 321)
Institutions of higher education can promote a high level of student
participation in educationally purposeful activities. Kuh's work reinforced
38


Astin's Involvement Theory, and demonstrated that concept of
involvement is central to institutional success by unleashing faculty and
student potential for creativity and initiative. Other constructs pertaining
to student involvement are outlined in figure 2.1.
Building Communities on Campus
The research, then, supports the importance of making the
environment more supportive of student involvement. The theory suggests
that often, involvement is accomplished as a component of community
development. This construct, community development, has become a
separate and independent professional goal for student affairs (Cooper,
Healy, & Simpson, 1994, pp 98-102).
Boyer (1987) charged that we could do more to promote a sense of
community and to endeavor to personalize such campus experiences. "The
effectiveness of the undergraduate experience relates to the quality of
campus life and is directly linked to the time students spend on campus
and the quality of their involvement in activities." (p. 2). Boyer's charge was
one of the first calls for a re-examination of higher education.
Unfortunately, Boyer notes that two out of five students say they do not feel
a sense of community on their campuses and new students report little
sense of being orientated into a new community.
Boyer concludes his 1987 treatise by calling for measurement of the
39


outcomes of a college education, with evaluation focusing on overall goals.
According to Boyer, the total college experience should be greater than the
sum of all its parts. As such, the overall student development goals on a
campus are among the most important of college outcomes.
In 1990, Boyer elaborated on this charge, by entreating us to develop
coherence between the in-class and out-of-class activities. Boyer again
urged higher education professionals to be actively involved in building
community on campuses, suggesting that the dynamics of support and
collaboration that a community provides should be an outcome that we
actively seek. This called for higher education administrators to develop
co-curricular structures, policies and guidelines governing the social and
civic dimensions of collegiate lifepolicies and guidelines comparable to
those institutions have already defined for academic purposes.
Boyer provided six principles that provide a guide for community
development on each campus:
1. A college or university is an educationally purposeful
community, a place where faculty and students share academic goals and
work together to strengthen teaching and learning on the campus.
2. A college or university is an open community, a place where
freedom of expression is uncompromisingly protected and where civility is
powerfully affirmed.
3. A college or university is a just community, a place where the
40


sacredness of the person is honored and where diversity is aggressively
pursued.
4. A college or university is a disciplined community, a place where
individuals accept their obligations to the group and where well-defined
governance procedures guide behavior for the common good.
5. A college or university is a caring community, a place where the
well being of each member is sensitively supported and where service to
others is encouraged.
6. A college or university is a celebrative community one in which
the heritage of the institution is remembered and where rituals affirming
both tradition and change are widely shared (pp 6-7).
The report concluded: "We proceed then with the conviction that if a
balance can be struck between individual interests and shared concerns, a
strong learning community will result" (Boyer, 1990, p. 64). This will
provide the opportunity for students not only to meet their educational
needs, but also to prepare themselves for their social and civic obligations.
The report, itself, is a subtle, but needed, reminder that institutional
officials, including student affairs administrators, must address
increasingly complex student life issues and define the manner in which
these issues contribute to the overall concept of community on their
campuses.
I have already discussed that involvement in campus life has direct,
41


positive effects on student learning both in and out of the classroom.
Further, the theory and research on campus environments and campus
culture provide many guides on how to create involving campuses. The
work of student affairs must encompass not only the needs of the
individual students and students in groups, but must also create campus
cultures that promote student involvement in the community. In this way,
campuses will be furthering students' attainment of their educational and
developmental goals (Cooper, Healy, & Simpson, 1994).
Kuh, Schuh, Whitt, and Associates (1991) suggest that at universities
with tens of thousands of students and many sub-communities, achieving
such a sense of community may be difficult. However, they suggest that
colleges and universities could attempt to establish a sense of community
by encouraging involvement, and by fostering conditions that are common
to involving colleges (pp. 368-369).
Boyer's research associate, Coye (1997), suggests that, for non-
traditional commuter campuses, community is particularly important. He
gives us two reasons: First, because of the transitional and part-time nature
of the faculty and students; and second, because of the implications of
distance learning, and online courses (p. 21).
42


BUILDING COMMUNITIES ON CAMPUS
PRONOUNCEMENTS:
ROOT:
Boyer (1987, 1990) Personalize campus experiences Quality of involvement Coherence of in-class and out-of-class activities Support and collaborative mechanisms Boyers 6 principles of community: Shared academic goals, shared sense of purpose Freedom of expression, yet, civility is affirmed Each person is valued, and diversity is persued Sense of the common good Ethos of caring, service and sense of safety Celebrations. Rituals, and heritage are honored
Cooper, Healy, and Simpson, 1994 A culture of student involvement in the college community
Gardner (1989) Characteristics of an effective community: Incorporate and value diversity Shared culture Good internal communications
Also... Kuh, Schuh, Whitt and Associates (1991) Caring, trust and teamwork Group governance Participatory leadership tasks Links with the outside world
Tinto (1993) Interaction between individual students and the campus community Academic interaction and integration
Hossler, Bean and Associates (1990) Academic and social integration A sense of fit, and loyalty to institution
Figure 2.2. Building communities on campus: Theoreticians and concepts
43


Finally, one more thought about community: the characteristics of
an effective community. Gardner (1989) described the qualities that
characterize an effective community: incorporating diversity; shared
culture; good internal communication; caring, trust, and teamwork; group
maintenance and governance; participation and shared leadership tasks;
development of leadership tasks; and links with the outside world (pp. 76-
81). Kuh, et al. (1991) seem to endorse this description of successful
communities, saying that involving colleges incorporate these principles as
well. Figure 2.2 illustrates the essential contributions of each of these
theorists.
In the early 1990s, a short time after Boyer, Gardner, and Kuh et al.
completed their famous works, a variety of other scholars seemed to
contribute for a re-examination of concepts such as involvement and
learning. For example, Tinto (1993) emphasized the importance of
interaction between individual students and the campus communities,
suggesting that these will enhance student success and persistence. Tinto
(1998) returns to the theme of involvement, saying that student
involvement makes a huge difference in student success and persistence:
"The more academically and socially involved individuals arethat is, the
more they interact with other students and facultythe more they persist"
(p. 168). Tinto also suggests that for students attending urban commuter
campuses, the classrooms and other facilities of the college are typically the
44


only places where students can meet their peers and interact with faculty,
and that his research had shown that academic integration was central to
student success and persistence (p. 175). "For that reason alone, academic
involvements should be relatively more important than they are in
residential settings" (p. 169).
Hossler, Bean and Associates (1990) concur, and propose that "one
fairly constant finding is that students leave school because they do not fit
in" (p. 149). They suggest that "organizational, academic and social
interaction lead students to develop attitudes about the school. These
attitudes affect institutional fit and loyalty- both potent predictors of
continued enrollment." (p. 154).
Student Learning
In the early 1990s, another major phenomenon seemed to shake-up
higher education's complacency. The Wingspread Group on Higher
Education issued a landmark report on American higher education.
Wingspread's An American Imperative: Higher Expectations For Higher
Education (1993) signaled the need for reform, and stressed the need to
reexamine the student learning and development provided by colleges and
universities within the context of their educational missions. In other
words, student learning should be the focus, not the number of diplomas,
nor the provision of student services.
45


The report synthesized educational leaders' feelings that higher
education, in the throes of major changes, needed "stronger and more vital
forms of community" (p. 6) and had to re-examine the way it provided
quality undergraduate education opportunities to their students:
It is also time to readdress the imbalance that has led to the decline
of undergraduate education. To do so, the nation's colleges and
universities must for the foreseeable future focus overwhelmingly
on what their students learn and achieve. Too much of education
at every level seems to be organized for the convenience of
educators and the institution's interests, procedures and prestige,
and too little focused on the needs of the students, (p. 6)
The Wingspread Report suggests that "putting learning at the heart
of the academic enterprise will mean overhauling the conceptual,
procedural, curricular and other architecture of postsecondary education on
most campuses" (p. 11). In fact, they introduce the concept of seamless
education, suggesting that it is crucial to transform the system of education
into one seamless system that can provide educational services for learners
at different levels. They suggested that colleges and universities needed to
be reminded that their business incorporates all of education and a variety
of learning.
The American College Personnel Association (ACPA) issued a
discussion paper in 1994, the Student Learning Imperative (SLI), to promote
the primacy of student learning as the cornerstone of professional practice
in student affairs, and to refocus on matters important to the central
mission of educating students. The SLI urges the profession to base
46


student affairs policies and practice on research and institution-specific
assessment data (p. 4). A primary assumption underlying the SLI is that the
criteria by which the value of student affairs must be judged is what and
how much students learn (p. 2). Therefore, the profession must view
fostering student learning as the central mission and primary purpose.
------------.-------------------------------------------I
STUDENT LEARNING
ROOT: PRONOUNCEMENTS:
Wingspread Group on Focus on what students learn and achieve rather that what
Higher Education (1993) services student receive
ACPA (1994)
Kuh (1996)
Astin (1996)
Boyer (1990)
AAHE, ACPA
and NASPA (1998)
What and how much students leam
Learning is the core mission
Learning is pervasive and continuous throughout the college not
just in the classroom
Conditions that motivate and inspire students to devote time and
energy towards educationally purposeful endeavors
Conducting different business not using of different labels
Redefining staff and departmental roles
Level of student productivity outside the classroom
Focus co-curriculum on what students need to learn
Quality student interaction
Intellectual quality of undergraduate experiences
Inventive process aligned to the learning mission
Figure 2.3. Student learning in campus life: Theoreticians and concepts.
47


The responsibility for fostering student learning requires student
affairs professionals to think about student learning in new and different
waysnot conducting business with different labels, but conducting
different business. Terenzini and Pascarella (1994) echo the need to re-
examine student affairs practice:
If undergraduate education is to be enhanced, faculty members,
joined by academic and student affairs administrators, must
devise ways to deliver undergraduate education that areas
comprehensive and integrated as the ways that students actually
learn. A whole new mind-set is needed to capitalize on the
inter-relatedness of the in- and out-of-class influences on student
learning and the functional interconnectedness of academic and
student affairs divisions, (p.32)
Kuh (1996) reflected that the shift in philosophy now had student
affairs practitioners becoming more and more interested in how productive
students can be with their time outside the classroom. "Within the last
decade, a lot of evidence has proved what many student affairs
professionals always 'knew7 ... that what students do outside the classroom
influences student success, learning, and student" (p. 138).
And Guskin (1994) suggests a shift in philosophy:
Focusing on student learning turns our thinking about the future of
our colleges and universities upside-down: from faculty productivity
to student productivity, from faculty disciplinary interests to what
students need to learn, from faculty teaching styles to student
learning styles, from classroom teaching to student learning, (p. 25)
Thus, "the key to enhancing learning and personal development is
not simply for faculty to teach more and better, but also to create conditions
48


that motivate and inspire students to devote time and energy to
educationally purposeful activities, both inside and outside the classroom"
(ACPA, 1994, p. 1 ). The term educationally purposeful suggests
undergraduate activities, events, and experiences that are congruent with
the institution's primary educational purposes and a student's own goals
(Kuh et al., 1991).
There are many definitions of an ideal collegiate learning
environment. One of these is offered by Smallen (1993) who claims that
there are two fundamental characteristics that must be present: subject
engagement and student interaction (p. 23). Somewhat reminiscent of
Astin's Involvement Theory, Smallen defines subject engagement as
opportunities for students to actively engage and apply what they study.
Student interaction is defined as opportunities for students to interact with
others in the college, and to learn and grow from these opportunities.
Seamless Learning Environments
As with other units in a college or university, student affairs
divisions often are highly specialized, compartmentalized, fragmented
units that operate as "functional silos"; that is, meaningful collaboration
with other units is at best serendipitous. The learning-oriented student
affairs division recognizes that students benefit from many and varied
experiences during college and that learning and personal development are
49


cumulative, mutually shaping processes that occur over an extended period
of time in many different settings. The more students are involved in a
variety of activities inside and outside the classroom, the more they gain.
Student affairs professionals were being charged to attempt to make
"seamless" what are often perceived by students to be disjointed,
unconnected experiences by bridging organizational boundaries and
forging collaborative partnerships with faculty and others to enhance
student learning. Examples of campus agencies that are potentially fruitful
links include instructional design centers, academic enrichment programs,
and faculty and staff development initiatives. Off-campus agencies (e.g.,
community service) and settings (e.g., work, church, museums) also offer
rich opportunities for learning and students should be systematically
encouraged to think about how their studies apply in those settings and
vice versa (SLI p. 3).
Again, we see the calls for seamless learning environments, with the
SLI and other scholars echoing the sentiments of made by the Wingspread
Report earlier: "To address these challenges, student affairs educators must
foster collaboration and cross-functional dialogue with faculty colleagues to
create a shared vision of a seamless learning environment" (Ternezini, et al.,
1994, p. 134).
50



ia
v%apj^^|fe^RNfNGs ENviioN^^lf
PRONOUNCEMENTS:
Boyer (1990)
Collaborative enterprise
Wingspread Group on
Higher Education (1993)
Campus systems should not be organized because of the
convenience of educators
Integrated experiences
Terenzini and
Pascarella (1994)
Collaborations and cross functional dialog
Community model of organization; with shared, connected
learning experiences
ACPA (1994)
Holistic environments can not be disjointed, unconnected, or
based on organizational divisions that make little sense to
students' experiences
Kuh (1994)
In-class, out-of-class, academic and non-academic, curricular and
co-curricular, on-campus and off-campus should become one
piece, to appear as a continuum.
Multiple campus constituents work together by linking programs,
initiatives and environments
Kuh, Douglas, Lund, and
Ramin-Gyurnek (1994) Break down barriers between various units, departments &
divisions; insist on collaboration.
Kuh (1996)
Marchese (1996)
Tinto (1998)
Cross functional dialog, communication & collaboration are norms
1. Enthusiasm for institutional renewal
2. A common language
3. Collaboration & cross-functional dialogue
4. Influence of student cultures on student learning
5. Focus on systemic change (p. 136)
Silos as a result of functional specialization (will result in isolation)
Community model of organization
Supportive groups peer support
Figure 2.4. Seamless learning environments: Theoreticians and concepts.
51


Tinto (1998) suggests that if we took the research on persistence
seriously, we would, at the very least move to forms of academic
organization that require students to become actively involved with others
in learning. We would construct educational settings that promote shared,
connected learning. "Colleges and universities (should) adopt a community
model of academic organization that would promote involvement through
the use of shared, connected learning experiences among its members,
students and faculty alike" (p. 170). Such communities would form their
own support peer groups that would extend well beyond the classroom,
and help students become more actively involved in their learning. Tinto
suggests that these are especially important for commuter students whose
"life-tasks" make going to college difficult at best (p. 172).
The word seamless suggests that what was once believed to be
separate, distinct parts (e.g., in-class and out-of-class, academic and
nonacademic, curricular and co-curricular, or on-campus and off-campus
experiences) should now be perceived as one piece, bound together so as to
appear whole or as a continuum (Kuh et. al, 1994; Kuh, 1996). In seamless
learning environments, students are encouraged to take advantage of
learning resources that exist both inside and outside the classroom (ACPA,
1994); faculty and staff and students work together to make meaning of
their environment and their experiences and also learn from one another.
Any one individual, regardless of who they are, cannot create the
52


conditions that promote student learning outside the classroom. However,
if multiple campus constituents work together by linking programs,
initiatives and environments across the academic and non-academic
dimensions of collegiate life, and remove the obstacles to such collaborative
opportunities, it is more likely that institutions will experience their
education as a seamless web of learning across classroom and out-of-class
settings. "For this to occur, the institution must send the message that
learning is continuous and contagious" and every where on campus (Kuh,
Douglas, Lund, and Ramin-Gyurnek,1994).
Clearly, an important principle in creating these seamless learning
environments is that of collaboration. Teamwork between students, faculty
and student affairs professionals, and partnerships between different
administrative functions, is essential (Kuh, 1996). Creating this shared
vision of a seamless learning environment is contingent on keeping open
dialogue throughout all levels of the institution. In fact, most of the
conditions that enhance the potential to foster student learning necessitate
collaboration among faculty, administrators, student affairs professionals,
and others (Kuh, 1996; Kuh et al., 1991; Terenzini & Pascarella, 1994).
Quoting Senge (1990), Kuh elaborates on institutional conditions needed:
Effective cross-functional dialogue establishes a context in which
communication and collaboration become normative and
individual assumptions are continually challenged in order for
the group to create insights made possible only through
collaboration. If dialogue is stifled, organizational learning is
53


blocked (Senge, 1990) in which case student learning will be
negatively affected. This is, perhaps, the most compelling
rationale for the importance of cooperation and collaboration
between academic affairs and student affairsto discover ways
to bridge the gulf that has so long separated so-called academic
activities (e.g., classes, labs, studios) from various social contexts
(e.g., student residences, playing fields, places of employment, or
nearby nightclubs). (Kuh, 1996, p. 140)
To achieve such conditions, however, will need an enormous effort
to change, since, in the current system, faculty and staff are isolated from
one another by specialization, and organized in "functional silos"
(Marchese, 1994). Organizational arrangements and the assumptions on
which they are based influence much of what faculty, academic
administrators, and student affairs professionals do and will not do (Kuh,
1996; p. 141). Creeden, (1988) questions why, despite the fact that everyone
is calling for faculty/staff collaborations, there is a lack of partnerships:
"Integration is something often talked about and reluctantly engaged in, but
rarely achieved." Student affairs professionals had not done their part to
develop partnerships, and often demonstrate their own bias towards
isolationism.
Pulling Down the Silos
Marchese's use of the term "silos" to represent current organization
on campuses has caught the imagination of many scholars in the
profession, making calls to "pull down the silos" a common expression as
54


student affairs professionals attempt to create these seamless learning
conditions. Kuh, Douglas, Lund, and Ramin-Gyurnek, (1994) suggest that
linkages between curriculum and classroom experiences and out-of-class
activities and student learning are becoming important measures of
institutional productivity and success. They discuss the campus conditions
that foster student learning outside the classroom and make similar
recommendations as Marchese, Schroeder, and others, identifying key
tasks to transcending artificial barriers:
1. break down the barriers between various units, departments and
divisions
2. create situations in which students are forced to examine the
connection between their studies and life outside the classroom.
They identify steps that institutions of higher education must engage in, to
promote learning outside the classroom. While many of these steps are
reflected in other research findings, they presents a cogent list that has
practical implications for professionals in higher education, and therefore
needs repeating:
1. cultivate an ethos of learning
2. address the importance of out-of-class learning experiences explicitly
and in the college's mission statements
3. establish a holisitc approach to talent development
4. assess the impact of the out-of-class environment
5. develop a common view of what matters in undergrad education
6. attempt to shape the student culture in ways that foster responsible
55


behavior and educationally desirable outcomes
In light of these continued calls for efforts to incorporate student
learning seamlessly into institutional efforts, a Joint Task Force on Student
Learning, a group of faculty, academic and student affairs administrators
representing three national organizations (American Association for Higher
Education, American College Personnel Association, and the National
Association of Student Personnel Administrators), was convened in 1997 to
work collaboratively to issue a statement about learning. The
reportPowerful Partnerships: A Shared Responsibility for Learningis
the product of a partnership of three national professional associations, two
of which serve primarily the student affairs profession but the thirdmost
significantly, in my mindrepresents a wide range of administrators,
including institutional presidents, academic affairs vice presidents, deans,
and faculty members. Such a partnership that reaches across the academic
and student affairs divide is the first national effort to assemble academic
and student affairs professionals to think and talk about how the education
of students can truly be seamless. Although the document was conceived
for higher education in general, the implications for student affairs are
significant.
The report lamented that while faculty, staff, student affairs
professionals and students are currently, in their own spheres, focusing on
56


some student learning, they have failed to actualize the synergistic effect of
establishing coherence in what they do. AAHE urges us to work
cooperatively across all divisional boundaries to achieve common student
learning outcomes. Collaborative, collective and congruent efforts to
design, develop and deliver programs, services and curricula will enable
higher, deeper and enhanced levels of learning. "We ask that administrative
leaders rethink the conventional organization of colleges and universities to
create more inventive structures and processes that integrate academic and
student affairs; align institutional planning, hiring, rewards, and resource
allocations with the learning mission . ." (p. 15).
Other Theoretical Basis of Student Affairs Practice
Although not discussed within the framework of this dissertation,
there are also a number of other constructs that drive the field that must be
mentioned in any discussion of the scope and purpose of this profession.
Other concepts that define the student affairs profession include concepts of
civility and diversity. "A college education should include being aware of
cultural and class differences and societal reward structures"(King, 1996).
Still other outcomes are encapsulated by concepts of citizenship, leadership
and experiential learning.
Terenzini and Pascarella (1994) sum most of these by quite nicely,
claiming that both academic affairs and student affairs are central to the
57


educational mission of colleges; "academic affairs tends to students'
cognitive development while student affairs ministers to their affective
growth" (p. 32). They claim that the real quality of undergraduate
education depends on factors such as the institution's educational climate,
social involvement, peer interactions and co-curricular experiences (p. 29).
Numerous student development theories based on the field of
psychology and counseling pervade the literature on student affairs. These
need to be mentioned, because there is a substantive knowledge base
behind each of these concepts, and the totality of all of this literature
(theory and practical) also contributes to the profession of student affairs.
Putting Pedagogy into Practice
There has been much more research linking the constructs discussed
so far, in this paper. Student involvement, community building, student
learning and the creation of seamless learning environments are the subject
of much discussion and literature. Student affairs professionals who have
kept up with the evolving paradigms know they have much control over
some aspects of students' out-of-class experiences, either through policy or
programmatic interventions (Terenzini, Parcarella and Blimling, 1999, p.
611).
The most powerful source of influence on student learning appears
to be students' interpersonal interactions, whether with peers or faculty
58


(and. one suspects, staff members). The evidence suggests that the influence
of specific out-of-class experiences or activities (e.g.. living in a residence
hall, participating in extracurricular activities) is indirect rather than direct,
being mediated by the amount and nature of the interpersonal interactions
each activity involves. If one reviews the positive out-of-class influences on
student learning listed earlier (e.g. living on campus, working on campus,
discussing racial or ethnic issues, having an internship), it is clear that these
activities bring students together with their peers or faculty members in
situations with the potential for students to encounter new ideas and
people different from themselves. Similarly, common to the out-of-class
influences that appear to depress or impede student learning (e g., living at
home, working off campus, being a member of a Greek society) is their
potential to isolate students from encounters with new ideas and different
people, (p. 618). For all of these reasons that Terenzini, et al. outline, it is
even more difficult to accept that, as they stated earlier, many find these
concepts superfluous, and have not implemented the research findings, or
converted theories into professional practice.
Despite the development of all these formal theories, Upcraft (1993),
suspects that "our theories are not used enough by practitioners as they
develop policy, make decisions, solve problems, deliver services and
programs, manage budgets, and in general, do their jobs" (p. 260). For
example, while the concept of student learning is increasingly becoming
59


entrenched in residential and liberal arts colleges, commuter campuses
seem to me, to have become organized around a general customer service
driven model with service groups as the basis for departmental clusters.
Many student affairs divisions at campuses have elaborate mission
statements touting student learning as a fundamental goal. The question at
these campuses is, what theoretical pedagogies form the basis of
professional practice? What outcomes are being measured? How can they
demonstrate their student learning results; whose responsibility is it, and
finally, what student experiences does the campus provide?
Perhaps then, it is not surprising that the calls for reform in higher
education continue, as do professional pontification about the nature of
student affairs work.
Effect of the Digital Revolution
The calls and challenges for reform in higher education are indeed
exacerbated by the advent of the internet age, and the expectation that the
internet must be incorporated into the learning and research environment
(Palloff & Pratt, 1999; Van Dusen, 1997). The dramatic transformation of
our culture as a result of digital technologies have, in turn, created
demands that higher education include these new technologies in their
daily business (Palloff & Pratt; Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2000;
Bates, 2000; Katz & Associates, 1999). Colleges and universities are
60


beginning to determine how they use internet technologies to fulfill their
mission and are grappling with the paradigmatic shift from organizing
themselves as institution focused to student centered (Van Dusen, 1997).
While the precise consequences of the changes forced by the digital
era are hard to predict, one of the most troubling potential consequences is
the separation of instruction from student services (Blimling & Whitt, 1999,
p. 6). No campus has been untouched by the advances of computer
technology, and overall, higher education faces the challenge to boldly
embrace new ideas and innovative processes while retaining elements of
the past that define and characterize a successful education (Brazzell &
Reisser, 1999).
Yet we must be concerned that too little thought has been given to
how the introduction and saturation of our campuses with these
innovations will affect the campus culture, climate, standards, and
relationships within the community (Brazzell & Reisser). Articulating the
challenge educators face to re-examine basic assumptions in this
competitive, and cost conscious environment Blimling and Whitt reminded
us that while student learning is beginning to become a focus of student
affairs professionals, making the assumption that this could happen in
cyberspace may not be legitimate (p. 6-7).
Tinto (1998) seems to agree, and questions whether the central issues
of student involvement, community building and academic integration are
61


possible in the digital realm, and urges student affairs professionals to find
ways to do so:
Let me suggest then that we would gain much from a careful and
planned exploration of innovative practice. Take, for instance, the
growing interest in the use of computer technology to promote
learning both locally and at a distance. People speak of virtual
classrooms, indeed, of virtual campuses, as the "wave of the future."
The claim is being made that we can construct virtual classrooms on
the World Wide Web which would allow students to become
engaged, at a distance, in learning. Indeed, the Western Interstate
Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has set up an electronic
university on the web just for that purpose. Think of what we could
learn about our notions of integration and therefore our theories of
persistence, from a careful exploration of this and other emerging
practices. Is it possible, in this case, for individuals to see themselves
as involved through that medium? Can such virtual interactions
replace those that arise face-to-face? If they can, for whom can they?
And what is "learned" from those interactions? (p. 176)
Does a sense of community exist on the internet? How do we build
inclusive communities when one can do virtually everything from one's
office or home? Should supportive networks consist of more than a chat
room? How can we help students blend academic, interpersonal, and
developmental experiences if they never come to campus (Brazzell &
Reisser)?
In fact, a in a study on internet use and its effect on society Nie, and
Erbring (2000) found that "the more time people spend using the internet,
the more they lose contact with their social environment" (p. 18). Of regular
internet users that are online for 5 or more hours a week, nearly one-quarter
report increased social isolationism. "The internet could be the ultimate
isolating technology that further reduces our participation in communities
62


(p. 19)." Clearly, this is a factor that must be of significant discomfort to
practitioners interested in building communities, and increasing student
involvement either on campus, or in the online learning world.
There are a lot of assumptions that are not valid in the digital era.
There are many changes in how we conduct business, and with each new
technological breakthrough there are as many questions as there are new
opportunities. The information and knowledge era is driven by the rapid
rate of innovation in internet and computer technology which, in turn,
serve as catalysts in the knowledge revolution that promises to affect
virtually every aspect of life in the future. Knowledge networks and
internet technologies have quickly moved from the research stage of
development towards consumer utilitarianism.
The internet is quickly penetrating our daily lives. There is no
turning back. Once a novelty, the internet is now transforming how
Americans live, think, talk and love; how we go to school, make money, see
the doctor and elect presidents. This isn't just about the futureits about
the here and now (Fuzesi, 1999). Roughly 65% of American households
reported having at least one computer at home, and a staggering 43% of
households are connected to the internet, and a staggering 55% of the
population has internet access either at work or at home (Nie & Erbring,
2000).
Entertainment, finance, business, banking, sports, news, retail,
medical, travel, communications, and dozens of other industries are being
63


transformed before our very eyes, and even as they adapt, and harness new
technologies, ongoing research and development are quickly bringing
newer, faster and better information technologies to our attention
(Fingerman, 1999).
In fact, even as we observe this phenomenon, we are beginning to
witness the formative years of new technologies, the NGI (Next Generation
Internet) and Internet2. While the Internet2 will be between 100 and 1,000
times faster this next generation of the internet is more than just a faster
web service. It will enable completely new possibilities such as digital
libraries, virtual laboratories, and tele-immersion, all of which can be
transmitted in seconds, in real-time, and will little or no degradation of
quality. Concepts such as real-time videoconferencing, virtual reality
simulations, 3-D imaging, multicasting, gigaPoPs will become
conversational terms of the future, just as dot-coms, portals and the web
have become cliche. The Internet2 will provide a convergence of
multimedia capacities, with services such as telephone, radio, television
and other multimedia technologies becoming standard practice on the net.
And just as the current version of the internet has done, the Internet2 will
certainly further impact society, and in turn, our system of education
(Fingerman).
There is no doubt about it: the 1990s have seen major advances in
technology, and as we begin the new millennium, the rate of progress
seems to be accelerating (Miller & Gilbert, 2000). Because of the rapid
growth of this industry and the increasing rate of obsolescence of new
64


technology, predictions of future implications are of little value.
"Technology capacities are doubling every 18 months and there is a
continuous introduction of new hardware and application systems"
(Tinsley & Wenger, 2001, p. 13). This, in itself produces an environment
where change is constant and very rapid and will change the way our
society does business, interacts and organizes its day-to-day life (pp.13-14).
And, it is just as certain to effect every aspect of academe (Institute for
Higher Education Policy, 2000). "The real question is not whether higher
education will be transformed (by the internet), but rather how and by
whom" (Duderstadt, 1999).
Distance Learning: Role of Student Affairs
Already, educators are observing a growing trend in education
termed "distance education." Colleges across the country are in a race to
develop "online classes" where instruction is delivered across the internet
instead of the classroom. Like greyhounds rushing to follow one myopic
path, we seem to be in a collective race in which the rules have not been
discussed, and the finish line (the end product) not evaluated:
Everyone seems to want to "do it" but many are not sure what "it" is
or how to do it. The new technologies hold promise to help lead
higher education into a period of rapid change. Student affairs
practitioners need to be prepared to deal effectively with the change,
as they can be critical to a successful learning experience. (National
Association of Student Personnel AdministratorsDistance
Learning Task Force, 2000)
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Traditional educators seem acquiescent to the thought that distance
education will strictly revolve around the faculty and their curriculum. The
NASPA task force, itself, considers distance learning to be curriculum
driven" (p. 1). This is unfortunate.
A shift in the medium of instruction itself should not change our
concept of education as a rich, purposeful endeavor with countless learning
stimuli all across campuses. The challenge educators must take on is to find
ways to provide the depth and breadth of quality education, to stimulate
student interests, to invoke critical thinking skills and interactions, and to
weave a total learning environment into this new mode of delivering
education. Assuming that online education is merely a teacher-to-student
web based interaction is too simplistic a view, and akin to a conceptual sell-
out of all the noble values educators have cherished, nurtured and
practiced for so long. Blimling and Whitt challenge educators to reexamine
their basic assumptions in this competitive, and cost conscious
environment. They contend that:
For many years, student affairs has argued that it is part of the
teaching mission of institutions and makes essential
contributions to student learning. In addition, because tuition
and fees have traditionally supported a variety of student
services, it made sense to assess tuition and fees to all students
regardless of which services they used. However, this
assumption is not valid in cyberspace. (1999, pp. 6-7)
As technology rapidly becomes the preferred style of learning, our
new microchip culture will demand rapid changes in our higher education
delivery systems. Duderstadt (1999) believes that these changes will,
definitely, take place, and that we have an opportunity on our hands:
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We need a new paradigm for delivering the opportunity of
learning to even broader segments of our society ... It has
become clear that most people, in most areas can learn and
learn well using asynchronous learning (that is, anytime,
anyplace, anywhere" education). Technology has largely cut
us free from the constraints of space and time and has freed
our education system from these constraints as well. (p. 24)
Higher education must respond to the digital revolution quickly,
and harness these technologies to meet the challenges and opportunities of
the future (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2000). Unfortunately, as
recently as 1999, the chair of ACPA's Technology Task Force was unsure of
the role of student affairs in the virtual university, saying only that we must
prepare for the future while not forgetting the lessons of the past (Wade,
1997). And, in a April 2000 report outlining benchmarks for success in
internet-based distance education issued by the Institute for Higher
Education Policy, the type of student support benchmarks seem mundane,
and service oriented rather than educationally purposeful and reflective of
student affairs theories we have discussed previously:
Students receive information about programs, including
admission requirements, tuition and fees, books and supplies,
technical and proctoring requirements, and student support
services.
Students are provided with hands-on training and
information to aid them in securing material through
electronic databases, interlibrary loans, government archives,
news services, and other sources.
Throughout the duration of the course/program, students
have access to technical assistance, including detailed
instructions regarding the electronic media used, practice
sessions prior to the beginning of the course, and convenient
access to technical support staff.
Questions directed to student service personnel are
answered accurately and quickly, with a structured system in
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place to address student complaints. (Institute for Higher
Education Policy, 2000)
One wonders how the Wingspread Group would view the quality of
education being provided online, of if the numerous calls for student
learning as an imperative in student services would somehow vanish in
terms of distance education efforts. I doubt that. The internet is merely an
alternate medium for student affairs to conduct its work. Technology is not
the antidote for organizational and leadership woes. Esther Dyson (1999)
points out that technology will not solve existing organizational problems,
nor will it change operations sufficiently to make the dysfunctualism in
institutions become less significant. "It is a fallacy to believe that the
technology is automatically going to change culture.... Information age
technology won't fly if it is hobbled by industrial age organizational
cultures" (p. 144).
To provide quality online education, colleges and universities need a
cohesive strategic vision and a commitment to adapt or change the way
they currently operate (Bates, 2000, p. 58). Unfortunately, there is currently
a lack of vision and imagination about how these new internet technologies
could be used to improve the quality of learning (pp. 58-59). We did not
see such a vision in the ACPA Technology Task Force, nor in the Institute
for Higher Education benchmarks. There is much literature and research
available about actual on-line instruction and education, scholars are
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beginning to conceptualize new theories for distance learning pedagogies.
Books such as Kearsley's (2000) Online Education, which is an exceptionally
current resource providing information about software that can be used for
learning activities, gives information about threaded discussions, real-time
conferencing, simulation programming, and much more. Kearsley
provides excellent resource information for those who want to understand
the nuances of online education, online activities, interactivity, etc..
Belanger and Jordan (2000) focus on the techniques and tools that could be
used to implement, and evaluate distance learning projects. They discuss
the theoretical concepts that can be applied to distance learning; examine
the latest advances in educational technologies; and provide an excellent
discussion of the infrastructure requirements, and methodologies for
delivery of such services. This is another useful, albeit basic, reference book
for educators trying to learn more about these emergent technologies.
Linda Lau (2000) provides readers with in depth understanding of distance
learning and educational technologies available to educators. She provides
significantly detailed strategic implementation plans, together with
discussions and examples of each suggestion. Lau also provides a historical
context to understanding historical educational technologies, by outlining
the growth of early constructivist theories, and connecting these to modern
applications in the online environment. I have already mentioned the
important contributions of Bates (2000) and Katz (1999).
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There is, of course, much more that has been written about online
education, theories and implementation. Unfortunately, nowhere, in all of
this exhaustive literature, was I able to obtain any substantive discussion of
student affairs, and its role in the online education world. No student
affairs scholars have contributed to mainstream literature on this topic, and
the authors who discuss online education seem to think that education in
cyberspace could be conducted in a vacuum, without consideration of
pedagogical imperatives such as communities, student learning,
involvement, or other nuances of a good, successful educational program,
as we had discussed earlier. IT scholars and researchers are off and
running in their endeavors to provide knowledge in their field, and the
student affairs scholars have not begun to participate, at any substantive
level, in this conversation.
Lee Upcraft and Patrick Terenzini (1999) concluded that there was
"little discussion, and even less research on the impact of technology on
student learning and development, and on the implications for student
affairs" (p. 4). Student affairs professionals have an opportunity to provide
leadership, by using the digital revolution as a strategic asset, and adapting
the way we do business.
Pressures on traditional resources, coupled with the emergence of
technology based education delivery systems will force higher education to
change in profound ways (Katz, 1999). If this is true, then student affairs
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professionals must keep up with the rapidly changing state of the art of
such technologies while trying to integrate them effectively into all aspects
of the higher education enterprises (Blimling & Whitt, 1999). This, indeed
is our biggest leadership challenge; we need to respond quickly,
deliberately and decisively by creating a coherent strategy for ensuring
success in this new information age (Blustain, Goldstein & Lozier, 1999).
In the long term, visionary strategic planning that overcomes
academe's intrinsic preference for the status quo is imperative because of
the need to quickly respond to the changing face of academe with the
advent of the digital revolution. We must not allow the digital revolution
to change who we are (Blimling and Whitt). Higher education has long
been the center of thought, a thriving community of scholars and the
bastion of culture, intellectualism and innovation (Mitchell, 1999). The
issue at hand is the need for leadership and vision to sustain the traditional
characteristics of our institutions while adapting to, and using technology
as a strategic asset, and a value rather than allowing it to become our end
product (Katz, 1999; Blustain et al., 1999; Blimling et al., 1999).
Technology itself is not the panacea that people believe it to be.
Dyson's (1999) point is that we need to change the way we organize
ourselves first, and technology itself won't do that for us (p. 144). In
discussing strategies to meet the challenges of diffusion, Senge (1999)
agrees with this assertion and suggests that the challenge before us is far
more complex than the mere acquisition of technological knowledge, and
perhaps needs the development of an organizational learning capability
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that incorporates its very culture. We cannot use industrial age
assumptions to address information age challenges (Dyson, 1999).
Higher education, and in particular student affairs units often react
to technology advances as opposed to using technology as an asset and
even when we proclaim the importance of technology we are often not
prepared to use it effectively. Student affairs professionals constantly
scramble to keep up with the newest technology, and are happy to blame
this lack of strategic management on some artificial constraints such as
budget and training. We have traditionally been slow to adapt to new
technologies, and have certainly been slow to adapt to the digital
revolution. A part of this can be ascribed to the traditional culture of
student affairs professionals. Conceptually grounded on face-to-face and
one-on-one interaction, they have been trained in cognitive and
interpersonal development roles that stress people and events, not
technology. Traditionally recognized as being minimally funded, student
affairs areas have also been reluctant or unable to purchase the technology
or the training necessary to implement this technology (Dadabhoy, 2000).
The digital revolution requires us to reconsider our paradigms and
to organize ourselves differently. The Student Learning Imperative had
already asked us to do this because of the need to deliver student learning
opportunities, but that had little effect on our way of doing business.
Student learning is still not entrenched as a operational paradigm at many,
many campuses, and we continue to see the calls for change (Schroeder,
1996; Schroeder, 1999; Kuh, 1997). It is not an inherent value in these
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organizations. So, why would we adapt to the digital revolution any more
than we did to the SLI movement?
We have some services that are truly online. As a collective, what we
have is a piecemeal approach to the digital revolution. Rather than a
comprehensive strategy, various departmental units and individuals within
each institution seem to have adopted an independent, entrepreneurial
approach to creating their own web presence (Dadabhoy, 2000). Bates is
calling for a collective vision for our profession; a paradigm, or an approach
to harness the digital age as a strategic asset as we practice in this new era.
What we need is a vision to use technology to bring distance learners a taste
of the richness and variety of a traditional on-campus learning experiences
(Dadabhoy).
Student Learning, Online
Bates (2000) suggests that the same objectives sought by educators
on campus could be achieved in the virtual environment (p. 199). To
achieve this on-line, some of the variables that the institution must identify
include: (1) How does the use of the internet achieve the learning mission
of the college and contribute to institutional renewal? (2) What are the
organizational barriers that need to be addressed? (p. 201).
Organizational barriers to mission accomplishment are not limited to
providing of student learning on-line. It is clear that the active learning
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model is the model of choice for an effective on-line learning site (Palloff &
Pratt, 1999, p. 16). What is needed is a systemic attempt to create an
organizational dynamic that creates an overall vision for the use of the
internet (p. 22).
Smallen (1993) proposes a test to determine the effectiveness of
internet use and information technology applications within the context of
the higher education mission:
Successful applications of technology to the learning process, at any
institution, will be ones that address variances from the ideal
learning environment. Technology applied in a manner oblivious to
these variances will not improve teaching and learning, and will
waste critical institutional resources, (p. 22)
Bates (2000) identifies several components of quality in providing
technologically based learning services. One of these is content (p. 65). The
importance of content cannot be underestimated. The way people use and
access the internet in our society today suggests that they are in active
search of some purpose: Nie and Erbring (2000) estimated that the average
internet user engaged in 7 different types of internet activities: "a
combination of different type of information searches, entertainment and
games, and for one quarter (of web users) some transactional activity" (p.
3). Jorge deAlva, the president of Phoenix University suggests that today's
students are looking for specific and useful content in their educational
experiences (2000, p. 36). deAlva says that today's non traditional students,
are specifically looking for educationally relevant instruction that has
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practical use in the student's career and workplace: "students want a time-
efficient education. They want to learn what they need to learn" (p. 37).
Web Content, Task-Orientation and Usability
Smallen (1993), Bates (2000) and deAlva (2000) seem to be discussing
the importance of offering educational web presences based on user needs,
and user expectations, a concept in information technology known as "user-
centered" or "task-centered" user interface and design. In an article on web
usability, Fuccella and Pizzolato (1998) discuss web site usability, user
expectations and designing issues for user-centered web sites. They talk
about the fact that merely having a web presence is not the same as having
success on the web! "To reap the full benefits of their internet investment,
(colleges) must ensure that their web sites are usable, easy to navigate, and
meet user expectations" (p. 1). And, they claim that while user-centered
sites will always have increased hit rates and high satisfaction ratings, the
success of these sites will be based on a crisp audience identification and
knowledge of providing needed content. This latter characteristic "is
accomplished by identifying and prioritizing current and future tasks and
requirements for the site" (p. 2).
"The information content of a site represents its "base" value. And by
implication, anything and everything that makes the information on the site
easier to find, or renders it more useful and accessible, represents an
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incremental addition to that base value" (Sullivan, 1997). Clearly, in this
process, identifying the goal and purpose of the site must play an important
role, because it will also effect user expectations. Smallen's argument then
would be that the mission of college and university web sites are learning
oriented, and therefore, the content must pertain to relevant learning tasks.
This involves understanding the very purpose of building a web site.
Applying Smallen's hypothesis, a college or university's web presence must
be driven by the institutional mission to provide and / or facilitate learning
environments. Clearly, this must hold true for all areas of a college,
including the student affairs division. The web site then becomes
fundamental to the learning mission of the collegiate enterprise, as opposed
to being an arm of the college.
Web design focuses on the task-driven, time-constrained information
seeker. "Content-rich, reader-friendly websites are inherently high-value
web sites, precisely because they strive to meet the information needs of
their visitors in the simplest, most timely manner available. Such sites are
likely to build a steady base of repeat visitors" (Sullivan, 1987).
Fuccella and Pizzolato (1998) suggest that user interface is an
important element of such design, and that tasks should be grouped
together in user friendly or user need categories. Such groupings may also
help in identifying the web structure and organization of content material.
Rice, Merrill and Hawkins (1994) echo these principles, encouraging web
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designers to focus on the tasks or jobs the identified audience may need to
accomplish. According to them, such a process "requires designers to
identify who will be accessing their site, what the group will be trying to
accomplish, and what information they will need to accomplish their goal."
Rice et al. (1994), suggest that this is of primary importance, and
encourage web designers to literally research the audience's information
needs by selecting a representative sample of the audience, interviewing
them and conducting a task analysis. They provide a case study of creating
a web site for their Instructional Psychology and Technology department at
Brigham Young University. They give us the example of determining
which audience needs should be met, and to what extent. For example,
while creating a database of faculty, staff and students in the department, it
was not sufficient to provide a directory listing. Instead, to make the page
more meaningful, they enabled their audience to use the "mail-to" feature,
and provided hyperlinks with descriptions of each person's duties,
interests, and office hours. The authors also suggest categorizing the
information available on each page, and to base this on repeated testing of
user response.
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WEB & CBT ENVIRONMENTS
ROOT:
PRONOUNCEMENTS:
Bates (2000) Content: Users are in active search of some purpose
DeAlva (2000) Content: Students looking for specific and useful contentwith relevance in some practical need Quick and direct access to what students want Content: user-centeredness and usability
Content: Information base and value
Fuccella and Pizzolato
(1998) User interface: grouping of content through user interest or need
based categories
Smaller! (1993) Learning is primary purpose Ease of access
Sullivan (1997) Content: Richness of information value
Instant usability
Rajani and Rosenburg
(1999) Task-centeredness
Lewis and Rieman (1994) Task and user-centeredness based on assessment Storyboard based on functionality Content management by relevant experts in the area
Johnson (2001) Content: usefulness and needs based
Figure 2.5. Web based learning: Theoreticians and concepts.
A report from a usability study at Brunei University shows similar
conclusions: "With the focus upon information display and instant retrieval
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in a multimedia environment, the Web is a domain which must be instantly
usable"(Rajani & Rosenberg, 1999). Web users' primary goal is often
information gathering and not manipulation of data within the computer.
The authors share the results of usability testing that demonstrated that
users who had a task to fulfill when browsing a site went into the site,
found what they wanted, and then went to the next site of interest or need!
"In most cases, if they had a set task in their mind, they used the site for this
purpose and no more" (Rajani, et al., p. 2). In fact, most surfers were so
intent on obtaining content here, and now, that they rarely remembered
what site they had visited 2 or 3 pages ago.
Another similar perspective on such interface design issues were
presented in an online, shareware book, Task-Centered User Interface
Design by Clayton Lewis and John Rieman (1994). The authors encourage
designers to do a complete "task and user analysis" and storyboard the
needed tasks by functionality.
In an article published in a new electronic student affairs journal,
Johnson (2001) states that the electronic media is competing for our
student's attention and time:
Just because you build it doesn't mean they will come, or more
specifically come back. If the information or services students want
or need aren't where they are, they'll go somewhere else, and if there
isn't new or updated content or services on a pretty regular basis,
they'll stop coming to the portal. There aren't any real rules for how
often, but my general goal is for a student to visit the portal at least
once a week. Exactly what kind of information and services should
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be available at your is going to be up to you.
While were talking about the quality of content, it's probably worth
noting quality's lesser known sibling: management, as in
management of content. An in depth discussion of strategies for
effectively managing the content of the portal is a bit beyond the
scope of this installment, but here are some thoughts. Content
should be managed by (pause for dramatic effect) content experts.
Thats right. The people who know the most about a given topic
should manage the content for that topic. Of course that means your
portal system has to make it easy to manage content because your
content experts shouldn't have to be technology experts, (p. 2)
In addition, Johnson (2001) maintains that a good portal system will allow
for distributed content management, as content experts probably aren't all
concentrated in once place. Johnson says that "portal design (and, in fact,
web design in general) is best evaluated on four criteria: quality of content,
quality of interface (ease of use), quality of infrastructure (speed of
response), and degree of coupling (how the various pieces of the system
interact)" (p. 3). If the scope of this literature review included web-site
design, we could examine the multitudes of volumes written on coding,
navigation, color, animation, use of java, data-base integration, sound,
video, online multimedia, and more. The topics, in themselves illustrate the
scope and depth of needed technical knowledge for educators interested in
designing their web presence. Providing sophisticated online learning
environments takes specialized skills and knowledgean attribute that
student affairs professionals rarely seem to claim.
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Higher Education Portals
Indeed, simple HTML web pages themselves seem to be headed for
the commercial scrap heap. One example of how we could provide
leadership in this adventure is by using the latest web craze, the "portal".
Portals are full service hubs of the internet with a comprehensive, easy to
understand interface that brings information collected from other sources
and provides links to news, commerce, community information, e-mail
services and other areas of interest. Computerworld (3-15-1999) claims
that the largest portals (Yahoo, Excite, etc.) compete for "eyeballs" with
cable TV, magazines and newspapers (Essex, 1999). In fact, they have
begun to call themselves "networks." Usually, their goal is simply a fast-
food type concept designed to increase site "stickiness," while also
providing banners of advertising for its products and services.
Organized by identified "customer areas of interest, portals strive to
be everything to everyone. The success of these portals (200 million page
views a day, according to Computerworld) is a testament to the viability of
this concept in the information hungry era (Essex, 1999). Portals offer a
mechanism for learner centered student affairs units to break through
divisional noise and market their services to audiences of one. If organized
by learner outcomes and interest areas, portals can provide crucial data, in
cost-effective ways that help the learner to connect with the college and its
services. Colleges need to develop this format as an interface and
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understand that how student services are offered on-line is far more
important than the mere provision of such services (Dadabhoy, 2000).
During the last four years, many outside "college.com" type
businesses have approached campuses offering some type of integrated
web portal with a broad array of resources and services and access systems
to information needed by students (Looney & Lyman, 2000, p. 29). "At the
most basic level, portals gather a variety of useful information resources
into a single, 'one-stop' web page, helping the user to avoid being
overwhelmed by info-glut, or feeling lost on the web" (p. 30). The authors
explain that portals are important because they are:
a means of renewing and extending a sense of academic community-
learning communities, alumni or development communities, faculty
communities- using the Internet. Every campus will have to decide
how the development of these virtual communities can be
affordable. What form should a return on investment take? The
answer will depend on the culture of the community and its needs.
In some communities, the notion of any type of commercialism will
be unacceptable, and finding sources of funding such as
departmental software budgets or fees will be necessary. For other
communities, the idea of advertising or commercial sponsorship
may be acceptable and may even be seen as a value added to the
community as a whole. For instance, learning communities may
appreciate sponsorships from publishers or research database
companies. Student services communities may welcome
sponsorships from potential employers and service providers (such
as travel agents and financial aid organizations). These sponsorships
can be provided with discretion and taste, not unlike the
sponsorships found on public television. As for ongoing content and
information, it will be important for campuses to collaborate with
other institutions to keep academic communities alive and fresh, (p.
42)
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Eisler (2000) also discusses the evolution these sites from their static,
web based origins to comprehensive interfaces for accessing university
resources, community groups, and interactive learning environments. It is
difficult to accept the authors' assertions about the creation of
communities. Ever since Boyer's (1987) discussion of community building
on campuses, student affairs professionals have strived to create
community; it does not happen by itself, it needs intentional interventions
and campus wide efforts. And while Eisler, de Alva (2000), Looney et al.
(2000) and others claim that the online technologies can produce online
communities none of them provide any empirical evidence that online
community building was feasible in the sense that Boyer (1987,1990), Kuh
et al. (1994), Tinto (1998) and others conceptualized.
Looney et al. also describe several different types of portals, such as
consumer portal, community portal, vertical portal, etc. The original
portals were "horizontal portals" that were created to provide information
on a broad array of subjects that could be personalized by users. The
vertical portals evolved into sites that provided information on a single
subject, closely related subjects, or information that was directed at
particular groups of users (Eisler, 2000). These vertical portals, sometimes
known as vortals, are industry or theme specific. The combination of these
two portal approaches with the integration of campus-specific information
create the campus portal, or the learning portal a new personalized and
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customized interface for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors to
communicate with the university and with each other (Looney et al.).
PORTAL CHARACTERISTICS
PRONOUNCEMENTS:
ROOT:
Johnson (2001) Quality of content Quality of interface (ease of use) Quality of infrastructure (speed of response) Degree of coupling (how various pieces of system interact) Distributed content management (my topical experts)
Eisler (2000) Gateways of information content Points of access Resource hubs for learning communities Functionality Features: 1. Gateway 2. Security 3. Customized information 4. Channel information 5. Pushed information 6. Internet tools 7. Personalized tools 8. Interaction 9. e-Business: Portals that are integrated into university back-office 10. Workflow and application integration 11. Personalization
Figure 2.6. Web portal characteristics: Theoreticians and concepts.
A campus portal may be defined as a single integrated point for
useful and comprehensive access to information, people, and processes
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While portals have a rapidly evolving set of features and characteristics,
they can be described as both personalized and customized user interfaces
providing users with access to both internal and external information.
Eisler suggests that portals can be used for a variety of activities which
generally fit into three categoriesgateways to information, points of
access for constituent groups, and community / learning hubs. He strongly
advocates that higher education consider a campus or learning portal:
A learning portal is a Web site that offers consolidated access to
learning resources. The most common of these involve access to
college distance learning efforts. Designed as virtual campuses, they
provide student and faculty with access to course schedules,
registration and payment systems, information, and other services.
Throughout the course, this portal is used as an interface between
the student and learning materials. At present, this type of portal is
customized to the student's learning interest, but may provide
limited or no capacity for personalization.
Eisler maintains that the features of an effective campus portal
requires the interaction of a series of functionalities to provide the access,
information, and interactivity described above. He offers a detailed list
describing some of the many features effective portals should include.
Gateway: The system identifies approved users through a single
sign-on procedure.
Security: Users are allowed to access information they can see,
change information they can change, and no more. Those who
should not see or change information are denied access to it.
Customized information: Users receive information for or about
themselves. For a student, this might be a course schedule, degree
checklist, bill balances, or a reminder that a library book is due.
85