Praxis

Hammond, Assessment of Professional Competencies (PDF)

Advising and Helping:
Addresses the knowledge, skills and attitudes related to providing counseling and advising support, direction, feedback, critique, referral, and guidance
to individuals and groups.

In the general topic of advising and helping, I have done well to pursue practica experiences that have lent itself to the development of advising skills. At Champlain College, I advised a student on her research project that was directly linked to the assessment and information gathering I was doing on four-year career management at different institutions.

During this process, I was able to listen attentively and actively, establish rapport with this student, the career services department, and colleagues at Champlain College. Watching and advising this young woman’s capstone project develop was truly incredible. I guided her through decision-making and goal setting, and, combined with my own research, was able to talk through strategies with her and the career services department on ways to actually implement new programming.

With regard to my work that I have been able to do with a cohort of VSAC-supported, first-generation, low-income, Vermonters at UVM has been not only very revealing about the importance of advising, but has also been informative about where my own weaknesses lie in this arena. In one of my interactions with a student, I caught myself helping a student by solving the problem for them instead of helping them evaluate what options would be best for them. So, in terms of facilitating problem solving, this is where I can still improve. To do so, I will work on taking a step back, doing more guidance and being less intimately involved, and I will work to create a boundary between personal and professional. Pointing students TO a resource where they can help themselves instead of filling out the questionnaire form or printing off the information for them are two examples. If the resources needed are urgent and could impact their health and safety, obviously being invested in that is something I am willing to do. I can check in on them via email or text message rather than setting up personal check-ins every day. In short, my goal is to facilitate problem solving rather than do the problem solving.

Assessment, Evaluation, and Research (AER):
Focuses on the ability to use, design, conduct and critique qualitative and quantitative AER analyses; to manage organizations using AER processes and the results obtained from them; and to shape the political and ethical climate surrounding AER processes and uses on campus.

I’ve been able to dip my toes, so to speak, into the realm of assessment and research. Last summer I worked with Tomás Sanchez on interpreting and evaluating over 1200 student responses regarding satisfaction of on-campus experiences, such as living and dining, and their perceptions of hall staff. Through this process, I learned how easy it is to manipulate data and change the presentation of numbers so that they say something different than what they show. I helped to evaluate, create, and align learning outcomes with ResLife’s organizational goals and values that spoke to inadequacies or strengths that students reported. It was also interesting to see the dangers of narrowing filters so much that you could basically pinpoint a student with many marginalized identities because of the assessment strength of the technology. I learned that it is important to include specifics about certain groups of students’ experiences, but to also protect those students’ identities.

I have a lot more growth to do in this realm, but this can only come from more experiences. At Champlain College, I was able to put together an Executive Summary of findings from my research on four-year career management strategies, tools, and programming across different institutions. This showed me, hands-on, how much work goes into synthesizing research and data that one collects.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusions:
Includes the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to create learning environments that are enriched with diverse views and people.  It is also designed to create an institutional ethos that accepts and celebrates differences among people, helping to free them of any misconceptions and prejudices.

I think this is an area in which I will always feel inadequate. As much as I try to celebrate diversity in personal ways, or think that I do, or as much (or little) reading, research, and practice I do to further my personal growth and understanding in this realm, there is always more to do. I have engaged in self-work in terms of my understanding about how multiple aspects of my identity can work together or separately before I even say a word. My personality comes into play in academic and social spaces and that, too, even precedes me to a certain extent. This is an area that I am thinking more and more about as I head into the job search and want to be able to speak to the opportunities that I have had to check my privilege(s) but also be realistic in that I still have a long way to go. In terms of the ways in which I incorporate what I am learning academically into my professional practice, I have a lot of work to do. It takes some time for my learning to sink in. It stays theoretical for a long time and I hope that I will be able to apply certain knowledge into my own life before I leave somebody out of a conversation or do not acknowledge a group’s role in campus culture. Incorporating social (in)justice history into my professional practice is an area for growth.

To further my development in this area, I will continue to have conversations with those that I trust, as well as try NOT to watch what I say around people who I know will unabashedly guide me toward more growth in this arena. While I am still here in the HESA program, this means continuing to read outside of required texts and engaging in conversations after class that will deepen my understanding of issues, contexts, and history of inequalities.

Ethical Professional Practice: Pertains to the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to understand and apply ethical standards to one’s work.  While ethics is an integral component of all the competencies, this competency area focuses specifically on the integration of ethics into all aspects of self and professional practice.

I have worked to define my personal values as they relate to my professional work and they are as follows:

  • I need to be in a place where I am not afraid to make a mistake

o   I need to understand which mistakes can jeopardize others ability to do their job or feel safe at work

  • I try to put students first

o   Need to realize when a decision needs to be made that will improve things in the long run

  • I need to create a boundary between my personal life and my work

o   As of right now, they bleed into each other; fine at times, but at others it impedes the way I show up in a space (read: too casual or emotionally distracted)

  • When changing departments or institutions I should observe relationships between staff and supervisors, students and staff, and inter-departmentally, to see what is preferred or acceptable knowledge sharing

o   Read: omit gossip, enhance cooperation, and maintain professionalism

History, Philosophy & Values:
Involves knowledge, skills and attitudes that connect the history, philosophy and values of the profession to one’s current professional practice.  This competency area embodies the foundations of the profession from which current and future research and practice will grow.  The commitment to demonstrating this competency area ensures that our present and future practices are informed by an understanding or our history, philosophy and values.

Because of the HESA program structure, these aspects are embedded into our in-class learning. I have a wide understanding of the history of higher education, those who are and have been left out, and where post-secondary education’s goals have been and where they are going. Whenever I am thinking about a departmental goal or even dissonance between a student service department and an institutional goal, I will remind myself to look at and analyze the missions and learning outcomes to see how these might align, intersect, or conflict with a certain action.

Human & Organizational Resources:
Includes knowledge, skills and attitudes used in the selection, supervision, motivation, and formal evaluation of staff; conflict resolution; management of the politics of organizational discourse; and the effective application of strategies and techniques associated with financial resources, facilities management, fundraising, technology use, crisis management, risk management and sustainable resources.

I have been able to gain supervision skills with my role as a part-time office manager at Jeanne Mance, a residence hall, where I manage the front desk. I have hired, trained, and scheduled a work-study staff of 12 students for two years. Managing their time worked, money earned, and evaluating their workmanship and professional practices has been of the most help in terms of gaining practical experience working with students with different needs, at different levels, and at different times of the day. I have aimed to set realistic responsibilities for each shift at the front desk, which means setting clear expectations and incorporating easily understood processes and instructions, while ensuring that everyone is utilizing the same systems and appropriately managing crisis situations or problems that arise at the front desk.

I think that the aspect of human and organizational resources that deserves the most of my attention right now is managing and organizing my own time and job responsibilities by prioritizing them effectively. This has been a consistent problem over the past year and a half, but I have re-organized my systems so that I can best supervise my students, manage the desk operations effectively, and complete tasks in a timely matter as defined by myself or my supervisor.

Law, Policy & Governance:
Includes the knowledge, skills and attitudes relating to policy development processes used in various contexts, the application of legal constructs, and the understanding of governance structures and their impact on one’s
professional practice.

Because of our Legal Issues in Higher Education course, I now have at least a general idea of when to address a situation with a supervisor or legal counsel. My understanding of issues that can arise is that I need to know how much I can promise, help, or tell a student or a parent, and that I need to be aware of any privacy protection issues that can arise.

What I can do better is to stay current with cases on affirmative action, student rights, and institutional changes that impact financial aid, student services, or access. I have recently purchased a subscription to Higher Ed Chronicle to enhance my understanding and knowledge of policy issues.

Leadership:
Addresses the knowledge, skills and attitudes required of a leader, whether it be a positional leader or a member of the staff, in both an individual capacity and within a process of how individuals work together effectively to envision, plan, effect change in organizations, and respond to internal and external constituencies and issues.

I am and have been aware of my personal strengths as a leader. These include self-confidence, ability to interact with many different types of personalities and people, and how to play to my own strength and others to accomplish goals. My limitations are that I do not seek out leadership opportunities. I have grown accustomed to letting them come to me, but this has not been a useful tactic since being in a professionally competitive environment. I am confident in my collaboration, community building, and creativity in group settings, but I do need to think more critically about outcomes/potential responses/repercussions so that I can better adapt the idea to avoid problems. I can better understand how change occurs or how new ideas are set into action by observing current processes, asking for guidance, or looking at past committee work or policy implementation.

I have started to engage in learning more about women in leadership roles and what obstacles still remain and what tools I might benefit from having in my tool belt. I am learning ways that help me feel more confident in the skills that I do have and learning to create productive relationships and experiences by better managing how I display my feelings and emotions. I still see my emotions as a barrier, but am working to feel more in control of when and how they show up in a space or on my face.

Personal Foundations:
Involves the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to maintain emotional, physical, social, environmental, relational, spiritual, and intellectual wellness; be self-directed and self-reflective; maintain excellence and integrity in work; be comfortable with ambiguity; be aware of one’s own areas of strength and growth; have a passion for work; and remain curious.

In terms of knowing what I need to do in order to be at my best, personally and professionally, I have done a good job in prioritizing my relational, social, physical, and professional needs. I know that I need to have a system/schedule in place to be in good physical health and that I need to focus on creating and maintaining relationships otherwise I forget to do so and this causes me emotional stress when I feel that I am not connected to other people. I am highly self-reflective, but enjoy engaging with others on how they see how I’m doing.

Student Learning & Development:
Addresses the concepts and principles of student development and learning theory.  This includes the ability to apply theory to improve and inform student affairs practice, as well as understanding teaching and training theory and practice.

I am still working on the merging of theory and practice. Right now much of the theory is still exactly that: theoretical. I am able to reflect on my and others’ actions and see how theory explains them, so I will continue to challenge myself to think more in the moment of what I know about the students and entities that I may be working with and how I can better communicate with, support, or challenge them productively. My work with first-generation students is largely informed by my own experience of being a first-gen student myself, but reading more about it has directly informed how I view my experience and how I frame the advising that I do with those students I come into contact with. I hope that the same can be said of other populations that I will work directly with in the future.

 

 

Strengths: Communication, supportive nature, openness to criticism, enthusiasm, highly motivated, knowledge seeking, collaborative approach, able to work independently or in a group, awareness of weakness/things to improve upon.

Weaknesses: Time/priority management, seeking out professional development opportunities (risk-taking), theoretical understandings of working with people and students whose identities I do not share, and knowledge of current issues affecting higher education.

  • Continue to use current system to manage time and priorities

o   Paper planner/To-do list (if it’s not in there, it’s not happening)

o   Utilize Oracle to its fullest

o   Convert email messages to to-do list format in planner

o   Have a plan for each day or time I set aside to work

  • Professional development

o   Seek out opportunities that challenge me

o   Consult with professionals in my field to see how what resources they have or suggestions for opportunities for growth

o   Volunteer for things

o   Plan to present research or a program at a regional conference by 2015

  • Further knowledge of theoretical frameworks

o   Continue reading about different identity development frameworks

o   Push myself to apply theoretical constructs in my everyday thought processes

o   Engage in conversations outside of the classroom

o   Ask questions

  • Knowledge of higher education current issues

o   READ THE CHRONICLE

o   Pay attention to conversations within my institution

o   Attend community/board meetings and follow up with own research

o   Read emails/news articles regarding current events at own institution

I have one more goal as well: I want to delve more into a certain aspect of student affairs or higher education this semester. My ideas and areas of interest are as follows:

  • First generation students
  • Financial obstacles to accessing higher education
  • Increasing access to information about or support getting into college
  • Integrating academic and extra-curricular experiences
  • Social Justice education from a place of privilege FOR the privileged
  • Women in higher education: climbing the ladder/seeking support

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