Glossary of Student Affairs Terms

This list was adapted from The Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education to fit the needs of the HESA Practicum at the University of San Francisco.

A voluntary process conducted by peers through non-governmental agencies for purposes of improving educational quality and assuring the public that programs and services meet established standards. In higher education, accreditation is divided into two types - institutional and specialized. Although both are designed to assure fundamental levels of quality, the former focuses on the institution as a whole while the latter focuses on academic pre-professional or specialty professional programs such as law, business, psychology, and education; or services such as counseling centers within the institution. The University of San Francisco is accredited by WASC, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Any effort to gather, analyze, and interpret evidence which describes institutional, departmental, divisional, or agency effectiveness, and has the purpose of improving student learning and development (Palomba, C.A. & Banta, T.W., 1999; Upcraft, M.L, & Schuh, J.H., 1996).

The loss of students through means other than graduation.

Best Practice
A level of professional conduct or practice identified as being necessary for college and university personnel to exhibit in their daily work for the host program or service to be judged satisfactory, sufficient and of acceptable quality. CAS Standards and Guidelines or NASPA/ACPA standards represent best practice.

CAS: The Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education
A consortium of professional associations concerned with the development and promulgation of professional standards and guidelines for student support programs and services in institutions of higher learning.

CAS Standards and Guidelines
Published criteria and related statements designed to provide college and university support service providers with established measures against which to evaluate programs and services. A standard uses the auxiliary verbs “must” and “shall,” while a guideline uses the verbs “should” and “may.” Standards are essentials, guidelines are not.

Adherence to a standard of practice or preparation.

A statement that clarifies or amplifies professional standards. Although not required for acceptable practice, a guideline is designed to provide professionals with suggestions and illustrations that can assist in establishing programs and services that more fully address the needs of students than those mandated by a standard. Guidelines may be thought of as providing guidance in ways to exceed fundamental requirements, to approach excellence, or to function at a more optimal level.

Learning Outcomes
Change occurring in students as a direct result of their interaction with an educational institution and its programs and services.

Personal Development
Closely related to student development, this term refers to the processes associated with human maturation, especially those concerned with evolving psychosocial, morale, relational, and self-concept changes that influence an individual’s quality of life.

Refers to one of two types: (a) organizational, a departmental level administrative unit or sub- unit; (b) activity, an institutional support service such as an invited lecture, a workshop, a social event, or a series of organized presentations over time (e.g., a “lunch and learn” program).

Professional Development
Refers to the programs, workshops, conferences, and other training related activities offered by institutions, professional associations, and corporate agencies for purposes of increasing effectiveness in accomplishing work responsibilities of staff members.

A statement framed within the context of a professional arena designed to provide practitioners with criteria against which to judge the quality of the programs and services offered. A standard reflects an essential level of practice that, when met, represents quality performance.

Student Learning and Development
Refers to the outcomes students realize when exposed to new experiences, concepts, information, and ideas; the knowledge and understanding gleaned from interactions with higher education learning environments. Learning means acquiring knowledge and applying it to life, appreciating human differences, and approaching an integrated sense of self.