Division of Student Affairs

Good Practices in Student Affairs

1. Good practice in student affairs engages students in active learning.

  • Active learning invites students to bring their life experiences into the learning process, reflect on their own and others' perspectives as they expand their viewpoints, and apply new understandings to their own lives. Good student affairs practice provides students with opportunities for experimentation through programs focused on engaging students in various learning experiences. These opportunities include experiential learning such as student government; collective decision making on educational issues; field-based learning such as internships; peer instruction; and structured group experiences such as community service, international study, and resident advising.

2. Good practice in student affairs helps students develop
coherent values and ethical standards.

  • Good student affairs practice provides opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and student affairs educators to demonstrate the values that define a learning community. Effective learning communities are committed to justice, honesty, equality, civility, freedom, dignity, and responsible citizenship. Such communities challenge students to develop meaningful values for a life of learning. Standards espoused by student affairs divisions should reflect the values that bind the campus community to its educational mission.
3. Good practice in student affairs sets and communicates high expectation for learning.
  • Student learning is enhanced when expectations for student performance inside and outside the classroom are high, appropriate to students' abilities and aspirations, and consistent with the institution's mission and philosophy. Expectations should address the wide range of student behaviors associated with academic achievement, intellectual and psychosocial development, and individual and community responsibility. Good student affairs divisions systematically describe desired levels of performance to students as well as to practitioners and regularly assess whether their performances are consistent with institutional expectations
4. Good practice in student affairs uses systematic inquiry to improve student and institutional performance.
  • Good practice in student affairs uses systematic inquiry to improve student and institutional performance. Good practice in student affairs occurs when student affairs educators ask, "What are students learning from our programs and services, and how can their learning be enhanced?" Knowledge of and ability to analyze research about students and their learning are critical components of good student affairs practice. Student affairs educators who are skilled in using assessment methods acquire high-quality information; effective application of this information to practice results in programs and change strategies which improve institutional and student achievement.
5. Good practice in student affairs uses resources effectively to achieve institutional missions and goals.
  • Effective student affairs divisions are responsible stewards of their institutions' financial and human resources. They use principles of organizational planning to create and improve learning environments throughout the campus that emphasize institutions' desired educational outcomes for students. Because the most important resources for learning are human resources, good student affairs divisions involve professionals who can translate into practice guiding theories and research from areas such as human development, learning and cognition, communication, leadership, and program design and implementation.
6. Good practice in student affairs forges educational partnerships that advance student learning.
  • Good student affairs practice initiates educational partnerships and develops structures that support collaboration. Partners for learning include students, faculty, academic administrators, staff, and others inside and outside the institution. Collaboration involves all aspects of the community in the development and implementation of institutional goals and reminds participants of their common commitment to students and their learning. Relationships forged across departments and divisions demonstrate a healthy institutional approach to learning by fostering inclusiveness, bringing multiple perspectives to bear on problems, and affirming shared educational values.

7. Good practice in student affairs builds supportive and inclusive communities.

  • Student learning occurs best in communities that value diversity, promote social responsibility, encourage discussion and debate, recognize accomplishments, and foster a sense of belonging among their members. Good student affairs practice cultivates supportive environments by encouraging connections between students, faculty, and student affairs practitioners. This interweaving of students' academic, interpersonal, and developmental experiences is a critical institutional role for student affairs.


  • American College Personnel Association. (1994). The student learning imperative: Implications for student affairs. Alexandria, VA: Author.
  • American Council on Education. (1937). The student personnel point of view: A report of a conference on the philosophy and development of student personnel work in colleges and universities (American Council on Education Study, Series 1, Vol. 1, No. 3). Washington, DC: Author.
  • Chickering, A.W., & Gamson, Z.F. (1987, June). Principles for good practice in undergraduate education [Special insert to The Wingspread Journal, June 1987]. Racine, WI: Johnson Foundation.
  • Wingspread Group on Higher Education. (1993). An American imperative: Higher expectations for higher education. Racine, WI: The Johnson Foundation.