Instructional Leadership, emphasis: K-12 School Leadership (MEd)
Student getting help at the academic success center.

Student learning and development outcomes

Our Student Affairs (SA) team helps students succeed in college, starting from day one until graduation. The Student Affairs framework identifies essential ingredients for student growth and achievement at NAU.

Harnessing the power of theory and practice, our team members have identified desired outcomes to guide our work with students. Explore the primary domains of this groundbreaking framework below:

Academic and career purpose

Academic and career purpose is a sense of meaning aligned with interests, values, skills, educational goals, and professional aspirations. Students will:

  • identify academic and career goals
  • explore diverse ideas, perspectives, and values to enhance self-awareness and educational purpose
  • identify gaps in academic knowledge, experience, and skills, and seek opportunities and resources to address them
  • connect curricular and co-curricular experiences with academic and career aspirations
  • successfully navigate our academic environment, through understanding university terminology, policies, and systems
  • cultivate self-regulating academic behaviors
  • create meaningful mentorship and professional networks to enhance college experiences and career opportunities
  • advance workforce readiness through fostering career competencies


Community is a set of relationships within which members feel a sense of belonging, feel they matter, and are honored for being their authentic selves. Students will:

  • understand the value of building meaningful social and cultural connections
  • discover resources to further develop identity and build networks
  • acknowledge and appreciate diverse identities and viewpoints
  • create and advocate for inclusive communities
  • intentionally contribute time and talent to achieve meaningful community impact
  • understand how behaviors and choices impact others


Wellness is an optimal and dynamic state of physical and mental health that allows students to achieve their full potential through active choices and access to resources. Students will:

  • become familiar with dimensions of wellness
  • establish personalized and culturally informed goals to enhance wellness
  • successfully access healthcare by understanding related terminology, policies, and systems
  • understand the impact that equity and access have on health and wellness
  • recognize the connection between healthy habits and academic success
  • identify and utilize campus resources for managing overall health
  • discover and apply skills for reducing stress, eating healthy, and cultivating resilience

Student learning outcomes

Framework for student learning

Relying heavily on the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education’s (CAS) Frameworks for Assessing Learning and Development Outcomes (FALDO) (Stayhorn, 2006) and the revised CAS Learning and Development Outcomes (CAS, 2008), our framework of student learning and development domains were created to be a resource for practitioners within Student Affairs.

More specifically, the framework serves as an organized description of desired outcomes for our collective work, provides a common language for our efforts, is useful for developing program objectives and related assessments, and is linked to the theory that guides our practice. Our articulation of a common set of learning and development outcomes for Student Affairs provides the division with a tool to guide strategic planning efforts and staff professional development. This tool also enables staff to clearly communicate the benefits of involvement in Student Affairs to students.

The college experience

“The college experience for students is like completing a jigsaw puzzle” (King, 1999, p. 2). Students make their way through their collegiate journey, from orientation to English 105—from courses in their major to their Liberal Studies requirements to joining a club or organization to serving as an RA—all to make the most of their undergraduate career. The collection of these different elements or “pieces” of their educational experience broadens and deepens as their interactions within the institutional contexts multiply.

Still, one could question if all students complete this process in an intentional manner. Does the typical NAU undergraduate know the puzzle they are building? Perhaps not. It is the responsibility of the university to share the picture on the puzzle box with our students and explicitly communicate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes we hope they will acquire as a result of their collegiate experiences (ibid, p. 4). Indeed, faculty and staff must themselves be familiar with the puzzle and the picture created by the many pieces of an undergraduate education.

Practical application at NAU

In an effort to share that picture of the puzzle, Student Affairs has identified the learning and development domains relevant to the activities, services, and programs in our division in which students participate. We acknowledge that the primary goal of college is academic learning and that no one experience is responsible for producing college outcomes (NASPA and ACPA, 2004). Rather, all areas of college engagement provide opportunities for student learning (ibid, 2004, p. 20). In out-of-class contexts, Student Affairs staff educates and guides students through development that complements academic learning.

The student learning and development that occurs through involvement in Student Affairs lie within several domains, including social development and establishing a sense of belonging, intrapersonal development and exploration of the self, and knowledge acquisition that enable the development of practical competencies students require to manage college life and prepare for life after college. It is these domains we describe in this framework.

Council for the Advancement of Standards


CAS defines this domain as:

  • realistic self-appraisal, self-understanding, and self-respect
  • identity development
  • commitment to ethics and integrity
  • spiritual awareness

SA staff have conceptualized this domain in a complementary way, defining it as

  • self-exploration, discovery, and refinement of personal identities and a sense of purpose
  • maturation toward and through adulthood
  • self-perceptions of background and home community
  • personal and academic goals
  • self-appraisal of skills and abilities and the amount of effort required for any given pursuit
  • motivation
  • involvement in activities related to interests, daily life, and academic pursuits
  • self-reflection on experiences, knowledge, and feelings
  • self-examination of beliefs and values

Learning and development outcomes

Students will:

  • negotiate, reflect upon, and refine a sense of identity
  • embrace a realistic sense of self
  • embody intentionally chosen attributes and behaviors
  • demonstrate a willingness to examine personal beliefs
  • express and advocate for personal values and beliefs
  • take responsibility for identifying and fulfilling their goals
  • exhibit self-reliant behaviors and use resources appropriately
  • initiate action toward the achievement of goals
  • make decisions and act in congruence with personal values
  • acknowledge personal strengths and weaknesses
  • seek feedback from others
  • function autonomously
  • articulate long-term goals and objectives
  • develop and articulate a personal belief system
  • explore issues of purpose, meaning, and faith
  • integrate multiple aspects of identity into a coherent whole
  • identify and commit to important aspects of self
  • accept personal accountability

Theoretical foundation and assessment examples:

  • independence
  • realistic self-appraisal
  • personal and educational goals
  • clarified values
  • enhanced self-esteem
  • spiritual awareness

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