Graduate student published in national student affairs magazine

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Story by Michelle Hawks, Contributing writer

Graduate student and Elizabeth Residential College Residence Director Tyler Bradley was featured in the October edition of NACA Campus Activities Programming magazine.

According to its website, the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) strives to “be the recognized leader in higher education for providing the knowledge, ideas and resources to promote student learning through engagement in campus life.”

The magazine is mostly for student affairs professionals but Bradley said they also provide information for those interested in the field, including students.

Bradley, who is currently finishing his Masters of Arts in Post-Secondary Education, said the idea for writing the article came from his internship at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

He said after sitting down and going through the possible topics, it only made sense to write about assessment, something he was very familiar with.

He said the main focus of his internship was doing a student satisfaction survey about campus life and breaking down its results.

The article, which Bradley said is tailored to the industry, discusses the demand for assessment.

“Even in Kentucky, Matt Bevin said that universities need to justify what they’re doing,” Bradley said. “They need to show the reason they’re spending this money, using these resources or even creating this new job. What impact is this having on the student body?”

Bradley said he thinks Murray State is doing just the right amount of surveying.

“There’s a point in which people say, ‘I don’t want to take this survey,’” Bradley said.

He said he tailors data for the residents in his building. For example, he said he sends out little pieces of information to residents about questions they answered on the MAPWorks Survey, including their sleep habits.

He said his article provides a guide for people in the student affairs field who want to assess and want to help but aren’t sure how.

“It doesn’t always have to be a full-blown survey that takes 20 minutes and mandatory for all the students,” Bradley said. “It could be something simple, like, ‘Write on this notecard and answer this question.’ We can then determine what needs we need to address with these people.”

The article also discusses learning outcomes, which Bradley said is a major buzzword in the field. He said these are often found on class syllabi and list what students will be able to do by the end of the semester.

He said this ties into acknowledging what students will get out of going to see a performance on campus.

Bradley said it’s important to be mindful of how traditions and events on campus are affecting students. However, he said it’s just as important to find the balance between the facts and treating students as individuals instead of just numbers.

“Student affairs, as a whole, tends to be a very emotion-driven field,” Bradley said. “You don’t want to treat a person like a number. But at the same time, you do have to consider that if 85 percent of students are struggling in a course, that’s important information to know.”

Bradley said he will probably stick with residential life for a little longer but in the future he will be doing something in student affairs.

“Long-term goal, I want to be like a Dr. R,” Bradley said. “That would be a lot of fun, honestly.”