Western Idaho College Student Life Web site
Suggested Statement of Philosophy for the WIC Student Life Web Site:To provide an all inclusive environment that empowers and affirms the full development of a diverse student body by...
Aligning Student Affairs With Institutional Mission • The most important factor to affect student affairs within an institution of higher education is the institutional mission (Barr & Deschler, 2000). • The mission of the institution influences all aspects of day to day institutional life (Hamrick, vans, and Schuh, 2002). • Good practice in student affairs work will reflect an awareness of responsibility and accountability to internal and external publics while showing a firm commitment to the institutional mission (Blimling & Whitt, 1999).
Taking The First Step • The Student Learning Imperative (1996) states, the division mission should complement the institution mission with enhancement of student learning and personal development being the primary goal of programs and services (Blimling, 1996) • The first step in developing a statement of philosophy for the WIC Website is to look at the institution’s mission…
The Institution’s Mission • “To serve as a distinct and unique institution among public institutions of higher education in Idaho in order to provide undergraduate of the highest quality in a learning environment that empowers and affirms the full development of students…” • What makes WIC distinct and unique? • How does the environment empower and affirm students? • What are your high quality programs and services? • How are you promoting student development?
In 1996 over 3,000,000 students entered post secondary education High school graduates have higher grades, test scores, and involvement with college level courses Many come from college educated parents Today’s college students have different goals: 74% of incoming freshman surveyed stated they wanted to get a better job and make more money 82.9% of incoming students use the internet to access information The Next Step: Targeting Today’s Students
Putting Students at the Center • “ As students are making the decision to attend college and to attend a specific institution, each individual has a different set of concerns and needs…If students believe that the institution is concerned with their basic needs, they will view the institution in more favorable terms…Students are more likely to leave if they feel the institution does not care for them” (Maslow, 1970). • How does WIC’s Student Life Web site put students at the center?
First Impressions • First impression is crucial to decision making. • By putting students at the center, we understand that first impressions are often throughvisiting a web site.
“A good web site is a delight and a poor web site is worse than no web site at all.” (Barrett, 2001)
A Delightful Approach Applying Barratt’s Model to Critique WIC’s Student Life Web Site According to Barratt there are 13 basic values that can be provided as a useful beginning to evaluating student affairs web sites including…
Currency • Convenience • Inclusion • Representation • Active • Informative • Interactive • Community Building • Developmental • Learning Focused • Clarity • Accountability • Accessibility
Currency: Web pages are out of date (i.e.: “This page last updated October 7th, 2002”). All pages should be monitored daily and updated more frequently. Convenience:Icons, color differentiation, graphics, navigation tools, links, organization and indexing. User friendly approach is important (i.e. Scrolling down for information on lengthy lists, such as the Policies & Procedures page is frustrating and tedious). Inclusion:Not all students, student groups, or organizations appear to be presented in the site. Part of the problem stems from lack of clarity in the mission of WIC, by only addressing minority and adult student needs in broad terms. And the rest of the population? On the athletics page only basketball is represented. Is that the only sport available at WIC and if not why is it the only one being represented on your site?
Representation: Admissions, Financial Aid, Athletics, Human Resources, Academic Support, Registrars,Career Services, Food Services, Health Services and Academic departments. How are all departments being represented? Are they all being represented? By excluding certain departments, how are you showing that students basic needs are being addressed? Active:Current events, schedules, names, dates, times: Where are they accessed? Are there any upcoming student meetings, lectures or socials happening at your institution? The only event listed on your site is the basketball schedule. Informative: Codes of conduct, policies, student government constitution: Where are academic policies, judicial affairs, honor code, and divisional mission statements? Only institutional mission and residence life policies and procedures are provided.
Interactive: No mechanisms for student interaction on the site. No contact information. For example, students should be able to contact people including faculty and staff by clicking on an E-mail link. Community building: Site lacks dimension and is disconnected from students, staff, and faculty as a community. No links to connect community to local information/resources, or global information and current affairs are available. Developmental: Site does not promote student development goals, for example: interdependence, relationships, autonomy, integrity, self actualization, etc... Where students should be at the center of a student affairs and its web site, an appropriate student development theory based on the institutional mission, should be the foundation for creating a student life web site.
Learning focused: Policies and procedures appear to be the heart of this institution, at least this might be the visitor’s impression, given that it is the bulk of the web site. Where is the service and learning? Clarity:Language is ambiguous (i.e., “other stuff” and “other professional studies”. Web site goals are unclear. Why is basketball schedule (without locations of games and purchasing information) the only program, activity, or sport offered on the site? Whose needs are being met by visiting your site? Accountability: There is no room for student comments, feedback, or counters of how many students visited the site. Accessibility: The web site must accessible . There are no consistent toolbars with menus at each page of website. No active links. No page counters.
The Importance of Having a Divisional Web Site • Each division has it’s own mission or vision which is guided by the institution’s larger mission. • Without divisional web sites, confusion will be the result, and dissonance will occur. • In order for a sense of community to be portrayed, interconnectedness needs to be displayed on your site. What are the parts or divisions of your institution and how do they relate to one another to form a wider campus community?
What are you trying to accomplish in selecting these images, what messages do you wish to convey?
After browsing several of our favorite student affairs web sites, there appeared to be a common theme woven throughout...
Committee Recommendations • Start with WIC’s institutional mission. The mission should be expressed throughout all aspects of the Student Life Web site. • Know your audience! The Student Life Web site should be fluid and diverse reflecting the lives of the students. • Remember that first immpressions are lasting immpressions! Add more color, texture & life!
Committee Recomendations Continued... • Use a student development theory to guide the Student Life Web site: i.e., Chickering & Reisser’s Identity Development Theory could be applied by assuring that the Web site addresses each of the vectors in one way or another (Barr &Desler, 2000). • Develop a mission for the Student Life Division, to better understand what you want to accomplish through the Web site. “Our Web sites should reflect our core values” (Barrat, 2001).
Finally... • The WIC Student Life Web site should build bridges that connect all aspects of the campus community as well as link the campus community with the local and global community.
Bibliography • Blimling, G.S. & Whitt, E.J. (1999). Good practice in student affairs. Principles to foster student learning. San Fransisco: Jossey Bass • Barrat, W. (2001) Models for Evaluating Student Affairs Web Sites. Student Affairs online, vol. 2, No. 2 • Barr, M..J. & Desler, M.K. (2000). The handbook of student affairs administration. San Fransisco: Jossey Bass • Hamrick, F.A., Evans N.J., : Schuh, J.H. (2002) Foundations of student affairs practice. San Fransisco: Jossey Bass • Parsons, A. Hernandez, J. (2003) Creating student centered web pages for incoming and new students. Student affairs online, vol 4 , No.1
Respectfully submitted for your review by: Amy MacMannis Heather Shaughnessy Kim Kenniston Alicen Demelo From Bridgewater State College