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Seeing the Connection: Linking Professional Competencies Experience, and Classroom Learning. Jeannine Kranzow, Ph.D. Azusa Pacific University Stacy A. Jacob, Ph.D. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Debra S. Gentry, Ph.D. University of Toledo. Framework.

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seeing the connection linking professional competencies experience and classroom learning

Seeing the Connection: Linking Professional Competencies Experience, and Classroom Learning

Jeannine Kranzow, Ph.D.

Azusa Pacific University

Stacy A. Jacob, Ph.D.

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Debra S. Gentry, Ph.D.

University of Toledo


“The profession as a whole might look to the intersect of curriculum and practice—the internships and assistantships of preparation programs—as a place to focus particular attention for the development of skills and knowledge related to a wide range of competencies”

(Cuyjet, Longwell-Grice, and Molina, 2009, p. 114).


Reynolds (2011) investigated specifically “the helping”

competency. Three of the top seven professional development opportunities aligned with linking professional competencies with graduate assistantships & internships.

  • Opportunities for practice
  • GAs, Internships, & Externships
  • Graduate coursework
the issue
The Issue

Students in professional preparation programs in Student Affairs Higher Education often have disconnect between what they are learning in class and how it applies to their professional work.

  • Taught the ACPA/NASPA Professional Competency areas in class.
  • Students "learned about the document", but did not connect it to experiences to Graduate Assistantships, Practicums, Internships.
  • So there was no use of the document for professional development (how to develop new skills and competencies).
our response
Our response
  • “It’s too late!” - Help students be proactive
  • Build a rubric to help them consider their exposure to each competency – a tool to help students link the competencies to their own experiences both inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Use the tool for a classroom activity to help students view their experiences through a lens of exposure
  • Reflect/journal as a classroom assignment/activity.
activity try it
Activity: Try It!
      • Faculty: Use the rubric with a job description to see how a student might gain exposure to certain competencies
      • Supervisors: Consider how you could use it with newer professionals.
  • Grad Students and New Professionals: Reflect on how you could use it for your professional development
  • Find the Full Competency descriptions at:


First fill out the rubric.

Now spend some time writing on the following reflective questions.

Discuss how the rubric was helpful/not helpful in your evaluation of your graduate assistantship or other work experience (in terms of its ability to provide you with the necessary exposure to various competencies).

After considering your exposure to all the competencies for SA practitioners, what professional development opportunities do you think are important for your growth as a professional?

Do you see ways to discuss this rubric with your current and/or future supervisor so that you might gain more exposure to specific competencies?

Did completing this rubric ultimately lead you to feel different about your degree of preparation for the field of student affairs?

Other thoughts/reflections?


Overwhelmingly “Yes, it was Helpful” – 40 of 43 and 7 of 7 students Provides structure to evaluate GA;

Useful vehicle for approaching supervisors & being intentional about work responsibilities -- 39 of 43 and 0 of 0 N/A

Provides awareness of what you are learning & how much there is to learn-- 32 of 43 7 of 7 Became aware of importance and deficits

Ways to maximize use of the rubric.

1 structure for evaluating a ga position
#1 – Structure for Evaluating a GA position

“Thank you for this rubric; this has been the structure I haven’t had in my graduate assistantship.”

“I think it is very helpful to evaluate my GA based on the competencies because it helps me see what areas I may need to be more intentional to cover. I think that my professional growth depends on the opportunities I have to see things more on the inside, such as planning, budgeting, & making all the necessary steps to execute an event or even a program vision.”


“Often I only knew what I was doing in my GA because it related back to something that was discussed in class. I think it would be important to base trainings off of these competency areas. Basing trainings and the GA off of these competency areas would allow for a more structured training with measurable outcomes.”

2 a tool for approaching supervisors
#2 – A Tool for Approaching Supervisors

“With this rubric, I feel that I can discuss with my supervisor the exact areas that I need more experience in, and she would help me create a project to cover that area.”

“By addressing some of the rubric I think my current & future supervisors would be open to shifting some of my job responsibilities so that I could find a way to develop in some aspects that I may be lacking.”


“My supervisor doesn't have an education background in Student Affairs so I don’t know if he would even understand the competencies I would need to hit.”

“I think this rubric should and could be discussed

with supervisors. If it were a program

requirements to have to score between a 2 to 3 in

each competency, I am sure my supervisors would

ensure these learning outcomes were met.”

3 awareness of what you are learning
#3 – Awareness of What You Are Learning

“The rubric was helpful because it gave me insight into what I am and am not learning in my assistantship. I saw the ways that the competencies are indeed being met, but I also saw ways that I can personally try to attain competencies. I think I realized that I sometimes need to be assertive in my desire to seek these competencies out through the role I have in my office. I also saw that some of the competencies will not be met in my current assistantship, which means I will have to seek some alternatives”


“Completing the rubric helped demonstrate how much knowledge & experience I am lacking as I go into the field & helps me realize there is always more learning to be done.”

complexity of capstone students
Complexity of Capstone students

This category of awareness made us realize that from a capstone perspective, the awareness is much deeper and more complex

Still thinking about it.

other interesting comments
Other Interesting Comments

“This opened my eyes to looking elsewhere for experience during the summer & for next year. I have to create my own networks to get where I would like to be.”

“My office suggested that I would gain most, if not all, of my competencies though my assistantship. Either I am not seeing the connection yet to the competencies or I should reexamine how my job relates with my boss.”


“I love the fact that I chose Student Affairs with College Counseling. Sometimes people give advice from a friendly standpoint, but I will be able to see both sides.”

*Note: Intentionally expose yourself!

how to maximize gains from the rubric
How to Maximize Gains from the Rubric

Revisit it

Encourage students to dialog with others

Encourage discussion with supervisors.

Encourage students to claim their education.

Talk to them about carefully selecting sessions at national conferences.

Speak to students about how this can help them evaluate work offers.

want m ore information
Want More Information?

Stacy A. Jacob

Jeannine Kranzow

Debra S. Gentry


American College Personnel Association & National

Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

(2010). ACPA/NASPA professional competency

areas for student affairs practitioners. Washington,

DC: Authors.

Cuyjet, M. J., Longwell-Grice, R., & Molina, E. (2009).

Perceptions of new student affairs professionals

and their supervisors regarding the application of

competencies learned in preparation programs.

Journal of College Student Development, 50(1),


Reynolds, A. (2011). Helping competencies of student affairs professionals: A Delphi study. Journal of College Student Development, 52(3), 362- 369.

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