Student Affairs Professional Development

The West Chester University Division of Student Affairs is committed to fostering the personal and professional development of every member of its staff and faculty at all levels of the organization. For an overview of the professional involvement of our staff and faculty, please review our 2019 WCU Student Affairs Professional Involvement Report .

This website serves as a resource for Student Affairs staff and faculty to quickly and easily locate development opportunities within the Division, University, as well as within professional organizations and other external resources. 

ACPA/NASPA (2015) has identified the following ten professional competencies, which describe essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions expected of all student affairs educators, regardless of functional area or specialization within the field.  DOSA members are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the competencies, assess their level within each competency, and work with their supervisor to establish a professional development plan, using this site as a resource. 

The following documents have been created to assist you with this process:

Professional Competency Assessment    Individual Professional Development Plan


Personal and Ethical Foundations (PEF)

Involves the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to develop and maintain integrity in one’s life and work.


  • Foundational Outcomes: Articulate one’s personal code of ethics for student affairs practice, informed by the ethical statements of professional student affairs associations and their foundational ethical principles.
  • Intermediate Outcomes: Explain how one’s professional practice aligns with both one’s personal code of ethics and ethical statements of professional student affairs associations.
  • Advanced Outcomes: Engage in effective consultation and provide advice regarding ethical issues with colleagues and students.


Topics related to this competency might include:

  1. Maintaining a balance between personal and professional life
  2. Integrating wellness and self-care into our staff culture
  3. Opportunities to dialogue about moral and ethical issues within the field
  4. Emotional and social intelligence
  5. Preventing burnout and maintaining motivation
  6. Identifying and leveraging strengths and weaknesses
  7. Organized local fitness activities (e.g., hiking, golfing, boot camp, biking)

Values, Philosophy, and History (VPH)

Involves knowledge, skills, and dispositions that connect the history, philosophy, and values of the student affairs profession to one’s current professional practice.


  • Foundational Outcomes: Describe the various research, philosophies, and scholars that defined the profession.
  • Intermediate Outcomes: Engage in service to the profession and to student affairs professional associations.
  • Advanced Outcomes: Contribute to the research, scholarship, and expansion of knowledge within the profession.


Topics related to this competency might include:

  1. History of the student affairs profession
  2. Current issues and trends related to student affairs/higher education
  3. Ways to engage in service to the academy and student affairs professional associations
  4. Tips for writing effective presentation proposals

Assessment, Evaluation, and Research (AER)

Focuses on the ability to design, conduct, critique, and use various AER methodologies and the results obtained from them to inform practice, and to shape the political and ethical climate surrounding AER processes and uses in higher education.


  • Foundational Outcomes: Differentiate among assessment, program review, evaluation, planning, and research as well as the methods appropriate to each.
  • Intermediate Outcomes: Design ongoing and periodic data collection efforts such that they are sustainable, rigorous, and unobtrusive
  • Advanced Outcomes: Effectively use assessment and evaluation results in determining the institution’s, the division’s, or the unit’s accomplishment of its missions/goals, re-allocation of resources, and advocacy for more resources.


Topics related to this competency might include:

  1. Assessment 101 (overview of purpose, methods, terms)
  2. Interpreting findings and using data for the improvement of programs and services
  3. Survey writing and design
  4. Assessment methods and tools for the measurement of learning outcomes
  5. Effective assessment planning (developing an assessment calendar, preventing survey fatigue, etc.)
  6. Designing focus groups or interview assessment
  7. Designing rubrics
  8. Sharing and reporting data to internal and external stakeholders
  9. Utilize student learning and development theories and scholarly research to inform content and design of learning outcomes and assessment tools

Law, Policy, and Governance (LPG)

Focuses on knowledge, skills, and dispositions relating to policy development processes used in various contexts, the application of legal constructs, and the understanding of governance structures and their impact on one’s professional practice.


  • Foundational Outcomes: Describe evolving laws, policies, and judicial rulings that influence the student-institutional relationship and how they affect professional practice.
  • Intermediate Outcomes: Identify emerging law and policy trends and discuss how they affect current case precedent.
  • Advanced Outcomes: Develop institutional policies and practices consistent with national, state/province, and local laws related to institutional and personal tort liability; contracts; the exercise and limits of free speech by faculty, student affairs professionals, and students; and civil rights, desegregation, and affirmative action.

Topics related to this competency might include:

  1. Legal and ethical issues in student affairs
  2. Overview of key University policies
  3. Using data to create policies and procedures that meet the legal, compliance, and policy mandates for the University

Organizational and Human Resources (OHR)

Includes knowledge, skills, and dispositions used in the management of institutional human capital, financial, and physical resources.


  • Foundational Outcomes: Demonstrate effective stewardship/use of resources (i.e., financial, human, material)
  • Intermediate Outcomes: Effectively develop and manage human resources, facilities, policies, procedures, processes, and materials.
  • Advanced Outcomes: Assess resources (e.g. people, space, financial, materials) in regard to institutional or divisional long-range planning and budget processes.

Topics related to this competency might include:

  1. Learn about other department’s job functions within Student Affairs
  2. Opportunities for communication and collaboration across departments
  3. Managing financial resources/developing and monitoring budgets
  4. Building relationships between Student and Academic Affairs
  5. Grant/program proposal writing
  6. Staff training, supervision, recognition
  7. Creating a professional development plan
  8. Ethical hiring techniques and institutional hiring policies, procedures, and processes that reflect a commitment to diversity and equity

Leadership (LEAD)

Addresses the knowledge, skills, and dispositions required of a leader, with or without positional authority.


  • Foundational Outcomes: Articulate the vision and mission of the primary work unit, the division, and the institution.
  • Intermediate Outcomes: Give appropriate feedback to colleagues and students on skills they may seek to become more effective leaders.
  • Advanced Outcomes: Establish systems to provide opportunities for staff to engage in leadership development such as committees, task forces, internships, and cross-functional teams.

Topics related to this competency might include:

  1. Managing organizational change as a leaders and team players
  2. Identifying one’s own strengths and challenges as a leader and seek opportunities to develop leadership skills.
  3. Understanding how personal leadership and communication style affects others
  4. Leading up

Social Justice and Inclusion (SJI)

A process and a goal that includes the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to create learning environments that foster equitable participation of all groups and seeks to address issues of oppression, privilege, and power.


  • Foundational Outcomes: Articulate a foundational understanding of social justice and inclusion within the context of higher education.
  • Intermediate Outcomes: Design programs and events that are inclusive, promote social consciousness and challenge current institutional, national, global, and sociopolitical systems of oppression.
  • Advanced Outcomes: Ensure institutional policies, practices, facilities, structures, systems, and technologies respect and represent the needs of all people.

Topics related to this competency might include:

  1. Understanding social justice and inclusion within the context of higher education
  2. Assessing and broadening one’s understanding of inclusion, oppression, privilege, and power, and their role within that
  3. Designing programs that promote social justice and inclusion
  4. Creating office environments that promote social justice and inclusion

Student Learning and Development (SLD)

Addresses the concepts and principles of student development and learning theory. This includes the ability to apply theory to improve and inform student affairs and teaching practice.


  • Foundational Outcomes: Articulate theories and models that describe the development of college students and the conditions and practices that facilitate holistic development (e.g. learning, psychosocial and identity development, cognitive-structural, typological, environmental, and moral).
  • Intermediate Outcomes: Design programs and services to promote student learning and development that are based on current research on student learning and development theories.
  • Advanced Outcomes: Utilize theory to inform divisional and institutional policy and practice.

Topics related to this competency might include:

  1. Overview of student development theory
  2. How to create learning that is inclusive and welcoming
  3. Supervising student staff and creating valuable experiential learning opportunities
  4. Creating an internship within the department
  5. Designing programs based on current research and theories of student learning and development.

Technology (TECH)

Focuses on the use of digital tools, resources, and technologies for the advancement of student learning, development, and success as well as the improved performance of student affairs professionals.


  • Foundational Outcomes: Remain current on student and educator adoption patterns of new technologies and familiarize oneself with the purpose and functionality of those technologies.
  • Intermediate Outcomes: Draw upon universal design principles to model and promote compliance with accessibility laws and policies among students, colleagues, and educational partners.
  • Advanced Outcomes: Provide leadership that demands digital information and technologies be used in a manner that is ethical and in full compliance with national and state/province laws as well as with institutional policies.


Topics related to this competency might include:

  1. Training on a specific technological tool (e.g., Excel, SharePoint, PowerPoint, etc.)
  2. Website management
  3. Cultivating a professional digital identity presence
  4. Promoting equitable and inclusive practices related to technology
  5. Using technology (e.g., social media and other digital communication and collaboration tools) to engage students in programs and activities

Advising and Supporting (A/S)

Addresses the knowledge, skills, and dispositions related to providing advising and support to individuals and groups through direction, feedback, critique, referral, and guidance.


  • Foundational Outcomes: Establish rapport with students, groups, colleagues, and others that acknowledges differences in lived experiences.
  • Intermediate Outcomes: Manage interpersonal conflict between/among individuals and groups.
  • Advanced Outcomes: Coordinate and lead response processes as they relate to crisis interventions.


Topics related to this competency might include:

  1. Identifying and responding to students at risk
  2. Demonstrating culturally-inclusive advising, supporting, coaching, and counseling strategies
  3. Communication, conflict management, team building, group dynamics
  4. Laws, policies, and ethical guidelines relevant to advising and supporting students.
  5. Knowing about resources available throughout the university to help support students



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