Implementing the CAS Standards: The Implementation of the CAS Standards in Student Affairs as a Comprehensive Assessment Approach Open Access

The increasing use of the CAS standards as a comprehensive assessment approach in divisions of student affairs necessitates a more in-depth understanding of how the CAS standards are being implemented in these settings. In response to increasing calls for improvement, accountability and professionalism in student affairs (Bresciani, 2006; Cooper & Saunders, 2000; Mann, Gordon, & Strode, 1991; Meyer, 1986; Miller, 1984; Paterson & Carpenter, 1989), many institutions have adopted the CAS standards as a way for bringing their programs, departments, or divisions in line with the professional standards for student affairs. By addressing this gap in the research, institutions moving ahead with a comprehensive implementation of the CAS standards can examine in-depth experiences of other institutions to inform practice. The presence of models and best practices will aid the efforts of student affairs practitioners in implementing the standards.This qualitative, exploratory study sought to gain an in-depth understanding of the reality surrounding the implementation of the CAS standards. There were two main models that guided this study: Upcraft and Schuh's (1996) Assessment Process model and Banta's Planning, Evaluation, and Improvement model at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (Maki, 2004). The five major themes that emerged were: the purpose or ends of CAS use, implementing CAS and program reviews, overcoming obstacles and resistance, contributions from the three administrative levels and improving CAS use through enhanced practice and training. As a result of the findings in this study, future implications for research and practice include: a) comprehensive assessment approaches may benefit from making use of models such as Banta's Planning, Evaluation, and Improvement Model (Maki, 2004) and Upcraft and Schuh's (1996) Assessment Process Model; b) a comprehensive approach may be well served by examining the institutional and divisional culture to assess the need for a tight or loose system for managing the CAS standards; c) the importance of finding ways to deal with fears of negative repercussions as a result of CAS program reviews; and d) the best practice of robustly using an assessment team for oversight, quality control, education, and support for program reviews.

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