Our guest blogger is Ashley Rundell, a criminal justice/political science junior serving on Working Group V: Educational Effectiveness. Ashley is in the Honors Program in General Education, and in addition to pursuing academic excellence she is very active on campus. She serves as Financial Secretary for SGA; as a Pride Ambassador; as a Site Leader for Alternative Spring Break; and is a member of the Presidential Service Corps and a Bonner Leadership Scholar. We are grateful to Ashley for sharing her perspective!
When I was first asked to participate in the Middle States self-study, I was unsure how significant my part in the project would be, considering this would be my first time. Despite being heavily involved on campus, becoming familiar with the purpose of Middle States and the process in general seemed foreign to me. From the first meeting I had with my working group, I was introduced to many members of the university whose history at the institution as well as expertise in certain academic programs would be clearly helpful. It was then I asked myself, where exactly does my voice as a student come into play?
Sifting through various documentation, reports and evaluations, I quickly found my answer. Being thoroughly involved in many clubs and organizations on campus, I have experienced many aspects of Widener University that come into the self-study assessment process. Unlike most faculty, staff or administrators, I both live and work on campus all throughout the week right beside the very students Widener strives to serve. This has given me the opportunity over the last few years to not only experience the inner workings of the university’s strategic plan, but also gain insight on where improvement could be the most effective.
Specifically being a member of Working Group V, we focus primarily on questions related to educational effectiveness and student learning outcomes. My involvement both inside and outside the classroom has given me an individualized outlook on each proposed inquiry. In the cases concerning general education and student learning objectives, my experiences as a Widener student in various learning environments give me a different view of the level of effectiveness in contrast to a professor. Similarly, working in Student Life as both a Resident Assistant in the Office of Residence Life and an executive board member of the Student Government Association, I am open to how well the institution is offering hands-on development and assessment of the significant impact it has on students.
Since I typically find myself speaking so highly of Widener, primarily of its ability to engage students to prepare them for a successful future, I am fortunate to have been given this opportunity. I can truly say my voice as a student has been fully taken into account and viewed as a primary source when considering how effective the institution is in meeting the new accreditation standards. In my final two years at Widener, I look forward to sharing my experience with students to assure them the university listens to their opinions.
Overall, I have been impressed at how clearly the institution outlines expectations of student success, always with quality transformational outcomes in mind. Being a current Widener student and having the opportunity to both see this commitment to student development as well as the vision moving forward confirms for me how proud I am to be a contributing member of the self-study process. As the weeks progress to the big day when our final outline and recommendations are due, I look forward to continuing to act as a voice for the student body to further Widener’s mission to properly serve students!