Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, May 14, 2012

Student Affairs research symposium examines practice in motion

Student affairs professionals and interested students, faculty and staff from Ann Arbor and beyond will convene Wednesday at the Division of Student Affairs' ninth annual research symposium, Getting to Nine: Moving Toward Data-Informed Decisions.


The Division of Student Affairs' ninth annual research symposium

• 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday at the Rogel Ballroom of the Michigan Union.

• All events are free and keynote address is open to the public.

• Registration required for individual sessions. For more information, go to

The central theme of the day, Deconstructing Theory to Practice, will inform discussions in three overarching areas: How does one conduct research in fields that are essentially "practice in motion?" What does the research tell us? How can we apply research to the day-to-day work with students?

"People tend to assume that student affairs is guided by what comes naturally, whatever feels right or triggers positive feedback," says Malinda Matney, senior DSA research associate and adjunct lecturer in the School of Education. "In reality, we do what's right, effective, and good for student learning and life as supported by empirical findings.

"We encourage students to attend the symposium, to see the ways we incorporate their feedback to improve the student experience."

As the symposium's 2012 Eric Dey Memorial Keynote Speaker, Provost Phil Hanlon will share his vision for university student learning in the total academic environment. The keynote commemorates Dey, a former School of Education professor and leading national researcher in education research.

The symposium will provide a platform for energetic discussions on ways to address data-informed practice in conflict resolution for alcohol and other drugs, a multiple-methods approach to investigating retention issues, religion in student life, peer health advocacy, the graduate and professional student's unique relationship to student affairs, and effective support of student outcomes in internships.

Participants also will discuss predictors of heterosexual students' attitudes toward LGBT people, multicultural programming that can strengthen student communities, students' physical place on campus and financial aid's role in enhancing student engagement. There will be a discussion about U-M's MPortfolio to enhance integrative learning.

The annual Division of Student Affairs research symposium was established in 2004 to raise the visibility of student research and share findings, to promote collaboration on common student research dilemmas, to help staff develop program assessment and evaluation skills, and to incorporate research into their day-to-day work.