by Freddie Branch
Attending any student affairs career fair you undoubtedly will hear eager candidates discussing their favorite student affairs theories. Associate Director of Staff Selection at The Oaken State University, Donald Thesseling, whole-heartedly supported the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators’ plan to crown the “Best Student Affairs Theory” saying “From Chickering to Perry, from Gilligan to Schlossberg we all have our favorites and that makes it difficult during interviews when you are looking for the correct answer. If we don’t know which one is the best then how can we evaluate graduate students applying for their first professional position?”
The decision to use the venue of the conference to name the “Best Student Affairs Theory” was in part due to the timing. Sharing the month with March Madness, the convention team knew people would be excited about brackets. When reached for comment one member of the convention team asked to do the interview over FaceTime commenting that “NASPA is all about what’s new and exciting, and what’s more exciting than brackets and reality-based competition? NASPA’s job fair, The Placement Exchange, is collocated with NACA: the National Association for Campus Activities, a group well versed in brackets, which doesn’t hurt either. [Competing organization] ACPA’s crafty choice to hold their national conference in Vegas has nothing on us.”
At the beginning of the convention a giant bracket will be displayed with an initial pool of 32 theories broken down into the four mini-brackets of Identity Development, Cognitive-Structural, Typology and College Impact Models. The initial theories are being chosen by a random email poll sent out to a sample of NASPA and NACA members. From there, theories will progress through the bracket each day through a point system based on daily voting via Twitter, number of times mentioned during sessions and graduate student case study debates. In the event of a tie the theory that has the most Google results will win.
Thesseling is very excited about the possibilities for interviews once NASPA and NACA crown the Best Student Affairs Theory. “Imagine knowing which theory is The One! I’ve always hated the student affairs theory question during interviews. It’s so difficult to judge a candidate’s answer – especially since I haven’t used theory since graduate school. Now I will know if they got that question right.”