University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

Implementing Student Development Outcomes

Jerry Rinehart, vice provost for Student Affairs
LeeAnn Melin, associate director, Office for Student Engagement and Leadership

Overview of the Project

In 2007, the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities adopted Student Learning and Development Outcomes to frame the undergraduate experience. These outcomes are intended to define a common vision across campus regarding the types of skills and characteristics we expect of our graduates. This project specifically looks at ways to integrate the Student Development Outcomes (SDO) into various programs and activities across campus and to develop a strategy for significantly expanding the number of students having the opportunity to reflect upon their experiences through the framework of the SDO. In brief, the Student Development Outcomes include the following:

  • Responsibility and accountability
  • Goal orientation
  • Resilience
  • Tolerance of ambiguity
  • Independence and interdependence
  • Self awareness
  • Appreciation of differences

We talk about these outcomes as characteristics which we expect students to both demonstrate as they participate in our academic environment and to develop further as they engage in learning experiences in and outside of the curriculum.

Students, of course, come to our campus with these characteristics already developed to some extent – they would not have been successful students in high school without some of these characteristics. We also know that the maturation we (often) see in students during their undergraduate years is related to growth in these areas.

The PEL project will create a range of tools that are adaptable by faculty and staff to fit the variety of ways in which they interact with students, including setting expectations for student performance in the classroom, advising student organizations, supervising student employees/lab assistants, and working on research projects or mentoring students.


The SDO were initiated within the units in the Office for Student Affairs in 2004-2005 to articulate the impact of their activities and programs on student development and learning. As the University moved forward in identifying Student Learning Outcomes, the Provost determined that the learning and the development outcomes should be presented in tandem for faculty review and formal adoption.

The overall context for the implementation of the development outcomes can be discerned from a review of two NASPA publications: Learning Reconsidered: A Campus-Wide Focus on the Student Experience (2004); and Learning Reconsidered 2: Implementing a Campus-Wide Focus on the Student Experience (2006).

During the past several years, we have made some progress incorporating the outcomes in selected areas of student employment (i.e. Student Unions and Activities, Housing and Residential Life, Disability Services), creating a format for job descriptions, performance reviews, supervisory training, and feedback sessions. A few program areas have also tied their efforts to the outcomes, most notably, the Welcome Week program for new freshmen.

Project Goals

Strategic Questions

  1. In what areas of the student experience can the SDO be most effectively integrated?
  2. How can we maximize opportunities for students to reflect on their experiences?
  3. What are the best means of assessing student development related to the seven SDO areas?
  4. What are the best strategies for engaging more staff/faculty in the use of SDO in their work with students?
  5. What type of training is required for staff/faculty seeking to incorporate the SDO in their work with students?


Phase 1: Information Gathering

  • Identify key stakeholders and gather information regarding current use and best practices related to SDO across campus.
  • Interview students to assess their current awareness of/exposure to SDO and to gain their input regarding the strategic questions listed above.
  • Meet with faculty/staff charged with implementing the SDO to determine if there are synergies or commonalities which should be exploited.
  • Meet with Student Employment administrators in HR to explore opportunities for expansion of use of SDO in on campus employment.
  • Review assessment literature to determine additional approaches to assessing student achievement of the SDO.

Phase 2: Creating a Strategy

  • Identify key groups or areas to engage in pilot SDO projects.
  • Create “tool kits” to assist faculty/staff in incorporating the SDO in their work with students.
  • Develop assessment strategies and/or materials.
  • Develop outline/curriculum for workshops designed to train staff/faculty in use of SDO.
  • Identify staff to conduct the workshops/training sessions.

Phase 3: Implementation

  • Launch workshops and training programs
  • Plan/initiate pilot projects
  • Deliver assessment strategy


September-October: Information gathering

November-January: Create strategy

February-April: Implementation

May-June: Final review/report

Project Team

Team Members

Jeff Abuzzahab
Web and Multimedia Team Lead

Korey Garibaldi
Recruitment Coordinator
HHH Institute of Public Affairs

Ronald Huesman
Assistant Director
Office of Institutional Research

Heather Peterson
One Stop Student Services

Gwen Sutter
Assistant to the Director
Weisman Art Museum