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Conflict Resolution Education: An Examination of Student Learning Outcomes

Learning should be a transformative activity that integrates academic learning and student development. Often students are expected to know how to handle conflict without being taught the skills; thus, student conduct could be affected. This paper describes quantitative student learning assessment results from an undergraduate course in Conflict Resolution. Results indicate changes in students attitude and learning toward conflict resolution and self-perception.

Students learn most effectively in a seamless learning environment where the lines blur between academic and non-academic experiences, thus affecting students’ perception of building campus community. Conflict management and resolution is an expected leadership skill and also serves to aid in knowledge and attitudes about the peaceful resolution of interpersonal conflict which could serve as a deterrent to misconduct.

In Learning Reconsidered {2} learning is referred to as “a comprehensive, holistic, transformative activity that integrates academic learning and student development,” and campus as a “learning system”. Fried {2} further points out that in this “complex set of learning environments”, the entire community must be embedded in efforts to achieve or inspire progress towards writing learning goals and assessing learning outcomes. Student Affairs Administrators recognize that establishing student learning outcomes in student development and student activities help to identify strategies for reviewing student learning which complements the academic mission of the institution. The tools selected to measure learning outcomes might include focus groups, self reflection papers, journal writing, document analysis, service logs, etc. The assessment of student learning outcomes, however, is not program evaluation.

Two of the goals as articulated by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) are to :

  • Guide practice by student affairs, student development, and student support service providers
  • Establish, adopt, and disseminate unified and timely professional standards to guide student learning and development programs and services (

Komives and Schoper {3} noted that in 2003 CAS identified the following 16 individual learning and development outcome domains:

1. Intellectual growth
2. Effective communication
3. Enhanced self esteem
4. Realistic self appraisal
5. Clarified values
6. career choices
7. Leadership development
8. Healthy behavior
9. Meaningful interpersonal relationships
10. Independence
11. Collaboration
12. Social Responsibility
13. Satisfying and productive lifestyles
14. Appreciating diversity
15. Spiritual awareness
16. Personal and educational goals

In addition, the following seven clusters of student outcomes was proposed by the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and published in Learning Reconsidered (2004).

1. Cognitive complexity
2. Knowledge acquisition, integration, and application
3. Humanitarianism
4. Civic engagement
5. Interpersonal and intrapersonal competence
6. Practical Competence
7. Persistence and Academic Achievement

The sixteen (16) domains above served as the basis for establishing learning outcomes in a collegiate course in negotiation and conflict resolution. Furthermore, the use of the sixteen learning domains as identified by CAS, the seven clusters as outlined in Learning Reconsidered 2 (Table I, pp. 22-25), and Bloom’s Taxonomy ( proved to be great resources in developing learning outcomes in six areas of Student Affairs – Student Conduct, Greek Life, Multicultural Student Services, International Students and Scholars, Student Government, and Veterans and Disability Support Services.

The Study

Assessment is essential to student learning; assessment is a strategy for improving student learning and educational quality. Accreditation bodies want to know which strategies are used for reviewing student learning, how effective is the process, and what structures are aligned to achieve the results. The ultimate goal of assessment is to measure learning and improve instruction. Assessment impacts policy, programmatic decisions, human resources, and student retention. Assessment is not an interruption of our business, it is our business to see what our students are learning and how effectively they learn it. The focus in student affairs centers around engagement and learning as well as service delivery.

To demonstrate this approach in student affairs, the following research study was conducted by a Senior Student Affairs Officer whose primary area of supervision is student conduct. The research centered around the assessment of student learning outcomes of an inaugural undergraduate course, entitled FOUNDATIONS OF NEGOTIATION AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION.

For more about the study and results in a pdf file, click here.

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Judy Rashid

Dr. Judy  Rashid has been involved in education for over 40 years as a former teacher, school principal, and university administrator.  After serving NC A&T State University for 25 years, she retired as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs / Dean of Students.  Presently she serves as Adjunct Faculty… MORE >

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