Focusing on student engagement may be a key to unlocking student success in college and working through the complex puzzle of designing campus systems to best meet the needs of students. In their book, Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matter, George Kuh, Jillian Kinzie, John Schuh, and Elizabeth Whitt, define a successful student as one who persists, benefits in desired ways from their experiences while in college, and persists to graduation, ultimately satisfied with their college experience.  Yet, how do we know that our initiatives are educationally and developmentally purposeful? Given the changing landscape of higher education in all sectors, institutions are increasingly called to demonstrate that what they do matters.

In this episode of Student Affairs Live, broadcasted live on-stage from the ACPA 2015 convention in Tampa, Florida, host Heather Shea Gasser will talk about national initiatives to increase student engagement with the two leading experts in the field, Jillian Kinzie and George Kuh.


Episode Host

Heather Shea

Heather Shea

Heather Shea's career in student affairs spans nearly two decades and five different campuses, and involves experience in many different functional areas including residence life, multicultural affairs, women’s centers, student activities, leadership development, and commuter/nontraditional student services–she identifies as a student affairs generalist. Heather is currently serving as the director of Women*s Student Services in the Division of Student Affairs at Michigan State University having just completed her Ph.D. in MSU's HALE (Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education) Program. She completed her master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Colorado State University in 2000. Connect with Heather on Twitter at @heather_shea_


Jillian Kinzie

Jillian Kinzie works as the Associate Director, Center for Postsecondary Research coordinator with the National Survey of Student Engagement. She coordinates NSSE Institute project activities, documents effective educational practice, and facilitates the use of student engagement data. In addition, she manages a variety of research projects and coordinates services and outreach to institutions to support assessment and improvement activities. Her PhD is from Indiana University in higher education with a minor in women’s studies. Jillian Kinzie comes to the NSSE staff from the faculty at IU where she coordinated the master’s program in higher education and student affairs from 2000-2002. She has more than a decade of additional experience as a research associate and administrative work in academic and student affairs.

Jillian is interested in understanding how institutions use student engagement data and other assessment results to inform improvement efforts in undergraduate education; differences in student engagement by gender, race-ethnicity, and first-generation status; and assessing the impact of programs and practices designed to support student success (learning communities, undergraduate research, service-learning, etc.). She also hopes to continue learning more about emerging issues in teaching and learning; the educational mission of student affairs; MSIs; historically underrepresented students in higher education; women students especially, women in science, math, and engineering, and women’s colleges; first-year student development and experiences; and college choice.


George Kuh

George Kuh is adjunct research professor at the University of Illinois and Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus of Higher Education at Indiana University Bloomington.  He directs the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment which is co-located at the University of Illinois and Indiana University. George founded the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and related instruments for law students, beginning college students, and faculty as well as the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), the first-ever in-depth look at the factors that help or hinder the careers of graduates of arts-intensive training high schools and postsecondary institutions. During his 34 years at IU, he served as chairperson of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (1982-84), Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Education (1985-88), and Associate Dean of the Faculties for the Bloomington campus (1997-2000).

George has 375 publications and made several hundred presentations on topics related to institutional improvement, college student engagement, assessment strategies, and campus cultures. His recent books include Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education (2015), Ensuring Quality and Taking High-Impact Practices to Scale (2013), High Impact Practices (2008), and Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter (2005, 2010). He has been a consultant to more than 350 institutions of higher education and educational agencies in the United States and abroad. His contributions have been recognized with awards from the American College Personnel Association, American Educational Research Association, Association for Institutional Research, Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, Council of Independent Colleges, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), and National Center on Public Policy in Higher Education.