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The role of research and scholarship in the professionalisation of student affairs

Stan Carpenter
Paige Haber-Curran


In this article the authors first explicate a particular conception of the occupational sociology term ‘professional’ and engage in a short discussion of how student affairs as a field conforms to the definition, and ways in which it might benefit from some intentional reframing. Attention is next directed to the definition of what the authors call scholarly practice and its interaction with scholarly outlets such as journals, conference proceedings and professional development. Reflecting the now longstanding call for student affairs and academic affairs professionals to unite in service of facilitating student development and learning, the authors propose a set of guiding values for student affairs administrators that promote data- and theory-based intentionality of practice. These guiding values also require continual professional reflection and renewal, including actively interacting with journals and other peer-reviewed professional outlets. Particular attention is given throughout the article to the pivotal role to be played at this time in the development of the student affairs profession by the Journal of Student Affairs in Africa.

Keywords: professions, professionalism, professional development, student affairs administration, intentionality, scholarly practice, student affairs professional competency areas