Author Archives: Scott M. Helfrich, D.Ed.

About Scott M. Helfrich, D.Ed.

I am a higher education professional with over 20 years of full-time university student affairs experience. I earned a doctorate (D.Ed.) in higher education from Penn State University and am the Principal Owner of Helfrich Advisory Services, LLC.

The Role of Housing & Residence Life on Student Success (***Free Activity Sheet***)

Beads

I have developed an activity for resident assistants that can be used during annual training or as a session for staff development throughout the academic year. A university requested that I give a presentation on “What role does on campus housing have in the overall collegiate experience and student success?” Rather than doing the typical PowerPoint presentation and frequently cite research from Pascarella and Terenzini’s How College Affects Students, I thought I’d create a more active and creative experience. Click here to get a free PDF activity sheet that you can print and use with your own staff.

Not only do the student participants get to understand important outcomes associated with living on campus, but they get to reflect on their own personal residence life experience, and actually get to walk away with a personally-significant souvenir. Participants are given a pack of beads and a plastic bracelet strand with a knot tied in the end. You can obtain bags of these beads at a craft store, such as Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. The activity leader reads each outcome and the participants put that bead on their bracelet strand if it pertains to them. If not, they simply leave the bead in their pack. Everyone’s experience is different, so it’s perfectly fine if they have different looking strands of beads!

Outcomes include the following:

  1. Orange = Held a leadership position in the halls
  2. Yellow = Participate in at least one extracurricular activity on campus
  3. Red = Resolved a conflict or argument with a roommates
  4. Lavender = Have a friend or have a hall mate who is GLBTQ
  5. Dark Blue = Participated in an living-learning community activity or program
  6. Pink = Feel you have made good decisions for yourself
  7. White =You are satisfied with being at your university
  8. Light Blue = Have met your significant other
  9. Cream = You have decided to go to graduate school
  10. Black = You feel that you are an independent person
  11. Clear Light Blue = You have decided on a profession
  12. Clear Dark Blue = You have a friend or hall mate who is of another culture or nation
  13. Clear Yellow = You enjoy your college experience
  14. Clear Red = Your political views have changed since high school
  15. Clear Pink = Your religious views have changed since high school
  16. Clear Green = You feel confident about your academic abilities
  17. Clear Orange = You feel self-confident about yourself
  18. Clear = You feel like you have personally grown while living in the halls
  19. Green = You have made close friends
  20. Animal (or other special bead different from the others) = You will be graduating this year

The following questions can be used to engage discussion related to the outcomes:

  • Which of these outcomes stood out the most for you personally?
  • How have you felt you contributed to one of these outcomes for a resident you oversee?
  • What can the residence life program do to foster more of these outcomes for residents?
  • How has this activity motivated you to any new action or attitude?

Additionally, the participants can continue to customize their bead strands into a bracelet or keychain with supplies you provide. This can include lettered beads into which they can incorporate their names. This is a great way for your staff to learn about the important role of living on campus while also giving them time to bond, share their own experiences with each other, and be creative.

Click HERE to receive a free PDF copy of the activity sheet that you can use and share.

Please comment below if you use this activity and let us know how it went!

Difficult Discussions: Coaching an Employee Out of the Job (*Guest Post in The Student Affairs Collective*)

Difficult Employee Conversations

One challenge of being a supervisor is having to discuss performance shortcomings with employees. In some cases, you may need to coach someone out of the job. This month I wrote about the topic as a guest blogger on The Student Affairs Collective blog. To see the post in full, please click on Difficult Discussions: Coaching and Employee Out of the Job.

Special thanks to Tom Krieglstein and his team for the opportunity to discuss this issue!

Turn the Tide: Rise above Toxic, Difficult Situations in the Workplace (*Book Review*)

Turn the Tide by Dr. Kathy Obear

Dr. Kathy Obear recently published Turn the Tide: Rise Above Toxic, Difficult Situations in the Workplace, which is a resource that you can use yourself or with your staff and / or students. The book is available as a $2.99 Kindle download on Amazon.

While Dr. Obear explicitly states in the text that she herself is not a therapist, the book is essentially an illustration of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). “REBT’s basic hypothesis is that our emotions stem mainly from our beliefs, which influence the evaluations and interpretations we make of the reactions we have to life situations” (Corey, 2013, p. 268). Through the REBT process, individuals can replace ineffective ways of thinking and thereby change their emotional reactions to various situations they encounter in their life. Likewise, Dr. Obear walks the reader through a similar process in which individuals, particularly those who are having challenging times in the workplace, can shift their thoughts and reactions to more positive and proactive outcomes.

The book is organized into ten chapters: 1.) I can’t control how I react! Maybe I can; 2.) Step 1 – What pushed my buttons; 3.) Step 2 – Intrapersonal Roots; 4.) Step 3 – Making meaning: Change your story, change your reactions; 5.) Step 4 – Common physiological, emotional, and mental reactions; 6.) Step 5 – “Choosing” your intentions; 7.) Step 6 – Tools to Respond Effectively; 8.) Step 7 – The impact of our triggered reactions; 9.) Maximize our effectiveness: Focus on Self-Care and Healing Practices; and 10.) We Always Have a Choice. The book has many self-directed exercises in them, which helps the reader to explore and work through the various feelings and thoughts they may be having as a result of being in a challenging work environment. While the content of the book centers on one’s own personal reactions to the day-to-day dynamics of working with others, it does not cover the more nefarious and even illegal issues that can and do occur in the workplace, such as bullying, discrimination, harassment, and how to manage those particular situations.

I highly recommend Turn the Tide: Rise Above Toxic, Difficult Situations in the Workplace for graduate students, new professionals, and those supervisors who are responsible for developing staff training and professional development opportunities. 

Works cited:

Corey, G. (2013). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. Stamford, CT: Brooks / Cole.