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Self-Assessment Narrative

Self-Assessment Narrative

Laura Bestler
Iowa State University
December 2, 2010


I believe it is important to share who I was at the beginning, why I left the program in 2005 and how my journey affected me as a person before rejoining the doctoral program in 2008.  In 2002, one of my mentors was in the process of completing a doctoral degree.  My mentor spoke highly of the experience and new knowledge.  I had never thought about continuing my education; yet, the prospect of developing myself outweighed the time and effort I would have to put into coursework.  I often dreamt of being a dean of students or a vice president for student affairs and a degree would open additional opportunities for me professionally.  I applied and was accepted into the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies doctoral program at Iowa State University.

Before starting my doctoral program I was recruited for a position at my alma mater, Grand Valley State University.  I chose to put my Ph.D. coursework on hold to pursue the job.  This opportunity was one I always wanted and I interviewed for the position.  Although I did not get the offer, it was good to go through the process.  I began coursework in spring 2003.

I started the doctoral program with Dr. Schuh’s ELPS 664 Organization and Administration.  At this point in my career, I was an over-involved student affairs professional.  I was the assistant director of student activities at Iowa State University and serving on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Campus Activities (NACA).  I did more than my position description required, and took on multiples roles.  I loved working with students, solving problems, coordinating events and troubleshooting various challenges.  I was good at my job and well-respected in the field of student activities.  I thought nothing could stop me from becoming a dean of students or vice president of student affairs one day.

In 2004, much of my professional life was turned upside down because of a student disturbance, my supervisor leaving, my department being absorbed into another, a position realignment, and new supervisors.  Following the student disturbance, President Geoffroy appointed me to serve as a co-chair for the President’s Commission on Improving Relations Among ISU Students, the University, the City of Ames, and the Ames Community.  At the same time, my  professional position required that I maintain all the Student Activities Center programs seamlessly without students being aware of these major logistical changes.  Although I was stretched beyond limits, I continued to take courses, and the required doctoral seminars.

After a full year of trying to balance my professional life and academics, I chose to withdraw from the doctoral program.  It was a difficult decision; however, my job was becoming a priority.  The strain and stress of having my job as my primary identity took a toll on my emotional well-being.  In May 2006, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.  I appreciated knowing the reasons behind my personal challenges, but my work began to infringe on my physical health.  I was ordered by my therapist and psychiatrist to take personal leave for most of the summer.  I attempted to return in the fall with the intention to only work 40 hours a week.

Upon my return, my supervisor stated, “You know it will be impossible for you to do this job in 40 hours a week.”  This statement hurt me; however, I know it was not the intent.  I was adamant and unwilling to go through what happened the previous spring.  I was not taught in graduate school how to work 60-70 hours a week and maintain my well-being.  I did not want to experience another breakdown while working with students.  I chose to resign my position after almost 10 years of dedicating my life to the students at Iowa State University.

A year and a half of soul-searching led me back to the doctoral program in January 2008.  During my time away from campus the Department of Educational Leadership and Policies Studies added the concentration in Social Justice.  I found the program to be more appealing because of my previous experience with social justice issues on campus.  The following sections of my self-narrative will highlight my learning and give scope to my new found knowledge after my return to the doctoral program.


This self-assessment narrative will speak to experiences I have had within the nine components  addressed in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) rubrics that existed when I entered the doctoral program: evaluation and assessment; foundations; interpersonal, intrapersonal, and oral communication; research; leadership; technology; and written communication.  To demonstrate this learning, I hope to paint a picture of what I believe I have accomplished as a student in the ELPS doctoral program.

I chose to use three colors to represent where my learning was and is within each of the areas included in the rubrics.  While my growth as a student may have remained unchanged within some of the rubrics, my personal growth since beginning the program in 2004 has been extraordinary.

The following sections include my rubrics, my accompanying self-narrative with my original 2004 self-narrative for a comparison (with no grammatical corrections). Each of these rubrics show areas of improvement and challenges, as well as a more realistic look at who I am as a doctoral student.  The artifacts included are either my original work or work with a professor’s comments.  Either way, I hope you are able to see my growth as a person.

Evaluation and Assessment

Beginning of Program
Familiarity with Evaluation and Assessment exists through my career in student affairs and the program courses.  Based on what I have learned, I can discuss evaluation models, professional standards and current assessment issues.  Although these areas are not proficient, I will learn as my coursework continues.

In HGED 597, I had the opportunity to develop a comprehensive plan for the Iowa State University Student Activities Center Self-Study Evaluation Plan for the Dean of Students Office seven-year program review.  The purpose of this evaluation was to complete a Self-Study of the Student Activities Center for the Dean of Students Office Five-Year Program Review by utilizing the Iowa State University Review of Non-Academic Programs and Services (May 2003).  This did the following: described the challenges and opportunities that the services and programs provided for the Iowa State University community; reviewed the resources (financial, staff, equipment, etc.) available; determined the quality of the work environment; demonstrated the working relationship within the University community and community partners; and indicated ways in which any improvements could be made within the programs, services, and resources available to the Iowa State University community.

To complete this process, I personally gathered the information for the actual seven-year program review.  I recognized how vital it was for me to continually collect information on our student programs.  This included leadership program evaluations, tracking officer grade point averages, event attendance, and statistics (number of organizations registered, events authorized, etc.).  I utilized the Council for the Advancement of Standards: Book of Standards for Higher Education to compare and contrast our current structure.  Based on this information we recommended our needs within the program review.

In HGED 665, I utilized the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Institutional Characteristics Survey.  This system allowed me to track residence hall room and board costs, capacity and overall enrollment for three categories: State of Iowa Regent Schools, Big 12 Institutions, and Land Grant Institutions.  I recognized that I could download the data easily; conversely, my experience in writing a quantitative research paper was minute.

End of Program
My primary experience with evaluation and assessment occurred when I was working full-time in student activities.  Since then, my experience with developing an evaluation from beginning to end is limited to my experience as a graduate assistant for the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center (MSWC) while I was serving as a graduate assistant in spring 2008.  The primary focus was to determine which of the MSWC’s programs and services were of value to the University community.  There were two different versions of the assessment: one for faculty, and another for students.

While creating the assessment, Dr. Penny Rice and I decided it was important to not have the traditional demographic checkboxes.  Instead, the participants could mark their identity and complete a short response indicating how they would describe themselves.  It was important for us to be inclusive and sensitive to all community members. The Institutional Review Board asked us to make a number of modifications to the informed consent, while the original evaluation tool remained unchanged and was successfully administered in 2009.


  • Bestler, L., Rice, P., Klousie, M., & Montin, S. (2008). Needs assessment for the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center (final draft), Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. [Download artifact]


Beginning of Program
Since joining higher education as a student in 1987, I have gained an understanding of what education is as an institution.  My ability to acknowledge the importance of higher education continually inspires me professionally.  During my coursework I discuss the challenges and successes of systems surrounding education.  It is a good experience to understand the various issues.  Whether it is finance, organizations, assessments, politics, history, government, diversity, ethics or another aspect of education, each one provides me with an opportunity to learn more.

I demonstrate critical thinking during discussions and writing.  I communicate and role model professional ethics.  I am actively engaged in class and in my profession.  I may not have all the knowledge to articulate the patterns in educational foundations and theories.

End of Program
Starting somewhere. My master’s program did not offer student development theory.  The program was primarily for educational administrators for PK-12 institutions.  My understanding of students was based only upon my experience and not what was written in textbooks or journal articles.  Until I took Dr. Nancy Evans’s HgEd 576 Student Development Theory I and HgEd 676 Student Development Theory II courses, I had no formal knowledge of foundational student development theories.

I remember reading articles and talking with my friend Dr. Penny Rice about how I had been experiencing many of these theories on a daily basis.  Each social identity or theory was part of who I was already and now I was officially learning about it.  It was as if it was all under the surface of my learning waiting to be revealed by new knowledge.  The challenge of new knowledge is determining what you believe and if it is real.

My social identity project was to research transgender students.  This was my first opportunity to learn more about an underrepresented population through an academic lens.  Although transgender students at this time were not well known on campus, I was able to interview an Iowa State University alumnus, three members of the transgender community in Des Moines, Iowa, and one from out of state.

I took the time to get to know these persons and learn from their stories.  I then connected my research to the social identity theories, while remaining true to what I learned, and respecting the new knowledge.

Knowledge struggle. As I stated before, I was an over-involved student affairs professional with a total of 12 years of experience.  Upon returning to the program, the courses in which I was enrolled for the Social Justice Concentration challenged me beyond my own knowledge base.  I would leave each class increasingly perplexed about who I was as a student affairs professional, wondering if I perpetuated the privilege cycle that exists.  I struggled with who I was as a person.  I questioned my decisions and my self-worth.  Yet, these dilemmas helped me change my perspectives.

The first instance of this dilemma was in Dr. Lori Patton’s Critical Race Theory course When I was a student affairs professional, I really thought that I was progressive and supportive of our African American population.  I really began to question my intentions as a professional as I read more about colorblindness (Bonilla-Silva, 2006), White privilege (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001) and interest convergence (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001), especially when I deconstructed VEISHEA (student-run spring festival) through a Critical Race Theory lens for one of my assignments.


  • Bestler, L. (2005, February 18). Methodology assignment: Gaining an understanding of Transgenders. In N. Evans (instructor) ELPS 676: Student Development Theory II, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. (with comments) [Download artifact]
  • Bestler, L. (2005, February 26). Interviews: Gaining an understanding of Transgenders. In N. Evans (instructor) ELPS 676: Student Development Theory II, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. (no comments) [Download artifact]
  • Bestler, L. (2008, July 22). VEISHEA Critical Race Theory analysis and presentation.  In L. Patton (instructor) ELPS 615: Critical Race Theory, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. (no comments) [Download artifact]

Interpersonal Communication

Beginning of Program
I excel within the rubric of Interpersonal Communication.  I am an optimist, who pursues goals with great vigor.  I work cooperatively and do this by demonstrating sensitivity to the diverse needs of others.  I am unafraid of expressing myself; however, I am in tune to listening to others and their concerns.  I am compassionate to the needs of all people, and represent the underrepresented during discussions and program planning.

During class discussions or meetings with my peers, I spend a lot of time listening.  It is important to understand the dynamics of the people before I bring up a topic or comment.  I recognize that my enthusiastic style sometimes is overbearing to others therefore I curb my enthusiasm.

An example of my interpersonal skills being utilized is the first cohort meeting during our Team Building and Communication Seminar.  Prior to the class, we assessed our styles through the use of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  I am classified as an ENFJ (Extravert iNtuitive Feeling Judging):

Warm, empathetic, responsive, and responsible.  Highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others.  Find potential in everyone; want to help others fulfill their potential.  May act as catalysts for individual and group growth.  Loyal, responsive to praise and criticism.  Sociable, facilitate others in a group, and provide inspirational leadership. (Myers, 1998, p. 13)

These descriptions alone help to describe my true interpersonal skills.  I continually want to facilitate group discussions, and not necessarily participate in the discussion itself.  I prefer to lead and not follow.  Over the past few years I challenge myself to grow in this area, and so far, I believe that I have accomplished quite a bit.

End of Program

Finding my voice. The Concentration in Social Justice requires a Pro-Seminar.  My second semester in the program we added a book to read and discuss during our biweekly meetings.  We selected bell hooks (2003) Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope.  I had a heated discussion with another doctoral student while we were discussing the chapter, “Teaching with Love.”  I was discussing my belief that when you are loved you are in a good place.  My colleague went into a rant about how not everyone can be loved, especially when there is a gun pointed at one’s head.  I lost it.  Comparing my statement to a gun.  Comparing love to violence and cops.  Using my words and twisting them to make their point.  I just could not comprehend how this person was making the leap from one place to another.  I swore.  I was inappropriate.

After I had this experience I realized I needed to relearn how to express myself.  I had been using my laptop computer as a way to stay engaged by taking notes or looking up facts, but I was unwilling to voice my opinions.  I hesitated to share my positionality with my peers.  As I think back, I recognize this fear was connected to my vocalizing a differing stance on a campus policy.  I didn’t know who I was then.

Since my abrupt Pro-Seminar commentary, my goal has been to find my voice.  I have begun to acknowledge who I am at the present and how I relate to my peers.  I also formed a strong relationship with the colleague with whom I had the argument on that day.  I believe while we both had our moment of terror, we grew and learned from one another’s stories.

Intrapersonal Communication

Beginning of Program
One of the many cliché sayings that I utilize is that I do “walk the talk.”  It is important for me to be a part of an organization or association that believes in the same things I do.  I belong to various associations and political activist groups.  I am able to communicate my thoughts without forcing others to believe in them as well.  It is important to note, I am unafraid to discuss sensitive topics.

I am a lifelong learner.  In 2001, I was a member of the Iowa State University Center for Teaching Excellence Service Learning Teaching Circle.  The opportunity to talk with faculty and staff about service learning was an inspirational one.  Discussing assessment and strategies motivated me to become a doctoral student.  The following spring I was admitted into the ELPS program.

End of Program

One of the reasons I know my intrapersonal skills are exemplary is because I was unafraid to leave my full-time position in student affairs.  When my personal ethics were being pulled in a direction with which I was uncomfortable, I knew it was time to move on to something else.  I was not okay with the decision to put a policy in place that discriminated, in my eyes, against underrepresented students.  I understood the direction the University took, but I did not agree with it.  I spent two years speaking with upper administrators about my concerns, and still had to appear that I agreed with the policy in front of the students and organization advisers.  Ethically, this was and continues to be one of the most difficult periods I have experienced professionally.  When your identity becomes your work and you have to compromise your own ethics, you know moving on is most important to your personal survival.


  • Bestler, L. (2008, April/May). Taking care of self. GWords,(2)2, p.4. Margaret Sloss Women’s Center, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. [Download artifact]

Oral Communication

Beginning of Program

As I stated before, I like to be in front of the crowd and not within it.  Oral Communication rubric is one area of my learning to which I am most comfortable.  I value speaking in front of others in order to facilitate discussion or present information to a group.  I have learned through my coursework experiences.

In HGED 664, I took an in depth look at the Student Union as an organizational structure. During my presentation, I recognized that I might not have been as comfortable as I had thought.  I read directly from my notes and did not always make eye contact with the audience.  I found this to be unusual for me considering that since I was four years old, I have been performing on stage.  Because I was in front of my peers, and being critiqued, my comfort level was lacking.  Since then, I work harder at knowing the information and communicate it appropriately to the audience.

This fall in HGED 665, I researched residence hall room and board costs, along with the capacity and overall enrollment for three categories: State of Iowa Regent Schools, Big 12 Institutions, and Land Grant Institutions.  I utilized Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Institutional Characteristics Survey to gather the information.  Mind you, my understanding of the system itself, along with the costs of living on campus was limited.  Yet, during my presentation, because I had worked very at understanding the information, I was able to communicate my findings with ease.

End of Program

I have spent most of my life on stage.  Yes, I speak well to others. Yes, I can communicate my thoughts orally to an audience.  Yes, I am fully capable of answering questions.  Interestingly enough, one of the challenges of Borderline Personality Disorder is not knowing who you really are as a person and having to act your way through everything.  I think this challenge is one I still have difficulty with today.  Not knowing which role I am in at the moment and grappling to find the right words when I speak in front of my colleagues are challenges for me.

If I am able to find the right words I am able to express myself.  I sometimes lose focus even if I have talking points.  The only way I can speak coherently is if I memorize what I am trying to share with a group.  Perhaps this is another reason why I choose to hide behind my laptop computer.

Presenting my thoughts.  One of our tasks for 615H-1 Research Designs in Higher Education was to write a program proposal for a conference or convention.  I took it a step further and decided to submit my proposal for the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.  My paper was accepted, and I had the opportunity to present the paper to my peers.

I informed my discussant, Dr. Heather Rowan-Kenyon from Boston College, that the paper was merely a draft of my dissertation prospectus.  She was very supportive of my effort and said, “You are brave to share a draft of your dissertation with your peers.”  I presented my paper to almost 20 of my colleagues.  I shared my story and preliminary findings.  I answered questions and addressed concerns.  Following my presentation, Dr. Heather Rowan-Kenyon gave constructive comments on how to enhance my paper (Bestler, 2010b).


  • Bestler, L. (2010a, March 22). Exploring the effect of addressing social injustices. Paper session. Presented at the National Convention for American College Personnel Association (ACPA), Boston, Massachusetts. (no comments) [Download artifact]
  • Bestler, L. (2010b, March 22). Rowan-Kenyon discussant commentary: Exploring the effect of addressing social injustices [Voice recording].  National Convention for American College Personnel Association (ACPA), Boston, Massachusetts. [Download artifact]


Beginning of Program

In regards to the Research rubric, I believe I am learning the various aspects of “scholarly inquiry” (ELPS Rubric, 2000).    My experience in this area is rudimentary; nevertheless, with every opportunity to gain knowledge I strengthen my skills.  Prior to my doctoral coursework, I had researched programming ideas, information for work or read publications to gain a comprehension of a current issue.

My need for understanding the components of Service-Learning sparked my interest in research.  I read article after article in order to see if there was a correlation between students’ success and participation in Service-Learning.  During the Service-Learning Teaching Circle, we decided to write a Miller Grant in order to research on student success and Service–Learning at Iowa State University.  The information gathered enriched me professionally, and needless to say we were awarded the fellowship.  This experience helped me recognize that I need professional growth and development to become an exemplary researcher.

End of Program

I recognize I still have much to learn about how to conduct research and write in a scholarly fashion.  I believe I have developed my exploration skills and strengthened my ethical research practices.  However, I still must learn how to create fluid connections between my research question, literature review, and findings.  Because of my creative background I tend to have a more abstract way of showing these findings; whereas, academia wants a concrete writing style.

Convergence of technology. I researched and collected content data on how technology is transforming the educational landscape for Did You Know 4.0.  This project was in collaboration with XPLANE, Dr. Karl Fisch, Dr. Scott McLeod, and our partners at The Economist.  This version opened on YouTube in September 2009 and presented the convergence of technology in society.  Recently, the Did You Know 4.0 video was featured in Saenz’s (2010) Singularity Hub blog “12 videos that will help you love the future.”  While this work project developed an unconventional end product, the process of gathering data for it was extensive.

Exploring hate on YouTube. I am proud of my growth as a student while working on a course research project, “Towards discovering hate on YouTube” for ResEv 554.  The central question of this study was how users intermittently engage about Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Questioning (LGTBQQ) topics represented on YouTube. I spent many hours learning about virtual ethnography and online research ethics.  Exploring the YouTube videos related to Chris Crocker’s (2008) YouTube video titled, “Gay HATE on YouTube!” was a transformational learning experience for me.  It was enlightening and painful to read or view video responses in reaction to Crocker’s (2008) video.

I presented my preliminary findings as a video during our Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies research day in December 2008.  Approximately 40 colleagues listened to my presentation and asked constructive questions about my research.  One colleague asked, “How did you remain neutral during the process?”  I answered, “People know how emotional I get when it comes to any hatred expressed toward anyone.  I reflected upon each participant’s story.  In their eyes, their knowledge is valid.  It does not mean I have to agree with their knowledge.”


  • Bestler, L. (2008a, December 15). Semester project analysis memo: Unintentional dialogues on YouTube.  In R. E. Gildersleeve (instructor) ResEv 554: Intermediate research methods, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. [Download artifact]
  • Bestler, L. (2008b, December 15). Unintentional dialogues on YouTube .  In R. E. Gildersleeve (instructor) ResEv 554: Intermediate research methods, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. [Play video]
  • XPLANE, The Economist, Fisch, K., McLeod, S. & Bestler, L. (2009, September 14).  Did you know 4.0.  Retrieved from [Play video]


Beginning of Program

My role in a group setting is a cheerleader and motivator.  I believe that my style has a tendency to come across as not serious and the clown of a group.  I am adaptable; I can change my leadership approach according to the group.  When in class, I have a tendency to be an excellent listener, and multi-tasker.  When I am working with a group of students, I work hard at helping with the direction of the organization when necessary; otherwise, I am quiet and let the organization’s leader lead the way.

When I attend the Dean of Students Office Directors’ Meeting, I have the tendency to be reserved.  When I am leading organizations, I am direct, and supportive.  I am caring and forthright.  I am a planner and coordinator.  I am an encourager and above all someone who celebrates successes with the organizations. When a group fails, it is hard for me to deal with the stress.  I work hard at determining how the event or program can be reconstructed for the future. I love being a part of organizations.  “These types [ENFJ] can be exceptionally inventive and insightful as group leaders.  They seem to have a sixth sense about how a group can operate as a crucible for individual growth and development” (Thomson, 1998, p. 359).

I appreciate change.  I am someone who likes order.  I wish that everything could always be harmonious; yet, it cannot always be this way.  This past fall change created stress in my professional life. Because of the new direction of the Iowa State Memorial Union, the Student Activities Center (at some point) will be merged into the Memorial Union Programming area.  This is an opportunity for the Student Activities Center.  Professionally, I don’t know if I want to continue with programming or if I would like to become more of a generalist. As a generalist, I could gain the skills necessary to be a Dean of Students one day.  I have been concerned about the impact this change would create within the Dean of Students Office (because of my roles there).

End of Program

Knowing my limitations.  In 2004, I was named the Mid-Level Student Affairs Professional of the Year by the American College Personnel Association (ACPA).  It was, and still is, an honor to be recognized by my peers for my hard work.  I remember, when I was being honored, all I thought about was the amount of stress it took to receive something so cherished by my profession.

My skill set and past experiences provide me with the foundation to naturally be a leader.  My challenge is that after being out of the field, it is difficult for me to find comfort in being an out-front leader.  I prefer the behind the scenes role where I do not have to talk or advocate for one thing or another.  Instead, I provide the support to the team leaders and members to build or promote something impressive to their audience.

Recently, while I sat at the American College Personnel Association’s (ACPA) National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, I talked with a colleague about her current involvement with ACPA.  She was attending meetings, hosting events, and facilitating educational seminars.  I asked, “When do you have time to just be you?”  She laughed, “Well, I get to my room, and relax a bit and then sleep.”  I smiled and said, “Yeah, I did the over-involvement thing.  I learned a lot.  Caused some drastic changes, and then took my leave.”  She wondered, “Now that you are back in school, why aren’t you involved again with an association?”  I said, “Because it is your turn.”

I think, now more than ever, I know who I am.  I know what I have done in the past to make experiences better for new professionals.  I believe what keeps me going is that even if I know who I am, I am still incomplete in this life.  I am willing to keep learning and growing.  Once, I graduate I am not done. I am merely on the next stage of my journey.

I intentionally have taken a role behind the scenes.  I have had my days of recognition and acknowledgement in higher education.  I do not need to continue learning just to receive awards or notoriety.  If I do one last thing in this field it will be to share my personal story.  My story will hopefully help guide current and new professionals to live a more balanced life than I did as a student affairs professional.  This goal is my personal commitment.

Teaching assistant. I served as a teaching assistant and helped create the first Arts-Based Research course for graduate students with Dr. Nana Osei-Kofi.  I designed an online resource and blogging social network for graduate students to supplement their learning experience.  I facilitated two course discussions: Collage as Research, and Blogs as a Self-Expressive Art Form.


  • Bestler, L. (Teaching Assistant). (2009, May). Online course resources. In N. Osei-Kofi (instructor) ResEv 615: Arts-based research methods, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Available at


Beginning of Program

The Technology rubric is another in which I believe I excel.  I am constantly upgrading myself in what is available in order to perform better in the classroom and professionally.  Technology holds the key to communication.  It allows me to create web pages, utilize Web CT, word process, collect data and facilitate presentation.

During my classes, in small groups, I am able to quickly put information down and create a presentation that highlights our discussion.  I can present information in a timely manner, and understand the capability that technology holds for us as professionals.

I have been learning about technology in one aspect or another since I was in elementary school.  Currently, I oversee the technical services of the Dean of Students Office, and I am the web coordinator for most of the units.  My website is available online at:

End of Program

One of my strengths at the beginning of this program was technology.  During my time in the program I did not become complacent with technology; instead, I took my learning to a new level.  I am proud of what I have accomplished when it comes to technology.

Deconstructing technology. One of the areas about which I am most passionate is how technology affects education.  I have spent many semesters deconstructing technology and how it helps or hinders underrepresented students in an educational setting.  I wrote a few course papers on technology including: “Is there a correlation between the digital divide and college access?” and “A social movement in progress: History of the digital divide.”  Both of these course papers helped me to learn more about technology and its relationship to social change.

CASTLE.  In May 2008, I joined Dr. Scott McLeod’s team as the technology coordinator for University Council for Educational Administration’s (UCEA) Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE) at Iowa State University.  One of the many things that attracted me to CASTLE is the drive to support school administrators in their endeavors to develop technology programs unique to their institutions.  To achieve this goal, I develop, design, and maintain multiple forms of online communication through blogs, websites, and 2.0 web technologies.  I assist the team with technology bootcamps for school administrators to learn about online web tools.

Online learning environment. I collaborated with Dr. Ryan Evely Gildersleeve to develop and implement a 3-credit online qualitative research course for graduate students, ResEv 580.  I designed the WebCT by using streaming media, web-based learning modules, virtual classroom environments, audio podcasts, and course web resources.  I facilitated an e-learning experience during the course orientation for 20 graduate students.  The original template for this course has been enhancing ResEv 580 since summer semester 2009 and is being used for Dr. Penny Rice’s ResEv 580 course during the 2010 fall semester.


  • Bestler, L. (2008, June 24). Paper: Is there a correlation between the digital divide and college access? In R. E. Gildersleeve (Instructor) ResEv 615 Special Topics in Research & Evaluation: College Access in Policy, Practice, and Research, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. (no comments) [Download artifact]
  • Bestler, L. (2008, October 14). Paper. A social movement in progress-history of the digital divide. In N. Osei-Kofi (Instructor) HgEd 615 Social Justice in America, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. (no comments) [Download artifact]

Written Communication

Beginning of Program

One area that I need improvement is the Writing Communication rubric.  I can write my thoughts; I lack knowledge and practice of utilizing the American Psychological Association (APA) Style.  My collegiate experiences allowed me to be a creative writer.  I could let information flow freely from my thoughts and onto paper.  APA Style, although intricately important to format information, seems like a restriction.  I get frustrated because it is to comprehend the information in order to follow the appropriate guidelines to get my information.  I am working on improving this skill through the utilization of the book Mastering APA Style: Student’s Workbook and Training Guide.

While taking HGED 665, I recognized I was having difficulty writing my last research paper.  I acknowledged the fact that I did not know how to write about statistics and appendices.  It was exhausting.  When I received the paper back from Dr. Schuh, my heart sunk, I had received a “B.”  The main errors in my paper came from my writing and usage of APA Style.  I did value that I was not given an “A” for “B” work. It made me strive to become a better student.  The HGED 665 final exam gave me an opportunity to spend quality time understanding how to write in APA Style, and needless to say, Dr. Schuh let me know I had improved.

End of Program

I recognize the written communication rubric is one with which I continue to struggle, even at the end of my program.  I think it is a challenge to write according to the concrete academic format due to my occasional lack of attention to details and impatience for the expected perfection in my writing.  I continue to write as if I am a student affairs professional writing a quick report for an upper administrator.  I use short sentences to describe things.  I use my own words and my style.  Instead, I should be taking time to check and recheck all the information according to academic structures.  I should not assume I can write a research paper in just a day.  It takes time to find facts, write comprehensive sentences, and compose a paper.  When I do take the time, I know I have the ability to communicate well through my writing.  If I am able to be creative with my writing, I believe my skill is outstanding.


  • Bestler, L. (2004, December 16). Does it take a village? How the surrounding campus community may impact retention on campus.  In K. Saunders (instructor) ResEv 552: Basic educational statistics, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. [Download artifact]
  • Bestler, L. (2009). The empty chair. In N. Osei-Kofi (Instructor) ResEv 615 Arts-Based Research, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. (no comments) [Download artifact]


Beginning of Program

Over the next four years, I will grow and develop within all of the areas of the ELPS Rubrics.  I look forward to my next self-assessment narrative to see how far I come.

End of Program

As I come closer to the end of my doctoral program, many people ask me, “What do you want to do after you receive your doctorate?” or “What job do you think you will want to have following graduation?”  I take a big breath and say, “I want to be happy.”  People seem to expect you to want to have a better position or want to be a faculty member.  I intend to be happy.  I intend to do something worthwhile with what I have learned about myself and those around me.

I have learned so many different things from my faculty, colleagues, peers, and friends.  If there is one thing I know, it is I am myself.  I am finally found.  I am no longer someone I do not want to be in my life.  I am receptive to learning about differences; yet, I am grounded in my own beliefs.  I can honestly say I do not know what role I will take on next after I am done with the doctoral program.   I hope to continue my work with the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE).  Although it is unclear what this role may be, as long as I am using technology and my intuitive abilities to help create positive change, I know I will be making a difference.  Achieving this goal will make me happy.

Beginning of Program References

  • ELPS rubrics for the doctoral program. (2000). Retrieved on January 15, 2004 from
  • Myers, K.D. (1998). Introduction to type. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.
  • Thomson, L. (1998). Personality type: an owner’s manual. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc.

End of Program References

  • Rubrics used in ELPS (2000). Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.  Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Retrieved from
  • Bonilla-Silva, E. (2006). Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Delgado, R. & Stefancic, J. (2001). Critical Race Theory: An introduction. New York, NY: New York University Press.
  • hooks, b. (2003). Heart to heart: Teaching with love. Teaching community: A pedagogy of hope (pp. 127-138). New York, NY : Routledge.
  • Saenz, A. (2010, August 16). 12 videos that will help you love the future. Singularity Hub. Retrieved from

Self-Assessment Artifacts

Evaluation and Assessment Artifacts Bestler, L., Rice, P., Klousie, M., & Montin, S. (2008). Needs assessment for the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center (final draft), Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. [Download artifact] Foundations Artifacts Bestler, L. (2005, February 18). Methodology assignment: Gaining an understanding of Transgenders. In N. Evans (instructor) ELPS 676: Student Development Theory II, …