What is the Residential Curriculum Model? What are Curricular Approaches?

In informal discourse the term “residential curriculum” is used to describe an intentional way of promoting learning in college and university residence life and education programs. A residential curriculum, however, is a very specific approach to structuring these learning opportunities.

First implemented at the University of Delaware in the early 2000s, the Model was detailed in a 2006 article, “Beyond seat time and student satisfaction: A curricular approach to residential education,” in About Campus magazine by Kerr and Tweedy. This approach lead to the establishment of ACPA’s Residential Curriculum Institute in 2007. Since then, the curricular approach has become increasingly common and popular. In his 2015 work, Student Learning in College Residence Halls, Blimling provides an overview of the curricular approach and related models for designing residential education initiatives. A follow up article in 2017, “Shifting to curricular approaches to learning beyond the classroom,” by Kerr, Tweedy, Edwards, and Kimmel, further refined the Model.

To be considered a “true” Residential Curriculum, an educational plan should incorporate the following “ten essential elements” (Kerr, Tweedy, Edwards, & Kimmel, 2017):

  1. Directly Connects to the Institutional Mission
  2. Learning Goals and Outcomes Developed and Based in a Defined Educational Priority
  3. Basis in Developmental Theory and Research
  4. Educational Strategies are Developed to Advance Learning Outcomes
  5. Educational Strategies Go Beyond Programmed Events
  6. Student Staff Are Utilized in Roles Appropriate To Their Skill Development
  7. Learning is Scaffolded and Sequenced To Follow Time-Based Development
  8. Key Stakeholders are Identified and Involved
  9. Peer-Review is Accomplished Through an Intentional Process
  10. Assessment Occurs at All Levels: From Educational Priority to Learning Goals and Outcomes

Resources

If you’re looking to connect with others around curriculum, consider joining the Residential Curriculum Facebook Group or follow the #ACPARCI hashtag on Twitter and other platforms. There are a number of ways to connect with colleagues around this topic.

eBooks on Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches:
Roompact offers a number of eBooks related to curricular development and residence life and education. The following eBooks on residential curriculum and curricular approaches are available for free and provide you with definitions, instructions, and review materials to aid you in your educational work on campus.

Posts About the 10 Essential Elements of a Residential Curriculum:

Further Blog Posts on Developing a Residential Curriculum:

Further Reading on Developing a Residential Curriculum:

About Curricular Approaches:

Reference Curricular Approaches:

Contain Sub-Sections on Curricular Approaches:

Research on the Curricular Approach:

Organizational Perspective On Implementing The Residential CurriculumDissertation: Organizational Perspective On Implementing e Residential Curriculum Approach: An Ethnographic Case Study by Hilary L. Lichterman

Abstract: How does a college or university housing department adopt and adapt to a new curricular approach? This qualitative descriptive case study describes how one, mid-size, co-educational residence life department in the Midwestern region of the United States adopted the residential curriculum approach based on “The 10 Essential Elements of a Residential Curriculum” (The 10EERC) that are a foundational aspect of the content discussed at the ACPA – College Student Educators International’s annual Residential Curriculum Institute (RCI). Research questions for the study address changes that occurred in the residence life unit when adopting the residential curriculum approach, participants’ perceptions of positives and challenges in the transition to the approach, and how residence life staff characterize their experience of adopting the approach.

Videos About The Curricular Approach:

PechaKucha – Claiming Our Roles As Educators: Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches
In this PechaKucha, the presenter will reflect on how participation in ACPA’s Institute on the Curricular Approach (formerly the Residential Curriculum Institute, RCI) has changed the way he views the creation of intentional learning environments. By drawing from principles found in classroom curriculum construction, professionals can re-envision their roles as educators and learners with their students. Find out what we’re doing wrong, what we can do right, and how we can truly transform our organizations into learning-centered, student-centered environments.

A Celebration of Residential Curricula: 10 Years Strong!
This video is intended to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of ACPA’s Residential Curriculum Institute and the exemplary efforts with curricular work done in residence halls on various campuses throughout the world. Various colleagues captured their insights regarding benefits to students, biggest departmental and institutional successes, and major lessons learned from adopting the curricular approach to residential education. Originally presented at the 2016 Residential Curriculum Institute in Tampa, Florida. Source: ACPA Video on Demand

Reflecting on the Curricular Approach to Learning Beyond the Classroom
The landscape of student affairs has changed dramatically over its lifetime, and the introduction of the curricular approach is helping campuses to realize some of their biggest aspirations for student learning. This video provides an overview of some of the benefits realized as a result of shifting to a curricular approach and what the experts have learned about its power to transform campus cultures. These shifts are increasingly important as student issues and expectations have changed over time. Source: ACPA Video on Demand

Using Rubrics to Assess Learning
Rubrics are tools that are used by educators to help evaluate the learning and performance of students. They are written documents, often presented in a chart format, that help define progress and achievement levels towards various goals and performance indicators. Coco Du, Director of Residential Life, Macalester College, joins Eric Pernotto, Associate Director for Residential Learning, Clemson University, to discuss rubrics and their role in learning assessment in this session from the 2016 Residential Curriculum Institute. Source: ACPA Video on Demand

Building Assessment into Your Residential Curriculum
Assessment is a critical part of building a successful residential curriculum. In this video, we show you some best practices for incorporating assessment into your residential education strategy. Furthermore it provides suggestions for integrating residential curriculum assessment strategies into your overall campus assessment plan. Being able to “tell your story” is critical for campus departments and divisions and the curricular approach can help you better define your outcomes as well as your success in achieving those outcomes. Source: ACPA Video on Demand

Educational Plans and Lesson Plans: Putting It All Together
Once learning goals and outcomes are defined, scaffolded, and sequenced, the development of lesson plans (facilitation guides) prescribes how these objectives should be put into practice. Steve Herndon, Assistant Dean of Students & Executive Director of Housing and Residence Life, University of Dayton, and David Shorey, Associate Director of Residence Education, Wilfrid Laurier University, share their experiences with educational plans and lesson plans in this session from the 2016 Residential Curriculum Institute. Source: ACPA Video on Demand

Developing a Residential Curriculum Review Process
Residential curricula need to be reviewed regularly to ensure they stay current and relevant. A review process entails a top-to-bottom assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your overall educational plan and implementation. These reviews can involve departmental staff as well as internal and external stakeholders. Watch this video for tips on how to begin to structure your review process including strategies you can do to ensure your curriculum is best set up for success. Source: ACPA Video on Demand

Additional videos:

 

Residential Curriculum Institute:

 

 

Schools Implementing A Curriculum:

Although there are many schools implementing curricular approaches to residential and student life, detailed information on these approaches can be difficult to find online. The following is a list of schools that have references to curricular frameworks and/or planning documents (including learning goals and outcomes, strategies, lesson plans, etc.) online. Note that these are of varying quality, and although an institution may list or reference a curricular-type frame work, they may not implement a true approach in practice.

Most useful links:

Additional institutions:

 

Presentations on Residential Curriculum

The following are presentations on residential curriculum that are publicly avaialbe online. The most useful links are in bold.

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