What is the Residential Curriculum Model?

The more generic term “residential curriculum” is broadly used as a means of describing an intentional way of promoting learning in college and university residence life and education programs.  The Residential Curriculum Model, 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 establishments of ACPA’s Residential Curriculum Institute in 2007.  One of the more recent Institutes, in 2011, drew nearly 150 participants representing 62 colleges, universities, and educational companies from across the United States and internationally from Canada, the Caribbean and Singapore.  Despite the model’s success, the only literature addressing the theoretical foundations of model and its implementation, impact, and growth was the original About Campus article detailing its origination.

The Residential Curriculum Institute, however, has made progress in attempting to further define a true Residential Curriculum.  They state that a true Residential Curriculum should incorporate ten essential elements (Edwards & Gardener, 2010):

  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

Edwards, K. E., & Gardener, K. (2010, October 28). What is a residential curriculum? [PowerPoint slides]. Plenary session presented at the 2010 Residential Curriculum Institute, St. Paul, MN.

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