Student Affairs offices, particularly those within residence life and education, typically see a steady turn over of professionals year-to-year. When building and maintaining a curriculum, it can sometimes be a challenge to onboard new staff members who (1) may not be familiar with the model at all or (2) are not familiar with your institution’s specific implementation of the curricular approach. There are a number of strategies you can employ to ensure greater traction and continuity for your curricular efforts while maintaining progress over time. The following are five strategies you can use to help in the successful onboarding for new staff members to a residential curriculum. Read More
One of the hallmarks of curricular approaches to student learning outside the classroom is that learning is scaffolded and sequenced to follow a student’s journey through their time in college. After educators identify their learning objectives (cascading from Educational Priority, to Learning Goals, Narratives, Rubrics, and Outcomes), the next step in the process is to map out objectives and sequence them to allow for cumulative learning. Rather than being a lock-step process, mapping and sequencing learning objectives allows curricular planners the ability to test their objectives and identify gaps in learning. This is a dynamic process that can involve feedback loops whereby one may wish to revise learning objectives in a reciprocal process. Read More
Educational and curricular efforts exist in context. Furthermore, residence life and education departments do not exist on an island. When developing a campus or residential curriculum, it is important to identify partners and stakeholders early on and include them in the curriculum design process. This inclusion can include stages from planning to implementation, and throughout assessment and review processes.
Because developing a residential curriculum entails refocusing your departmental efforts towards student learning, it necessarily follows that you must develop a culture of assessment. A culture of assessment is one in which decisions are data-driven and tested through the design, implementation, and review of assessment measures. As Lakos and Phipps (2004)describe it, a culture of assessment is:
An organizational environment in which decisions are based on facts, research, and analysis, and where services are planned and delivered in ways that maximize positive outcomes and impacts for customers and stakeholders. A Culture of Assessment exists in organizations where staff care to know what results they produce and how those results relate to customers’ expectations. Organizational mission, values, structures, and systems support behavior that is performance and learning focused. (p. 352)
These cultures therefore have adopted premises and strategies that continuously refocus organizational efforts on improving practice through feedback and data. Although authors Lakos and Phipps (2004) discuss creating a “culture of assessment” within a university library environment, almost all of the same principles apply to residence life and student affairs settings. For example, the authors outline some of the difficulties inherent in developing these cultures. The following quote from their article replaces the word “libraries” with “residence life:” Read More
The following iPhoneography photos were taken during my trips to Miami, Florida.