Developing A Culture of Assessment in Your Residence Life and Education Program

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

Through the Lens of an iPhone: Miami, FL

The following iPhoneography photos were taken during my trips to Miami, Florida.

See Also: My Photos from Wynwood Walls Art District in Miami

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Why I go to the Institute on the Curricular Approach… And keep coming back every year


I attended my first Institute on the Curricular Approach (then the Residential Curriculum Institute) in 2010. Since that point I have attended 8 of the 12 total Institutes and served on faculty and planning committees for 6 of them. With the most recent Institute wrapping up this past week in Chicago, I left the experience as I always do: with a full brain and a full heart. On the car ride home I reflected on what it is about this experience that has me coming back for more every year and why I find it so fulfilling. Read More

Breaking Down Curricular Learning Goals into Learning Outcomes

Continuing down the cascade of your curriculum, one becomes more specific in the learning objectives one hopes residents will achieve. In this way, the cascade functions as nested structure includes successively more specific statements as one moves towards the level of practice.

One’s educational priority is the broadest statement of learning one hopes students will achieve. It is typically divided in 3-5 learning goals, and these learning goals are in turn divided into 4-6 learning outcomes. It is at this level, the level of learning outcomes, that one begins to see the specificity in language that allows for more discrete measurement to occur. The only level beyond this stage is strategy-level outcomes. This final level is highly measurable and occurs during a planned educational activity or strategy. Read More

A Glossary of Terms for Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches Outside of the Classroom

When getting started in developing a curricular approach to student learning outside the classroom, there are a number of different terms and concepts that are used with which one should become familiar. Many of the terms used have been systematized over time, particularly by the faculty of ACPA’s Institute on the Curricular Approach. However, some of the terms may be used differently in practice at various institutions. Regardless of whether you call something a learning goal, a learning outcome, or a learning objective, what is more important than the actual word is that it is used consistently and is universally understood by those who engage with your curriculum. The following glossary can help in establishing a common curricular nomenclature. Read More