Residential Curriculum & Curricular Approaches
Welcome to www.residentialcurriculum.com! A “residential curriculum” is a particular approach to designing and delivering intentional learning opportunities for college and university students. Developed since 2005, this approach has spawned its own Institute and has been replicated and modified in various forms at campuses across the country, and even the word. Although arising out of residence life, this model is flexible and has been adopted by entire students affairs divisions. The Institute on the Curricular Approach is a premier professional development offered by ACPA and the only event that provides comprehensive training on the approach.
If you’re looking to connect with others around curriculum, consider joining the Residential Curriculum Facebook Group or follow the #ACPAICA hashtag on Twitter and other platforms.
The residential curriculum model, currently referenced as the curricular approach, was born out of original work created at the University of Delaware and cultivated as an in-person professional development event/Institute by ACPA. Over the years, ACPA Institute faculty have continued to develop and refine the curricular approach and its components for the Institute. As a result, the intellectual property rights for the residential curriculum model, curricular approach, and related Institutes belongs to ACPA and to the University of Delaware. It is expected that individuals and institutions not reproduce or re-purpose any content from the Institute in whole or in part, whether for profit or not, without the advance, express written permission of ACPA-College Student Educators International. If additional permissions are needed for intellectual property, ACPA will consult with the University of Delaware and/or Institute faculty as appropriate.
As a professional I’ve previously implemented a curricular approach at one of my past institutions. I have also served as a Residential Curriculum Institute faculty member for a number of years and have been a part of its refinement and development. As a result, I have permission from ACPA to present this material on campus workshops and professional development sessions.
I frequently consult with individual campuses on developing and enhancing their curricula through multi-day workshops and speaking events. I have worked with over 30 different institutions across the country. If you’re interested in bringing me to campus, you can learn more about my speaking and consulting and reach out to me with any interest.
The terms “residential curriculum” or “curricular approach” are used to describe an intentional specifically-structured way of promoting learning in college and university student affairs programs. Borrowing from techniques utilized by classroom-based teachers, the curricular approach to student affairs designs a series of successive learning and engagement opportunities for students that are measurable against defined objectives. Utilizing this intentional process allows an institution to better improve their efforts year-over-year, something not easily accomplished through more traditional ad-hoc methods.
Implemented at the University of Delaware in the early 2000s, the model was first detailed in a 2006 article by Kerr and Tweedy titled, “Beyond seat time and student satisfaction: A curricular approach to residential education,” in About Campus magazine. Kerr, Tweedy, Edwards, and Kimmel (2017) followed up on their About Campus article a decade later further refining the notion of a residential curriculum and expanding its applicability as a curricular approach to all of student affairs work. This work was expanded and codified in the book, The Curricular Approach to Student Affairs: A Revolutionary Shift for Learning Beyond the Classroom (Kerr, Edwards, Tweedy, Lichterman, & Knerr, 2020).
Originally focused solely on departments of housing and residence life, this approach led to the establishment of ACPA’s Residential Curriculum Institute (RCI) in 2007. This has since expanded to entire divisions of student affairs and their related departments, resulting in a re-naming of the Institute to the Institute on the Curricular Approach (ICA). Since then, the curricular approach has become increasingly common and popular at institutions of higher education. Pre-pandemic, the Institute was drawing over 500 participants a year, with additional registrants on a wait list.
The curricular approach maintains strong roots in housing and residence life. In his 2015 book, Student Learning in College Residence Halls, Blimling (2015) provided an overview of the curricular approach and related models for designing residential education initiatives. Likewise, ACUHO-I’s Campus Housing Management series (Dunkel & Baumann, 2013) contributed text providing more details about the approach and its application in residence life. As a core feature of many institutions of higher education, residence life remains a critical component of a curricular approach.
Focused research efforts on the curricular approach have included examinations of organizational culture shifts required by the approach (Lichterman, 2016, Kropf, 2020), the impact of curricular efforts on staff members (Stauffer & Kimmel, 2019; Pernotto, 2021) and students (Sanders, 2018, Scheibler, 2021) and their experience of the curriculum. Further targeted research was conducted on how curricular efforts can support under-represented student populations (Williams, et al., 2020).
Book on Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches:
I’ve been progressively updating the following book on curricular development and residence life and education. This resource on residential curriculum and curricular approaches is available for free and provides you with definitions, instructions, and review materials to aid you in your educational work on campus.
The following represents some of my blog posts and related content on residential curriculum development. I’ve also included a number of posts and other publications that I have found in my research on the topic.
A Formal Rationale for a Residential Curriculum or Curricular Approach
Curriculum Basics and Overview
- What is a Residential Curriculum? Curricular Approach? Residential Learning Model?
- Have We Reached The Tipping Point For Residential Curriculum Model Adoption?
- What are the Benefits of Moving to a Curricular Approach to Residence Life?
- Transformative Residential Curricula: Lessons Learned Over 10 Years by Hilary Lichterman, Kathleen Kerr, and Keith Edwards
- Are You Organizationally Ready To Take On a Curricular Approach?
- You Don’t Need to Have a Residential Curriculum to Benefit From it’s Concepts
- Things to Remember When Embarking on Your Journey to a Residential Curriculum or Curricular Approach
- 6 Tips for Staying Unstuck with a Curricular Approach by Keith Edwards
- A Curricular Approach is More Important Than Ever (during the COVID-19 pandemic) by Frank Tierney
Beginning Your Journey
- 4 Documents that Place “Student Learning” at the Core of Residential Education
- Developing a Timeline for a Divisional or Residential Curriculum Implementation on Your Campus
- A Glossary of Terms for Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches Outside of the Classroom
The Ten Elements of a Curriculum
- Element #1: Directly Connects to the Institutional Mission
- Element #2: Learning Goals and Outcomes Developed and Based in a Defined Educational Priority
- Element #3: Basis in Developmental Theory and Research
- Element #4: Educational Strategies are Developed to Advance Learning Outcomes
- Element #5: Educational Strategies Go Beyond Programmed Events
- Element #6: Student Staff Are Utilized in Roles Appropriate To Their Skill Development
- Element #7: Learning is Scaffolded and Sequenced To Follow Time-Based Development
- Element #8: Key Stakeholders are Identified and Involved
- Element #9: Peer-Review is Accomplished Through an Intentional Process
- Element #10: Assessment Occurs at All Levels: From Educational Priority to Learning Goals and Outcomes
- The Missing 11th Element of a Residential Curriculum: Customized Student Learning
Determining Your Objectives
- Does Your Residential Curriculum Cascade?
- Why Words Matter in a Residential Curriculum
- How to Conduct an Archeological Dig for a Curricular Approach to Student Affairs
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in a Curriculum. What is missing? by Richard George Henderson
- The Difference Between a “Mission Statement” and an “Educational Priority” in a Curriculum
- 21 Examples of Learning Priority Statements for a Residential Curriculum
Goals and Narratives
- What are Residential Curriculum Goals and Narratives and How to Write Them
- Utilizing National Competencies and Standards to Develop Your Curricular Learning Goals
- 7 Learning Goal Themes Commonly Found in a Residential Curriculum
- Breaking Down Curricular Learning Goals into Learning Outcomes
- Building Off of Bloom: Writing Progressive Learning Outcomes
Rubrics and Sequencing
- How To Developmentally Sequence and Map Student Co-Curricular Learning
- How to Develop Student Learning Rubrics for Student Affairs Curriculum
- The Iterative and Reciprocal Process of Developing Rubrics
Strategies and Facilitation Guides
- A Rubric for Evaluating your Residential Curriculum Facilitation Guides
- 10 Different Strategies for Promoting Residential Student Learning
- Creating Effective Curriculum Facilitation Guides and Lesson Plans for Staff
- Incentivizing the Residential Curriculum by Matt Kwiatkowski
Educational Plan and Curricular Review
- Developing Your Educational Plan(s) and Putting Your Residential Curriculum Into Practice
- Utilizing Peer and External Review Processes for Continuous Curricular Improvement
- Presentation: Utilizing Standards to Assess the Effectiveness of a Residential Education Curriculum
- Five Tips for Designing Your Residential Curriculum Assessment Plans By Craig Orcholski
- Developing A Culture of Assessment in Your Residence Life and Education Program
- Utilizing Existing Campus-Wide Assessments and Measures in Your Curricular Approach
- On-The-Ground Assessment of Student Learning Out of the Classroom
- Feedback versus Assessment: Questions to Ask
- 27 Quick Questions to Assess Student Learning
Partnerships, Buy-In, and Organizational Change
- Who, Where, and How to Engage Partners and Stakeholders in a Residential Curriculum
- Five Tips for Building Residential Curriculum “Buy-in” by Craig Orchulski
- Pivoting Your Curricular Approach to Virtual Engagement for Student Learning by Keith Edwards
An (Over?) Simplified Explanation of The Curricular Approach/Residential Curriculum Process
Special Topics in Residence Life
- 5 Signs Your Residential Curriculum is Actually a Programming Model with Learning Outcomes
- Why the Frequency of Residence Hall Programs Matters More Than the Overall Number of Them
- Suggestions for Student Learning Beyond the Classroom for Fall 2020 by Kathleen Kerr, Keith Edwards, Jim Tweedy, Hilary Lichterman, and Amanda Knerr
Utilizing Restorative Practices in Residence Life Curriculum
- Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches
- Roommate Agreements
- Floor Meetings and Circles
- Intentional Conversations and Interactions
- Fair Process in Curriculum Development
- Organization Culture
- Putting it into Practice
- What are Intentional Conversations and Why Should You Use Them in Residential Education?
- How to Structure Intentional Conversations in a Residential Curriculum
- Developing an Intentional Conversation Curriculum Guide for Student Staff
- 100 Questions You Can Use for Intentional Conversations in the Residence Halls
- Don’t Be Creepy: Training Student Staff For Genuine Intentional Conversations
- How to Track and Assesses Intentional Conversations for a Residential Curriculum
- Presentation: Implementing Intentional Conversations into Your Residence Life and Curriculum Work
Student and Professional Staff
- Implications for Staff Member Duties, Selection, Training, and Development When Transitioning to a Curricular Approach
- Hiring Professional Residence Life Staff for a Residential Curriculum
- Onboarding New Professional Staff to a Student Affairs or Residential Curriculum
- Virginia Koch’s dissertation, “An Exploration of Current Practices in Curricular Design of Resident Assistant Training Programs“
- RA Training and Residential Curriculum
- 4 Tips for Developing Buy-In for Curriculum from RAs, Student Staff Members, and Student Leaders
- RAs are NOT Educational Experts!
Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approach Q&A Series
- Where Can I Find Peer Institutions To Collaborate With And Benchmark?
- Where Can I Find Examples of Facilitation Guides?
- Can a Curricular Approach Work on a Campus with a Large Commuter Population?
Residence Life-Specific Questions
- Where do RHA’s and Hall Councils Fit into a Curricular Approach?
- Where does Residence Life Community Building Fit Into a Curriculum?
- Residential Curriculum: The Trials and Tribulations of Semester One by Tanner Anthony, Jeremy Bowersox, Kathryn Bussell, & James Devlin at Embry Riddle Aeronatical University (Credit to The SEAHO Report)
- 5 Lessons Learned from Embracing Restorative Practices in our Residential Curriculum by Kaleigh Mrowka and Lauren Teresa Mauriello
- Identify, Partner, and Develop to Create Campus Well-Being by Grant Anderson
- How Colleges Use the Curriculum to Encourage Resilience (Chronicle of Higher Education, paywall)
Publications on Developing a Residential Curriculum:
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles:
- Lichterman, H. & Bloom, J. L. (2019). The curricular approach to residential education: Lessons for student affairs practice. College Student Affairs Journal, 37(1), 54-67.
- Stauffer, C., & Kimmel, D. (2019). A framework for increasing housing and residence life staff capacity and confidence to develop and implement a residential curriculum. The Journal of College and University Student Housing, 45(3), 26-39.
- Williams, S., Johnson, M. R., Kolek, E. A., Hornak, A. M., Ampaw, F., Gardner, K. (2021). Using inclusion assistants within a residential curriculum to improve the experiences and success of students with underrepresented identities. Journal of College and University Student Housing 47(2), 44-61.
About Curricular Approaches:
- Kerr, K. G., Edwards, K. E., Tweedy, J., Lichterman, H. L., & Knerr, A. R. (2020). The curricular approach to student affairs: A revolutionary shift for learning beyond the classroom. Sterling, VA: Stylus.
- Baumann, J. A. (2020, November). Updating a campus mindset: A curricular approach provides student affairs clarity during challenging times. Talking Stick, 38(2).
- Kerr, K. G., & Tweedy, J. (2006). Beyond seat time and student satisfaction: A curricular approach to residential education. About Campus, 11(5), 9-15. doi:10.1002/abc.181
- Kerr, K. G., Tweedy, J., Edwards, K. E., & Kimmel, D. (2017, March-April). Shifting to curricular approaches to learning beyond the classroom. About Campus, 22(1), 22-31. doi:10.1002/abc.21279
Reference Curricular Approaches:
- Cardone, T., Stoll Turton, E., Olson, G., & Baxter Magolda, M. (2013, November-December). Learning partnerships in practice: Orientation, leadership, and residence life. About Campus, 18(5), 2-9. doi: 10.1002/abc.21131
Contain Sub-Sections on Curricular Approaches:
- Blimling, G. S. (2015). Student learning in college residence halls: What works, what doesn’t, and why. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Dunkel, N. & Baumann, J. (Eds.), (2013). Campus housing management: Residence life and education. Columbus, OH: Association of College and University Housing Officers-International.
Doctoral Dissertations on the Curricular Approach:
Kropf, H. (2020). Residence life as learning organizations: An inquiry into organizational elements that support integration of the residential curriculum. (Doctoral dissertation).
Lichterman, H. L. (2016). Organizational Perspective On Implementing The Residential Curriculum Approach: An Ethnographic Case Study. (Doctoral dissertation).
- See also: Lichterman’s Organizational Barometer
Pernotto, E. T. (2021). Embracing the role of educator: The experiences of housing and residence life staff in implementing a curriculum model. (Doctoral dissertation).
Sanders, L. A. (2018). The influence of residential curriculum on first-year residential students in higher education. (Doctoral dissertation).
Scheibler, D. L. (2021). Home sweet home: A phenomenological case study exploring the lived experiences of residential students in curricular environments. (Doctoral dissertation).
Professional Development Videos:
- Roompact Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches Explainer Video
- A History of Residential Curriculum and the Curricular Approach to Student Affairs Work
- Student Affairs NOW Episode: The Curricular Approach to Student Affairs
- Student Affairs NOW Episode: Lessons from Research on a Curricular Approach
- PechaKucha – Claiming Our Roles As Educators: Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches
- Pedagogy Beyond the Classroom (Student Affairs Live)
- Expand Your Engagement: Creating an Innovative Curricular Approach
- Creating Curriculum Facilitation Guides for “Crisis and Emergency Learning Experiences”
- 7 Curricular Training Mistakes to Avoid for Student Staff
- Remote Engagement for Residential Curriculum from Keith Edwards
- Justice Wasn’t Built in a (Diversity) Day: A Curricular Approach ($10 for access)
- How RAs and Student Staff Can Enact Curriculum and Build Community Digitally During COVID-19
Institutional Example Videos:
Andrea Guimaraes’s Interview series with:
Institute on the Curricular Approach (Residential Curriculum Institute):
- What Is and Why Attend the the Institute on the Curricular Approach?
- ACPA’s Institute on the Curricular Approach (formerly the Residential Curriculum Institute)
- Now Open for 2020! Why You Should Consider Applying to be an ICA Showcase School
- Also of interest, ACPA’s Program Design School
2019 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
2018 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
2017 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, #ACPARCI 2017 by Erin Simpson (PDF)
2016 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
2014 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1 (PDF), Day 2 (PDF), Day 3 (PDF), Reflections on the 2014 Residential Curriculum Institute by Nicolas Babarskis
2013 Institute Social Media Recaps: #ACPARCI 2013 Twitter Recap by ebeeler (PDF)
Past Institute Showcase Institutions:
- American University (2010)
- Appalachian State University (2017)
- Carleton University (2017, 2018)
- Central Michigan University (2017, 2018, 2019)
- Clemson University (2014, 2019, 2021, 2022)
- Colorado Mesa University (2012, 2013)
- Concordia College (2021) *Divisional
- Dartmouth College (2009)
- East Tennessee State University (2016)
- Eastern Kentucky University (2018)
- Florida International University (2019)
- Georgia Southern University (2015)
- Georgia State University (2021)
- Gettysburg College (2010, 2011)
- Indiana State University (2014, 2015, 2018, 2019)
- Indiana University Bloomington (2018)
- Lehigh University (2013, 2014, 2019) *Divisional
- Macalester College (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016)
- Messiah College (2011)
- New York University (2010, 2015)
- North Carolina State University (2017)
- North Dakota State University (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022) *Divisional
- Northern Illinois University (2011, 2012)
- Pennsylvania State University (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015)
- Quinnipiac University (2018)
- Radford University (2018)
- St. Lawrence University (2012)
- Saint Louis University (2011, 2012, 2013)
- San Jose State University (2020)
- Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2018)
- SUNY Brockport (2011, 2013)
- SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology (2018)
- SUNY Geneseo (2019) *Divisional
- SUNY University of Buffalo (2014, 2018, 2019)
- Syracuse University (2009)
- Texas A&M University at Galveston (2020) *Divisional
- Texas State University (2021)
- The College of New Jersey (2020)
- University of Alabama at Birmingham (2022)
- University of Central Florida (2016, 2018, 2019)
- University of Colorado Boulder (2020)
- University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (2022)
- University of Connecticut (2017)
- University of Dayton (2012, 2015)
- University of Illinois Springfield (2019) *Divisional
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2016)
- University of Iowa (2019)
- University of Kansas (2018) *Divisional
- University of Kentucky (2019)
- University of Maryland Baltimore County (2019, 2020, 2022)
- University of Massachusetts-Amherst (2017, 2018)
- University of Minnesota (2010, 2012, 2013)
- University of Mississippi (2016)
- University of New Hampshire (2009, 2014, 2016)
- University of North Carolina School of Arts (2018) *Divisional
- University of North Carolina Greensboro (2021) *Divisional
- University of Oklahoma (2015, 2017, 2018, 2020 *Gender + Equality Center, 2022 *Divisional)
- University of South Carolina (2013, 2015, 2016)
- University of South Florida (2014, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020)
- University of St. Thomas (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022) *Divisional
- University of Texas at Austin (2019, 2020)
- University of Utah (2018, 2019, 2022)
- University of Vermont (2021)
- Virginia Tech (2013, 2014)
- Wesleyan University (2020)
- West Chester University (2019) *Divisional
- Western Washington University (2011, 2012, 2020)
- Whitman College (2009)
- Wilfrid Laurier University (2017)
Schools Referencing 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. The links providing the most detail are listed first. Schools with demonstrated student affairs divisional curricula are noted with an asterisk.
Most useful links:
- Clemson University – *Divisional, Departmental
- Georgia Southern University (additional info: Handbook)
- Lehigh University (additional info: link) *Divisional
- Loyola University Chicago (additional info: Handbook)
- Miami University
- North Dakota State University (includes links to facilitation guides, educational plans, templates and workbooks)
- Salem State University (Handbook)
- Spring Hill College
- Stevenson University
- SUNY Geneseo (Handbook) *Divisional
- University at Buffalo (additional info: link)
- University of Illinois Springfield *Divisional
- University of Kansas
- Carleton University
- Carnegie Melon University
- The College of New Jersey
- College of Saint Benedict
- East Stroudsburg University
- East Tennessee State University
- Florida Atlantic University
- Georgetown College
- High Point University
- Indiana State University
- Indiana University Bloomington
- Marshall University
- Milikin University
- Mississippi State University
- Montclair State University
- Purchase College
- Quinnipiac University
- Radford University
- San Jose State University
- St. John’s University
- St. Louis University (additional info: link)
- Texas A&M – Galveston
- Texas State University
- Tulane University
- University of Alabama
- University of Alabama at Birmingham
- University of California at Berkeley
- University of Central Florida
- University of Dayton
- University of Illinois
- University of Iowa
- University of Kentucky
- University of Mary Washington
- University of Massachusetts at Amherst
- University of Massachusetts at Lowell
- University of Mississippi
- University of New Hampshire
- University of North Carolina Charlotte
- University of North Carolina Pembroke
- University of San Francisco
- University of South Carolina
- University of South Florida
- University of Tampa
- University of Texas San Antonio
- University of Washington Bothell
- Virginia Tech (additional info: link)
- West Chester University *Divisional
Presentations on Residential Curriculum
The following are presentations on residential curriculum that are publicly available online. The most useful links are in bold.
- Time Spent on Hiring is Time Well Spent: Curricularizing Student Staff Selection by Kayla Reed and Molli Keller
- A Curricular Approach to Student Staff Training by Christina Gilmore and Alicia Severson
- Boston University’s Residential Experience
- Residential Curriculum: Marekting and Brainstorming by Alex Wehrenberg
- How a Residential Curriculum Impacts the Residential Experience by Amanda Knerr, Ardell Sanders, and Matthew Venaas
- Utilizing Standards to Assess the Effectiveness of a Residential Education Curriculum by Hilary Lichterman, Ryan Lloyd, and Paul Gordon Brown
- Program Model vs. Curriculum Model: A Tale of Two Approaches – U university of North Texas by Lindsey Fields and Katie Kolkmeier
- Building a Residential Curriculum – University of California at Berkeley
- Residential Curriculum and Assessment: A Blueprint for Student Success – University of California Santa Barbara
- Learning Outside the Classroom – University at Buffalo
- Partnering for Success within the Residential Curriculum – University of Dayton
- Residential Curriculum – Lehigh University
- Reinventing Student Leader Training – Lehigh University by Taran Cardone, Kate Grady, Kerri Kloorfain, and Brandon Morris
- Residential Curriculum – University of South Florida
- Residential Curriculum for Leadership and Social Change – San Francisco State University
- Residential Curriculum – RA Learning Modules – Texas State University
- Residential Curriculum – by Kyle Smith
- Residential Curriculum for the First Year Experience – California College of the Arts
- Residential Curriculum – University of South Florida
- Residential Curriculum in Action – Northwestern Univesity
Student Leader Training and Curricular Approaches:
The following are links providing information on student leader training and curricular approaches including RA training and residential curriculum.