One of the very first steps one undertakes when developing a residential curriculum is crafting an educational priority. An educational priority is the basis upon which all other goals and outcomes are derived. Based in the mission, context, and values of your institution, an educational priority should provide a broad statement about what your division or department aims to teach. In many ways, the educational priority statement serves as a sort of “mission” for your curriculum–a short, bite-sized statement (or very brief paragraph) about what the curriculum is about and what students will learn.
There are a number of practices in residential life and education that have become commonplace, but that don’t always advance our roles as educators and student affairs professionals. Over my many years in residence life, I’ve seen the following four ideas surface again and again. They are concepts that seem to be ingrained in our collective experience and yet are not challenged as much as they should be. Is there a better way? Can we break out of some of these “bad habits”?
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. When developing learning goals and their constituent outcomes in a residential curriculum, rubrics can help. Rubrics ensure that one is appropriately sequencing one’s learning opportunities. Rubrics also serve as an important assessment tool. Being familiar with “where students are” and “where you want to move students to” also allows one to structure learning strategies appropriately.
When evaluating programs and other educational interventions with students, it is important to make a distinction between two concepts: feedback and assessment. Although the types of questions you may ask in each of these categories may differ, the overall goal is how to design and execute effective experiences for students that are engaging and achieve educational outcomes. The following includes some distinctions that you may find useful, as well as some guiding questions that you could employ in reviewing your educational efforts. These questions can be used in the design of student surveys and assessments… Read More
The Residential Curriculum Institute defines a curriculum as having 10 “Essential Elements.” These are the features and principles that a residence life department’s educational program should adhere to if it is to be considered a “true” residential curriculum. In 2013, while in my PhD program, I conducted some research on schools implementing this curricular approach. I wanted to find out more about how the Elements were put into practice and the extent to which schools were successful in fulfilling them. A subset of that research is presented here. This post explores the successes and struggles that schools encounter in enacting each of the… Read More