Student affairs divisional curricula often evolve either from “division-to-department” or “department-to-division.” In the “division-to-department” approach, a division takes the lead in developing a collective educational priority and set of learning objectives that guide curriculum development at the departmental level. In a “department-to-division” approach, it is often one constituent department that may take the lead and a divisional curriculum is established that encompasses the entirety of the work of a division–across all departments. However curriculum is developed, divisional and departmental curricula should be in sync and coordinated.
As one of the essential elements of a curricular approach, assessment should occur at all levels of your curriculum. This includes on-the-ground assessment of individual learning activities, but also broader based assessment of overall curriculum effectiveness. One way of achieving this broader-based assessment is to utilize data collection instruments you may already be using and assessment data you may already be collecting.
Because a curricular approach is revolutionary as opposed to evolutionary, it is necessary that you think about organizational culture and organizational change processes before undertaking this journey. For many, this shift in approach requires the development of a learning-centric organization. An organization that moves beyond “exposure” through program attendance, and towards “learning” (Kerr & Tweedy, 2006). This is also a shift from a “doing”-focused culture towards one with greater intentionality. Therefore, how “residence life staff learn and perceive their efforts within an organization while creating learning-enhancing experiences for students” is just as… Read More
Although each residential curriculum or curricular approach to student life should be contextualized to an institution, there are a number of non-profits and standards bodies within higher education and student affairs that can be useful in the development of learning goals and outcomes. Many of these associations provide sample statements, rubrics and other materials that can not only help guide and shape the development of your own objectives, but also provide potentially useful tools for benchmarking and other forms of assessment. Furthermore, as nationally developed standards, they provide justification for your curriculum… Read More
Moving to a curricular approach calls upon us to become better at assessing student learning. Although it may be common on a campus to have students respond to short surveys providing feedback about a program or service, it is often less common to assess student acquisition of knowledge and skills as a result of an engagement. Institutions and departments transitioning to a curricular approach need to be mindful that every touch point with a student is an opportunity for learning and that assessments should be integrated into these moments to check for… Read More