The Missing Eleventh Element of a Residential Curriculum: Customized Student Learning

The Residential Curriculum Institute outlines 10 “Essential Elements” that make up a curriculum and yet little to no research has been conducted specifically on these Elements. While that is not to say that the Elements are unsupported by research, they borrow from proven concepts and sound principles of instructional design, but there is currently no body of research that  supports why an Element should be  a part of a residential curriculum specifically or why these elements are all “essential.” This begs the question, are there additional Elements that should be included? If additional elements are to be… Read More

Which of the Residential Curriculum Elements are the Hardest to Achieve? And Why?

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

Residential Curriculum Element #10: Assessment Occurs at All Levels: From Educational Priority to Learning Goals and Outcomes

In order to be successful, a curriculum must be supported by a robust plan for assessment. This includes assessment at all levels of the curriculum–from educational priority to learning goals and outcomes. When beginning a curriculum, institutions may have a number of broad assessment measures already in place. These could include summative assessments, accomplished through national standardized instruments, as well as procedures for individual real-time assessments. Assessing a curriculum can draw from these available resources, but often requires a re-orientation and a deepening of commitment to assessing student learning. This includes going beyond satisfaction… Read More

Residential Curriculum Element #9: Peer-Review is Accomplished Through an Intentional Process

Because curricula are educational plans, they should be subject to the same peer-review processes as their course-credit-bearing equivalents. The idea of peer-review is borrowed from scholarly circles, whereby communities of scholars engage in self governance and ensure quality and standards are adhered to. The same holds true of a residential curriculum review process. With a residential curriculum, educational experts evaluate learning plans  to ensure they are meeting their stated objectives and suggest areas for refinement and improvement. In the case of a residential curriculum, the peer review process should involve a broad set of educational partners. These… Read More

Residential Curriculum Element #7: Learning is Scaffolded and Sequenced To Follow Time-Based Development

Learning does not take place in a vacuum. It takes place in time and space. A well-designed curriculum recognizes that learning is most often a cumulative process. Individuals learn and grow over time. Sometimes they regress and sometimes they make large leaps forward, but the broad arc of learning is progressive over time. To this end, designing a curriculum for student learning requires that one scaffold and sequence learning opportunities. “Sequencing” learning objectives requires one to align objectives through time such that each successive outcome builds off of the last. This sequencing occurs from year to… Read More