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… Read More

Utilizing Peer and External Review Processes for Continuous Curricular Improvement

Developing a culture of continuous improvement within your housing and residence life department requires one to put structures in place to gather assessment data and utilize that data to make change. Furthermore, it requires the identification and standards against which a department can compare their progress and determine and prioritize goals. Within the area of housing operations, one will find numerous resources to aid departments in the development of these processes. Student learning and curriculum should also undergo a review process as well, although the resources in this area are still developing.

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

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