Given that the curricular approach is relatively new in student affairs circles, there is a need for tools and resources that can help campuses and departments assess the effectiveness of their efforts. I, along with Ryan Lloyd, recently had the pleasure of presenting on two such resources at the 2018 International Convention of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education in Philadelphia, PA.
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.
Before embarking on a curricular approach, it is important to conduct an audit, or archeological dig, to surface important characteristics and concepts that should be present and accounted for in your curriculum. As Siri Espy states, “Much like an archeological dig, your mission is to start with a set of bones and construct a skin that will fit. Ask yourself what an animal with all of your identified characteristics would look like, then set out to build one” (p. 86). During the audit and discovery phase of your dig, you should seek… Read More
In developing a residential curriculum, one of the first tasks a residence life department undertakes is the establishment of an educational priority. An educational priority is summative statement of what students will learn by their participation in a curriculum. An educational priority is broad, informed by research and theory, and contextualized to an individual campus and student population. A priority can be used as a measure to determine if a curriculum is successful in achieving its educational aims, and it provides a goal towards which students can reach.
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”?