Four Ways Residence Life Education Can Go Wrong

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”?

Dear RAs… I want you to STOP PROGRAMMING!

  It’s time for an intervention. PUT DOWN the glitter. STEP AWAY from the construction paper. DO NOT OPEN the pizza boxes. I WANT YOU TO STOP PROGRAMMING! I don’t really want you to stop programming, but I do want to stop putting on programs that are not developed with a strong set of learning outcomes and an associated lesson plan that seeks to further those outcomes. In fact, I want you to revisit the idea that holding a program is the most effective method for delivering on these outcomes. Part of this is “giving up”… Read More

Residential Curriculum Element #5: Educational Strategies Go Beyond Programmed Events

We’re all familiar with the premise that food is a necessary component of any educational endeavor in the residence halls. Attract residents with pizza and then ambush them with educational content. Although there is nothing wrong with incentivizing participation in an educational activity, the premises behind this mindset are problematic. This approach assumes that the problem with an educational program is the residents, not the program itself. Successful educational strategies in the residence halls should not be limited to just programs. There are many ways to engage residents in educationally purposive activities that fall outside of this traditional… Read More