Residential Curriculum Element #8: Key Stakeholders are Identified and Involved

Part of developing a curriculum is the realization that educational opportunities need not originate within a residence life program in order to be valuable for residents. If there are experts in a given area on campus, and they already provide educational opportunities and services, why not figure out a way to package, market, and provide these to residential students in a way that fits with their needs? This is one reason why collaboration with key partners and stakeholders is an important part of any learning plan. The residence hall can act as a… 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

Residential Curriculum Element #6: Student Staff Are Utilized in Roles Appropriate To Their Skill Development

In residence life and education, student staff members are some of our most important partners in the educational process. They are our front-line on-the-ground staff and are integral to promoting student learning. As peers, student staff members are often best positioned to help their fellow students in ways that professional staff members can’t. There are also some roles, however, for which professional staff members are better suited. One of the key components of developing an effective learning plan in the residence halls is recognizing the skills, strengths, and abilities of staff members and structuring their roles appropriately. For example,… 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

Residential Curriculum Element #4: Educational Strategies are Developed to Advance Learning Outcomes

A well known approach to education in the residence halls is the programming model. Typically, a programming model will involve a menu of different categories that structure and guide programmatic efforts. These categories may be based on a wellness wheel, or they may include broader categories such as “social,” “multicultural,” or “educational” programming. To fulfill a programming model’s requirements, a student staff member needs to hold a certain number of programs within each category, each semester. The problem with this approach, however, is that it inverts the educational process. Rather than determining outcomes first, and method of delivery second, it assumes the… Read More