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UD hosts first Residential Curriculum Institute

2:36 p.m., Jan. 25, 2007--UD is hosting the American College Personnel Association's (ACPA) first annual Residential Curriculum Institute, Jan. 25-27, with the theme “From Just Residential to Resident Intentional: Developing a Curricular Approach to Residence Life.” As part of its program, the institute will focus on UD's efforts to use a curricular approach to residential education as a replacement for the traditional programming model, according to Kathleen Kerr, director of UD's Office of Residence Life.

The institute is sponsored by ACPA's Commission for Housing and Residential Life, its Commission for Assessment for Student Development, American Campus Communities and UD's Office of Residence Life.

More than 72 persons, representing more than 35 schools from across the United States and Canada, are registered for the institute.

The opening speaker was Jeanne S. Steffes, ACPA president and associate vice president for student affairs at Syracuse University, who spoke today on “Learning Reconsidered: Where Is Our Profession Headed?”

At lunch, UD President David P. Roselle welcomed the participants, and Kerr presented “Institute Overview and Learning Outcomes,” based on UD's residential curriculum.

The keynote speaker is Marcia Baxter Magolda, Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership at Miami University of Ohio, whose topic is “Promoting Learning and Self-Authorship through Learning Partnerships,” at 7 p.m., Jan. 25. Her talk is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and UD's Academic and Student Affairs Council.

Alice Mitchell, chairperson of ACPA's commission for Assessment for Student Development and assistant professor and associate director of the School of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Maryland, University College, will lead a session on “Writing Learning Outcomes.”

Cynthia Cummings, UD associate vice president for campus life, will serve as moderator for a session entitled “The Curriculum Review Committee: A Panel Discussion,” and all other residence life staff members will actively participate in the institute.

Kerr and James Tweedy, associate director of residence life, have written about UD's program in an article, “Beyond Seat Time and Student Satisfaction: A Curricular Approach to Residential Education,” published in the November-December issue of About Campus. In the article, they point out that residence halls are an “important setting for delivering a curriculum focused on citizenship development.”

According to the article, a few years ago, Residence Life staffers examined their educational programming and decided to make a major shift. “We realized that we required students to be exposed to ideas without paying any attention to the actual learning that was or was not occurring,” they wrote.

“Our intent in using the curricular approach to citizenship is to help our students see themselves as members of communities of learners,” they wrote, through self-awareness, connection and community, “engaging in the creation of a safe and inclusive environment....”

UD's residential curriculum is focused on educational goals based on student educational needs and what they will learn, the authors said. Using this approach has involved faculty and academic administrators and has made the “move from good intentions to good educational strategies.”

Although they “do not yet have the results necessary to determine which experiments will yield long-term success..., the rewards have made the experiments unequivocally worthwhile,” according to Kerr and Tweedy. “Staff members are focused and invested..., student views of what they expect from their residential experience are subtly changing, and members of academic departments are expressing an interest in joining our staff.

“We are convinced that the residence hall living environment has tremendous potential for citizenship education,” the authors conclude.

To read the article, go to [http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/113508954/PDFSTART].

Article by Sue Moncure

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